How to Cook a Quick & Easy Perfect Turkey

Take the stress out of your Thanksgiving dinner showpiece when you roast up a moist, golden bird.


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Are you hosting Turkey Day this year? Make it a feast to remember with these recipes and cooking tips.

You Will Need

  • A 12- to 14-pound kosher or self-basting turkey (to feed roughly 10 people)
  • A roasting pan with a rack insert
  • Aluminum foil
  • A large plate
  • An instant-read thermometer
  • 4.0 tbsp olive oil or melted unsalted butter
  • A pastry brush
  • Kitchen twine
  • Silicone potholders
  • Large plastic bags
  • A sharp knife
  • cutting board
  • and serving tray
  • Paper towels


  1. Uncooked meat is a salmonella risk. To avoid infection or cross-contamination, wash your hands thoroughly after touching raw turkey.

  2. Step 1

    Thaw your bird

    If you purchased a frozen bird, thaw it in the fridge. Allow one day of thaw time for every five pounds of turkey.

  3. Never thaw a turkey on a countertop or at room temperature. It'll become a breeding ground for dangerous bacteria.

  4. Step 2


    Move your oven rack to the lowest possible position and preheat your oven to 400º.

  5. Step 3

    Cover the rack insert

    Cover your roasting pan's rack insert with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Use a sharp knife to cut a thin slit between each bar on the rack so that fat can escape into the bottom of the pan. Return the rack to the pan.

  6. Step 4

    Rinse the bird

    Remove the giblets bag, which is stuffed inside the turkey, and rinse the bird inside and out with cold running water. Rest the wet turkey on a large plate, and use paper towels to pat it dry.

  7. Your bird may not have a giblets bag.

  8. Step 5

    Coat the bird with butter

    Using the pastry brush, coat the breast with two tablespoons of oil or melted butter, and tie the legs together with kitchen twine. Place the bird breast-side down on the rack. Coat the back of the turkey with the rest of the butter or oil.

  9. Step 6

    Roast the turkey

    Place the turkey in the oven, and relax for about 45 minutes. Kosher and self-basting birds have already been salted and treated, so you don't need to fuss over them.

  10. Step 7

    Flip the bird

    Remove the turkey from the oven. Using clean silicone potholders, lift the turkey, flip it, and put it back on the rack breast-side up. Return it to the oven for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the breast registers 165º and the thigh is about 175º.

  11. Measure the temperature at the thickest part of the breast or thigh. Make sure the thermometer only touches meat, not bone.

  12. Step 8


    Remove the turkey from the oven, and let it rest for about a half an hour. When it's cooled, move it to a cutting board, carve it up, and serve a delicious bird to your hungry guests!

  13. The automatic timer that comes in many turkeys is designed to pop up around 185º -- 10 to 20 degrees higher than recommended.