A classic preparation, made simple! If you’re looking for an easy way to cook perfectly juicy roast turkey, this is it! Our butter roasted turkey recipe is extra moist and infused with even more rich flavor!
There’s nothing quite like the smell of a fresh roast turkey coming out of the oven to bring on wonderful childhood memories of Thanksgiving and time spend with family.
This recipe brings all the flavor of classic roast turkey, but makes it so easy to make all year round!
What You Need to Make Roast Turkey
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- Turkey — We used a 10lb bird; if yours is larger, you may want to slightly increase the amount of other ingredients used to accommodate.
- Butter — One stick (1/2 cup)
- Poultry seasoning — No exact measurement here, just enough to liberally season the outside of your bird
- Lemons — You’ll need at least a couple
- Fresh rosemary — One small bunch
- Fresh thyme — One small bunch
- Water — For the roasting pan
- Yellow onions — We used two small onions and quartered them
- Garlic — We used two heads of fresh garlic
- Olive oil — This is optional; you can baste olive oil on your turkey skin during the last part of the cooking time to help it brown better.
Kitchen Tools Used
What is the best turkey roasting pan?
We love the covered oval roaster because it has a perfectly fitted lid, so it is pretty much foolproof! Since the lid is fitted, it really keeps all the steam and juices in during the first half of cooking. It’s also less messy!
However, you can still make a juicy roast turkey without this specific pan. If you have a free roaster (a pan with a rack, but without a lid), simply cover your turkey with foil for the first half of cooking.
Why put butter on a turkey before cooking?
Placing butter under the skin of a turkey before baking adds a layer of fat to help trap moisture inside. It also adds a rich buttery flavor.
You can do this immediately before cooking, or you can do this the night before and keep the turkey in the fridge overnight.
Don’t worry too much about clumps or getting the butter spread evenly. It will melt as it cooks and get into all the nooks and crannies!
How to Roast a Turkey
Preheat oven to 350°F. You’ll want to make sure that it is fully to temp before placing the turkey inside to cook.
First, remove the giblets from the turkey.
Next, run a large spoon between the skin and the breast meat — carefully — to separate the two and create a pocket.
Rub half of your butter in this pocket, beneath the skin. Rub the other half of the butter on top of the turkey, all over.
Place half a lemon, a small bunch of rosemary, and a small bunch of thyme inside the turkey cavity and tie the legs together. You can use either kitchen string or make a slit in the turkey skin and pull the legs through to secure, as shown below.
Generously coat the turkey with poultry seasoning.
Add water, quartered onions, lemon wedges, and garlic cloves to your roasting pan.
Set the turkey in the pan, on top of the lemons, onions, and garlic.
Bake for a total of 3 1/2 to 4 hours (for a 10 pound bird). You’ll want to keep it covered for the first half of cooking.
For the second half of cooking, remove the cover and baste the turkey with its own juices every 20-30 minutes.
Turkey Cooking Times
The instructions and cooking time in this recipe should work for an 8-12 pound turkey. If yours is in the 8-10lb range, the cooking time will be closer to 3 1/2 hours and if it’s in the 10-12lb range you’ll probably need the full 4 hours.
Of course, you’ll want to keep an eye on it as it cooks and check with a meat thermometer if you think it’s almost done.
If you have a larger turkey, you’ll probably need to cook a little longer. As a general rule of thumb, add 20 minutes per additional pound of turkey.
What if my turkey is browning to quickly?
If you notice that your turkey starts to brown too quickly, there are a couple things you can do to make sure it doesn’t get burnt.
First, reduce the heat in your oven to 300 or 325, depending on how quickly it’s browning.
Second, cover the turkey back up until you’re almost done baking. Then you can remove the cover again and crisp up the skin.
What if my turkey is not browning enough?
If you’re getting near the end of your cooking time and notice that the turkey still looks a bit pale, start basting with olive oil instead of turkey juice.
Since the oil contains no water, it will help the skin crisp up faster.
You can also broil the turkey for the final 5 minutes of cooking time to get that skin nice and golden brown, if needed.
How do you know when the turkey is done?
No matter what the skin looks like, be sure to check with a meat thermometer before declaring it done. Stick the thermometer in the meaty part of the thigh for your temp check.
A properly cooked turkey should have an internal temperature of at least 165°F. Keep in mind that it will continue to cook just after you remove it from the oven, so you can probably stop cooking once you get a reading of 160°F.
Should you cover a turkey after cooking?
There is a common misconception that you should cover a turkey after you remove it from the oven, to keep the juices from escaping.
However, what you’re actually doing is creating an oven of sorts and trapping heat inside! Yes, we want to keep the turkey warm, but this over-cooking will cause it to dry out quickly.
It’s best to leave the turkey uncovered at room temperature while you let it rest.
How long does a turkey need to rest?
“Resting” means giving the turkey time to reabsorb juices from cooking. Cutting a turkey right away means that the juices will be lost and the meat will be dry.
So how long should a turkey rest before carving?
At the very least, you’ll want to give it 45 minutes. My husband says an hour or more if possible. When planning your Thanksgiving dinner, be sure to account for this resting time!
What to serve with your roast turkey
Serve our butter roast turkey with some of these amazing sides!
- Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes — It doesn’t get any easier than this!
- Easy Brown Gravy Recipe — Tastes just like KFC!
- Ginger Ale Glazed Carrots — Only 2 simple ingredients!
- Parmesan Ranch Green Beans — A lighter alternative to green bean casserole
- Maple Bacon Brussel Sprouts — These will make anyone love Brussels sprouts!
- Copycat Texas Roadhouse Rolls — Just like their famous dinner rolls with cinnamon butter!
- The Best Broccoli Casserole — A staple in my family!
Roast Turkey Recipe (Printable Copy)
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Slow Roasted Turkey (Easy & Juicy!)
- 10 lb Turkey
- 1/2 cup butter room temperature
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil optional
- 3 Tablespoons poultry seasoning
- 2 Lemons
- Small bunch rosemary optional
- Small bunch thyme optional
- 2 yellow onions small, quartered
- 2 heads Garlic
- 2 cups Water
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Remove any giblets from the turkey.
- Carefully slide a large spoon between the skin and the breast of the turkey. Rub about 1/4 cup of butter in this space beneath the turkey skin, directly on the breast meat. Rub remaining butter all over the turkey.
- Place half of a lemon, rosemary, and thyme inside the turkey cavity. Use kitchen string to tie the turkey legs together. You can also make a small cut in the turkey skin and push the legs through to hold them together.
- Sprinkle the turkey liberally with poultry seasoning.
- Add to your roasting pan: water, quartered onions, lemon wedges, and garlic cloves (peeled and crushed).
- Place turkey in roasting pan.
- Bake for 3 1/2 to 4 hours. Keep covered for the first 2 hours. After removing the lid, baste turkey with its own juices every 20-30 minutes. If needed, baste spots that are not browning with olive oil.
- Cook until turkey reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.
- Remove from oven and let turkey rest for at least 45 minutes before carving.
- If turkey is not browning enough, broil for the last 5 minutes of cooking time to crisp the skin.
- If turkey is browning too quickly, reduce oven temp to 300 or 325 and put the cover back on.
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