How to cook a Basic Roast Turkey for Thankgsgiving

Basic Roast Turkey

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Clock Icon for Prep Time 15 min prep
Person Icon for Serving Size 11 servings
Carrot Icon for Number of Ingredients Size 9 ingredients

We’re thinking of Harvest Festival and the bounty of the season this week and, of course, of the approaching Holidays. Holidays for most, mean a turkey. Sometimes keeping it simple is not only best, it’s...


  • 1 (10 to 12-pound) free-range turkey, giblets removed (see Ann’s Tips)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 garlic cloves, kept whole
  • 1 small onion or 3 shallots, peeled and kept whole
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 carrot stick
  • 12 sprigs of thyme
  • ¼ cup butter, cut into pieces (optional)
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Nutrition Facts


556 cals


27 g

Saturated Fat

8 g

Polyunsaturated Fat

5 g

Monounsaturated Fat

11 g


4 g


0 g


1 g


70 g


1126 mg


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Rub the turkey all over with olive oil, and generously rub in salt and pepper.
  3. Put the garlic, onion, celery, carrot, and 6 sprigs of thyme into the body cavity. Tie the drumsticks together with kitchen twine and tuck the wings underneath the body.
  4. If using, put the butter underneath the skin covering the breast. Transfer to a roasting pan.
  5. Bake in the oven uncovered for 30 to 45 minutes. Then pour 1 cup of water or stock into the pan and cover the turkey very loosely with foil. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees. The turkey is ready when a thermometer inserted in the thigh reads 165 degrees, about 1½ hours.
  6. Discard vegetables from cavity. Let the turkey rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.

Chef Tips

A rule of thumb for the cooking time for a turkey is 15 minutes a pound + 30 minutes. If you fill the body cavity as well as the breast with stuffing, be sure to add on the extra weight and adjust the cooking time upwards.

Don’t throw the giblets away, use them make stock for the gravy. Give the liver to a lucky cat, and put all the rest, neck, heart and gizzards, into a small saucepan with a couple of unpeeled shallots, a small scrubbed carrot and a sprig of celery. Cover with water, and add a stem each of parsley and thyme and ½ teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer gently for 1 to 1½ hours. Strain, discarding the cooked giblets and vegetables. Use the stock to deglaze the turkey pan to make the gravy.

And of course when the turkey’s been eaten up, use the carcass to make a delicious bone stock.

Registered Dietitian Approved

Our recipes, articles, and videos are reviewed by our oncology-trained dietitians to ensure that each is backed with scientific evidence and follows the guidelines set by the Oncology Nutrition for Clinical Practice, 2nd Ed., published by the Oncology Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group, a professional interest group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the American Institute for Cancer Research and the American Cancer Society

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