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Traditional Roast Turkey

Traditional Roast TurkeyA basic, no-frills recipe for roasting a whole turkey.

Recipe Ingredients:

1 (8 to 12-pound) fresh or frozen turkey, thawed
Vegetable oil, if desired
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste (optional)

Cooking Directions:

  1. Be sure turkey is completely thawed. Remove turkey from original wrapper and remove neck and giblets from cavities. Rinse turkey thoroughly with cold water; drain and pat dry with paper towels. Tuck wing tips under back or tie to body. Refasten drumsticks with metal or plastic clip or band of skin.
  2. Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C).
  3. Place turkey breast-side up on wire rack in shallow roasting pan. Insert meat thermometer into the thickest part of the inner thigh; do not let thermometer touch bone. If desired, brush skin with vegetable oil. Season with salt and pepper inside and out.
  4. Roast uncovered until skin reaches desired brown color; cover loosely with a tent of aluminum foil for remaining time. Roast until thermometer reaches 180°F (approximately 80°C), about 2 3/4 to 3 hours. Remove from oven; let stand 20 minutes before carving.

Makes 8 to 12 servings.


  • If stuffing turkey, the stuffing should be prepared and loosely packed into the turkey just before placing turkey in oven. Increase roasting time to 3 to 3 1/2 hours. The stuffing should register 165°F on meat thermometer.
  • To ensure food safety, remove stuffing immediately after cooling; do not store in bird.

The following information is provided by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service web site, regarding the timetable for cooking a fresh or thawed turkey in preheated 325°F (160°C) oven. These times are approximate and should always be used in conjunction with a properly placed thermometer.

Product Weight Unstuffed Timing Stuffed Timing
8 to 12 pounds 2 3/4 to 3 hours 3 to 3 1/2 hours
12 to 14 pounds 3 to 3 3/4 hours 3 1/2 to 4 hours
14 to 18 pounds 3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hours 4 to 4 1/4 hours
18 to 20 pounds 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours 4 1/4 to 4 3/4 hours
20 to 24 pounds 4 1/2 to 5 hours 4 3/4 to 5 1/4 hours

Recipe and photograph provided courtesy of Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc.