Classic Roast Turkey with Stuffing, fresh herbs, and a pretty pumpkin garnish is easy to make from scratch! Get your Turkey Day feast in gear with this uber-flavorful recipe.
The Ultimate Roast Turkey for a Festive Thanksgiving Dinner!
Making a homemade roast turkey has never been easier, thanks to this delicious, no-brine recipe. Using plenty of butter and seasonings, it guarantees a juicy and flavorful bird. The colorful homemade stuffing with pistachios and cranberries just adds to the party!
Thus, if you’re on turkey duty this year, rejoice! It’s easy to roast the perfect Thanksgiving main star, with this simple no-fuss method. As soon as you taste it, you’ll agree that this turkey is your best EVER.
The Ingredients You’ll Need
To make this succulent, juicy Thanksgiving turkey, you’ll need some stuffing ingredients, ingredients for the turkey itself, and optional veggies and garnishes. Make it as simple or as complex as you like!
For the Stuffing
- Onion: Dice the onion and give it a quick sautée in a bit of butter.
- Bread: Day-old white bread, cut into cubes.
- Broth: Chicken broth, turkey broth, or veggie broth.
- Butter: At room temperature.
- Egg: One large, whole egg will bring the stuffing together and add structure.
- Pistachios and Cranberries: For bright pops of color and flavor.
- Seasonings: Sea salt (or Himalayan salt), garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, chili powder, and a little bit of freshly grated nutmeg.
For the Turkey
- Whole Turkey: I recommend a 12 to 14 pound whole turkey.
- Butter: Softened.
- Herbs: Fresh rosemary and thyme, or whatever herbs you like.
- Garlic: Cloves of fresh garlic to roast in the cavity of the turkey.
- Salt and Pepper
- Onion: Cut a couple of onions into quarters. I used red onion.
- Carrots and Celery: A couple of stalks of celery, and a couple of carrots, scrubbed.
- Garlic: I like to roast a whole head of garlic with the veggies.
- Apples: Okay, not technically vegetables, but still a scrumptious addition.
- Pumpkin: A small (1-½ pound) pumpkin or other winter squash, for serving.
- Olive Oil: Light, virgin, or extra virgin, all are fine.
- Salt and Pepper
- Fresh Herbs: Again, I used rosemary and thyme, but you can use any herbs.
- Clementine: Cut the clementine into slices.
How to Make a Roast Turkey
This easy method for making a whole roast turkey doesn’t need any brining or marinating, but it’s flavorful and juicy. Let’s take a look at how it’s made.
- Bring the Turkey to Room Temp. Set the thawed turkey out at room temperature for a couple of hours before cooking, to take the chill off.
- Make the Stuffing. In a large mixing bowl, combine your cubed white bread, sautéed onions, spices, butter, egg, pistachios, cranberries, and salt. Pour the chicken broth over these ingredients, and knead them well with your fingers or a wooden spoon. Set the stuffing aside while you prep the turkey.
- Prep the Turkey: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Soften the butter in your hands, so that it is soft enough to spread all over the turkey breast, legs, and wings. Generously sprinkle salt and pepper all over the buttered turkey. Then place fresh rosemary, thyme, and garlic in the cavity. Stuff the prepared stuffing in the neck and body cavity, and fasten with baking twine or with sprigs of rosemary.
- Get Ready to Roast. Cover the turkey with aluminum foil, and arrange the vegetables all around the turkey in the pan.
- Roast the Turkey. Place the oven rack in the lowest position, and roast the turkey for about 16 to 18 minutes per pound, removing the foil about an hour before the end of the cooking time and basting the turkey with the pan juices.
- Rest. When the turkey is crispy, golden, and fully done, take it out of the oven and place it on a serving platter. Cover it with foil, and tuck a towel around it. Let it rest this way for 1 hour, before carving.
- Roast the Pumpkin (Optional). If using the pumpkin, cut it into slices and place them on a baking sheet with oil, salt, and pepper. Bake at 350°F until the pumpkin is tender and browned on the edges.
- Enjoy! Serve the roast turkey with roasted pumpkin, fresh spices (as desired), and a garnish of sliced clementines.
How Long Does It Take to Roast a Turkey?
The amount of roasting time you’ll need depends on how big your turkey is. Basically, turkey needs to cook for around 16 minutes per pound. However, everyone’s oven (and turkey!) is slightly different, so the best way to make sure your bird is done is to use a meat thermometer. I love using this 👉 WiFi Smart Meat Thermometer.
Keep in mind, some turkeys come with a disposable meat thermometer already inserted.
But, if you have to use your own meat thermometer, make sure to check your turkey for doneness in the thickest part of the thigh and breast, as well as the stuffing. Turkey is done when it reaches 170˚F in the thigh and 160˚F to 165˚F in the breast. The stuffing should also reach about 165˚F.
Is It Better to Roast a Turkey Covered or Uncovered?
To get a good combination of moist turkey and crispy skin, I think it’s best to roast the turkey covered during the first part of the cooking process, and uncovered at the end. Uncovering the turkey toward the end of cooking allows it to brown nicely without drying out. Easy and effective!
Looking for more turkey tips? Great! I’ve got all kinds of helpful hints here, so read on, and happy cooking!
- How Much Turkey Do I Need? Plan on about a pound per person. Yes, that might seem like a lot, but remember that it includes the weight of bones, giblets, and the moisture in the turkey that will become pan juices while roasting.
- How Long Should the Turkey Thaw? Most of us are working with frozen whole turkey, which takes a surprisingly long time to thaw. For the best and safest process, let it thaw in the fridge for one day per 4 to 5 pounds. That means a 16-pound turkey will take somewhere around 4 days to thaw. Get started early!
- Don’t Skip the Rest: Resting the turkey after roasting, that is! Allowing the roasted turkey to rest for an hour or two helps the meat stay juicy and cool down enough for easy carving.
Hearty Serving Suggestions
Serve this easy roast turkey with your favorite holiday side dishes, for a memorable and hearty feast. Need some recipes for those side dishes? I’ve got you covered! Try these Thanksgiving classics, and have a wonderful Turkey Day. 🦃
- Sweet Potato Casserole: This may just be a dessert masquerading as a side dish, but who cares? Creamy Sweet Potato Casserole with marshmallows is irresistible no matter how you slice – or scoop – it.
- Cranberry Sauce: It’s a Thanksgiving must-have, cutting through all the richness with a sharp, sweet, tart taste. To make your own, try this easy recipe for Perfect Homemade Cranberry Sauce. It delivers scrumptious results, every time!
- Corn Pudding: A simple casserole with big, buttery flavor, Creamed Corn Pudding is made with eggs, cream, butter, corn, and a few other ingredients for a decadent, custard-like texture.
Storing, Reheating, and Freezing
If you don’t finish all of your turkey on the big day, you’ll want to store and reheat those leftovers. Here’s how to do it, easily and safely.
- Storing leftover turkey is easier than you might think! Just slice up the white meat, and either take the leg meat off of the bones or leave the legs whole. Wings can be left whole, too. Pack into airtight containers, and refrigerate for 3 to 4 days.
- Freezing the leftovers works best with the meat taken off the bones. Wrap tightly in a layer of plastic wrap, followed by a freezer bag for extra protection against freezer burn. Freeze the turkey meat for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge before reheating.
- Reheat turkey in the microwave, in the oven at 350°F, or in a covered skillet over low heat. Heat the turkey until it’s just heated through, but don’t overcook it or it will dry out. It’s helpful to reheat with gravy or pan juices, for added moisture.
Perfect Roast Turkey with Stuffing
For the stuffing:
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 large yellow onion, finely diced
- 10 slices day-old bread, cut into cubes
- 1 teaspoon sea salt or Himalayan salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- pinch ground nutmeg
- 4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature, chopped
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten to break up the yolk
- ¼ cup chopped pistachios
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- 1 cup chicken broth
For the turkey:
- 12 to 14 pound whole turkey
- ¾ cup butter, softened
- 1½ to 2 tablespoons sea salt, or to taste
- Fresh ground black pepper
- 1 bunch fresh rosemary
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 4 cloves garlic, cut in half, longwise
Optional suggestions for vegetables:
- 2 red onions, quartered
- 2 large carrots, cut into 3-inch pieces
- 2 ribs celery, cut into 3-inch pieces
- 2 apples, quartered
- 1 head of garlic, cut in in half, crosswise
- 1½ pound pumpkin, cut into 1-inch thick slices
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 clementines, sliced, for garnish, optional
- Fresh herbs, for garnish, optional
- Remove turkey from fridge about 1 to 2 hours before preparing it for roasting.
- Meanwhile, get started on the stuffing and melt 2 tablespoons butter in a skillet set over medium heat.
- Add the onions to the melted butter and cook until very tender, about 4 to 6 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent burning.
- In a large mixing bowl combine the sautéed onions, cubed white bread, spices, butter, egg, pistachios, and cranberries. Pour the chicken broth over the mixture, and knead well with your fingers, or a large spoon, to get a compact mixture. Set aside.
- To prepare the turkey, preheat the oven to 350°F, and remove all the giblets. Discard the giblets.
- Soften the butter well. Using your hands, spread the butter all over the bird and under the skin. Then, generously sprinkle the turkey on all sides with salt and fresh ground black pepper.
- Place the fresh rosemary, thyme, and halved garlic cloves inside the turkey cavity.
- Place the prepared stuffing in the neck cavity and body cavity, and fasten turkey's legs with baking twine or with sprigs of rosemary. Transfer the turkey to the roasting pan.
- Arrange the red onions, carrots, celery, apples, and garlic around the turkey in the pan. Cover the turkey with aluminum foil.
- Place the pan on the lowest rack in the oven. Roast for about 3 to 3½ hours, or around 16 minutes per pound. Please use an Instant Read Meat Thermometer to check for doneness. Turkey is done when the meat thermometer reads 170˚F at the thigh, and 160˚F at the breast.
- Just under 1 hour before the end of roasting, remove the aluminum foil. Baste the turkey with the fat in the roasting pan. Return the turkey to the oven and continue roasting until golden, crispy, and fully done. Continue to baste every 15 minutes.
- Transfer the roasted turkey to a platter, cover with foil, and tuck a towel around it. Let it rest for 1 hour before carving.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400˚F.
- Cut the pumpkin into slices and place them on a baking sheet; drizzle with oil, and season with salt and pepper.
- Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until tender and browned on the edges.
- Serve the roasted turkey with the roasted pumpkin, sprinkle with fresh spices and herbs, as desired, and garnish with clementines.
- Turkey Size: Plan on 1-pound per person. That might sound like a lot, but that includes the weight of bones and giblets that you won’t be eating.
- Thawing the Turkey: Thaw your turkey in the fridge for one day PER 4 to 5 pounds. That means a 16-pound turkey will take about 4 days to thaw.
- Rest the Turkey: Allowing the roasted turkey to rest for at least an hour before carving, will help the meat stay juicy.