The Best Turkey Recipe

November 10, 2016 by Jenny Melrose

The best turkey recipe is one that can be completed by a first timer with little to no stress.  The best roast turkey recipe is perfectly seasoned and is crispy on the outside while still being juicy on the inside. If you follow my steps for the best turkey recipe you won’t go wrong.

Turkey before and after being cooked using the best turkey recipe

The Best Turkey Recipe for a First Timer

There is nothing that says a holiday more to me then the perfect roast turkey recipe. I can vividly remember my mom patiently keeping an eye on the turkey to make sure that it was cooked exactly the way my dad liked, which by the way was dried out.  Ssh! Don’t tell him I told you, but for the longest time I refused to eat any type of meat because I thought that I didn’t like it.  In reality, I just didn’t like it dried out. Thank goodness for my husband who awakened my love for meat with his strong understanding of how each type of meat should be cooked.  

A favorite recipe in our house is my roast chicken so I adjusted it a bit and came up with the best turkey recipe. It’s crispy on the outside and the meat has fabulous flavor. Plus, it is an easy recipe for a first time turkey roaster to make.  If I can do it, anyone can!


Roasted turkey on a platter

Steps for the Best Turkey Recipe

  1. Thoroughly clean, rinse and dry the outside and cavity of the turkey.
  2. Generously lather the turkey with butter.  I try my best to get pieces of butter under the skin as well.  
  3. Sprinkle salt, pepper and onion powder all over the outside of the turkey.  Make sure to rub the seasoning over the turkey so that it is evenly spread out.  
  4. Fill the cavity with garlic, onion and butter.  Joe doesn’t like his stuffing inside of the turkey, which is why I add the vegetables instead.
  5. On the bottom of the roasting pan pour in 1 cup of water to help with the basting process. I also place chopped celery, onion and carrots in the bottom of the pain.  
  6. I put the gizzard and giblets off to the side to simmer while the turkey cooks so that I can use it to make my gravy, which I just recently perfected.  It only took me 5 years!

Best turkey recipe in the roasting pan with vegetables underneath.

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The Best Turkey Recipe Equipment

I’m a true believer in not spending a ton of money on fancy equipment that you’ll only use a few times a year. That is why I chose to supply my kitchen with just a few items that can be used for this juicy turkey recipe, but also could come in handy other times of the year.  A roasting pan is an absolute essential.  You don’t need an expensive one either.  I would also recommend a turkey baster and a meat thermometer. 

Perfect Roast Turkey

Side Dishes to go with the Best Turkey Recipe

We love the charred, crispiness of the skin. The vegetables in the roasting pan make a ton of difference on the basting process, as well as the gravy.  We always have turkey for Thanksgiving and sometimes even sneak it in for Easter.  I usually serve it with our Lightened Up Jiffy Corn Casserole and Honey Roasted Carrots with my Garlic Mashed Potatoes topped with Gravy.  If you’re scared of gravy or haven’t found one that you love, then my gravy recipe is one that you’re not going to want to miss!

The Best Turkey Recipe

Turkey is the traditional choice for most holiday meals, but it can also put most first time turkey roasters into a ball of nerves.  With our best turkey recipe this will not happen though.  The best roast turkey recipe is easy enough for a first timer to pull it off and flavorful enough that your mother-in-law will ask for the recipe.

4.34 from 3 votes

The Best Turkey Recipe

A combination of vegetables and seasoning makes this the perfect roast turkey recipe that is fragrant and delicious.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 50 minutes
Servings 16


  • 15 lb turkey
  • 1 stick butter
  • salt
  • pepper
  • onion powder
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 onions chopped
  • 3 carrots chopped
  • 3 stalks celery chopped
  • 1 cup water


  1. Preheat the oven to 500 F. Remove the gizzard and giblets from inside the turkey's cavity. Thoroughly clean, rinse and dry the outside and cavity of the turkey.

  2. Lather the turkey with at least 1/2 stick of butter and try to get under the skin of the turkey as well.

  3. Generously sprinkle salt, pepper and onion powder over the lathered butter.

    Rub the seasoning evenly over the outside of the turkey.

    Place the rest of the butter inside the cavity of the turkey.

  4. Add 1 chopped onion and 3 cloves of garlic minced. Pour 1 cup of water into the bottom of the roasting pan and add the other chopped onion, 3 chopped carrots and 3 stalks of celery chopped.

  5. Roast turkey at 500 F for about 20 minutes or until the turkey begins to brown.

    Reduce heat to 350 F and continue to roast.

  6. Baste the turkey every 30 minutes with the drippings and liquid in the bottom of the roasting pan.

  7. The turkey is done once a thermometer stuck into the thickest part of the bird reads 155 to 165 F.

  8. It should take about 3 hours and 30 minutes for the bird to cook, but make sure to use a thermometer.

    Remove the turkey from the oven and let set for 20 minutes before carving.



Perfect Roast Turkey Recipe

You may also like…

Gravy Recipe

The Best Gravy Recipe EVER

Lightened Up Jiffy Corn Casserole 



  • Kelly @ View Along the Way

    This looks SO amazing and juicy, yum! Thanks for linking it up to Monday Funday!

  • Melissa

    This looks absolutely delicious!!!! I am going to have to try out your recipe. Thanks for sharing!

  • Randi - Dukes and Duchesses

    That looks amazing … my mouth is watering, Jenny! There’s nothing I love better than a perfectly roasted turkey. Thanks for sharing at Project Inspire{d}!

  • Jill @ Create.Craft.Love.

    That looks amazing! Now I’m ready for some turkey!! Pinning!

  • Meg

    Looks amazing! Thanks for sharing

  • Jennifer

    I am so wanting to do this for Thanksgiving, but we do a turkey breast, how would that work with temperature and time?

  • Cheryl

    Thanks so much. I am going to us your recipe this Thanksgiving. Can’t wait to taste it.

  • Robyn @ simply fresh dinners

    I had never thought about putting veggies in the roasting pan, Jenny – great idea. We have turkey at Easter too and will definitely be trying this! Have a great weekend.

  • Hayley

    This year is my first ever to do a turkey, since we and a lot of friends are away from our big families. This recipe sounds delicious and looks so good too. I’ve been advised by a lot of people to use a turkey bag and wondered if this would still work with one, just taking out the basting, or if that messes things up all the way around. Also, do the vegetables need to be under the turkey? Or can they be around it if I don’t have a pan that raises the turkey up? Again, I’m a turkey cooking virgin, so any extra advice would be excellent! I’d love to use this!
    Also, are you up for sharing this famous gravy recipe you have perfected?


    This was the EASIEST and most delicious turkey I have ever made. I have, in the past, always used practically every spice in my cabinet and tons of chicken broth ‘under’ the turkey… the foil tenting.. the whole 9 yards.. and I was SO GLAD I trusted your recipe. The turkey was aMAZING!! It was done 30-40 mins prior to expected time, but the thermometer let me know, so the recipe honestly seemed ‘fool-proof’. I followed it to the letter as well. Simple spices, simple roasting, very little liquid under the turkey… turned out PERFECT! Best turkey I have ever made, and the easiest by far. Thank you for sharing, and Happy Thanksgiving! 🙂

  • Chris

    Followed recipe to a tee. My biggest issue was that the turkey cooked too quickly. I think the flavor was great. Our turkey 15.3 pounds was done in 2.5 hrs. The next time I will either not have initial temperature so high or reduce heat to 325… Certainly possible it is just my oven. Like I said, the taste was spot on. Thanks.

  • Karin B

    “The gizzard and giblets I put off to the side to simmer while the turkey cooks so that I can use it to make my gravy, which I just recently perfected. It only took me 5 years!”

    Do you have your gravy recipe on your site? Thanks!

  • Linda

    Just found your recipe on Pinterest and made it for my family today. They all loved it. My husband said it was the best turkey he’s ever had. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

  • Angela

    Stupid question but what do you do with all the veggies that were under the turkey after the turkey is cooked?

    • Ruby

      I had the same questions about the veggies~

      • Jenny Melrose

        I put the vegetables in a serving dish or if I’m looking for a great presentation I’ll lay them around the outside of the turkey on a platter before carving.

  • Carole Imes

    This is very similar to how I prepare my turkey except for the temperature settings. However I always stuff my turkey. Any changes with the stuffing added?

    • Jenny Melrose

      I don’t make it with the stuffing inside because my husband doesn’t like it, but I would check the temperature of the bird. You might have to cook it a little longer depending upon the thickness of your stuffing.

      • http://www./

        It’s great to find someone so on the ball

  • marli

    I myself am a turkey cooking virgin but would like to try and cook one this Christmas for my family, also because my mom is planning on passing down the Christmas’torch’ lol. But there is some questions I have if you could answer that would be awesome!
    Do you need to cover it with foil? And
    are the veggies in the bottom good to eat or are they mushy? And did you put the garlic right in the bird!?
    Thanks for tips :)!

    • Jenny Melrose

      We usually serve our veggies in a separate serving dish and they’re perfect. I do put the garlic right in the bird with the chopped onion.

  • Julie

    Just want to make sure. Is it roasted uncovered the whole time?

    • Jenny Melrose

      I only cover it if it begins to look too dark.

  • Casey G.

    Do I have to alter the temps or anything else in the recipe if I’m using a roaster oven instead of my conventional oven?

  • Beberly

    This is my first time cooking a turkey and I’m stressing out. I love how easy this recipe is. I’ve heard a lot about brining the turkey. Would like to know if you did that as well and what recipe did you use. Please help lol and I have a 22 pound turkey. All advice is needed and thank you so much!!

  • Desiree @ The36thAvenue

    Trying your recipe this year… Sharing on FB and pinning! xo

  • Ellie S.

    I have made a turkey for thanksgiving dinner all by myself for past 15 years, before that I was married so the whole husband’s family got together in the cooking for thanksgiving dinner so I was never on my own, I don’t miss that anymore and I love cooking for my boy and they love been around the table specially on the holidays…BUT…is not always easy for me to make a turkey that I am happy with it I am my worst critic…I will try you recipe this year and I’ll let you know how it turn out for me. Thanks for sharing it.

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  • monica

    So you do not cover the turkey at all?

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  • Vanessa Navarro

    This came out perfect for me. Made it today. This was my first turkey. EVER! My family was very very impressed. Even my mother in law. She’s never made a turkey and is asking if next year I can show her!!!! Thank you so much this was delicious!!! I have a video to see the end result

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