Step-by-step photos for 
The Best Roast Turkey 


Everything will go more smoothly if you take inventory of what you need to have on hand before you begin preparing the turkey. Here are my tried-and-true recommendations.

A roasting pan and rack. I like a sturdy stainless steel roasting pan. However, some people prefer to use disposable aluminum roasting pans (widely available in grocery stores in November) so they don’t have to deal with clean up after the big meal. Many roasting pans come with racks. If you need to buy one, I highly recommend my pull-apart rack. It eliminates the awkwardness of lifting a heavy turkey off of the rack and onto a platter or cutting board. It has a rod that runs through the middle holding two sections together while the turkey cooks. After transferring the turkey to a platter, remove the rod, and the two sides pull apart and away leaving the turkey on the platter right where you want it.



High heat, water-proof gloves. I originally bought these awesome gloves for use when I grill, but I find myself frequently reaching for them in place of my old cloth oven mitts. They make it so easy to handle the turkey. You’ll see below that I flip my turkey over during the roasting process. I used to do that using folded paper towels, but I had to work quickly before the grease and heat soaked through and burned my hands. These gloves make it so easy. The gloves are washable in sudsy water or in the dishwasher.

Kitchen twine. To tie the turkey legs together. 

Silicone pastry brush. For coating the turkey with olive oil (or melted butter) before it goes into the oven. I prefer this to a natural bristle brush and it’s dishwasher safe for easy clean up.

A good thermometer is a must. It’s virtually impossible to know when your turkey is perfectly cooked without taking its internal temperature. I have two thermometers that I use when I roast a turkey. 

A remote probe thermometer. It inserts into the turkey while it cooks. The monitor attaches by a long oven-proof cord and sits on the counter outside the oven. (There are also pricier wireless probe thermometers, but I haven’t tried them.) An alarm goes off when the turkey reaches the right temperature, so there’s no taking it in and out of the oven to test for doneness. I also like that I can watch the temperature rise and make it easier to time when to cook the other dishes that will accompany the meal. I use a probe thermometer when I cook meat in the oven or grill, too. Awesome gadget.

An instant-read thermometer. I use this virtually every time I cook meat–oven, stove-top, or grill. For turkey, I use it after the remote thermometer alarm rings to check in several places on the thigh and breast to be sure that the turkey has reached the right temperature throughout. If you don’t have a remote thermometer, you can get by using one of these to check the turkey’s temp periodically as it cooks. I have a Thermapen that is the cream of the crop when it comes to thermometers. It’s pricey, though. However, you can get a more affordable instant read thermometer that works well with similar features. But, seriously, if you don’t have an instant read thermometer, get one!

Step-by-Step Guide to The Best Roast Turkey

Step-by-Step Guide to The Best Roast Turkey


14-16 pound turkey, fresh or thawed
1 teaspoon salt (omit if turkey has been brined)
1 teaspoon pepper
1 lemon, quartered
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
1-2 sprigs fresh parsley
1-2 sprigs fresh thyme
1-2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1-2 sprigs fresh sage
2-3 tablespoons olive oil or melted butter


  1. Remove turkey from refrigerator and allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  2. Place oven rack in lowest position. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  3. Coat roasting pan and rack with cooking spray and set aside.
  5. Remove neck and giblets from turkey main and neck cavities. (These can be discarded or used to make broth for gravy or soup.)
  6. If turkey has a metal or plastic clamp holding the legs together, remove and discard it.
  7. Add salt and pepper to the turkey cavity and rub with hand to distribute inside cavity. Stuff the cavity with lemon, onion (reserving one onion quarter), and herbs.
  8. Overlap skin at cavity opening to cover as much of gap as possible; use toothpicks or small turkey skewers, if needed, to hold skin in place. Tie legs together with twine.
  9. Insert remaining onion quarter under skin covering neck cavity. Tuck wing tips under turkey body, using them to hold skin over neck cavity in place.
  10. Pat turkey dry with a paper towel and brush breast side all over with olive oil. Flip turkey over, breast side down, onto rack in roasting pan. Brush with olive oil so entire turkey is coated.
  12. Place in 400 degree oven uncovered. After 1 hour, lower heat to 350 degrees and cook for an additional hour for turkeys 14 pounds or larger (45 minutes for smaller turkeys).
  13. Remove from oven and flip turkey over so it is breast side up. Insert a remote probe thermometer into thickest part of thigh. Return turkey to oven and set thermometer monitor alarm to sound at 165 degrees.
  14. (TIP: To avoid over-browning on top, keep an eye on the turkey in the last hour and loosely tent it with aluminum foil if it's browned enough before the desired internal temperature is reached. This may or may not be necessary, depending on individual ovens--some cook more evenly than others.)
  15. When thigh temperature reaches 165 to 170 degrees, remove from oven. Use an instant read thermometer to check temperature of other thigh. Also check thickest part of breast--it should be 160 degrees. If not, return to oven.
  16. Cooking times can vary. 13 minutes cooking time per pound is a good estimate. It should take a 14-16 pound turkey a total of 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 hours to cook. An 18 pound turkey takes closer to 4 hours. These times are ballpark and can vary; that's why using a thermometer is important for determining exactly when the turkey is done.
  17. When fully cooked, remove turkey from oven, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest undisturbed for a minimum of 30 minutes and up to 60 minutes. Carve and serve.