TIP: Tent the turkey, if necessary. 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–they don’t all perform in the same way. I got a new stove 2 years ago that cooks much more evenly than my old one. In my old oven, I always had to tent my turkey in the last hour, but that hasn’t been necessary in my new oven.
Step 17. Remove the turkey from the oven and use an instant read thermometer to make sure the turkey is fully cooked throughout. Check the temperature in the thigh on the other side (some ovens cook unevenly). Also, be sure and check the thickest part of the breast (as pictured below)–it’s best at 160 degrees out of the oven. The internal temperature will continue to rise approx. 5 degrees more after the turkey is removed from the oven.
How long does it take the turkey to cook? Cooking times can vary. 13 minutes cooking time per pound is a good estimate. It should take a 14 lb. turkey 2- 1/2 to 3 total cooking hours, a 16 pound turkey 3 to 3 -1/2 hours, and an 18 pound turkey 3-1/2 to 4 hours. These times are ballpark; that’s why using a thermometer is important for determining exactly when the turkey is done.
When your temperature tests are a-okay and the turkey is fully cooked, leave it out to rest.
Step 18. While it rests, cover the turkey loosely with foil. If you don’t need the pan drippings for making gravy, you can leave it in the pan while it rests. (Check out my recipe for Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy, to avoid the last minute stress of making it while the turkey rests.) Otherwise, transfer the turkey to a platter or cutting board before covering it. Let the turkey rest for a minimum of 30 minutes to let the juices settle into the meat. I usually rest mine for 45-60 minutes–it’s still hot and juicy inside after that long. The long rest gives me time to use the oven for baking other dishes like dressing, veggies, and rolls.
And, that is how to roast a perfect, flavorful, juicy turkey. There’s more than one way to roast a turkey, and I’m not saying that my way is the only way. But, after previously struggling with inconsistent results, this method has worked well for me time and time again.
Now all that’s left is the eating. Gobble, gobble.
Remove turkey from refrigerator and allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Place oven rack in lowest position. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Coat roasting pan and rack with cooking spray and set aside.
TO PREP THE TURKEY:
Remove neck and giblets from turkey main and neck cavities. (These can be discarded or used to make broth for gravy or soup.)
If turkey has a metal or plastic clamp holding the legs together, remove and discard it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
TO COOK THE TURKEY:
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).
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.
(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.)
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.
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.
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.