The World’s Simplest Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe

November 21, 2017 by elementthree

We are 48-hours away from Thanksgiving Day! That means it is time to focus on the turkey. Why in the world do people stress so much over their Thanksgiving Turkey? Ok, I guess it is the centerpiece of your Thanksgiving meal. And that usually means you have a table full of people not to disappoint. Ok, I get it. It’s a big deal. This recipe world’s simplest Thanksgiving Turkey recipe, it is stress-free and EASY. There’s no bringing or basting the turkey, no cooking it upside down, or anything weird. You don’t even need an expensive roasting pan. I’m convinced that this recipe is not only the simplest way to cook a Thanksgiving turkey, it also yields a gorgeous, super juicy, perfectly cooked turkey.


  • 1  Turkey (12-20lbs)
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 1 apple, quartered
  • .75 oz container EACH fresh rosemary, thyme, sage

For the herb butter:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • fresh chopped herbs


  1. If the turkey is frozen: Thaw in the fridge, 24 hours for every 5 pounds of Turkey. I like to give myself 1 extra day, just to be safe.
  2. Remove the thawed turkey from the fridge 1 hour before roasting, to let it come to room temperature.
  3. Adjust your oven rack so the turkey will sit in the center of the oven. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  4. Make the herb butter by combining room temperature butter, minced garlic, salt, pepper, one tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary, one tablespoon fresh chopped thyme, and half a tablespoon of fresh chopped sage. (You’ll use the remaining fresh herbs for stuffing inside the cavity of the turkey)
  5. Remove turkey from packaging and remove the neck and giblets from the inside the cavities of the bird. (Reserve them for gravy, if you want, or discard them). Pat the turkey very dry with paper towels.
  6. Season the cavity of the turkey with salt and pepper. Stuff it with the quartered lemon, onion and apple and leftover herbs.
  7. Use your fingers to loosen and lift the skin above the breasts (on the top of the turkey) and smooth a few tablespoons of the herb butter underneath.
  8. Tuck the wings of the turkey underneath the turkey and set the turkey on a roasting rack inside a roasting pan*.
  9. Microwave the remaining herb butter mixture for 30 seconds (it doesn’t need to be completely melted–just really softened). Use a basting brush to brush the remaining herb butter all over the outside of the turkey, legs, and wings.
  10. Roast at 325 degrees F for about 13-15 minutes per pound, or until internal temperature (inserted on the middle of thigh and breast) reaches about 165 degrees.
  11. (I remove the turkey from the oven once it reaches 160 degrees. Then, I tent it with foil, and it will continue cooking under the foil, to reach 165 degrees F.)
  12. Check the turkey about halfway through cooking, and once the skin gets golden brown, cover the top of the turkey with tinfoil, to protect the breast meat from overcooking.
  13. Allow turkey to rest for 20-30 minutes before carving.
  14. Reserve any drippings and juice remaining in your roasting pan to make turkey gravy.

Recipe Notes

*If you don’t have a roasting pan, use a disposable foil roasting pan. Place a bed of chopped veggies —carrots, onion, and celery work well— in the bottom of the pan, and set the turkey on top of them.

The real key to baking a perfect Thanksgiving Turkey is not to overcook it, that’s what dries out the meat, and you want to carve into a juicy, moist turkey on Thanksgiving!  So, just plan ahead to get the timing right. Most importantly, just enjoy the company of your loved ones and have a Happy Thanksgiving!



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