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Whole Roasted Thanksgiving Turkey

477 A Thanksgiving Turkey.JPG
477 A Thanksgiving Turkey.JPG

Whole Roasted Thanksgiving Turkey


The grand centerpiece that our family and friends tightly nestle around over Thanksgiving dinner can cause quite a bit of angst when it comes to cooking it! This recipe is as straightforward as you get and has turkey on the table within 4 hours, including prep, cooking and resting!  

Yield: 8 – 10 servings

Oven: 350ºF

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 2 1/2 – 3 hours

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1, 12-pound thawed whole turkey

1 bunch thyme, divided

6 sprigs rosemary, divided

2 bunches sage, divided

2 medium size yellow onions, roughly cut into 2-inch size pieces, divided

4 carrots, cleaned, unpeeled and cut into 2-inch rounds, divided

6 stalks celery, each cut into 2-inch pieces, divided

1 orange, cut in 2-inch size pieces, divided

1 lemon, quartered, divided

4 tablespoons melted butter

1 tablespoon roughly chopped fresh thyme

1 – 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock, more or less depending on size of pan


1.   Preheat oven to 350ºF.

2.   Lay the turkey face side up on a large baking sheet lined with paper towels. Using more paper towels, dry the entire bird.

3.   Tuck the wings behind the neck so they don’t burn and fill the cavity with half the amount of thyme, rosemary, sage, onions, carrots, celery, oranges and lemon. Using cooking twine, tie the legs and tail together enclosing the cavity.

4.   Line the bottom of a heavy bottom roasting pan with the remaining herbs, onions, carrots, celery, oranges and lemons and toss until evenly combined. Add the roasting rack and then chicken stock so that it comes at least 1/4-inch up the side of the pan.

5.   In a small bowl, combine melted butter and thyme. Place the turkey breast side up on top of the roasting rack and using your hands, evenly divide the melted butter and thyme mixture to cover ensuring that all crevices are evenly coated.

6.   Transfer turkey to the preheated 350ºF oven and roast until the turkey is golden brown in color and the thickest part of meat (the thigh) registers 165ºF, approximately 2 1/2 – 3 hours – see kitchen note.

7.   Remove roasting pan and turkey from oven and stand the turkey up to remove any excess moisture inside. Carefully transfer the turkey to a rimmed carving board to catch the juices. Cover with foil and allow the turkey to rest for 20 – 25 minutes before carving.

8.   Consider keeping the pan juices for a classic gravy, just make sure you remove and discard the herbs, vegetables and fruit!


Kitchen Note: If the turkey takes on too much color before it is cooked all the way through, loosely cover with foil.