Everyone hates dry turkey. Many people don’t eat Turkey at all because they were tortured with terrible turkey on Thanksgiving as a child. Follow these simple instructions and you can have the perfect Roasted Turkey every time.
SELECT THE TURKEY
First, you have to choose your Turkey. A fresh turkey is best, but frozen turkeys will taste great if cooked properly. I’ve roasted a fresh organic turkey that was $2.99/lb and it tasted the same as a frozen $.69/lb Butterball using this method.
If you buy a frozen turkey, put it in the refrigerator three or four days before you plan to cook the turkey.
The perfect roasted turkey requires starting the day before you plan to cook the turkey.
BRINE THE TURKEY
Next, the most important step is brining the turkey. This is where many people go wrong, and many online recipes and videos lead people astray. I’m not going to do a chemistry lesson, but the only thing that the turkey is going to absorb is salt and sugar. Spending hours making a brine with multiple liquids and ingredients is a complete waste of time because chemistry prevents the turkey from absorbing the flavor. You can read all about the science of brining here.
The best brine is a dry brine of kosher salt. It is simple and it creates the smallest mess. Who wants to create a bigger mess to clean up when preparing for Thanksgiving? Not me. I coat the entire outside of the Turkey with Kosher Salt and let it sit covered in foil overnight in the refrigerator. That’s it.
MAKE TURKEY STOCK
This is quick and easy, or you can just use store bought Chicken Broth. I prefer to make my own. Here is how to make the best Homemade Turkey Stock.
MAKE THE STUFFING
It is best to make the Stuffing the night before. After you coat the turkey with Salt, you start the Turkey Stock using the Neck and Giblets. It takes three hours, but it is totally worth it if you want the best Thanksgiving Stuffing. You can easily substitute store bought Chicken Broth for the Turkey Stock and this recipe will still be amazing.
Joe’s Thanksgiving Stuffing
- 3 Cups Crumbled Corn Bread
- 3 Cups Crumbled Biscuits You can also substitute lightly toasted white bread
- 3 Eggs lightly beaten
- 1 stick Butter
- 1 Onion finely chopped
- 1/2 cup Celery finely chopped
- 1 Tsp Salt
- 1 Tsp Black Pepper
- 2 TBSP Poultry Seasoning
- 1 Apple Diced Finely, I use McIntosh or Honey Crisp
- 4-6 Cups Turkey Stock
- Dice Apple
- Chop Onions and Celery
- Crumble Biscuits and Corn Bread
- Melt Butter in pan on medium heat
- Add Onions and Celery into the pan and sauté for 4-5 minutes
- Crack 3 eggs into a large mixing bowl and lightly beat
- Add corn bread, biscuits, celery and onion, apple, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper and stir together
- Add four cups of Turkey Stock and stir
- The consistency should NOT be like dough, lightly stir together just to combine. You do not want the bread to get mushy. There should be visible chunks of the bread. You can add extra Turkey Stock if it is too dry.
- Cover with plastic wrap and leave in the refrigerator overnight.
- Before you cook your turkey, loosely stuff the stuffing inside. Do NOT press down. You want the stuffing to cook so fill it as much as possible, but don't press down like you are trying to build a wall.
- I also stuff as much stuffing as possible under the skin on the breast, and in the neck hole.
RUB THE TURKEY
The dry rub is really up to your personal preference. You can go simple with just black pepper and it will taste good, but for Thanksgiving I recommend a rub that also contains poultry seasoning and paprika. Salt is unnecessary because you dry brined it in salt overnight. Feel free to get creative and use any store bought rub, or make your own.
After you coat your turkey with dry rub, coat it with extra virgin olive oil.
This is optional, but I also add more dry rub to the turkey after coating with olive oil.
PREPARE THE ROASTER OR OVEN
I use a Roaster for Thanksgiving so that my oven is free for other food prep. I set the temperature as high as the roaster will go, you want to be at 425-450. Roast for the first hour at 425-450, then drop the temperature to 325 until the temperature is 165 in the breast.
If you are using a regular oven, set it to 425. Roast for the first hour at 425, then drop the temperature to 350 until the temperature is 165 in the breast.
If you have Convection or Quick Bake option, use it at 425 for the first 30 minutes, then drop down to Regular Bake 350 until the temperature is 165 in the breast.
STUFF THE TURKEY
This is easy, but you have to be careful that you loosely stuff the stuffing inside. Do NOT press down. You want the stuffing to cook so fill it as much as possible, but don’t press down like you are trying to build a wall. I also stuff as much stuffing as possible under the skin on the breast, and in the neck hole.
ROASTING THE TURKEY
This is really the easy part because the turkey roast on its own with a thermometer probe inserted into the breast. You can also use a quick read digital thermometer. Once the temperature hits 165, it is done. You can read all about safely handling your turkey here.
A 20 pound turkey will only take 5-6 hours in a roaster. It might take longer in a regular oven, and it might cook faster in a convection oven. It is all about the internal temperature being 165+, which is why the thermometer is so important.
Once the turkey hits 165 degrees, remove from the oven or roaster and let it sit until serving time.
EAT THE TURKEY
As long as you brined the turkey and roasted until it hits 165, you are guaranteed a perfect roasted turkey that’s so tasty you go back for seconds.
The Stuffing is already a side dish, and if you are making it for Thanksgiving, you are also going to want to try my favorite side dish for Thanksgiving Jeani’s Dressing. It will be your family’s new favorite Thanksgiving Side Dish.