Simple Roast Turkey

Course Main Dishes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 15 minutes
Servings 12 people
Calories 67kcal
Author Aimee


  • 1 18-lb turkey fresh or thawed
  • 1/2 cup salted butter room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon sea salt
  • Fresh herbs or crabapples to garnish optional


One Day Ahead

  • Remove fresh turkey from any packaging and snip free of any string or trussing. Remove neck and giblets from the body cavity, reserving for stock, if desired.
  • Rinse turkey well under cold water and pat dry with paper towel. With a sharp knife, remove the wing tips (up to the first joint) and add those to the stock pot too.
  • Place turkey on a tray or pan and sprinkle the sea salt all over. Leave uncovered in the fridge overnight. This will allow the bird's skin to dry out, making it crispier, plus the salt will add flavour to the meat without the hassle of a wet brine.

Two Hours Before Roasting

  • Remove turkey from the fridge. Rub a softened stick of butter ALL over the outside of the bird. Coating the skin with butter will help to keep the meat moist, add flavour, and ensure the skin turns a perfect golden brown colour.
  • Place the turkey on a wire rack in a large, shallow roasting pan. Elevating the turkey allows for the heat to get all around and also for the skin to crisp properly.
  • Leave the turkey on the counter and allow it to come to room temperature.
  • Preheat the oven to 400°F and place the turkey on the bottom rack. Roast for twenty minutes and then lower the heat to 350°F for the remainder of the cooking time. (If you forget to lower the oven, don't worry - the turkey still comes out fine, just perhaps a little darker than you would like.)
  • If you cook your turkey from room temperature, un-trussed and un-stuffed, it will cook significantly faster than a chilly bird stuffed full of bread and trussed tightly. Air will circulate much better around the bird and roasting times will be shorter.
  • These are the approximate roasting times using this method:
    • 5 lbs – 1-1/2 hrs
    • 8 lbs – 1-3/4 hrs
    • 10 lbs – 2 hrs
    • 12 lbs – 2-1/2 hrs
    • 15 lbs – 2-3/4 hrs
    • 17 lbs – 3 hrs
    • 20 lbs – 3-1/2 hrs
  • Oven temperatures can vary drastically, so even if the turkey has been in the oven for the appropriate time, it is still necessary to double-check for doneness. A meat thermometer should register 170°F when inserted into the thickest part of the thigh (but not touching the bone).
  • Remove the turkey from the oven, tent it loosely with foil and let it rest for at least thirty minutes (and up to an hour). This resting time will allow the cooking juices to be re-absorbed by the meat instead of losing the moisture as soon as the turkey is sliced into. If you use the pan juices for gravy, just transfer the turkey to a platter to continue resting, and make the gravy in the roasting pan.
  • Place roast turkey on a serving platter and garnish with fresh herbs, cranberries or crab apples if desired. Carve while still warm and serve with plenty of hot gravy.


Calories: 67kcal | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 20mg | Sodium: 648mg | Vitamin A: 235IU | Calcium: 2mg