This Foolproof Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe is an unbelievably easy and amazingly reliable way to cook your turkey! If you’ve been wondering how to make Thanksgiving turkey juicy, tender, and flavorful every time… you’ve come to the right place.
It’s Turkey time!!🍴
First and foremost, because I love you, and I don’t want the fire department to show up at your front door, make sure you remember to run your oven’s self-clean cycle several days before you make this recipe!😁
Because of the cooking method, you are going to want a very clean oven before you tuck in Tom for his long nap! Read on my friend… this will all make sense very soon.
At first, this recipe starts with most of the usual suspects: chopped onion, apple, celery, and some whole fresh herbs. All stuffed in the cavity (and around the sides of the turkey) along with a stick of butter – of course! Then he gets rubbed down with some oil and sprinkled with some salt and pepper.
(Full disclosure here: I also sprinkled the bird with some fresh thyme and finely chopped sage but honestly it’s overrated. Because you cook this bird on such a high temperature the herbs essentially get charred and really don’t add any flavor so it’s really unnecessary.)
Settle and stuff the bird into the roasting pan, just like you’d expect (sorry for the raw bird images, probably my least favorite pictures on the blog but hey, if it will help out the team…What can I say? I’m a team playa’!)
Now here’s when it gets really interesting. Tightly cover and cook Tom for an hour at 500 degrees. Then turn the oven off.😳 Yup!!! Not even kidding. Crazy right!??
But whatever you do – don’t open that oven door!!! Thus the family has informally named this recipe the “Closed Oven Turkey.” Let it sit in there for another 5 hours or so.⏰ I know what you’re thinking. Yes, really. I was a skeptic too – I have tried to tamper with this recipe and the results were not good.😱
This is my in-laws’ tried and true recipe.💯 They’ve been making their Thanksgiving turkey dinner this way for over 30 years. And it’s always super-moist, flavorful and soo yummy!!👍 You don’t mess with that kind of track record. For real people.
Step away from the oven, stay the course…it will all be delicious I promise!👌
(Maybe I should consider offering a support group number around the holidays for all my Foolproof Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe making friends??📞 The struggle is real – trust me I know.✌️)
If you can persevere and stick with this plan, you will get a golden, juicy bird every time!👇👇
I am updating this post since our move to Florida, to add an alternative cook method. A new house means a new kitchen, and new kitchen means a new oven! It wasn’t long after moving in that I realized this new oven actually has an active cooling fan which runs after you turn the oven off, to vent out the hot air and cool the oven down quickly. Which is wonderful 364 days a year – but it’s not such a good thing on the one day a year I want to use this Turkey recipe!
We then realized that since it’s a wall oven with French doors (doors that open like a cabinet) that it doesn’t seal quite as well as the traditional, single door style.
Never fear, we’ve tested out an alternative cooking method and it’s included it below. See the recipe card for more details!
What about the turkey gravy?
Of course, gravy is absolutely essential to finish any classic Turkey dinner. Do me a huge solid? For the love of Christopher Columbus, don’t buy gravy from the store!!
Seriously, think about it…Tom just spent 6 hours in the sauna with all his veggie and herb friends, roasting away to provide you with the foundation for heaven’s elixir (AKA gravy).✨
WHY WOULD YOU NOT USE IT?? I promise you can do this!🙌
Start with a base of the turkey drippings in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Then add in these secret ingredients: a quick slurry of flour and water (yep I said “slurry,” and sometime in the near future I will also say “roux”), white wine, and salt and pepper if it’s needed. Simmer for a good 15 minutes total and then stand back and behold your masterpiece!
There’s nothing in the world like homemade white wine turkey gravy!! I could literally drink it – and may have on occasion.😋
This Foolproof Thanksgiving Turkey is a cure-all, silver bullet of a recipe.💯 Your turkey and gravy game just got elevated big time my friend.
Don’t be surprised if suddenly your friends and family proclaim you as all-time designated Thanksgiving dinner cook! You’re welcome, and I’m sorry!😁
Happy Turkey Day!!🎩🦃
Oh and if you’re looking for everything else that goes along with the Turkey (plus a smidge of entertainment), check out our Friendsgiving Supper Club post for the entire meal!
Foolproof turkey cooking method!!
- 1 turkey, 12-20 pounds completely thawed
- 2 stalks celery rough chopped
- 1 large apple rough chopped
- 1 large onion rough chopped
- 1/2 cup butter cut in 8 pieces (1 stick)
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1/2 tbsp pepper
- Roasting pan with lid *that will close tightly with turkey inside*
Rinse the thawed turkey, save neck and organs for making stock later if you desire. Pat the turkey dry and place it breast-side up in the roaster pan. If the lid doesn’t close tightly over the turkey, you will need to break the breastbone to ensure a tight fit. Otherwise, do not use this recipe.
Put some pieces of the celery, apple, onion, and butter in the turkey cavity. Do not overstuff. Put all remaining pieces around the sides of the turkey. Rub a light coating of olive oil on the turkey and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Add a cup of water to the bottom of the roaster pan and cover making sure the lid fits tightly. The turkey should have some clearance so that it is not touching the roaster lid.
- Place the bird in a preheated oven and cook at 500 for one hour, then turn off the oven and *do not open* for 5-6 hours.
If you've got an oven that self-cools once turned off, or if you have an oven that doesn't seal well, prepare the turkey exactly as above, but add TWO cups of water instead of one cup, then cook at 500 for the first hour.
Instead of turning the oven off, remove the lid and reduce the oven temperature to 325F. Cook for one to two more hours, depending on the size of your turkey. Cook until the breast meat reads 165F, and the dark meat / thigh area reads 175F.
Easy turkey gravy using turkey drippings & white wine.
- 4 tablespoons table flour
- 5 tablespoons lukewarm water
- 3 1/2 cups turkey stock
- 3/4 cup of white wine
- salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
- Make a slurry by thoroughly combining flour and lukewarm water in a small bowl and mix until smooth.
- Add turkey stock to large saucepan and bring to a simmer.
Gradually whisk in the slurry. Then cook on medium heat until slurry is incorporated and gravy has thickened, about 7-8 minutes. Be sure to stir occasionally.
Slowly whisk in the white wine and cook on medium heat for about 6 more minutes, or until it is the consistency you desire, add salt and pepper to taste and serve warm.
If gravy cools down or develops a skin on the top before you serve it…turn the burner on medium heat and whisk in a little more white wine. The skin and lumps should melt away and leave you with a silky gravy.
The longer you cook the gravy, the more it will reduce and get thicker as it cooks. If it gets too thick add a little more turkey stock or white wine.