Preparing a turkey on Thanksgiving is the crème-de-la-crème for the home cook.  It can be incredibly intimidating if you are new to cooking or have never prepared one by yourself before.  But when you place the finished product on the table and everyone praises your efforts, there is nothing better.  Serving undercooked or overcooked is a worry even for the most seasoned cook.  As long as you test the temperature of the meat and the juices are clear, your turkey won’t make anyone sick.

If you haven’t cooked a turkey before, I highly recommend that you first start with whole chicken, work your way up to a small turkey, and finally a large turkey.  The process is the same, but roasting time increases with size.

Whether you purchase a fresh or frozen turkey, the roasting process is the same.  A frozen turkey has a few more steps to defrost.  Defrosting time and cooking time depends on the size turkey you purchase.

To defrost a frozen turkey, place the turkey in the refrigerator on a large tray to catch any leaking juices.  Defrost 6 hours per pound in the refrigerator.  I usually place my turkey in the fridge on Sunday to roast on Thursday.  If the turkey is not fully thawed Wednesday, you can defrost in a water bath overnight.  To defrost in a cold water bath, place the turkey breast side down in the sink or large container.  Fill the container with cold water to completely submerge the turkey.  It will take approximately 30 minutes per pound to defrost a turkey using the cold water bath method.  The water will need to be changed periodically.


Ingredientsturkey - raw in package

  • Turkey
  • 1 brown onion
  • 1 Lemon
  • Garlic
  • Celery
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Parsley
  • Butterturkey - pinsturkey - seasoning ingredients


  • Roasting pan with rack
  • Pins
  • Meat Thermometer


Preheat oven to 400 degrees; make sure the oven rack is at its lowest position.  Spray roasting pan and rack with cooking spray.


Remove turkey from refrigerator one hour before roasting.  Remove the turkey from bag and rinse the turkey inside and out.  Turkeys have been really clean the last few years, but if your turkey has a lot of blood, continue rinsing until all the blood is washed away.   Pat dry with a paper towel, and place the turkey on the roasting pan to dry.

turkey - wash in sink

turkey - in roasting pan






Prepare rub with equal parts parsley, safe, rosemary, and thyme. turkey - seasoning For a 22 lb. turkey, I used 2T of each.


Cut celery, onion, lemon, and garlic into large chunks.

Warm 1/4 butter to almost melted.

Place turkey breast side down onto the roast pan rack.  Pat skin dry again with a paper towel.  Rub turkey with butter; rub half of the rub over skin, including the neck cavity.  Place 1/3 of the celery, lemon, onion, and garlic inti the neck cavity.  Fold the skin over the vegetables and pin closed.

turkey - back cavity openturkey - back cavity filled (2) turkey - back cavity filledturkey - back pinned and upside down








Turn turkey breast side up.  Tub remaining butter onto the skin.  Rub remaining spices over skin and in large cavity.  Fill cavity with the remaining celery, onion, garlic, lemon, and one bay leaf.  Pinch legs together and fold skin over leg bones.

turkey - front cavity open turkey - front cavity - buttered and spicedturkey - front cavity full turkey - ready to roast - front







Place turkey into the oven.  Bake on for 30-45 minutes until the breast skin is slightly brown.  (Sorry, I forgot to take a picture here.)

Flip turkey breast side down.  This can be tricky if you have a heavy bird.  I usually enlist the help of my boyfriend.

turkey - upside down in oven

Reduce heat to 325 degrees and roast for remaining time.

turkey - cooked front cavity

Once the turkey has reached 160 degrees internal temperature, remove from heat.  Place it on the counter and let it sit for at least 30 minutes before cutting; this allows the juices to settle into the meat.  If you begin to carve the turkey before it settles, most of the juice will drip out or escape as steam.  You can use this resting time to make a delicious gravy.

turkey - cooked side turkey - cooked upsde down