How to Roast the Perfect Turkey
Step-by-step instructions guarantee a perfectly seasoned turkey with crisp skin and white meat that's just as juicy as the dark meat. For easier planning, I’ve included a basic timeline in bold type. Make sure to start with a thawed bird.


  • 1 (10-12 pound) turkey (thawed if frozen; time adjustment provided for larger turkey)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon, zested and quartered later
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme or rosemary
  • 1 bunch fresh sage
  • 12 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled (divided use)
  • 1 (12-ounce) bottle beer or hard apple cider OR 1½ cups dry white wine*
  • Low sodium chicken broth (you’ll likely use about 2 cups; have extra on hand)
  • 2 yellow onions, peeled and quartered
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Softened or melted butter, as needed (I use 2-3 tablespoons; may substitute olive oil)


  1. 2-4 days before roasting turkey: Remove the neck and the giblets from the cavity and reserve for stock or gravy. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels; rub the turkey all over with ½ teaspoon salt per pound of turkey, the pepper and the lemon zest, including the neck. (Put the zested lemon back in the refrigerator for later use.) Transfer the turkey to a 2-gallon (or larger) zip-top plastic bag. Tuck the herbs and 6 of the garlic cloves inside bag. Seal the bag and refrigerate the turkey on a rimmed baking sheet (or wrapped in another bag to catch any leaks) for at least 1 day and up to 3 days, turning the bird over every day (or after 12 hours if brining for only 1 day).

    The night before or earlier in the day of cooking: Remove the turkey from the bag and pat dry with paper towels. Place the turkey, uncovered, back on the baking sheet. Return to the refrigerator for at least 4 hours and up to 12 hours to dry out the skin (this helps crisp it).

    When nearly ready to roast:  Remove the turkey from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature for one hour.

    Preheat the oven to 450℉. In the bottom of a large roasting pan (with a rack that the turkey can sit on), add the beer, cider or wine and enough broth to fill the pan to a ¼-inch depth (in my roasting pan, this is about 2 cups of broth). Add half the onions, the remaining 6 garlic cloves and the bay leaves. Stuff the remaining onion quarters and the lemon quarters (using the reserved zested lemon) into the turkey cavity. Brush the turkey skin generously with the melted butter, or smear it on if you opted to soften the butter.

    Place the turkey, breast side up, on a roasting rack set inside the roasting pan. Transfer the pan to the oven and roast, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Cover breast with aluminum foil, reduce the oven temperature to 350℉, and continue roasting until an instant-read thermometer or an oven probe inserted in the thickest part of a thigh reaches a temperature of 165℉, about 1½ to 2 hours more (or approximately 13 minutes per pound of turkey — adjust accordingly for larger turkey). Allow the turkey to rest for 30 minutes (or a minimum of 15 minutes) before transferring to a cutting board and carving.


*If you prefer not to use alcohol, you may use additional chicken stock instead. If using beer, do not use an IPA or anything hoppy, as it will become bitter as it cooks. If using hard cider, make sure it’s on the dry side (not sweet) and doesn’t have additional flavors you don’t want. (For example, a ginger-infused option may not be desirable here. I ask for suggestions when purchasing hard cider, as I don’t regularly drink it.)

Helpful hint: You can adjust the amount of liquid according to the size of the turkey and add more wine, broth or water if the roasting pan looks dry midway through the cooking process.

Extra gravy or stock and what to do with the giblets and neck?
My grandmother and mom, who never let anything go to waste, always used the turkey neck and giblets to make extra broth to add to the pan juices used for gravy. It’s a small extra step that allows for more gravy – and more flavorful gravy at that. Simply simmer them in a pot with 4 cups chicken broth, water or a mix, along with 1 quartered yellow onion, 2 chopped celery ribs, 1 teaspoon black peppercorns and 1 sprig each fresh sage, thyme, rosemary and parsley (or whichever you have on hand). Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and then cover and simmer on low for 1 hour. Pour through a mesh metal strainer to remove solids.

This step is relatively hands-off and easy to do while the turkey is roasting. The broth may be combined with the turkey pan drippings to make gravy, as mentioned, or it can be used to moisten stuffing or saved for soup. Store in the fridge for 3 days or freeze for several months.

Adapted from:


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