The centerpiece of your Thanksgiving dinner is a perfectly cooked, moist turkey. Savory flavors, rich gravy and succulent meat bring friends and family together around the table to celebrate, be grateful and cherish each other’s company.
Here’s the perfect Thanksgiving turkey recipe, with tips for preparation, cooking, resting and making the day memorable for all the right reasons.
The Best Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe
Experience the delight of this classic roast turkey recipe that guarantees a holiday meal your guests will crave again next year.
Aim to source the freshest ingredients from family-owned outlets that value delivering quality to customers above all. The best places even sell pre-cooked boneless Thanksgiving turkey. If you’d rather spend time entertaining guests, playing games and laughing with loved ones, ready-prepared meat, sides and hors d’ouevres are ideal.
How to Cook the Ultimate Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner That Everyone Remembers
The best Thanksgiving turkey recipe:
- A fresh or thawed turkey (depending on how many people you’re serving, you might opt for a large whole turkey, a small-size turkey or any combination of delicious turkey legs, turkey breast meat, white meat, dark meat, wings or thighs)
- 2 onions
- 1 head of garlic
- 1 lemon
- 6 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp Olive oil
- Kosher salt and crushed black pepper
- To go the extra mile, make a delicious herb butter for tasty, crispy turkey skin:
- 13oz unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Finely grated zest plus the juice of 2 lemons
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- Small bunch of fresh herbs of your choice (parsley, sage, thyme and rosemary work well)
To cook this perfect roast turkey recipe, you’ll need a regular roasting pan, a large bowl roasting rack, aluminum foil, a few paper towels, casserole dish, carving fork, carving knife, cutting board and a hot oven.
For tender meat, consider using a wet or dry brine to marinade the turkey for between 30 minutes and 12 hours before cooking.
Below is a step-by-step guide to preparing a turkey:
- Set the oven temperature to 425 degrees Fahrenheit/ Gas 7.
- Combine the herb butter ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.
- Remove the giblets and add them to your stuffing mix if desired.
- Season the turkey generously, including the turkey cavity, and fill with lemon, onion, garlic and 2 of the bay leaves.
- Add the rest of your chosen stuffing mix into the turkey’s cavity and seal the juices in with toothpicks to keep the meat moist.
- Pat the turkey dry with a clean towel, then use your hands to loosen the turkey breast skin and insert most of the herb butter (the secret to a lovely crispy skin.)
- Insert the rest of the bay leaves under the skin of the turkey breasts and massage the remaining softened butter over each breast, spreading evenly.
Here are the cooking instructions for perfectly cooked turkey meat:
- Lay the turkey in a large roasting pan, breast meat facing upward. Drizzle with olive oil and roast in a very hot oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Cook stuffing inside.
- Remove the bird from the oven and baste it with the roasting pan juices and turkey drippings to keep the turkey moist.
- Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit/Gas 4 and cook for 30 minutes per 2.2 pounds, basting occasionally but being careful not to let too much heat escape from the oven.
- Use a meat thermometer to check the turkey’s internal temperature, inserting the probe into the thickest part of the meat. When the turkey rests, it continues to cook for a few minutes.
Resting and Carving
To serve a juicy turkey up to your guests, it’s vital that you let the turkey rest properly. Once cooked, transfer it from the roasting pan to a warm serving platter, cover with foil and leave it to rest for between 10 and 30 minutes, depending on size.
Save any turkey leftovers for the next day’s lunch — add bacon, cranberry sauce and braised red cabbage to buttered sourdough for the ultimate roasted turkey sandwiches.
Tips for a Memorable Thanksgiving Meal
Now you know the perfect Thanksgiving turkey recipe, let’s explore some tips for an unforgettable Thanksgiving dinner.
Serving Sides and Gravy
Moist, well-seasoned roast turkey is definitely the main character of your spectacular Thanksgiving show, but the supporting cast is just as important. Some even say the sides make the meal.
Our favorites at Prime Time Butchers are:
- Carrot Souffle
- Cranberry Compote
- Mashed Potatoes
- Sweet Mashed Potatoes
- Sautéed Broccoli
- Sautéed Spinach
- Sugar-Free Apple Sauce
- Thanksgiving Sweet Cornbread
Roast Turkey Alternatives: What Else Can You Serve for Thanksgiving Dinner?
Turkey is the classic choice, but it’s not the only option. Dry-aged USDA Prime and Premium Angus beef are a cut above the rest, perfect for a decadent celebration.
- Dry-Aged Prime Filet Mignon Roast: The most tender of the beef roasts — with dry-aging adding richness and depth of flavor to an already deliciously umami cut. If you’re looking for opulence, look no further than a filet roast.
- Dry-Aged Prime Standing Rib Roast: Rib is the carnivore’s cut — and USDA Prime rib is a different story altogether, with the highest grade of marbling you can get. As it cooks, the fat melts into the meat, leaving you with the juiciest, most flavorful roast beef your Thanksgiving guests have sampled.
- Premium Angus Boneless Rib Roast: A premium boneless rib roast that delivers mouthwatering tender beef with a rich flavor.
Presentation and Garnishing the Turkey
Add visual appeal and flavor to your dishes by choosing the perfect garnishes and serving an unctuous and tasty turkey gravy. Chop fresh herbs such as parsley, rosemary, thyme, cranberries and citrus slices for a burst of flavor and aroma. Keep in mind, those small details are the key to elevating your Thanksgiving dinner.
Serving the Best Turkey Recipe
Carving the turkey at the table is a way of bringing some drama and fun to serving. You’ll hear the “oohs and ahs” as you slice into the perfectly crispy brown skin, and everyone experiences the sights and smells first-hand. Alternatively, serve family-style, using serving dishes of different sizes and encouraging guests to help themselves.
FAQs About the Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey
How long should I thaw frozen turkey?
Thawing times vary, but you should typically allow 24 hours of defrosting time for every 4 to 5 pounds of turkey leftovers.
What’s the ideal turkey size for my gathering?
Plan to serve between 1 and 1.5 pounds per adult guest to ensure you have enough for the feast and the next day’s leftovers.
Do I need to truss the turkey before roasting?
Trussing is the act of cutting a cross pattern into the turkey skin and then tying the legs over the turkey’s cavity using twine. It’s not essential, but it can help the turkey cook more evenly and look neater.
A Feast to Remember
The perfect Thanksgiving dinner is about hosting an experience that sees family and friends come together to celebrate and delight in each other’s company. Once you’ve mastered the recipe, sides, presentation and carving, your place will be everyone’s first choice for Thanksgiving dinner.
Ready to start planning the best Thanksgiving meal ever? Order the freshest and finest Thanksgiving ingredients from the meat lovers here at Prime Time Butcher.