How to Cook A Turkey | Details, Instructions, and a Recipe

As we get ready for the holiday season, some of us may be well-seasoned in cooking for the holidays. And some of us may be preparing to cook our first holiday dinner. In the latter scenario, you may have no earthly idea how to cook a turkey. But don’t worry, we got you.

Or more accurately, we have some super helpful (and tasty) information to share with you courtesy of Everyday Entertaining that has you covered! All you’ll need for an amazing roasted turkey is just a few fresh herbs, a bunch of butter (like a lot of butter!), and self and pepper!

So let’s get to it!

How to Cook a Turkey – Frequently Asked Questions

How long does a turkey need to thaw?

A frozen turkey takes 1 day of refrigerated thaw time per every 4 pounds. So if you have a 12-pound turkey, plan for 3 days of thaw time.

About 2 hours before you begin cooking, you’ll want to take the turkey out of the fridge. This will help to ensure quicker and more evening cooking.

How long should a thawed turkey cook?

The standard cooking time is about 18-20 minutes per pound, however, you may find that a larger or smaller bird will require more or less time.

You can use an instant-read thermometer to see if the turkey has reached 165 degrees at its thickest part. If it hasn’t, just pop it back in the oven for 15-minute increments until it has.

Once you set your timer, make sure to use that time to get started on any side dishes you’ll be serving with your bird.

How do I cook my turkey if it’s not thawed?

A completely frozen turkey can be cooked, just know that it will take longer than a thawed bird. You’ll want to plan for about 50% more time or so to ensure that the center of the bird is thoroughly cooked. Also, make sure to check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer, as you’ll want it to be at least 165 degrees before serving.

What temperature should I cook my turkey at?

For the recipe we’re recommending below – we recommend 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

What kind of pan should I use when cooking my turkey?

Choose a sturdy metal or glass pan that is just bigger than your bird. This will ensure that the juices don’t spill over while cooking and create hot spots on your oven floor.

How do I keep the turkey from burning?

Line your pan with aluminum foil and lay a bunch of lemon or orange slices across the bottom, then top that with some thyme sprigs. The fruit will provide natural moisture for the bird as it roasts and also helps to prevent any burnt bits at the bottom of your pan.

Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe

Cooking a turkey, especially for the first time can seem incredibly intense and even overwhelming. But we’re keeping it simple. Prepare, season, and roast your turkey until the darkest (and thickest) part of the turkey reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit, and you’ll have the perfect masterpiece for your Thanksgiving dinner!

Serves: 10


  • 1 whole turkey, 14–16 lb, at room temp
  • 1/41/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/41/4 cup minced fresh sage
  • 1/41/4 cup minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, stems removed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 medium apples, quartered
  • 2 yellow onions, quartered
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 2 cups chicken or turkey stock


Arrange a rack in the lower third of the oven and remove the upper racks. Place a roasting rack in the center of a large roasting pan (traditional or disposable). Preheat oven to 325°F.

Place your turkey on a large baking sheet or cutting board to prep. Remove turkey neck and giblets from the cavity and let the bird sit at room

After your turkey has been out of the refrigerator for 2 hours, pat the cavity and the outside of the turkey dry with paper towels. Gently loosen the skin on the breast and legs by gently running your hand between the meat and the skin to separate without tearing.

Transfer turkey to prepared roasting pan. Pour and brush melted butter evenly into the cavity of the turkey and all over the outside skin and underneath the loosened breast and leg skin.

In a small bowl, mix together fresh herbs and sprinkle evenly into the turkey’s cavity and the outside skin. Season generously and evenly with
salt and pepper.

Tie turkey legs together with kitchen twine and tuck wings underneath the turkey. Place apple quarters, onion quarters, and celery in the cavity and around the turkey. Pour chicken or turkey stock into the bottom of the roasting pan.

Roast, uncovered, for 3–31/2 hours, basting the turkey every 30 minutes with pan drippings. To test for doneness, insert a meat thermometer into
the thickest part of the thigh, not touching the bone, to see if it registers at least 165°F. Begin to check after 21/2 hours.

When the turkey is ready, transfer it to a clean cutting board and let rest for at least 30 minutes before carving.

About Everyday Entertaining

Everyday Entertaining brings you 100+ recipes for going all out even when you’re staying in – including those fancy holiday meals!

110+ Instagram-worthy recipes for mains, apps, brunch, cocktails, desserts, and more– complete with times and tricks from setting the perfect table to designing your own restaurant-style cheeseboard. Whether you are hosting friends for a backyard BBQ, preparing for your first Thanksgiving, or planning a cozy date night at home, this book has you covered.

The cookbook is pinned by The College Housewife blogger Elizabeth Van Lierde, who makes entertaining essentials easy and affordable. So you know, you can have your cake and eat it too!

You can pick up a copy on Amazon here!

Disclaimer: Links inside the article are Amazon Affiliate links for WBD.

Published in Recipes
Founder & Editor | Website

Emily Sprinkle, also known as Emma Loggins, is a designer, marketer, blogger, and speaker. She is the Editor-In-Chief for Women's Business Daily where she pulls from her experience as the CEO and Director of Strategy for Excite Creative Studios, where she specializes in web development, UI/UX design, social media marketing, and overall strategy for her clients.

Emily has also written for CNN, Autotrader, The Guardian, and is also the Editor-In-Chief for the geek lifestyle site