The Traditional Roast Turkey


  • Makes3 servings

A mammoth roast turkey is a reminder of how much we have and how very lucky we are to have it. The feeling of thankfulness begins to fade, however, after you've eaten your 10th turkey sandwich, with the prospect of turkey tetrazzini looming ahead for dinner. I suggest you invite lots of guests and dispatch them with the leftovers. Plan on about 3/4 lb. (375 g) of turkey per adult.

If your turkey is frozen, let it thaw overnight (or longer) in the refrigerator. Leaving a frozen turkey out to thaw at room temperature is a bad idea. You'll breed the sort of bacteria you certainly don't want to feed to your beloved family and friends. A fresh turkey will just need to be washed and patted dry before proceeding. In either case, make sure you check inside the cavity for that cute little surprise packet (liver, heart, other innards) which you can save for soup, the cat, or April Fools Day.


  • 1 turkey, (any size), washed and patted dry

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

  • 2 tsp salt

  • 1 tsp black pepper

  • 2 tsp paprika

  • 4 garlic cloves, squished

  • vegetable oil, or melted butter for basting


  • In a small bowl, mash together the vegetable oil, salt, pepper, paprika and garlic. If you have a young assistant handy, have him brush this mixture all over the turkey, inside and out. If you'll be stuffing the turkey (an why wouldn't you?) spoon the stuffing mixture into the cavity, leaving some room for expansion as it cooks.

  • Tie the turkey's legs together with some string and tie the wings in close to the body. The idea is to make as compact a package as possible so that there are no sticking out parts that can overcook before the rest of the turkey is done.

  • Put the turkey into an uncovered roasting pan and roast it in a 325°F (160°C) oven. For the first hour, baste the turkey often (every 10 minutes or so) with some melted butter or vegetable oil. Once the juices start to collect in the bottom of the pan, use those to baste the bird - and keep basting every 20 minutes or whenever you think of it. Basting helps to keep the bird moist and it gives it that nice crunchy skin everyone loves. Roasting time will depend on the size of your turkey:

  • Roasting times at 325°F (160°C): Weight: 6 - 8 lb 3 - 3' kg Roasting time(hr.) stuffed: 3 - 3' unstuffed: 2' - 2' Weight: 8 - 10 lb 3' - 4' kg Roasting time(hr.)stuffed: 3' - 3' unstuffed: 2' - 3 Weight: 10 - 12 lb 4' - 5' kg Roasting time(hr.) stuffed: 3' - 3' unstuffed: 3 - 3' Weight: 12 - 16 lb 5' - 7 kg Roasting time(hr.) stuffed: 3' - 4 unstuffed: 3' - 3' Weight: 16 - 22 lb 7 - 10 kg Roasting time(hr.)stuffed: 4 - 4' unstuffed: 3' - 4

  • When it's done, the turkey's leg will wiggle easily and its juices will run clear if you poke it with a knife. If you happen to have a meat thermometer (an excellent investment), it will register 170°F (77°C) for an unstuffed turkey or 180°F (82°C) for a stuffed one when inserted into the thickest part of the thigh. (Take care not to let it touch the bone.) Remove from the oven, and let the bird rest (it's had a hard day )for 15 to 20 minutes before scooping out the stuffing and carving the turkey up. You can use the pan juices to make gravy (below) or just serve them as they are, without any thickening. But whatever you do, don't forget the cranberry sauce.

  • Important safety bulletin: Never leave stuffing sitting inside a turkey either before or after it has been cooked. The interior of a turkey is a veritable breeding ground for bacteria. Stuff a turkey just before cooking it and remove all of the stuffing immediately after it's done.

This article was originally published on Oct 01, 1997

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