Basic Roast Turkey


This time-tested roast turkey recipe requires only the most straightforward prep. But we devised a way to dress the turkey up once it’s ready to serve, by garnishing the bird with navel orange wedges and fresh flat-leaf parsley or celery leaves. This way, by the time it arrives at the table, your Thanksgiving guests will be sure you’ve put in extra work (when in reality, your turkey’s roasted in the oven mostly without intervention, thanks to a cup of water you’ll add to the roasting pan). Indeed, that simple kitchen hack frees you up from near-constant basting so you can focus on mashed potatoes, stuffing, and the works.

Basic Roast Turkey
Photo: Marcus Nilsson
Hands On Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
4 hrs
6 to 8 serves -


  • 1 12- to 14-pound turkey, giblets removed

  • 3 carrots, roughly chopped

  • 1 stalk celery, roughly chopped

  • 2 medium yellow onions, cut into wedges

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, or olive oil

  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt

  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

  • 3 navel oranges, cut into wedges (optional)

  • 1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley or leaves from 1 bunch celery (optional)

  • kitchen string (optional)


  1. Heat oven to 425° F. Rinse the turkey inside and out and pat it dry with paper towels. Place the wings underneath the body. If desired, tie the drumsticks together using kitchen string. Place the carrots, celery, and onions in a metal roasting pan. Transfer the turkey to a wire rack and place it on top of the vegetables. Drizzle the skin with the butter or oil and, using your fingers, spread it evenly. Season with the salt and pepper.

  2. Roast the turkey, uncovered, until browned, 30 to 45 minutes.

  3. Add 1 cup cold water to pan. Cover the turkey loosely with foil. Reduce oven temperature to 350° F. Roast until a thermometer inserted in a thigh registers 180° F, about 2 hours total. Let the turkey rest for at least 30 minutes before carving. Garnish with the orange wedges and parsley or celery leaves (if using). If making gravy, reserve the juices in the roasting pan.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

544 Calories
28g Fat
68g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Calories 544
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 28g 36%
Saturated Fat 8g 40%
Cholesterol 232mg 77%
Sodium 292mg 13%
Protein 68g

*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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