How to Prepare a Turkey for Roasting

Skip the Butterball hotline this year—follow our easy instructions and prepare the turkey of your dreams.

You've thawed your turkey and have the oven perfectly preheated to the right temperature. Now what?

We know it can sound intimidating, but preparing a turkey for roasting is a simple task, no matter how big the bird. All you need are a few basic techniques, and you'll be ready to impress the crowd at your Thanksgiving dinner.

What You'll Need

  • Turkey
  • Kitchen twine
  • Roasting pan with rack
  • Baking tray
  • Paring knife

How to Prepare a Turkey for Roasting

01 of 04

Empty the Inside and Place Turkey on a Tray

Illustration of how to empty the inside of a turkey
Caitlin-Marie Miner Ong

Reach your hand into the turkey's cavity and remove anything that's in there, such as a packet of giblets. Place the turkey, breast side up, on a rimmed baking tray or cookie sheet—this will catch any juices and make post-prep cleanup a breeze.

02 of 04

Tuck the Turkey Wings

illustration of how to tuck turkey wings
Caitlin-Marie Miner Ong

Holding a wing in your hand, lift that side of the turkey a couple of inches and tuck the wing underneath the bird's back. Lower the turkey and repeat with the other side. Tucking the wings will make for more even roasting and keep them from burning.

03 of 04

Tie the Drumsticks Together

illustration of how to tie turkey drumsticks
Caitlin-Marie Miner Ong

Cut a piece of kitchen twine (about 8 inches in length). Cross the turkey legs at their "ankles"—the thinnest point, directly above the bottom joints. Then, wrap the twine around the two ankles, tying it into a knot or bow to hold them together. This makes for a tidy-looking turkey.

04 of 04

Transfer the Turkey to a Roasting Rack

illustration of a turkey on roasting pan
Caitlin-Marie Miner Ong

For cooking, transfer the turkey from the baking tray to a rack set inside a roasting pan. If one of the wings comes untucked, tuck it back under the bird.

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