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Roast Turkey

serves 8, with leftovers

Store the raw turkey in the refrigerator breast-side down, so the juices flow to the white meat; remove the turkey from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before roasting.

Read more about this recipe at the Washington Post.


1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 (12- to 14-pound) turkey, neck and giblets removed
1/2 cup water


prep: 20 minutes
total: 2 hours 20 minutes


large roasting pan (with roasting rack)
small bowl
paper towels
aluminum foil
carving board


1. Place a roasting rack inside a large roasting pan. Adjust the oven rack to the lower-third position. Preheat the oven to 425F.

2. In a small bowl, mash together the butter and salt, if using (do not add salt if the bird has been brined), and pepper to taste. Set aside.

3. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels. Cut 1/2 inch from the tips of the wings, then tuck the wingtips under the body.

4. Generously season the inside and underside of the turkey with salt and pepper to taste. Place the turkey on the rack in the roasting pan. Using clean hands, run your fingers just under the skin to loosen it from the breast. Reaching with your fingers as far as possible, carefully loosen the skin over the legs. Gently push about 6 tablespoons of the butter mixture under the skin, using your fingertips to carefully spread the mixture over the breast and legs. Rub the remaining 2 tablespoons of the mixture evenly over the outside of the turkey skin.

5. Transfer the turkey to the preheated oven, add 1/2 cup water to the bottom of the pan and roast for 30 minutes. The turkey should begin to turn golden brown. Reduce the oven temperature to 350F and loosely cover the turkey with a large piece of tented aluminum foil. Continue to roast the turkey, basting it with the pan drippings every 30 minutes or so, if desired. Start checking for doneness after about 2 hours. Remove the foil tent in the last 30 minutes of roasting to brown the bird more evenly.

6. Remove the turkey from the oven when a meat thermometer inserted into the breast meat registers just shy of 165F. (The internal temperature will continue to rise a few degrees after you remove it from the oven.) Transfer the turkey to a carving board and allow it to rest for at least 20 minutes. Reserve the drippings in the roasting pan for gravy.

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