This Rosemary Roast Turkey recipe is a failsafe method for a roasted turkey. Nothing but a super juicy turkey with a crispy exterior.
Thanksgiving! One of my favourite holidays. Don’t worry Christmas, I still have your back, it’s just that Thanksgiving is usually more about the food and gathering with friends and family than it is about gifts.
Gifts are fun. And I like them, don’t get me wrong, but I love celebrating people and food … especially together. It’s a wonderful long weekend to give thanks and enjoy all that I’m thankful for: my wonderful family, dear friends, and my ability to share with you all through food.
This is by far my favourite roast turkey recipe. I have been making for years and always have a great result with juicy tender turkey meat and all that crispy skin on the exterior. It just could very well be the best roast turkey recipe.
Thanksgiving has always been a pretty big event for me. There’s always been a turkey, stuffing, and all the other fixings. I loved the smell of the turkey and stuffing being made at my Nana’s house.
It’s where I learned to make stuffing. Albeit, it was Scottish style which equates to large quantities of butter. Since butter usually means good things you can image how delicious her stuffing was.
Is it better to cook your turkey at 325° F or 350° F?
350° F gets my vote for larger turkeys. I mean a Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey recipe usually means a fairly large turkey and it would literally take all day to roast a large turkey at 325° F.
To ensure the skin is crispy and the turkey moist I recommend putting the turkey in the oven at much higher heat (500° F) for a short period of time to get the that extra crispiness. Then the temperature is reduced to 350° F for an even slow cooking roast that keeps the juices in.
Let’s get to the main even though. The bird. This turkey was seriously good. Seriously. Juicy, super crispy skin, and given its juicy-ness, made for some supreme leftovers. Dreamy right? I’ve never had a full turkey as good as this. And neither had any of my guests. Everyone commented on the flavours and the moistness. It’s a winner guys.
This recipe has a brine and flavours that complement the turkey wonderfully. Classic Thanksgiving rosemary flavour with a hit of juniper berry flavour. The juniper complements the gamier tastes of the turkey and gives the turkey a bit more zip.
Don’t skimp on the brine; it’s a definite must for any whole bird. The juniper berries are shown in the photo above. They’re a dried berry from conifers trees. They are more commonly known as a the distinct flavour found in gin.
How do you roast a turkey and keep it moist? Brine, brine, brine. I swear by a wet brine and the larger your turkey, the longer you should have it in a brine.
Then, the initial burst of high heat in the oven and then keeping the breast portion covered with foil is what keeps the turkey moist in this roast turkey recipe.
For the turkey brine, I often use a clean a garbage bag and put the turkey and brine in the bag, place in a cooler and cover with ice and a small amount of cold water.
Can’t handle or don’t need a full roast turkey? This Braised Turkey Legs with Carrots is without fail always a success and this Sheet Pan Turkey, Potatoes and Veg honestly make Thanksgiving dinner look like an absolute walk in the park.
Here for the sides?! Me too 🙂 Here is our favourite (and absolutely stunning) stuffing recipe.
In the unlikely event you have any turkey leftovers from this recipe, this potato-topped Leftover Turkey Pot Pie is always a winner.
The juiciest roast turkey recipe with a crispy exterior! Tips to make sure this turkey is cooked to perfection! Time to get your brine on.
- 8 stalks celery roughly chopped
- 6 cloves garlic crushed with the side of your knife, skin can remain on
- 1/4 cup dried juniper berries optional
- 1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
- 1 bunch fresh rosemary sprigs
- 12 cups water
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 17-18 lbs turkey
- 1/4 cup butter at room temperature
- 6 stalks celery chopped
- 1 medium onion quartered
- 4 sprigs rosemary
- 2 tbsp dried juniper berries optional
24 to 72 hours before cooking the turkey, ready a bucket, cooler, etc. to brine the turkey (post above to tips on how to house a large turkey that is in a brine)
In a medium sauce pan, heat 4 cups of water with sugar and salt to a boil. Add celery, garlic, onion, rosemary, and peppercorns. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 3-5 minutes (to allow flavours to meld). Remove from heat and allow contents to cool.
Place turkey, brine mixture, and remaining (cold) water in container. Refrigerate (or keep very cold) until ready to use.
When ready to cook turkey, remove from brine, rinse with cold water and pat dry.
Preheat oven to 500° F.
Place a ring of aluminum foil (take a very large piece of aluminum foil and roll into a snake like length and then make a ring out of it) in the bottom of your large roasting pan. Alternatively, if you're an adult with a proper roasting pan with a v-shaped rack use that.
Place turkey on foil ring and rub (aggressively) the butter into the turkey skin with your hands. Use rubber gloves if the thought of touching raw meat grosses you out.
Loosely fill the cavity with celery, onion, rosemary and juniper berries. (You don’t want to stuff the cavity too full as it will prolong cooking time and possibly dry out parts of the bird. The goal here is a super juicy turkey that will go the extra mile for those turkey sandwiches we all look forward to).
Place turkey in the oven and cook for 30 minutes. Check the skin for crispiness, you want it deep golden brown and crispy all over. Cover the breast portion of the turkey with aluminum foil (sprayed with non-stick spray or buttered on the portion touching the turkey) to prevent the breasts from drying out.
Reduce oven temperature to 350° F and return turkey to oven for 2-2.5 hours. Check the turkey every 15 minutes after this mark. The turkey needs to reach a temperature of 185° F when a meat thermometer is placed in the thickest portion of thigh or 165° F when placed in the breast. It's recommended to remove the turkey from the oven when your thermometer reaches 181° F in the thigh or 161° F in the breast. The meat will continue to heat up slightly while it rests.
Allow the turkey to rest! A bird of this size will need 20-30 minutes.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
* Some of the photos for this post were updated October 2017.