It’s time. Thanksgiving is upon us. Lemme break it… we’ve got 21 days until Thanksgiving. That means every day from here on out is going to be Thanksgiving related. We’re kicking it off with the star of the show – my succulent Herb Roasted Turkey. It’s perfectly moist and has the crispiest skin… you’ll make annually from here on out.
There’s a ton of planning to do before the big day! Good thing I’ve been working away to create the most epic Thanksgiving spread for you the past few months. Whoever thinks being a food blogger is glamorous should have seen what it looks like to recipe test a 16 pound Herb Roasted Turkey in August. It wasn’t pretty.
But it’s all worth it now because the whole thing is coming to WGC! You’re getting a perfectly cooked turkey, the best mashed potatoes to EVER grace your table, and a stuffing to end all stuffings, Tons of side dishes that you’ll want to devour plus a few fun desserts that no one will be expecting! I’ve taken all the guess work out of Thanksgiving this year! So whether you’re hosting the entire thing yourself, or if you just need a side dish or dessert to bring over to someones house… you’re covered! Nothing is super complicated or time consuming – just 100% delicious!
If you ask my husband the most important part of Thanksgiving, he’d tell you it’s the bird. So that’s what we’re starting with today! Let’s dig in…
Should I brine my turkey?
Yes, 100% absolutely. It really does make a difference in how the bird cooks. Since turkeys are generally a lean type of meat, the brine really ensures that the meat won’t dry out which makes for a juicy bird. It also allows some flavors to infuse into the bird before roasting. If you’ve never brined a bird before, here’s everything you’ll ever need to know about brining a bird! This is also a helpful process if you’re using a frozen turkey!
Also make sure to pull out the giblets and neck before brining so you don’t forget them inside the bird before roasting.
Can I brine a frozen turkey?
You sure can! In fact, that’s a great way to start thawing a bird. It’s about 5 hours of defrosting time per pound of turkey – so plan accordingly.
Should I stuff my turkey?
This is just a personal preference. I prefer to stuff my turkey with citrus and herbs rather than stuffing. I just find the stuffing is better outside the bird, and I like the citrus and herbs inside the bird to lend extra flavor and infuse the bird from the inside out.
How to cook a turkey:
As you’ll see in the recipe below, I love slathering a turkey with a compound butter. A compound butter is basically room temperature butter that’s been mixed with garlic, herbs, salt and pepper. That butter then gets slathered on the bird and helps create the most delicious crispy skin. The drippings from the compound butter also help make a SUPER delicious gravy.
You’ll need a large roasting pan too. I like one that’s fitted with a metal rack so it’s easy to place the turkey on/off the rack and access the drippings when the time comes to make gravy!
What temperature to cook a turkey:
I start my oven at 450 degrees F to crisp up the skin and then reduce the heat to 350 degrees to continue cooking the bird until done.
If you need to crisp up the skin a bit at the end, you can crank up the heat to 450 again for the last 10-15 minutes to get it a bit more crispy.
Turkeys need about 15-18 minutes of cooking time per pound. Once the bird is cooked, thighs should register at 165°F (74°C) and the breasts should register at 160°F (71°C). As soon as the bird hits these temperatures, take it out and let it rest for at least 30 minutes before carving.
A couple things you want to keep in mind:
A meat thermometer is helpful so you know exactly when the turkey is done. In fact, for a turkey I love the really cheap ones that you get from the super market that you leave in the bird the entire cooking process and pop out when it’s done. Simple!
Turkey holds pretty well so you can time it to be done an hour or so before dinner time. That way you have time to let it rest, carve it and plate it.
Check out the full What’s Gaby Cooking menu here along with the master prep schedule to keep things organized and on track!
Photo by Matt Armendariz / Food Styling by Adam Pearson / Prop Styling by Stephanie Hanes // Recipe by What’s Gaby Cooking