This easy to follow holiday turkey recipe produces a juicy, flavorful, tender bird that is succulent on the inside with crave-able, perfectly crisp skin on the outside. It’s low-carb, keto-friendly and the perfect centerpiece for your next big meal or gathering. Try it out today.
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It’s finally here. The Super Bowl of cooking and hosting, Thanksgiving. For many, this is the most important, eventful, and let’s face it – stressful- meal of the entire year. And central to all of the chaos and fun is the all-star; the almighty Thanksgiving Turkey. If you’ve never cooked a whole bird before, fret not! I’m giving you all the tips and tricks you need to roast a perfectly tender, succulent, moist, flavorful, and delicious turkey.
Many folks don’t care for turkey, and in a past life I was in that number! That was until I took matters into my own hands and realized that it didn’t need to be a dry and bland protein that I suffered through a few times a year during holidays before moving on to the delicious side dishes and desserts. I still love my sides and desserts, though.
This Turkey is so amazing and crave-worthy. It’s crispy skin is covered with fresh herbs, garlic, and seasoning, and then roasted to buttery perfection.
We have a lot of ground to cover, so let’s get into it.
What Tools Do I Need?
- Meat Thermometer – this is very important. I absolutely do not recommend roasting a turkey – or any poultry for that matter- without the use of an instant read meat thermometer. This will help ensure that your turkey is cooked to the correct temperature without being over or under cooked.
- Turkey Baster – this will be used to collect drippings from the bottom of the roasting pan and using those to coat the turkey as it cooks. This will result in a well flavored and evenly browned turkey.
- Roasting Pan
- Kitchen Twine – for trussing the turkey legs.
What Size Turkey Should I Purchase?
As a rule of thumb, plan for anywhere from 1 pound to 1.25 pounds per person. That means for 4 people, you’ll need a 4 to 6.25 pound bird. For 8 folks you’ll need a 8 to 10 pound Turkey. If you’re big on leftovers like my family is, you can always go a little bigger.
How Far in Advance Should I Thaw my Turkey?
While I prefer buying Turkeys that have not been previously frozen, I realize that this is not the case for everyone. Most turkeys from mainstream grocers come frozen. Many people like to buy their birds well in advance and freeze them as well.
According to the USDA, you should allow 24 hours of defrosting in the refrigerator for every 4 pounds of Turkey. For example, if you have a 12 pound bird, then it will need to defrost for 3 days.
How Do I Brine My Turkey?
To me, the best way to brine a Turkey is to do a dry brine. I prefer this method for several reasons. For one, it does not require the large tub or container that one would need to soak a large turkey. Dry brining also yields a crispier skin for me, and crispy skinned poultry is what I’m all about. It’s also super easy to do. 24 hours before I plan to cook my bird, I gently loosen its skin, after removing the wishbone and and giblets. This is achieved by taking my fingers, inserting them underneath the skin of the breast, and very carefully separating the skin from the breast without ripping, tugging, or pulling too hard. I also like to take a paper towel, and gently blot any moisture off the skin. I then take salt, pepper, minced garlic, and chopped herbs, and rub them all over the body of the turkey, taking special care to get plenty underneath the skin. It will then sit in the refrigerator for 24 hours, uncovered in my roasting pan.
By generously salting the turkey and allowing it to sit for 24 hours, the salt has time to penetrate the surface of the Turkey and extract moisture. Don’t worry though, this will create a brine that will be reabsorbed into the bird leaving it flavorful, tender, and juicy. Your turkey will be seasoned on the outside and inside. The skin being exposed to air for 24 hours will also help with achieving crispy, delicious skin.
What Do I Stuff the Turkey with?
Since this is a low-carb, keto-friendly recipe I stuff the turkey with aromatics like carrots, onions garlic, fresh herbs, and celery.
How to Roast the Turkey
About an hour before it’s time to finally roast my turkey, I remove it from the refrigerator and allow it to sit out for about an hour to take the chill off. During this time I use kitchen twine to truss the legs of the turkey – tie them together. To the bottom of the roasting pan, I add a cup of chicken broth and half a stick of butter, along with additional aromatics. It is now that I will also add any additional seasonings (not salt – we’ve already added that) to the surface of the skin. I enjoy:
- Lemon Juice
- Smoked Paprika
- Garlic Powder
- Onion Powder
- Black Pepper
Melt half a stick of butter, mix in the lemon juice and seasonings, and use a brush to apply all over the turkey including underneath the skin.
You’ll also use this time to preheat your oven. My personal temperature preference is 300°F. You’ll then slide your roasting pan right into the oven, uncovered. I don’t meddle with oven bags for my turkey and don’t really find them necessary. Roast the bird for 3 to 4 hours – the time will vary according to the size. Every 30-45 minutes, open the oven and quickly baste the turkey all over using the juices and drippings from the bottom of the pan.
At What Temperature is Turkey Done?
This is where your instant read thermometer will come in handy. You’ll want to remove from the oven when the deepest, thickest part of the breast produces a reading of 165°F.
When the turkey is done, remove from the oven and allow to rest 20-30 minutes prior to carving and serving.
I like to “style” my turkey with lemon wedges, leftover herbs, and fresh cranberries. This is an optional step that is purely for aesthetics.
That’s it! Following these steps should produce a flavorful, tender, juicy, herby turkey that everyone will love and enjoy.
As usual, try it out and let me know what you think.
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This easy to follow holiday turkey recipe produces a juicy, flavorful, tender bird that is succulent on the inside with crave-able, perfectly crisp skin on the outside. It's low-carb, keto-friendly and the perfect centerpiece for your next big meal or gathering. Try it out today.
For Brining/ Preseasoning Turkey (Day Before)
- 1/4 cup salt
- 4 teaspoons Black Pepper
- 2 teaspoons Fresh Thyme, chopped
- 2 teaspoons Fresh Sage, chopped
- 2 teaspoons fresh Rosemary, chopped
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 12 pound Turkey, thawed
For Stuffing (Day of)
- 2 large Carrots
- 1 large Onion, white or yellow, cut into quarters
- 1 Head of Garlic
- Additional Fresh Herbs, to taste
- 2 Celery Stalks
For Seasoning Turkey (Day of)
- 1/2 stick Butter, unsalted
- 2 tablespoons Lemon Juice
- 2 teaspoons Smoked Paprika
- 3 teaspoons Garlic Powder
- 2 teaspoons Onion Powder
For Bottom of Roasting Pan
- 1 cup Chicken Broth (low sodium)
- 1/2 stick Butter
- Fresh Lemon Wedges
- Fresh Whole Cranberries
- Additional Herbs
Brining the Turkey (24 hours prior to cooking)
Combine the salt, black pepper, chopped herbs, and minced garlic into a small rub mixture.
Use your fingers to gently sperarate the skin on the breasts of turkey, taking care not to pull or tug aggresively or rip the skin.
Remove wishbone and giblets from the turkey.
Use the rub mixutre to season turkey all over the body both on top of and underneath the skin.
Refrigerate in roasting pan, uncovered, for 24 hours.
Stuffing (Day of)
After 24 hours remove turkey from the refrigerator and allow it to sit out for about an hour to take the chill off.
Preheat oven to 300°F
Meanwhile, use kitchen twine to truss the turkey legs (tie them together).
Stuff cavity with the carrots, onion, garlic, additional herbs, and celery stalks.
Seasoning (Day of)
In a small dish, melt the butter. To the butter, add lemon juice, smoked paprika,garlic powder, and onion powder. Gently fresh this mixture all over the body of the turkey, including underneath the skin.
Add the chicken broth and butter to the bottom of the roasting pan.
Place the turkey into the preheated oven, uncovered.
Cook for 3-4 hours, or until the deepest, thickest part of the breast produces a reading of 165°F on your instant read thermometer.
***As the turkey roasts, baste the bird in the drippings from the bottom of the pan every 30-45 minutes.
Allow to rest up to 30 minutes before carving and serving.
Carve, garnish, and serve.
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Serving Size:1 pound
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 948Total Fat: 41gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 24gCholesterol: 515mgSodium: 2945mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 131g