Turkey's not just for Thanksgiving—it's the perfect main for any festive feast. Learn how to roast a juicy, golden bird with nothing but salt, pepper, olive oil, and butter. Plus: Amanda Haas teaches you how to baste for best results.
Rinse the turkey inside and out with cold water. Place on a wire rack fitted into a rimmed baking sheet and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. This will ensure even cooking. Pat completely dry with paper towels, including inside the cavity. Position oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 400 F, preferably convection.
Prepare turkey for roasting: With the turkey lying breast side up, twist and tuck the wing tips underneath the turkey. Cross the legs, then tie together with kitchen twine. Drizzle the turkey with olive oil, and rub to coat the skin evenly. Season generously with salt and pepper, using your hands to make sure the sides are seasoned. Transfer turkey, breast side up, onto a rack set in a large roasting pan. Roast in the oven, 30 minutes.
Remove turkey from the oven, opening and closing the door as quickly as possible to keep the heat in. Reduce temperature to 325 F. Brush turkey all over with melted butter, then place back into the oven for 30 minutes. Use a baster to baste the turkey with pan drippings every 30 minutes until the skin is golden brown, for a total roasting time of 2½–3 hours, or potentially longer depending on the size of the turkey. When juices accumulate in the cavity, tilt to drain juices into the pan for even cooking and easier basting. Begin taking the turkey's temperature about 1 hour before you expect it to be finished. Turkey is done when a digital thermometer registers 165 F at the thickest part of the breast (without touching the bone) and 175 F at the thigh.
When turkey is finished roasting, use clean kitchen towels to transfer it to a carving board. Cover loosely with foil and let rest 30 minutes before carving to allow the juices to redistribute through the turkey. (See the “How to Carve a Turkey” lesson in the "Mastering Turkey & Gravy" class for detailed carving instructions.)