The Best Roasted Turkey

We wanted a moist and flavorful bird with plenty of well-seasoned drippings. (That way we could use them to make the best gravy!) The key is to use traditional Thanksgiving herbs (think parsley, sage, rosemary, bay and thyme) and classic aromatics like onion and garlic. For richness, we basted with butter which also makes the most golden-brown and crispy skin. Leaving the bird untrussed allows for air to circulate for more-even cooking.
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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 3 hr 10 min
  • Active: 10 min
  • Yield: 8 to 10 servings
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One 8- to 10-pound turkey

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 medium onion, quartered

1 head garlic, halved

Several sprigs herbs, such as; thyme, parsley, rosemary and sage

2 bay leaves

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted

Serving Suggestions: Sage, Sausage and Apple Dressing

Sage, Sausage and Apple Dressing:

One 16-ounce bag stuffing cubes

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 pound fresh sage sausage, casing removed

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cooking apples, such as Gravenstein, Rome or Golden Delicious, peeled, cored and chopped

1 to 2 ribs celery with leaves, chopped

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

3 cups chicken broth, homemade or low-sodium canned

1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

1/2 cup walnut pieces, toasted (see Cook's Note)

2 large eggs, beaten


  1. Arrange a rack in the lowest position and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Remove any turkey parts from the neck and breast cavities and reserve for other uses if desired. Dry the bird well with paper towels, inside and out. Salt and pepper the inside of the breast cavity and stuff the onion, garlic, herbs and bay leaves inside. Set the bird on a roasting rack set in a roasting pan breast-side up. Brush generously with half of the butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Tent the bird with foil.
  3. Roast the turkey for 2 hours. Remove the foil and baste with the remaining butter. Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees F and continue to roast until an instant-read thermometer registers 165 degrees F in the thigh of the bird, about 45 minutes more.
  4. Remove the turkey from the oven and set aside to rest for 15 minutes before carving. Carve and serve with the Sage, Sausage and Apple Dressing.

Sage, Sausage and Apple Dressing:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Put the stuffing cubes in a large bowl and set aside. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish.
  3. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and break up with a wooden spoon. Cook until it loses most of its pink color, but not so much that it's dry, about 5 minutes. Add the sausage and pan drippings to the stuffing cubes. Melt the remaining butter in the pan. Add the onion, apple, celery and salt. Cook until the vegetables get soft, about 5 minutes. Add the broth and parsley and bring to a boil.
  4. Pour the vegetable mixture over the stuffing cubes and toss until evenly moistened. Mix in the walnuts and eggs. Loosely pack the dressing in the prepared pan and cook uncovered until the top forms a crust, about 40 minutes. Drizzle about 2 tablespoons of turkey pan drippings or melted butter over the top. Cook until the top is crisp and golden, about 20 minutes more. Serve immediately or warm.

Cook’s Note

Put the dressing in the oven during the last hour of cooking the turkey. To toast nuts, spread them out on a baking sheet and toast in a 350 degree F oven until golden, about 7 minutes.