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How to Roast a Turkey and Make Turkey Gravy

Updated on May 15, 2011

Whether you're preparing your first Thanksgiving turkey or just need a satisfying meal to serve a crowd, every home cook should have know how to roast a turkey and make turkey gravy from the drippings. This roast turkey recipe uses just a few basic seasonings, ensuring that the turkey's natural flavor is enhanced rather than masked by a long list of ingredients. 


Roast Turkey and Gravy Ingredients

For Roast Turkey:

12-14 lb. turkey

2 tbsp. kosher salt

2 tsp. black pepper

1 large onion, quartered

1 head of garlic, cut in half horizontally

3 tbsp. butter

3 tbsp. olive oil

For Gravy:

Reserved pan drippings from roast turkey

4 tbsp. flour

1 to 2 cups turkey or chicken stock

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Remove the giblets from inside the turkey and rinse both the inside and outside under running water. Pat dry with paper towels and place the bird on a rack in a large roasting pan.

Toss 1 tbsp. Kosher salt and 1 tsp. black pepper inside the turkey, then stuff the onion and garlic inside the cavity.

Place the butter in a small microwave-safe bowl and heat in the microwave just until melted. Add the olive oil and the remaining Kosher salt and black pepper to the bowl and mix.

Use a pastry brush to cover the outside of the turkey with the butter and oil mixture, or carefully pour it over the top and use your fingers to spread it all over the bird. Lift the skin away from the body with your fingers to get some of the butter mixture directly on the meat.

Tie the turkey's legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body, if desired.

Roast the turkey in the preheated oven for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, basting it with the pan juices every 20 to 30 minutes. The turkey is done when an instant-read thermometer reads 165 when inserted into the fleshy part of the thigh, where it meets the drumstick, and when the juices run clear when you cut into the meat between the thigh and leg.

Remove the turkey from the oven and place on a cutting board. Cover loosely with foil and let rest for 20 minutes before carving.

To make turkey gravy, pour off the pan juices and let the fat rise to the top. Place the roasting pan over two burners on the stove over medium heat. Spoon 4 tbsp. of the fat back into the roasting pan, making up the difference with butter if you don't have enough liquid fat, and discard the remaining fat. Add 4 tbsp. flour and stir with a whisk until a paste forms. Add enough turkey or chicken stock to the reserved drippings to equal two cups, then pour into the roasting pan and whisk until smooth. Cook the gravy, stirring frequently, for five to 10 minutes or until thick. Season with salt and pepper and serve with the turkey.


When checking the temperature of the turkey, be sure the thermometer doesn't touch the bone, since this can cause an inaccurate reading.


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