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Turkey with Trimmings for a Traditional Thanksgiving Feast

Updated on November 21, 2016
Ilonagarden profile image

Cooking, eating, entertaining, having a good time... it's why I collect recipes and share them. Plus I'm half Hungarian,that explains alot.


Make a Traditional Stuffed Roast Turkey With All The Trimmings

You may love ham, or roast chicken, or goose for your holiday dinner, but there is something wonderful and satisfying about the traditional Roast Turkey Dinner that makes it a favorite and traditional repast for the winter holidays.

For one thing, it can feed a crowd, and for another it is versatile in how it is served.

But it is not just about the turkey... the entire meal is full of comfort and good memories, it is what we like to call "the trimmings". For some that is cornbread, either as a bread or making the dressing. The stuffing, or dressing is all important. There might be a side of cranberries in some way. I like relish, for some it is a jelly, for others cranberries might be included some other ingenious way. And Pies, plural! Pumpkin, Apple, and others traditionally round out a calorie packed meal.

The best thing in many of American minds might be the many ways we use the leftovers from our Thanksgiving feast. Enjoy! Or as our allies in the American Revolution, the French, may say "bon appetit".

I hope you will love the tips and my family recipes for your own great holiday roast turkey meal.

The Best Turkey Roasting Gear

  1. The main thing for a moist turkey is to roast slowly and keep those juice sealed in.
  2. Covered pans, injected marinade or butter, roasting bags, all are ways to serve that one single purpose.
  3. The most important thing is to cook thoroughly, and that is why a thermometer is handy.


Turkey Tips

How to Keep it Moist, Keep it Flavorful

  • remove the neck and giblets from the inside of the turkey!
  • baste the roasting turkey often
  • make small slices in the skin and insert butter
  • rub the entire carcass with oil or butter
  • salt the inner carcass before stuffing
  • insert the stuffing loosely,but fill the inside,don't forget the flap under the tail
  • tent the turkey with foil or cover

What is Basting?

Using broth or meat juices to bathe the cooking roast. A baster or pastry brush is used to distribute the liquids over the meat.

How do you brine?

Mix brine made of stock, salt, sugar, and desired flavorings. Use turkey size oven roasting bag, place turkey and brine inside, and marinate in the refrigerator. Rinse,pat dry, and roast on cooking day. Full directions,recipe, and illustrations, here.

What is Poultry Seasoning?

A combination of ground spices that enhance poultry dishes, usually sage, rosemary, thyme, pepper, and some other spices.

You can buy it in a jar, or you can make your own, or buy it from Amazon. Almost every grocery sells it with the other spices. Chef Paul Prudhomme's Magic Seasoning Blends ~ Poultry Magic

Thawing Time

Time Required to Thaw a Turkey Inside a Refrigerator

8 to 12 lbs. .... 2 to 3 Days

13 to 16 lbs. .... 3 to 4 Days

17 to 20 lbs. .... 4 to 5 Days

21 to 24 lbs. .... 5 to 6 Days

Cooking Times

Weight of Bird
Roasting Time (Unstuffed)
Roasting Time (Stuffed)
10 to 18 pounds
3 to 3-1/2 hours
3-3/4 to 4-1/2 hours
18 to 22 pounds
3-1/2 to 4 hours
4-1/2 to 5 hours
22 to 24 pounds
4 to 4-1/2 hours
5 to 5-1/2 hours
24 to 29 pounds
4-1/2 to 5 hours
5-1/2 to 6-1/4 hours
Use a cooking thermometer for best results

From pans...

Granite Ware 19-Inch Covered Oval Roaster
Granite Ware 19-Inch Covered Oval Roaster

Good old fashioned roaster is simple, economical, and easy to clean. Useful for Thanksgiving turkeys or for family size casseroles.


Buy a USDA-approved Grade-A turkey. Young turkeys, from 4 to 7 months old, are tender .

My choices are bolded.

Choices are:

  • fresh or frozen
  • basted or un-basted
  • organic, natural, free-range, minimally processed, or kosher
  • un-stuffed or pre-stuffed
  • tom turkey or hen turkey

When feeding a large group (like when everyone and extra guests come to my house) I purchase a large Tom turkey.

Today I usually buy a hen turkey of about 12-14 pounds.

Fabulous Feasting

Cook Time

Prep Time: Start two days before if brining or thawing

Serves: 6 to ? Depends on Turkey size


  • Hen Turkey -between 12 and 22 pounds
  • 1 large can chicken broth - 48 oz.
  • 2 T. butter or vegetable oil
  • salt and pepper to rub inside and outside the turkey
  • 2 tsp.poultry seasoning


  1. Thaw turkey if necessary.
  2. Rinse,inside and out, and then pat dry. salt inside and rub out side with salt.
  3. Gently separate the skin from the meat in several places on the breast and towards the back (tailend) of the turkey and along the legs. Insert butter or oil. Try to not tear skin. I cut very small slits in the skin and insert lumps of butter; some people rub melted butter or oil under the loosened skin.
  4. Rub outside of bird with poultry spices and salt and pepper.
  5. Fill with stuffing.
  6. Put turkey uncovered in a hot ,475° F, oven for about 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 300-325° F, add broth to the turkey and pan.Then baste, and cover the turkey for its long roast. Baste often by lifting cover and using baster to squeeze the cooking juices over the roasting turkey.
  7. Roast for number of hours recommended for your size turkey and whether or not it has stuffing.
  8. When skin is crisp and brown, and turkey meat thoroughly cooked (only thermometer can be precisely accurate, but if the leg is loose when wiggled that plus time cooked at the proper temperature can be indications.)
  9. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  10. Cooking without stuffing may mean you can use lower temperatures and shorter cooking times.
  11. Stuffing, basting, and covering are all ways to completely cook and keep meat moist at the same time. Brine marinating is also one method for keeping the meat moist. Many cooks rely on a meat thermometer to insure the turkey is fully cooked.
Cast your vote for Roast Thanksgiving Turkey

Keep Your Turkey Moist

Whether you brine or baste, tent, or wrap in parchment, the point is to keep the turkey meat moist.

To thermometer gauges...

Roasted meats that are cooked thoroughly are important for health reasons, keeping them moist and not overcooked is important for taste and enjoyment.

Baste Your Turkey - Secret To Moist Roasted Meat

Tovolo Angled Dripless Turkey Baster
Tovolo Angled Dripless Turkey Baster

Large baster helps keep your roast meat moist. Handy cleaning tools to make sure it is ready for the next use.


Turkey Dressing - Stuff the Turkey

There are a myriad of recipes for the many ways to stuff a roast turkey. This is the basic recipe I like. I use commercially packaged bread cubes, sometimes crumbs. Use crumbs if you want the bread and vegetables to mix in a softer dressing, and cubes if you wish for the bread to be more evident.

Some people make their own bread cubes from stale bread. Use a loaf or two of bread and tear into bitesize pieces or cube to the desired size. I like to mix in whole wheat bread crumbs.

The turkey should not be overstuffed, since dressing expands. Leftover prepared dressing can be baked in an oven proof dish or cooked on the stove top.


  • enough bread stuffing for the size bird you are roasting - 1 to 2 packages
  • poultry seasoning
  • salt and papper
  • chicken broth
  • 2 hardboiled eggs -chopped
  • 2 T. fresh chopped parsley
  • optional added chopped pecans
  • three carrots chopped fine
  • three ribs of celery chopped fine
  • one large onion chopped fine
  • 1 stick butter melted


  1. In a very large mixing bowl, add bread cubes, and all chopped vegetables, plus any added optional ingredients like the nuts or chopped fruits, like apple or apricot, etc.
  2. Add moistening ingredients: broth and melted butter and mix thoroughly. Refrigerate if not immediately cooking.
  3. Right before stuffing turkey or cooking, add chopped eggs, any additions like sausage or oysters, etc.
  4. Cook in oven or stovestop and keep warm or refrigerate any leftover dressing promptly. It should be kept hot or cold, never room temperature.

Seared Green Beans

My favorite way to serve green beans is to get fancy whole beans in the frozen section, cook them until just done ( never overcook!), then douse them with a good Italian flavored dressing like Wishbone or House Italian. Sprinkle with blanched almonds if you want a bit of window dressing.

For those who wish something more je ne sais pas, try this recipe from the folks at NPR.


  • 2 tablespoons canola oil or peanut oil
  • 1 pound trimmed whole green beans
  • Salt
  • 1 tablespoon minced or crushed garlic
  • Red pepper flakes


  1. Place a large, deep skillet or wok over medium heat. After about two minutes, add the oil, and swirl to coat the pan.
  2. Turn the heat to high, and wait another 30 seconds or so, then add the green beans and a big pinch of salt.
  3. Cook over high heat, shaking the pan and/or using tongs to turn and move the beans so they cook quickly and evenly.
  4. After about 3 minutes, take a taste test and see if the beans are done to your liking. They should be relatively crunchy, but you get to decide. If you like them cooked a little more, keep going until they're your kind of tender.
  5. Sprinkle in the garlic and some red pepper flakes, and cook for just a minute longer. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

Sweet Potato Casserole

One large sweet potato per person, it is easy to increase or decrease this recipe. The rest of the ingredients are approximate to produce a moist mashed potato that is baked in the oven or can be cooked on the stovetop. Can be made ahead and then warmed for the meal.


  • 8 large sweet potatoes or yams
  • 1 stick butter -half pound
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup concentrated orange juice
  • salt to taste
  • optional marshmallows for topping


  1. First bake your sweet potatoes and then remove their jackets.
  2. Add butter to hot potatoes and it will melt as you mash them slightly.
  3. Add the milk, orange juice concentrate, and salt to taste (try 1⁄2 tsp. sea salt)
  4. Mash together and turn into baking dish (or large dutch oven for stovetop). Cook until flavors meld and heated through. 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Top with marshmallows, if desired. In very hot oven or under broiler, melt and toast marshmallow topping. Serve.

Fresh Cranberry Relish Side Dish - Traditional Turkey Trimming

My preference is for a tart relish, with only enough additional sugar to make it palatable. Sweet apples and orange will help offset the cranberry tartness. Adjust additional sugar to taste, but keep the relish tart for best taste with the turkey.


  • 16 oz. fresh cranberries
  • 3 -4 'Honey Crisp' or dessert apples
  • 3 -4 Seedless Navel oranges or oranges with seeds removed
  • optional coarsely chopped walnuts
  • granulated sugar to taste -approximately 1/2 to 3/4 cup


  1. Pick over cranberries discarding bruised or old berries.
  2. Cut up washed apples to size for sending through meat grinder. Peel and section oranges.
  3. Using meat grinder ( my preference) or food processor with coarse attachment, mince the cranberries, apples and oranges and combine in large bowl.
  4. Add sugar to taste, add optional walnuts.
  5. Cover with Saran wrap and refrigerate until serving.
  6. Serve in a glass bowl to show off the beautiful color. Served with the turkey and dressing entree.

The Pie!

Homemade Pumpkin Dessert - Bourbon Pumpkin Tart with Walnut Streusel Recipe

I admit to cheating on the pie. I get frozen pies and bake those for our Thanksgiving. I save my totally homemade from scratch efforts for Christmas. But if you wish to make your own pumpkin pie from scratch this is a good recipe to use.

Delicious! A Taste of Home recipe that won't go wrong.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange peel
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup cold butter- cubed
  • 1 egg-lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup cold butter-cubed
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts-toasted
  • 1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger


  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, orange peel and salt. Cut in butter until crumbly. Add egg. Gradually add cream, tossing with a fork until a ball forms. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or until easy to handle.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out pastry into a 13-in. circle. Press onto the bottom and up the sides of an ungreased 11-in. fluted tart pan with removable bottom.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the filling ingredients. Pour into crust. For topping, combine the flour, sugar, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon. Cut in butter until crumbly. Stir in walnuts and ginger. Sprinkle over filling.
  4. Bake at 350° for 45-55 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate leftovers.

Additional Trimmings for the Menu - Sides for a Roast Turkey

Maybe you like these, or they might be something I always include- more ideas to create a scrumptious Thanksgiving menu.

The Side Menu

  • I enjoy a simple (ok,slightly dressed up) green salad
  • Corn bread muffins
  • Corn Pudding
  • White potatoes. Some people can't imagine their meal without them.
  • Wild rice and mushrooms, goes great with the roast turkey. Can be substituted for bread dressing.

How To Roast A Thanksgiving Turkey - Easy directions for great results


Comments are Welcome

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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I just love a Butterball roasted turkey with all the trimmings ... dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy!


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