Easy Roast Turkey with Gravy

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Easy Roast Turkey with Gravy

The high-heat roasting method is my favorite way to cook a turkey. The prep time is minimal, the cooking time is short, and the turkey emerges from the oven juicy and crisp-skinned. The only drawback is that the high heat can cause a little smoke in the kitchen, so be sure your oven is spotless prior to cooking — and, while the bird roasts, turn on your exhaust fan and crack a window. Note that this method works best for turkeys under 14 pounds. For Thanksgiving, I typically make one roast turkey along with a rolled stuffed turkey breast (a make-ahead family favorite) so we have variety and plenty of leftovers. If you’re a turkey novice, cooking a turkey feels intimidating, or just want to get into the turkey-cooking mood, check out my post Turkey Talk — it will make you feel better!

easy roast turkey with gravyTo begin, remove and discard truss that holds turkey legs together. Trim off and discard any excess fat in the neck or body cavity. Remove giblets and neck; discard or save for stock.

easy roast turkey with gravy

Rinse turkey inside and out with warm water. Pat dry with paper towels. Place a V-shaped rack in a 13 x 16 x 3-inch heavy stainless-steel roasting pan. (Do not use a dark roasting pan or a disposable aluminum pan.) Rub the turkey skin all over with the olive oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Set the bird breast-side-up on the rack. Pull the wings away from the body, then firmly twist them to push the wing tips under the bird.

easy roast turkey with gravy

Using aluminum foil, form caps over the tips of the end of each drumstick. (Do not tie the legs together, add stuffing, or close the body cavity.) Insert a digital leave-in meat thermometer near the center of the breast through thickest part until the tip touches the bone. Turn on your exhaust fan and crack a kitchen window.

easy roast turkey with gravy

Place the turkey in the oven and roast, without basting, until the thermometer reaches 160°F, 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Halfway through roasting time, rotate the pan in the oven to assure even cooking and browning. (If at any point your kitchen gets unbearably smoky or the fat is spitting, pour a cup of tepid water in the roasting pan. Just keep in mind that liquid will create steam, which prevents the skin from getting as crispy.) Remove the pan from the oven.

easy roast turkey with gravyUsing oven mitts that you don’t mind getting dirty, carefully tilt the turkey so that the juices from the cavity run into the roasting pan. Transfer the turkey to a platter or cutting board (do not clean the roasting pan), tent the turkey with foil, and let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes. This will allow the internal temperature to reach at least 165°F (the USDA safe-cooking temperature for turkey) and the juices to settle.

easy roast turkey with gravy

While the turkey rests, make the gravy: Place the roasting pan over a burner on your stove. (Be careful handling the pan, as the handles will be hot.) Skim away any excess fat or solids that have accumulated in the pan.

easy roast turkey with gravy

Add the broth and cook over medium heat, scraping the bottom of the pan with a whisk or wooden spoon to loosen any brown bits, until simmering. Turn off the heat and set aside.

easy roast turkey with gravy

In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat.

easy roast turkey with gravy

Add the onions.

easy roast turkey with gravy

Cook until very soft and translucent, about 15 minutes. Do not brown.

Add the flour.

easy roast turkey with gravy

Whisk and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

easy roast turkey with gravy

Whisk in the turkey dripping-chicken broth mixture and Cognac and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes until thickened.

easy roast turkey with gravy

Stir in the cream (if using) and chopped herbs. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary.

easy roast turkey with gravy

Transfer to a gravy bowl. Carve the turkey and serve with the gravy on the side.

Easy Roast Turkey with Gravy

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Easy Roast Turkey With Gravy

Servings: 8 to 10
Total Time: 2 Hours

Ingredients

  • 1 fresh turkey (11 to 14 lbs)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2-1/4 cups chicken broth
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1-1/2 cups finely chopped yellow onion, from 1 large yellow onion
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons Cognac or brandy
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream, optional
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (such as thyme, sage, rosemary, or parsley)

You Will Need:

  • 13 x 16 x 3-inch heavy stainless-steel roasting pan
  • V-shaped roasting rack
  • Leave-in digital meat thermometer, like this one

Instructions

  1. Before cooking, be sure that your oven is VERY clean to prevent smoking. Preheat the oven to 450°F and set an oven rack in the lowest position.
  2. Remove and discard truss that holds turkey legs together. Trim off and discard any excess fat in the neck or body cavity. Remove giblets and neck; discard or save for stock.
  3. Rinse the turkey inside and out with warm water. Pat dry with paper towels. Place a V-shaped rack in a 13 x 16 x 3-inch heavy stainless-steel roasting pan. (Do not use a dark roasting pan or a disposable aluminum pan.) Rub the turkey skin all over with the olive oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Set the bird breast-side-up on the rack. Pull the wings away from the body, then firmly twist them to push the wing tips under the bird. Using aluminum foil, form caps over the tips of the end of each drumstick. (Do not tie the legs together, add stuffing, or close the body cavity.)Insert a digital leave-in meat thermometer near the center of the breast through the thickest part until the tip touches the bone.
  4. Turn on your exhaust fan and crack a kitchen window. Place the turkey in the oven and roast, without basting, until the thermometer reaches 160°F, 1 to 1-1/2 hours. If your oven has hot spots, rotate the pan halfway through cooking to assure even browning. (If at any point your kitchen gets unbearably smoky or the fat is spitting, pour a cup of tepid water in the roasting pan. Just keep in mind that the liquid will create steam in the oven, so the skin won't be quite as crispy.)
  5. Remove the pan from the oven. Using clean oven mitts (that you don't mind getting dirty), carefully tilt the turkey so that the juices from the cavity run into the roasting pan. Transfer the turkey to a platter or cutting board (do not clean the roasting pan), tent the turkey with foil, and let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes. This will allow the internal temperature to reach at least 165°F (the USDA safe-cooking temperature for turkey) and the juices to settle.
  6. While the turkey rests, make the gravy: Place the roasting pan on a burner on your stove. (Be very careful handling the pan; it's easy to forget that it's hot.) Skim away any excess fat or solids that have accumulated in the pan. Add the broth and cook over medium heat, scraping the bottom of the pan with a whisk or wooden spoon to loosen any brown bits, until simmering. Turn off the heat and set aside.
  7. In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook until very soft and translucent, about 15 minutes. Do not brown. Whisk in the flour and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Whisk in the turkey dripping-chicken broth mixture and Cognac and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until thickened. Stir in the cream (if using) and chopped herbs. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary. Transfer to a gravy bowl.
  8. Carve the turkey and serve with the gravy on the side.
  9. Make-Ahead Instructions: If you don't mind losing the crispy skin, the turkey can be roasted and carved ahead of time. Pour a thin layer of the gravy into an ovenproof serving platter. Arrange the carved turkey nicely on top of the gravy; cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to two days. Refrigerate the remaining gravy in a separate container. To reheat: remove the plastic wrap and cover the platter with aluminum foil. Place in a 325°F-oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until the turkey is hot. Reheat the gravy in the microwave or on the stovetop.

Pair with

Reviews & Comments

  • This was the easiest turkey roasting I’ve ever found!!! And at nearing 70 I’ve tried a few. I didn’t have any problems with smoke and the bird was great. Thanks!

    • — Ginger on November 25, 2018
    • Reply
  • The turkey cooked quickly and the skin was nice and crispy. It did smoke a bit but the smoke was worth it for the short cooking time and cripsy skin. The meat was also incredibly juicy. The gravy was rich and salty , I will cut the butter back and add more broth next time. The gravy as is was decadent, I’m just looking to take it back a notch. My mother generally cooks Thanksgiving dinner and I didn’t have a go-to recipe for turkey or gravy. I do now. There is no need to go in search of other turkey and gravy recipes. These are perfect.

    • — Katrina on November 23, 2018
    • Reply
  • I’ve been brining for days and roasting & basting for many hours for 15+ years…never again!! This was SO easy and my 20 lb turkey turned out beautifully. I used a heavy Calphalon roasting pan and the kitchen did get a little smoky, not too bad. Thank you Jen for taking the stress out of Thanksgiving! Bought your cookbook; love everything you do!!

    • — Melanie on November 23, 2018
    • Reply
  • Great, easy turkey recipe. Thank you!

    • — Stephanie on November 22, 2018
    • Reply
  • If you put your thermometer probe touching the bone, will you get an accurate reading as the bone gets very hot?

    • — Linda Kivitz on November 22, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Linda, I know it goes against conventional wisdom, but it works. I’ve been doing it that way for years and I always get an accurate reading. 🙂

      • — Jenn on November 22, 2018
      • Reply
  • I made the gravy, but it is very buttery. I followed the recipe exactly with drippings from a 12 lb. turkey. How can I adjust the flavor?

    • — Beth on November 22, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Beth, If it is too rich for your liking, you can add a little more broth.

      • — Jenn on November 22, 2018
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    I’m going to try your high heat method of cooking my 24 lb bird this year, after making sure my oven is good and clean, turning on the fan and opening a window. My question is….why can I not use a large dark pan (non-stick) with V-rack to cook the bird? I notice your recipe specifically advises against this and wasn’t sure why.

    Many thanks and Happy Thanksgiving!
    Sincerely,
    Mary from LA

    • — Mary Nelson on November 21, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Mary from LA! Dark metal absorbs and distributes heat more quickly than lighter-colored pans so this can cause the burning/smoking I mentioned. But if it’s a good quality heavy pan, it should be fine (it’s those dark speckled pans that a lot of people use that cause problems). With such a large bird, you want to be extra sure that no parts of the bird extend beyond the rim of the pan, as splatters in the oven cause smoke. And if the skin starts to get too dark on the top towards the end, cover it with foil. The cook time for 24-lb bird would be 2.5 to 3 hours. If at any point your kitchen gets too smoky you can always turn the heat down to 350°F to finish cooking the bird (just leave yourself enough time). Hope that helps and please let me know how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on November 22, 2018
      • Reply
      • Jenn, I just wanted to let you know that the high heat method was FANTASTIC! My ovens were fairly clean (although not spotless) and I had absolutely no trouble with burning or smoking. I did turn on a low exhaust fan, cracked a window and used a pan large enough for the bird (even that non-stick one) which must have helped too. My 24-lb bird cooked in 2 hours! It was amazing! I couldn’t believe how ahead of the game I was. Thanks so much for this wonderful recipe. FYI, even with a 24-lb bird, I still made your turkey roulade (which was fabulous – check out my review there)! One hour and 15 min exactly and so gorgeous looking – wow! Thanks Jenn! Hope your holiday was calm and relaxing 🙂

        • — Mary Nelson on December 7, 2018
        • Reply
  • Wonderful recipe. I used an 8lb turkey breast and it came out perfect. Lovely browned skin and moist meat. Much easier than prior recipes that I have followed. I used a fairly heavy, dark roasting pan and did not have any issue with burning/smoke.

    Thank you Jenn for providing wonderful recipes.

    • — Connie on November 19, 2018
    • Reply
  • Do you use convection roast/bake or regular bake?
    Thank you.

    • — Paula on November 18, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Paula, I use a regular oven. 🙂

      • — Jenn on November 18, 2018
      • Reply
  • Is the chicken broth regular or low sodium? thanks

    • — Jeannie Jones on November 17, 2018
    • Reply
    • Regular 🙂

      • — Jenn on November 18, 2018
      • Reply
  • Hi Jen~ I love everything you make! I have never been disappointed! So thank you!

    This year I am making two turkey breasts instead of one large turkey. Since no one in my family eats dark meat, I always end up wasting it. And I hate being wasteful.

    Would I be able to roast the turkey breasts using this method? If so, do you have recommendations about time/temp/ roasting pan size?
    Thank you!

    • — Kelly on November 15, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Kelly, So glad you enjoy the recipes! Yes, you can use this recipe for bone-in turkey breasts. The roasting pan would be the same as well as the oven temp. The timing will depend on the size of the breasts. (Use a digital leave-in meat thermometer and remove it from the oven when the temp reaches 160°F.) Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on November 16, 2018
      • Reply
      • The breasts are about 7lbs each. I have a large roaster and rack- do you think I could put them both on the same one? Also, I was considering making on Wednesday, slicing and reheating Thursday. Do you think this would work, or should I just cook the turkey on Thanksgiving? I am a little nervous… Thanks! And Happy Thanksgiving!

        • — Kelly on November 18, 2018
        • Reply
        • Hi Kelly, Assuming both the breasts fit on the rack and don’t hang over the side of the roasting pan, it should be fine. And it’s perfectly fine to make it a day ahead and then reheat it on Thursday. If you scroll down to the bottom of the recipe, you’ll find some “make-ahead” instructions that should be helpful.

          • — Jenn on November 20, 2018
          • Reply
  • I have an all clad roaster which has a black non-stick finish. It is a nice pan with heating threshold of 500 degrees. Should I adjust temperature of my oven down from 450 to compensate for the black pan? If so, how many degrees? thanks!

    • — Jackie on November 15, 2018
    • Reply
    • I think you’ll be fine with the all-clad roaster, Jackie – but if it starts to smoke, you can reduce the heat 25°F. The pans to really worry about are those light-weight dark and speckled roasters.

      • — Jenn on November 15, 2018
      • Reply
  • I am going to make the Turkey ahead of time this year per your recipe. I see you add a thin of layer of gravy. Other recipes I have found online drizzle chicken stock or turkey stock over. What do you think is best and why?

    • — Betty Jean Parsonson on November 14, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Betty, You could go either way (or even use a little of both). I prefer to use a little gravy (so long as you have enough to spare) as the turkey picks up the flavor as it sits in the fridge.

      • — Jenn on November 15, 2018
      • Reply
  • Wondering if the cooking time of 1.5 hours holds true for a 20 lb+ bird? I realize the need to use a thermometer as the ultimate guide but just want to ensure I’m putting the turkey in at the appropriate time to serve a planned seated dinner time. Thanks!

    Also love your recipes, especially the beef stew!

    • — linda schab on November 13, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Linda, This method works best for smaller birds b/c of the smoke issue but it is totally doable with a 20-lb turkey if your oven in clean and you use the right type of roasting pan. Also, be sure that no parts of the bird extend beyond the rim of the pan. And if it starts to get too dark on the top towards the end, just cover it with foil. The cook time for 20-lb bird would be closer to 2 hours. Hope that helps and please let me know how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on November 14, 2018
      • Reply
      • Hi Jenn,

        Thanks for your very prompt response! Just picked up my 24 lbs bird. Yikes! Thinking that is way too heavy to attempt the high temp cooking time/method, not to mention the fact that despite well intentioned cleaning it may not be enough to prevent the inevitable smoke factor. That said I will capitalize on all of your other wonderful recipes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, roasted carrots, brussel sprouts et. al.. Thanks again, you make my cooking magic 🙂

        Linda

        • — Linda Schab on November 20, 2018
        • Reply
        • ☺️

          • — Jenn on November 21, 2018
          • Reply
        • Linda, how did your turkey turn out? Would love to know as I’m making a 25lb turkey.

          • — Sandy on December 5, 2018
          • Reply
  • Hi Jenn 🙂

    I would love to try this recipe but have a dark roasting pan with the v rack. I noticed you said not to use a dark pan, why is that though? Is there some way I can adjust the recipe to still use that type of pan? Thank you for your time and thoughts!

    Best wishes,
    Natalie

    • — Natalie on November 13, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Natalie, What type of dark pan is it? Is it heavy?

      • — Jenn on November 13, 2018
      • Reply
  • Maybe it’s me, but nowhere do I see what temp to set my oven on. Help!

    • — Mona on November 13, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Mona, It’s in the first step – 450°F. 🙂

      • — Jenn on November 13, 2018
      • Reply
  • Jenn – We always roast our turkey on high heat and it is always great and never takes a long time to roast even a very large bird – so I completely agree with you. It is the best way! But I am curious why you say not to use a dark colored pan? We have been using a dark Caphalon roasting pan for years. How will the light colored pan make a difference? Also can the gravy be made gluten free using something other than flour as a thickener? Thanks!

    • — Kathy on November 13, 2018
    • Reply
    • Hi Kathy, Dark metal absorbs and distributes heat more quickly than lighter-colored pans so this can cause the burning/smoking I mentioned. But using a heavy metal pan is the most important thing — and no need to change what works! You could skip the flour and thicken the gravy with cornstarch — just mix it with some water and whisk in at the very end. I’d start with 1.5 tablespoons cornstarch (mixed with a little cold water til smooth), simmer to thicken, and then add more if necessary. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on November 13, 2018
      • Reply
    • Yes, cornstarch is a lovely way to make gluten free gravy, just make sure it is a brand that claims to be gf. I use Rumford because it has the gf stamp on the container plus it is aluminum free.

      • — Molly Franks on November 14, 2018
      • Reply

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