Turkey Talk

Tested & Perfected Recipes

Photo by Sarah Plfug (this post contains an affiliate link)

Ever since I started hosting Thanksgiving dinner many years ago, I have been on a quest to make the perfect Thanksgiving turkey. I’ve brined it, deep-fried it, marinated it, injected it, buttered it, dry-rubbed it, butterflied it, and stuffed it. I’ve tried Kosher turkeys, organic turkeys, free-range turkeys and self-basting turkeys. A few years ago, I even bought an oil-less outdoor propane turkey fryer called “The Big Easy,” which freed up my oven and actually made a wonderfully crisp-skinned and juicy turkey. (If you want to spend $115 on a large piece of equipment that will likely sit in storage collecting cobwebs 364 days a year, I highly recommend it!)

From all this fussing with turkeys, I’ve come to realize that my turkey will never be perfect. Let’s face it: turkeys, on their own, just aren’t very good. That’s what gravy and cranberry sauce are for. As Mary Risley from Tante Marie’s Cooking School humorously points out in the video below (which you should definitely watch, especially if you have any turkey-cooking anxiety), “I have never had an outstanding turkey.”

(Viewer discretion advised — this funny video contains some foul language)


Short of purchasing a special turkey cooker (this is the one I have), it is near impossible to cook a turkey perfectly: the white meat always cooks before the dark meat is done and the skin on the bottom is never crisp (unless you flip the hot, sputtering bird mid-way through cooking – ummm, no thank you).

So is it really worth it to go to great lengths – brining in big coolers for days in the garage, risking life and limb deep-frying in the driveway, pre-icing the breast of the turkey so it cooks more slowly (I swear, there’s a very respectable cooking magazine that wants you to do this) – to make that end-all and be-all turkey?

It’s up to you, but I’m not interested in babysitting my turkey for three days to get only marginally better results at the end.

My advice to you on Thanksgiving is to keep it simple. Make my easy roast turkey with an over-the-top delicious gravy and some cranberry sauce to go with it. Focus your time and creativity on the side dishes and desserts because that’s what everyone really looks forward to anyway.

My favorite turkey recipe uses the high-heat roasting method. It requires no brining or stuffing, fancy seasoning, trussing, or injecting. It’s just a plain ol’ turkey seasoned with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted in a 450°F-oven until the skin is crispy and brown and the meat is juicy. From all my turkey travails, I can tell you that this simple high-heat roasting method is the absolute best way to cook a turkey.

And, believe it or not, the turkey cooks in 1 to 1-1/2 hours. I know it sounds impossible if you’ve been waking up early for the last twenty years to slow-cook your turkey but I promise you it works. The turkey is cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F in the oven (not the 175°F to 180°F many recipes recommend) and comes up to 165°F (the USDA recommended safe temperature for turkey) while it rests.

Finally, keep in mind, while the high-heat method results in a juicy, crisp-skinned turkey, it will still taste like turkey! The gravy and cranberry sauce are what make it taste good.

A Few Final Thoughts on Turkey

– Depending on where you buy your turkey, you might be presented with several options like Organic, All-Natural, Kosher or Self-Basting. I like Kosher turkeys best but they can be expensive and hard to find. I’ve also had good results with Whole Foods’ turkeys. (If you want to read more about the different types of turkeys, click here.)

– Most turkey recipes will advise you to save the turkey giblets to make turkey stock and gravy. It’s a good idea but, to be honest, I never bother – there’s too much other cooking to do on Thanksgiving. The drippings from the roasted turkey will give you plenty of flavor for your gravy, and you can use store bought chicken broth for the rest. Keep it simple!

– No matter how you cook your turkey, leave it un-trussed (don’t tie the legs together) – it’s easier and the turkey will cook more evenly. Many turkeys come with a plastic binder that holds the legs together; just cut it off. Or sometimes the skin is pulled around the legs to hold them together; you can cut that off as well.

– Don’t go crazy trying to flavor your turkey with herbs and spices. Salt, pepper and oil the skin and you’re good to go. Anything else is unnecessary and gets overshadowed by the gravy and all the side dishes anyway.

– Don’t worry about basting the bird; it’s not necessary and let’s heat out of the oven, which increases the cooking time.

– Don’t stuff your turkey – it will cook faster and you won’t have to worry about giving your guests salmonella. Plus, your stuffing will be mushy if you cook it inside the bird. Why have soggy stuffing when you can bake it separately in the oven and have it crisp and toasty on top?

Hope my turkey travails help turn your turkey into a success! Click here to get the recipe for my Easy Roast Turkey With Gravy

Reviews & Comments

  • I’ve got a 26lb turkey. Can I use the the high heat method? suggestions?

    • — Andrew Paul Zakrzewski on November 25, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Andrew, I don’t recommend it for a 26-lb turkey — it will fill your kitchen with smoke. I’m sorry!

      • — Jenn on November 25, 2020
      • Reply
      • I was planning to cook in an outdoor setting so smoke would not be an issue. I was wondering if the high temp cooking would still work for this size turkey. Suggestions?

        • — Andrew Paul Zakrzewski on November 26, 2020
        • Reply
        • Honestly, I still think it’s too big. I probably wouldn’t attempt it for a turkey over 20 lbs.

          • — Jenn on November 26, 2020
          • Reply
          • Thanks!

            • — Andrew Paul Zakrzewski on November 26, 2020
  • I only have a dark (non stick surface) roasting pan. Will it work with the high heat roasting method? Your instructions say not to use a dark pan or disposable foil pan. Those are my only 2 options. Thank you!

    • — Amy on November 22, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Amy, Unfortunately, those pans won’t work with the high-heat method — I’m sorry! I’d go with a recipe like this instead.

      • — Jenn on November 22, 2020
      • Reply
  • Hi Jen,
    So we are going to make a turkey on Thanksgiving, of course your recipe. I want to make one ahead of time, day before maybe, any easy/best way to warm the entire turkey?

    • — Elizabeth Chiapperino on November 21, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Elizabeth, I would roast and carve the turkey 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.

      • — Jenn on November 22, 2020
      • Reply
  • So it’s just me and my husband this year for Thanksgiving and I bought a bone-in 8lb turkey breast. I’m trying to find the best way to prepare it/cook it as this is literally the first time I’ve ever done this…I like the high heat idea and I think I’ll try that but I’m worried Ill leave it in too long or something…do you have any suggestions?

    • — Amanda W. on November 18, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Amanda, To take out any guesswork, your best bet will be to use an instant-read or remote thermometer and remove the turkey from the oven when the temperature reaches 160°F. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on November 18, 2020
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn! Thanks for the Turkey talk article as I definitely have some turkey anxiety right now. I’m hosting a small Thanksgiving this year and I’ve never roasted a turkey before. I was considering buying a whole roasted turkey from Whole Foods after reading your Pro Tips on holiday cooking from your cookbook. Now I’m not sure. This actually sounds doable. What do you think about buying a turkey from Whole Foods? Do you know if they reheat well and what that process is like? If I make most of the sides ahead and the turkey only takes 1.5hours or so, that could actually be a stress free day right? I’m on the fence.

    • — Adrienne on November 10, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Adrienne, I honestly wouldn’t hesitate to buy the roasted turkey from Whole Foods. I often make my turkey ahead of time, carve it, and reheat it before serving — and a turkey from Whole Foods is going to be just as good as one you’d make at home. Keep it simple and enjoy the day!

      • — Jenn on November 11, 2020
      • Reply
      • Thanks Jenn, that settles it 🙂 What about the gravy? Buy that from Whole Foods as well?

        • — Adrienne Trumpower on November 11, 2020
        • Reply
        • Hi Adrienne, I make my own gravy, but I bet Whole Foods has a good one too. 🙂

          • — Jenn on November 11, 2020
          • Reply
      • Dear Jenn,
        I’m hosting 12 of us in all 9 of which are adult appetites. That with six kids running around. I’ve mastered T-day living abroad pretty well after six years, sourcing ingreds, buying the most expensive Turkey ever each time that’s out for Xmas. I don’t have a leave-in therm, will the high heat still work? I’m intrigued by your high heat method. Also, you caught me above in the comment with saying you make your Turkey the DAY BEFORE! Would you explain more how that works? It’s not tough and stringy reheated? That is such a tempting idea! 🙂
        Thank you!

        • — StephDownUnder on November 18, 2020
        • Reply
        • Hi Steph, You can still use the high heat method but just use the timing guidelines in the recipe and then check it with an instant-read thermometer. And I don’t find the turkey to be tough when it’s reheated so if you’re tempted, I would definitely suggest it!

          • — Jenn on November 19, 2020
          • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    I have been truly enjoying so many of your recipes, in fact I’m eating a blueberry muffin with my coffee right now! And your soup recipes – yum! I’m soooo happy you posted this turkey talk information. I seriously stress way too much about the turkey every year, for exactly the reasons you’ve listed. I consider myself a pretty darn good cook, but I have been defeated by a stupid, dead bird in my own kitchen several years now. Well no more!!
    Thank you!

    • — Suzette Perez on November 5, 2020
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    Happy Thanksgiving to you! For the folks out there that don’t need a whole turkey and a turkey breast will do, can you suggest a cooking strategy for this?

    Thank you.

    • — lauri selib on November 25, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Lauri, I’d cook it the same way; the cooking time will be different though — it’s hard to say how long it will take as it really depends on the size, but your best bet will be to use an instant-read thermometer and remove the turkey from the oven when the temperature reaches 160°F. Happy Thanksgiving!

      • — Jenn on November 25, 2019
      • Reply
  • Thank you…had a few belly laughs reading this. Happy Thanksgiving!🦃

    • — Angela on November 23, 2019
    • Reply
  • You are hilarious! Thanks for the sensible, humorous advice. Have a great [email protected]

    • — Eileen on November 23, 2019
    • Reply
  • What size roasting pan is best for 16 pound turkey
    [email protected]

    • — FALCONER NINI on November 22, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Nini, You’ll need a 13 x 16 x 3-inch roasting pan. 🙂

      • — Jenn on November 22, 2019
      • Reply
  • I don’t feel the need to serve and present a whole turkey. I’d rather have good tasting, tender meat. I’ve been cooking turkey parts for several years. Do the legs and thighs separately from the breast. That solves the problem of dry white meat. I also have brined and smoked the breast with very good luck. I like my dark meat at almost 185 and the breast at no more than 165. Enjoy your Thanksgiving everyone!!

    • — Mary on November 21, 2019
    • Reply
  • This is the best Thanksgiving advice on the internet! We started going to the beach for the week of Thanksgiving and have a very minimal T-Day dinner. We have been cooking our turkey like this for years and makes the holiday much more enjoyable when one part of it is easy, quick and works consistently.

    • — Kim on November 21, 2019
    • Reply
  • Do you think this would work for a 15 lb turkey breast (no dark meat)

    • — Pam on November 12, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Pam, I haven’t tried this with a turkey breast, but I think it should work. Please LMK how it turns out if you make it!

      • — Jenn on November 12, 2019
      • Reply
    • I quit buying turkeys….I roast chickens instead! My family LOVES this and specifically asks I do that each year instead. A lot easier to handle and just tastes better!!

      • — Cynthia on November 21, 2019
      • Reply
      • Us too! we happily gave up turkey a few tdays ago. This year we are doing a chicken and pork tenderloin

        • — Sarita Singh on November 25, 2019
        • Reply
  • Hi
    I would really like to try this method of cooking a turkey and was wondering if you think a stainless steel roaster with just an ordinary flat rack would work or would you need a V rack?

    • — Lesley on May 8, 2019
    • Reply
    • Hi Lesley, A V-rack is ideal for roasting birds but I don’t think it’s worth it to go out and get one just for this one recipe. I’d go with your flat rack. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on May 9, 2019
      • Reply
  • Any lil spills in the oven during cooking, pull the rack out a lil and sprinkle amply baking soda all over the spill….

    Goes right to work and soaks it up….when oven is cool, metal or plastiv spatula turner and scoop I up. Threat is gone.

    • — elise on December 25, 2018
    • Reply
    • Elise…..ohhhhhh my goodness. I forgot my mom always did that. Would have saved me many times in cooking over the years. Thank you thank you Elise!!!!!!!!!!!

      • — Jack on December 26, 2018
      • Reply
  • I love all your recipes ! I am thinking of trying your method this year. I usually brine my turkey but this year I have a 28 pound turkey! Can I use this method with that large of a bird. Can you tell me how long i would cook it.

    • — Mariellen H Etter
    • Reply
    • Glad you like the recipes, Mariellen! This method works best for smaller turkeys because of the smoke issue but it’s doable with a 28-lb turkey if your oven is VERY 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. (If any parts extend beyond the roasting pan, the drippings will cause a LOT of smoke.) And if it starts to get too dark on the top toward the end, just cover it with foil. I’d guesstimate the cook time for a 28-lb turkey would be about 2.5+ hours (but your best bet is to rely on the meat thermometer – you’ll remove the turkey from the oven when the temperature reaches 160°F). Hope that helps and please let me know how it turns out!

      • Is it by okay if I use butter as well on top no of the Turkey and inside the skin? Or will it cause high smoke issues?

        • — Grace on November 28, 2019
        • Reply
        • Hi Grace, You’ll get smoke with butter. Sorry!

          • — Jenn on November 28, 2019
          • Reply
  • 5 stars!! I couldnt get the stars to enable…I did this technique last year with great success on a 14# bird. (FYI I also have your cookbook and have made many of your online recipes with yummy results) Anyhow, no smoke and was very easy although I poured over the reviews the days leading to cook time to ensure I would do it correctly. So, this year my workplace provided us with a 20# turkey and I know there is a risk of smoke. I was going to have a foil triangle ready to cover the bird if necessary and have my iven mostly spotless. We received the turkey just 2 days ago and I stuck it in the fridge promptly. I had hoped to cook it Wednesday but I doubt that it will be thawed. My question, I guess, is if it’s still slightly frozen, will this method still work? I’m afraid I already know my answer but might as well ask the expert. I can cook it Thursday if I have to but was hoping to have all the mess over and done with the day before.

    • Hi Holly, I don’t think I’d try it if the turkey is still partially frozen. Sorry! You could always thaw it in cold water — it’s kind of a pain but it will speed things up. This link explains how. Hope that helps and Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Hi Jenn – I’ve tried high-heat Turkey’s before but the recipe I used previously involved physically rotating the bird (cooking with the back up, then flipping the bird so the breast-side is eventuallly up). Anyhow, I’m looking forward to trying your simpler approach.
    One question – would your high-heat recipe work well with a brined the bird. I know some think it’s not worth the hassle, but I have a brine recipe that I’m also keen to try. Anyhow, I’d appreciate your thoughts. Thanks again for all the great recipes and weekly email inspirations. By the way, I’m loving your cookbook 🙂

    • Hi Chris, Yes, it’s fine to use a brined bird. So glad you like the book! 🙂

    • Hi Jenn,
      Thanks for the reminder to keep it simple. That video was HI-larious. Seriously. You bring light to the fact that we all take the darn turkey too seriously. It really is the sides that make the dinner. Thanks for your real world wisdom. Im barbequing my bird so my kitchen won’t be 500 degrees by suppertime. Lol . Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family and thanks for all of the wonderful recipes.

      • — Becky on November 28, 2019
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    I have always cooked a turkey in a plastic bag – partially to keep it moist and partially to keep my oven clean. If using a plastic bag, how would you adjust this recipe, it at all or would you just not recommend using a plastic bag.

    My niece cooked a turkey today using this recipe and said it turned out delicious. I’m all for making things easy.

    • Hi Kelley, I wouldn’t use the plastic bag with the high-heat method. I’d love to know how your turkey turns out!

      • We are originally from New Orleans and love our propane Big Easy. Where can I find your Big Easy recipes?
        What is the name of your book and is it available on Amazon

        • — Alice Abraham on November 7, 2019
        • Reply
        • Hi Alice, I actually don’t have a turkey recipe intended for the Big Easy but would treat it the same way (with salt pepper and olive oil) as my roast turkey. I think you can probably look online and find the Big Easy‘s method for cooking a turkey. And here is a link to my cookbook on Amazon – thanks for inquiring! ❤️

          • — Jenn on November 8, 2019
          • Reply
        • Hi Jenn,
          Love your recipes and cookbook. I can’t tell you how many loaves of cinnamon bread I’ve given to happy friends and family. And the Challah too! You’ve cured me of my fear of yeast 🙂
          Regarding your method of cooking the turkey: I stuff mine with a traditional Italian stuffing made with cooked ground pork, walnuts, pecorino Romano and eggs. The mixture is cooled then packed into the bird. The only things raw are the eggs. Do you think you’re high temp method would work?
          P.S. your chicken Marsala recipe is fabulous !!

          • — Julie McConnell on November 21, 2019
          • Reply
          • Hi Julie, So glad you like the recipes! While I don’t love putting stuffing inside the turkey because I find that it comes out too moist, I think using the method that you mentioned should work. Hope everyone enjoys and happy Thanksgiving!

            • — Jenn on November 21, 2019
  • Hi Jenn, thanks so much for your article and suggestions. I’ve been using the lower-heat method for many years now, but I think I will try it this way this year. We like our turkey stuffed, as well. Okay to stuff it at this high heat? Do you think it would make it less soft (I eventually combine the softer stuff with just baked stuffing)? I will check out your gravy recipe too. I’m never 100% satisfied with how mine turns out. By the way, I’ve tried a number of your recipes and everything has been fantastic – thank you!

    • Hi Ilona, Unfortunately, this method only works with an unstuffed bird. Sorry! Glad you are enjoying the recipes. 🙂

  • interesting turkey cooking recommendation i wiil have to try using the oven again sometime. i pre bought your book of recipes and I am a big fan. couldnt agree more about cooking the perfect bird lots of gravy is always helpful.you mentioned the “big easy”grill which has worked well for me for years and still does .a few years ago Charbroil added smoker and grilling options to their oil less turkey fryer so now i use it for all kinds of things all the time and not just sit aroung and collect dust..

  • I wonder if this would work on my outside grill?

    • Hi Lisa, I’m sorry – I wouldn’t recommend it. I think the outside of the turkey would burn before the inside is cooked through.

  • Simple – Common sense – Fantastic!
    Thanks Jenn, it is supposed to be fun 🙂

  • I thoroughly enjoyed your turkey segment! Thank you!

  • Haven’t tried the recipe yet…You mention”high heat” but neither here nor in the actual recipe do I see an oven temperature. Is it 400? 450? Please enlighten me. I’m sorry if I’m just blind and didn’t see it!

    • Hi Annie – It’s 450°F. You can find the complete recipe here.

  • Thanks for the tip about cooking at high temps. I have done the family turkey dinner for many many years and have never tried that before. So, this year I will try it out. Also, you are spot on about keeping it simple and putting your effort into gravy and side dishes. Been doing about what you described for many years, but I do like my stuffing in the bird.

    One other thing I always do is keep some turkey broth from the previous turkey in my freezer for the next time, so I will have plenty of that homemade turkey bone broth for extra gravy and to add to my stuffing. I do turkey four or five times a year though so always have that broth along with homemade chicken bone broth too….

  • Love this and the hilarious video. I’ve Been brining and it’s a pain. But am I dense? I don’t see the actual recipe. Or am I to deduce it from the article? Do I put it on a rack?
    Thanks so much I love your style and your recipes. As does my husband and everyone I’ve turned on to you. So thank you Belinda

    • Ha! Sorry about that, Belinda – I was editing that post and changing the links when you were looking at it. I’ve added the link to the recipe. You can find it here. Glad you and your husband like the recipes! 🙂

  • Hi Jenn,
    I actually have purchased the Big easy on your recommendation. Could you please post a recipe or instructions for what you did? I’ve ordered an organic bird and am a turkey novice. Do I marinate, inject, etc? Thanks so much; I love your recipes!

    • Hi Lauren – You will love the Big Easy! I keep it super simple, as I don’t believe fussing too much with a turkey is worth it. I rub the bird with olive and sprinkle with lots of salt and pepper and that is it! Be sure to make a good gravy and add any drippings from the turkey to it (you won’t have a ton of drippings using the Big Easy but there will be some).

  • I’ve been trying some of your recipes this past year and they’re delicious.
    In the past I’ve used brine, then smoked and it’s delicious but takes a few days. This year I used a “Big Easy” and it was simple. I used cajun seasoning and the 15 lb. turkey looked and tasted like a fried Turkey.
    The video made me laugh, thanks I needed that!

  • Well Jenn, you have done it again. I cooked a 24 pound turkey for Thanksgiving using your method and that turkey cooked in 2-1/2 hours to perfection. Family said it was the juiciest they have had AND it was a $.39 per pound, store brand bird! You never fail. Thanks again for sharing your tips and talent!

  • My husband and I used this method with a 14.25 lb turkey and it was delicious – very moist with a crispy skin. I thoroughly cleaned my oven beforehand and my house is new so the inside really was spotless, but it still smoked a little (vent hood helped). Regardless, I will make it again this way. So incredibly easy! It was our first time making a turkey so we were thrilled with the results. Thanks for sharing this 🙂

    • Oh! And I used the pan drippings to make your gravy – perfect and delicious!

  • This is so very late so I don’t know you’ll get this in time for tomorrow morning, but do you know how the high heat method would compare to using a true convention oven? Since I’m cooking a 17 lb. turkey, I’m wondering if that would be a better choice, and how high a temp/cooking time would be used in a convection oven? Many thanks, and Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Good morning, Lena! I don’t recommend the high heat method for a 17-lb turkey; it’s best for smaller birds in the 10-12 lb range. Larger birds cause a lot of smoke.

  • Hi Jenn – I’m a huge fan of your blog and have made probably half of your recipes with consistently great results. I tried this turkey method last year, and the turkey was amazing; best turkey we’ve had by far. That said, our house was also filled with smoke and the smoke alarms went off at least 3 times. I did start with a spotless oven, so other than the fact that we use giant turkeys (in the 22lb range), I’m not sure what happened. I want to do it again this year with slightly lower temperature, but am wondering how long it can sit…. i.e., can I make this to be done by 2pm if we want to eat at 6pm? I want the meat to still be delicious and I don’t want to poison any guests….. what are your thoughts?

    • Hi Wendy, So glad you’re enjoying the recipes! The high heat method is supposed to work for all turkeys but I find it’s best suited for birds in the 10-14 lb range. There’s just too much smoke with large birds. I’d definitely reduce the heat by 25°- 50°F — and you can leave the turkey out for 2 hours max. Another option is to make and carve the turkey a day ahead of time, and then reheat before serving. You won’t have the big moment of presenting the turkey at the table, but it sure makes life easier! (And for what it’s worth, that’s what I do.) 🙂

      • Thanks Jenn (I love that you actually reply to your readers!). I think I’ll make it tomorrow morning and reheat then- better to serve it already carved than set the alarms off. How do you reheat yours to keep it moist- the oven? If so, how hot and about how long would you say it takes to reheat?

        • Sounds like a good plan, Wendy. To reheat: preheat your oven to 350°F. Arrange the sliced turkey in a roasting pan, sprinkle with a bit of chicken broth, and cover tightly with foil. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the turkey is hot.

  • Just watched this video – hilarious! I’m bringing the Pinot Noir! Love all your recipes Jenn. Happy Thanksgiving!

  • 1. I’ve tried high-temp roasting on several occasions. They worked OK, but the downside has always been that the drippings burn so badly on the bottom of the pan that they’re not suitable for making pan gravy–one of the most delicious aspects of roasting fowl. I’ve “solved” this problem in the past by adding water to the bottom of the pan, but of course this strongly affects the roasting process. Any comments/suggestions? Also. . .

    2. Any strong reason why I should NOT brine the bird beforehand? Would it make at least a decent amount of difference? Have you ever compared brined and nonbrined turkeys side-by-side using this method? Thanks!

    • Hi Brian, I think it helps to use a smaller roasting pan (one that is no more than 2-inches larger than the bird) — and there’s absolutely no reason not to brine with the high heat method. I’m sure it will taste even better. Check out this recipe by Thomas Keller.

    • I’ve experienced burnt drippings using high heat, too. The problem was the roasting pan – it was made of thin metal. Using a heavy-bottom roasting pan should solve the problem. It may cost a bit more, but the results will be worth it. Plus, you’ll have it for years.

  • Jenn you are fabulous!!! Love your site and CANNOT wait until 4/3/18 . . .
    Im going to use this method for my thanksgiving meal this year but I wondered if this recipe could be used to cook a 6 pound chicken?
    Thanks !

    • Hi Sarah – happy to hear you like the site — thanks so much for your support! Yes, this would work with a chicken. It will cook quite quickly (the recipe indicates that a 10-13 lb. turkey will take 50 to 65 minutes, so this should take substantially less; just keep a close eye on it).

  • Jenn – Thanks for ALL your great recipes! We purchased “The Big Easy” and love it. We will be cooking our first turkey in The Big Easy this Thanksgiving. From your experience, what is the maximum size turkey they can cook in “The Big Easy?”

    • Hi Daisy, I’m not 100% positive but I believe the largest bird it will hold is 16 pounds. I usually cook a 12-14 pound turkey in it with great results. Glad you’re enjoying the recipes!

  • Since November starts holiday anxiety time, I want to sincerely thank you for
    sharing your awesome talents and recipes.
    Wishing you and your family all the best!

  • Finally an easy turkey recipe. I followed the directions and we had one of our best Thanksgiving turkeys ever. I like the high heat, short time, method, and it produced a succulent juicy, tasty turkey.

  • Thanks so much for all your great recipes. Do you have any recipes for turkey soup or ways to use turkey leftovers? Thanks.

  • Ugh!!! Why does everything have to be soiled with profanity? Why do women trade their power as the civilizers and refiners of a coarse world for the vulgar expressions more associated with men and women of ill-repute? I love your recipes and website. Why did you have to go and sink into the common just to try and make a point? Ladies face challenges with intelligence, style and grace not rudeness. Be pretty. The world already has too much ugliness.

    • I felt as a common folk….. her (#&[email protected]#!#% ) actually added a bit of comedy. What the world really needs more of are individuals that are not so easily offended. It would be nice to to sprinkle in a dash of less judgmental aspects, just because you never curse …. does not mean everyone is like that. Ugh… please find something to be thankful for beside picking on what you feel is a lack of class. ?

      • — Richelle Pimentel
      • Reply
      • I love your reply, Richelle! I will raise a (#%&!#) turkey leg to your words!

      • I agree! Pull your panties out of your Ass! A little cussing here and there never hurt anyone.

        • Rachelle, Kate & Cin- you folks are the real MVP’s! (other than the perpetually awesome Jenn, of course!)

    • Bea I agree. People show their incompetence when they have to lower themselves to use fowl language. I wouldn’t even watch the video just by the title.

    • Men and women of ill-repute? The common? Hey Bea, try stowing your supercilious attitude, relax a bit, step down off that soapbox, and try to enjoy/embrace the variety life has to offer. Thanks for the hilarious video, Jenn. I’m still enjoying it two years later!

      • — Vicki on October 18, 2020
      • Reply
  • Hi Jen, I am planning on making a 8-10 lb. boneless turkey breast for Thanksgiving. Can I use this recipe or alter it a little bit for this type of turkey? Karen

    • I wouldn’t suggest this recipe for a boneless breast, although it would work with a bone-in breast. In a few days, though, I’ll be posting a recipe stuffed boneless turkey breast. You may want to go that route.

  • (Quick cook turkey). My oven was clean but boy did the turkey smoke! I had to abandon ship after 30 minutes or I would have been listening to my smoke alarm! Too cold outside to let in fresh air so I have to put up with the smoke. Not sure what rating to give. It may be a great method otherwise.

    • I had the same experience. My oven was clean before I started, but the smoke generated by this method not only set off the kitchen fire alarm twice, it even made the upstairs fire alarm go off! My oven is now a mess too because of all the spattering. I am deeply grateful for the many excellent suggestions and recipes I’ve received from this site, but I will not be making this recipe again unfortunately.

      • — marisa on November 21, 2019
      • Reply
  • Hi there – wondering what the modification for time would be if oven is set at 400* as my roasting pan is safe only up to that? Thanks!

    • Hi Courtney, how much does the turkey weigh?

    • Hi Jen, I am a big, big fan of your recipes. I tried cooking a 13lb turkey the quick method.
      The turkey was moist but the meat was very tuff. I cooked the left over turkey in the crockpot the next day to soften the meat. It was even hard to get it off the bone. I don’t know if I had a real tuff turkey or was it the method.

      • — Jane on November 21, 2020
      • Reply
      • Hi Jane, It’s odd that it was juicy yet tough. What type of turkey did you use?

        • — Jenn on November 22, 2020
        • Reply
  • You have to try Peruvian-spiced Turkey!
    My mother-in-law uses a wine-spice margination that is delicious!

  • My mom used this recipe for one of our three (!) turkeys for Thanksgiving this year (we had a crowd of 37). It was a hit!

  • This turkey cooking method is amazing. I cooked a 20 lb turkey in 1 1/2 hours. The skin was crispy and the turkey was not dry. This method is the way to go for sure.

    • — Britta Schweizer
    • Reply
  • Best turkey I’ve made, and I’ve made a few. Never would have believed I could roast a 16lb turkey in 90 minutes – and it was moist, delicious – just fantastic…. Thank you for sharing this recipe!!

  • Another recipe of yours that I loved! The turkey came out great and it was so simple. I would absolutely make this again.

  • Wow! Your approach to preparing Thanksgiving was spot on. I watched your suggested video’s and followed the Safeway directions and followed them meticulously, with the exception that I did brine my turkey (probably about 12 hours). Wow! Turkey was the best ever. Thank you so much!

  • Have to admit, I was skeptical, yet I tried this new approach tonight for roasting a turkey. I’m a convert. My 15 lb turkey was beautifully browned, had crispy skin with juicy and tender white meat and dark. And in 2 hours time. Started to get a bit smoky in the kitchen, but I turned the vent on high and all was well. Thanks, for sharing this and all your stellar recipes.

  • Dear Jenn,

    Thanks for your awesome website. I have had great success with your recipes. Each one has been a big hit with my family so far.

    Unfortunately, I did not have much luck with the quick cook turkey recipe you recommended on another site. In fact, it was a bit of a disaster. I’m a decent home cook with a good oven, and I followed the recipe closely, but it just didn’t work for me. Not sure why. The white meet was overdone and the dark meat was very nearly raw upon carving. I had to cut the whole bird up in separate pieces and cook the dark meat another 30 minutes at 400. This meant there was no whole bird to present and carve at the dinner table, and it also threw off the timing of my side dishes because of the unexpected loss of oven space. Fortunately, my family are troopers and took it all in stride. I suppose my ego took the worst hit. 🙂 I accept full responsibility for trying a risky new recipe on the day of Thanksgiving. I should have known better. I was going to suggest that you might give a disclaimer with your recommendation that it might not work for everyone. I suspect there are just too many variables involved for it to be fool-proof, like oven size, quality, the pan used, the thermometer used, where the thermometer is placed, whether the oven thermostat is calibrated correctly, etc. Just a thought. Oh, and the smoke was a problem too.

    I wanted to mention by the way that there is a great recipe for cooking turkey that does reliably produce tender white meat and well-cooked dark meat. I’m sure you already know of it. It’s Adelle Davis’ old slow-cook method from her wonderful “Let’s Cook it Right” from so many years ago. The downside, of course, is the length of time involved. But I usually just cook the bird overnight and it is doable. I think I will go back to it for sure for my next bird.

    Thanks for listening. And thanks again for your wonderful recipes. They really are very special.

  • What if your turkey is 20lb.? Can you still do a temp of 475 for 2 hours? Safe ways recipe says a 10 lb turkey.

    • Hi Chris, According to Safeway, you can. But, honestly, I would only use this recipe for a smaller bird (10-14 lbs).

      • Last year 2014 I did a 23.35lb turkey. Took 2 1/2 hours to reach 160* temp.
        This year I did a 26.50 lb. turkey and again it took 2 1/2 hours to reach 160*. I am definitely a convert to cooking my turkey this way. Thank you!

  • `Hi Jenn, decided this year I wasn’t going to let the turkey get the better of me. Your recipe via Safeway sounds like it will make a delicious and picture perfect. For me, an attractive bird enhances the taste no matter what you are making. I am in the process of dry brining using only salt and want to know if I should omit salting the turkey. The dry brine I used called for 3 TBS total for a 15 lb turkey. I under tasted a little since my turkey only weighed slightly under 14 lbs. I hope you see this as I look forward to your sage advice. thank you so much for your time.

    • Hi Judy, I would omit the salt to be on the safe side. You can always season the gravy more heavily if the bird needs it. Happy Thanksgiving!

  • i like the video and worth a try but can i use the 2 hr method on a brined turkey?

    • Hi Angie, Yes, I think that would work.

  • I make two turkeys… one in the oven and one on the barbeque ( just using it as another oven).. do you think I can use this method on the barbeque?


    • Hi Lisa, I worry it would burn on the grill. Sorry!

  • Hi Jenn-
    I have made a lot of your recipes and just love them! I totally agree with you about turkeys -completely overrated! ( ha) I have also tried many ways of preparing this bird through the years and finally bought the big easy myself two years ago- Do you have any advice on using this successfully ? The first year it took so many hours to cook we just ate side dishes and last year I put the setting on high and the turkey was black.
    Determined to use this as you are right it collects cobwebs the rest of the year!

  • The recipe and video links do not appear to work any longer. Do you have a copy that you can share?

  • The linked video in this recipe is hilarious and really helps one put a proper perspective on fixing any holiday meal!! The turkey was awesome as well as the gravy! I will use this method again next year for sure.

  • The upside:
    – this was hands down the best, juiciest, most delicious turkey I have ever eaten.

    The downside:
    – it totally trashed my oven, splattering grease to the top, sides and bottom. There was a large puddle of grease and burnt drippings- not in the bottom of the roasting pan, but on the floor of the oven. ( I’m thinking the ‘burnt’ drippings may be a result of the high 425 degree temp)
    – I don’t have a proper hood vent for my stove/oven so it smoked up the entire house
    – what it saved in cooking time, it made up for in clean up time.

    Still, it was indeed a juicy and delicious turkey, and well worth the effort to at least try to solve the problems.
    Thoughts on next time:
    – Get a proper hood vent for my stove/oven.
    – ‘tent’ the turkey with aluminum foil so all drippings go into the roasting pan and not to the top/sides/bottom of the oven

    • For the past two years I have used a roasting bag for my turkey and they turn out superb every time…no mess to clean up and a really tasty turkey; the skin browns and the meat is moist. I always add about 1/2 bottle of champagne (sparkling dry wine) and the gravy is divine! Worth giving a try!

  • I have to admit I was a skeptic. Boy was I surprised at how well this turkey turned out! An hour and a half…hard to believe! I also tried a kosher turkey at your recommendation. I found myself having to pluck lots of feathers before oiling and salting the turkey. Is this normal for a kosher turkey??? Thanks for the fast cooking tip…it is definitely a keeper!

  • I tried this yesterday and it turned out wonderful! The only problem was the amount of smoke it created throughout the house, and I had a clean oven. I think I may have overdone it on the olive oil and that’s what caused all the smoke. How much should be used?

    • Hi Jennifer, I’d say about a tablespoon. The other possibility is that your oven may run a little hot. Next time you could turn it down 25 degrees and see if that helps.

  • Excellent results, started with a clean oven, baked my 23.35 lb bird till 160, took
    2 1/2 hrs
    No smoke at all
    Loved the crispy skin and juicy meat
    Will be doing this again next year! Thanks and I also would like to mention I love your recipes! You have earned my trust in the kitchen 😉

  • For this method do I set the oven at 475 F bake? or Broil?

    • Hi Adam, Set it on bake — and make sure your oven is spotless or it will smoke.

      • Hi,

        I wanted to thank you for replying so quickly, especially on thanksgiving day!

        Turkey came out great.

  • Only the two of us…..Do you have a great recipe for only a turkey breast? Would appreciate it ! I’m a new subscriber and I love your web site.

  • Can you use a fresh bird for this or must it be frozen/thawed? I would love to try this on Thursday, but we plan on roasting a fresh turkey.

    • Hi Nicki, Either works well.

  • Good morning – I just subscribed to your blog and am impressed with your simple no-fuss recipes.. I intend to make your sausage stuffing and use this turkey recipe for my thanksgiving this year. For years I have brined my turkeys and they always turn out moist but I am tired this year!!! My question is. If I bake this turkey early, wrap it in 3 layers of foil and place it in a cooler to stay warm for a couple hours do you think that would be okay?

    • Hi Carolyn, Thank you for subscribing! It’s fine to bake the turkey early but I wouldn’t let it sit out any longer 2 hours after cooking. I love this high heat roasting method; just be sure your oven is clean 🙂

  • actually the past 3 years I’ve made Gordon Ramsay’s “christmas turkey” recipe and I use it every time I make a turkey. My guests are very impressed with the outcome and it produces JUICY PERFECT-TASTING turkey. All my turkeys were mediocre until I tried his recipe. Gordon states, “Turkey is a really lean meat and it dries out so we need to help it, and it’s all in the preparation; keeping that bird moist” If you’d like to adapt a recipe Jen, I suggest taking a look at his:
    ‘How to Cook Perfect Roast Turkey (Part 1)’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I93nany8nQI

    ‘How to Cook Perfect Roast Turkey (Part 2)’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTDmwTq4QHo&src_vid=I93nany8nQI&feature=iv&annotation_id=annotation_189437

  • This isn’t a review but a comment. I could definitely see my smoke alarm buzzing endlessly away even if I were to follow this method exactly. I would end up breaking the smoke alarm and drinking ALL the wine BEFORE dinner! I’ve been cooking turkeys for 40 years (cooked my first one at the age of 19) and for the past 25 years have been turning out perfect turkeys by doing the flip method. It really isn’t all that difficult to do. I make a “harness” of kitchen twine and use that and a couple of cloths to flip it. Granted, flipping a 25 pounder isn’t easy but I don’t usually cook anything larger than 20 lbs. these days and it’s pretty simple. I follow a temperature chart and roast at 325 degrees and can have a 20 lb. turkey cooked in 4 1/4 hours. And I’ve always stuffed my turkey and haven’t lost a diner yet, LOL! Just my two cents and probably all it’s worth…..

  • Loved your comments and the video – pretty much summarizes it. Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving to ya………………

  • Would this be a good method to use to roast a capon or should it be treated differently?

    • Hi David, Yes, but it will obviously cook in much less time.

  • Can a roaster be used instead of an oven with this recipe – or does the cooking times need to be adjusted?

    • Hi Sheri, I do think a roaster would work but I have a feeling the cooking time and temp might need to be adjusted. Unfortunately, I haven’t tested the recipe in a roaster so I can’t say for certain. Sorry I can’t be more helpful.

  • Jenn –
    I have been meaning to tell you since Thanksgiving how well this worked! Not only was the turkey delicious, but the pan drippings made a delicious gravy! I am a convert to the simple method!!!!

  • Loved this high heat method. I thought this short cut was too good to be true, so I experimented with one of my three turkey breasts the day before. My oven was spotless, but the drippings spritzed all over the place during the last 30 minutes setting off my smoke alarm. But, I didn’t give up. I put the next turkey breast in a deeper pan than was called for and that solved the smoke problem. Beautiful crispy skin and moist meat.
    I know that it goes against all the turkey rules, but I always make my turkey the day before Thanksgiving. After it cools, I slice it and set it back into the pan drippings and place the skin back over the top of the meat and cover the pan with foil. I reheat it the next day with all the other sides. Never dryer than when I have made it on Thursday. And no messy cleanup while company is standing around. If there aren’t enough drippings I will add some stock or broth to the pan. Also I have found it more practical to make 2 smaller turkeys than one heavy one.
    Thanks again, Jenn

  • I was skeptical about this recipe but tried it for our Thanksgiving dinner. It was a hit! I could not believe it was done in 1 hour and 30 minutes…I followed the directions to let the turkey rest for 45 minutes and it came up to temperature as expected and the whole bird was perfectly cooked. The white meat was moist and the legs did not need to go back in the oven. Thank you for this recipe. I will not be going back to slow roasting my turkey!

  • Hi Jenn, Just wanted to let you know that we made this turkey for Thanksgiving yesterday and it was by far the best we’ve ever made and SO easy! Our 14 pound bird was done in under 2 hours and even the white meat was moist and juicy. Also made your gravy and cranberry sauce to go along with it. Thank you!

  • Thank you for a delightful stream of menus and dishes. I have prepared many with great success and happy recipients.
    Now I am not one to leave negative comments online, and I hope this is taken in the spirit it is given. Last night I prepared our family’s turkey by this high heat quick cook method, exactly as described. Although the end result was a fine and tasty bird, our home was filled with smoke for the entirety of the roasting process. We had to open all the doors and windows (thankfully the weather was unseasonably warm), and pray the smoke alarms didn’t go off. Olive oil in the oven, at 475 degrees, is a prescription for a minor disaster : ( Since I couldn’t shift gears at the realization of this most uncomfortable situation, (I had to serve dinner at a prescribed hour), we were stuck with the smoke.
    Not pleasant….
    I don’t know if other cooks had this problem, but I thought I should share this potential problem with this method of roasting the Thanksgiving day turkey.
    Happy Thanksgiving to all.
    We are celebrating Thanksgivukkah : ) What a truly precious moment in time.

    • Hi Nancy, Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I’m so sorry you had trouble with smoke in your kitchen. That does not sound pleasant! This is always a concern with high heat roasting, with any meat. I’m wondering if your oven clean or if you used a convection oven? As stated in the recipe, it’s very important to clean your oven beforehand as any accumulated debris can cause smoke during high-heat cooking.

      • Thank you Jenn, for taking the time and kind effort to respond to my comment.
        I will say that I made quite sure the oven was spic and span before roasting. If most people successfully prepared their turkeys by this method without smoke problems, I’m going with the (Safeway) idea, that my thermostat may be slightly off, resulting in a higher temperature in the oven than the reading.
        I think I’ll try again, after the smoke clears (hahaha), and no company is expected.

        Happy Holidays to you and yours.
        Looking forward to another year of your inspiring recipes.

    • Hi Again, Nancy. Just wanted to add this FAQ from the Safeway website, as it might be helpful to others as well.

      There’s an unusual amount of smoke coming out of my oven. What should I do?

      First, check to make sure that no part of the turkey is sticking over the pan rim; if it is, push it back in place. Also make sure that the pan itself doesn’t have a hole that fat is dripping through; if it does, slide the pan onto a larger, shallow-rimmed pan. To get rid of smoking fat, wipe it off the oven bottom with a pad made of folded damp paper towels, pushing them over the oven bottom with a long-handled spatula. Another reason for smoke is that your oven may be averaging hotter than 475°; if so, reduce the temperature setting by about 25°.

  • Thank you for receiving my stress this year! I have spent endless hours researching the perfect (and very complex) recipes for turkey and gravy. I can’t wait to prepare your recipes. Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving.

  • Is it absolutely necessary to put the turkey on a v-rack? I would like to not have to go out and buy one if I don’t HAVE to. Would it still roast just fine without it? and without placing the turkey on anything other than the bottom of the pan?

    • Hi JW, From experience, I think it is. The point of the rack is to let the heat of the oven circulate around the turkey, allowing the legs to cook faster (keeping up with the breast) and the skin on the whole bird to brown. I’ve tried roasting chickens and turkeys on flat racks or right in the roasting pan, and they come out fine but the skin doesn’t brown on half the bird. It comes out flabby and unappetizing, which means you really can’t serve it with the meat. Hope that helps!

  • Can you post any tips about using the Big Easy? I actually have one, but this will be my first time cooking a turkey in one, and I’m a tad anxious.

    • Abigail, I was intimidated to use it the first time too but it could not be any easier…you literally just season your turkey and stick it in there! Just be sure to buy a turkey that is small enough to fit 🙂 It cooks quickly so keep an eye on it. If you want, you could rub some olive oil and herbs under the skin but, as I said above, I really don’t think it’s necessary as long as you make a good gravy. Do you still have the manual? If not, I think you can find it online…just follow the instructions exactly and you’ll be good to go.

      • Thanks, Jen! I’m excited to try it.

  • Hey Kids ~ I have no idea why everyone thinks this is so hard. I thaw the turkey out in the refrigerator for a couple of days – no big deal if there are still ice crystals – just double wrap each way in aluminum foil in a slow bake 250 oven ‘for-ever’ (about 12 hours) and it is a no fail…don’t stuff that bird with anything but an apple (yeah, a whole apple) a couple stalks of celery (make ’em fit) and part of an onion…maybe a bit of poultry seasoning and oregano and just about the same amount of sage – never hurts to add some thyme. I’m not pretending to be your mom or grandma, and your turkey may not be as pretty as theirs, but, it’ll taste just as good and probably better. Love you young ‘uns and hope your Thanksgiving is as easy and care free as you are!

  • Thank you Jennifer! I actually tried this method a few years ago, and I don’t even know why, but it was the best turkey we ever had. Then I promptly forgot what method I used. Thanks for the reminder! I’m cooking the turkey this year, and this time I’m going to print the recipe and not forget it.

    PS…I love the video, that I had already seen, but that reflects my feelings exactly!

  • Looks great. After Thanksgiving (when I am making all the food except for the turkey), I will be cooking a whole turkey breast that I really must get out of the freezer. How long would I cook the turkey breast for at this method? Either this way or I also like to cook it in a slow cooker.

    • Hi Sharon, It depends on the weight of the turkey…I would definitely use the meat thermometer as the recipe advises to be sure.

  • You know, this turkey cooking method makes sense — it’s a lot like Barbara Kafka’s simple roast chicken, which is always perfect (except that my house always fills with smoke and I have to clean the oven afterwards).

    Thanks so much for sharing — I *was* already having turkey anxiety …

    • Yes, exactly, Susan. The key is to make sure your oven is really clean beforehand — I do this and no smoke 🙂

      • Hi Jenn,

        Can you put the turkey in an oven bag in this method?
        Thanks, Amy

        • Hi Amy, I don’t think so; I don’t think you can exceed 400°F with oven bags.

  • My favorite way to cook a turkey is in a clay cooker. The bird turns out so yummy!!!

  • I have a recipe that I have got froma friend and the turkey turns out great (note: the turkey is not stuffed). Just thought I’d share it with you…it does sound strange, but it does work. Preheat oven to 500 degrees (NOT BROIL). Have turkey washed and at room temp. Season as desired. Place sliced onion, celery, carrot, apple, etc. in crevices if desired (I don’t). Place a combination of oil and butter under skin and run into the skin. Take a clean grocery bag (paper) and thoroughly cover INSIDE surface with oil. Place turkey into bag, secure with staples or paper clips so that no air can escape from bag. Place on roasting rack in the roasting pan. Put into oven being sure that NO part of the paper bag comes in contact with oven walls. Roast at 500 degrees for 20 minutes, when sizzles, turn temperature in oven down to 400 degrees. Continue to roast for 8 minutes per pound.

  • Love this! I totally agree that the best part of the Thanksgiving feast is all of the side dishes, but I love the turkey for another reason. My favorite thing about roasting a turkey is making a rich turkey broth for soup with the carcass.

  • THANK-YOU….This is what I have always suspected :0)

  • You are a mind reader! No matter how many turkeys one cooks, there are always those nagging pre-Thanksgiving doubts (which turkey, which method, etc). BUT, I have complete confidence in you, Jenn, and will follow your advice to the letter. Thank you for all your great recipes, congratulations on your new weekly newsletter (love it!), and HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

    • This works very well! I’ve been roasting turkeys since the beginning of time. I’ve tried upside down turkeys, slow turkeys, stuffed, skinned, you name it turkeys. Between this method and spatchcocking a bird, I think the higher roasting temperature is what is key. I found 450 degrees is a bit easier on the oven, and if I spatchcock I will cover the bird in cheesecloth soaked in melted butter. The fast cooking really produces a more tender bird, instead of a dried out needs gravy fast entree. This year has seen lower than normal prices, so my freezer is full!! Thanks!!

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