Nerdy Moms United

How to Slow Roast a Turkey

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Do you want to learn how to slow roast a turkey? Is this your first time cooking a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner? Do you want to cook a beautiful juicy turkey without it being dried out like the turkey in the movie Christmas Vacation? I will teach you the tricks I use to cook a tender juicy turkey that your family and friend will rave about!

I have cooked Thanksgiving dinner for many years, and the only way I have found to roast a juicy turkey is to brine your turkey first. Don’t worry, I will take you through the process of how to prepare your turkey from start to finish. I will even cover how de-frost and season your turkey before cooking!

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Ingredients:

18 lb. Frozen Turkey
Lemons, quartered
Oranges, quartered
Large Onion, quartered
2 Pkg. of Butter

Brine:

2 gallons Water, divided (This can be adjusted for a bigger turkey!)
Onions, quartered
Carrots, chopped
Celery Stalks, chopped
4 tablespoons Dried Thyme
4 tablespoons Dried Rosemary
1 cup Salt
1/2 cup Sugar

Note: If you’re cooking a larger turkey and need more brine, use 1/2 cup salt and 1/4 cup sugar for every gallon of water needed to cover the turkey.

Marinade
Dry Rub

Kitchen supplies:

Foil
Foil roasting pan
Large stockpot
Turkey injector
 (for the marinade)
Reynolds Turkey Roasting bag (BPA Free)

Turkey Gravy:

4 cups Chicken broth
4 tablespoons Butter
1/4 cup Flour

Salt & Pepper to taste
1 tablespoon Garlic, crushed
2 teaspoon Onion powder 

Turkey Thawing Notes:

What is the best way to thaw a turkey? I usually pull the turkey out of the freezer the Sunday before Thanksgiving, put it on a cookie sheet, and place it in the fridge to defrost. Here is a helpful chart on thawing a turkey by how much it weights.

Thawing Times for a Turkey

Turkey Size (lbs.)Refrigerator (Days)Cold Water (Hours)
8 – 121 – 24 – 6
12 – 16 2 – 36 – 8
16 – 203 – 48 – 10
20 – 244 – 510 – 12
24 – 265 – 612 – 14

There are three ways to safely thaw a turkey, but using the fridge for thawing is recommended. Defrost the turkey in its original wrapper on a tray in the fridge for 24 hours for every 5 pounds. Never thaw a turkey at room temperature. You can also place the wrapped turkey in the sink and cover it completely with cold water for about 30 minutes per pound.

Change the water every 30 minutes to make sure it stays cold. If the wrapping is torn, place the turkey in another plastic bag, close securely, and then place it in water. Cook immediately or place in the fridge after thawing.

Instructions make brine solution in a pot:

1) Tuesday night before Thanksgiving, prepare your turkey’s brine solution.

2) Chop up in large chunks onions, carrots, and celery and place in a large pot.

3) Add two quarts of water to the pot and bring to a boil.

4) Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for one hour.

5) Remove from heat and strain out veggies into a bowl for turkey soup for after Thanksgiving. You can even freeze them for later.

6) Add thyme and rosemary to liquid.

7) Cover and cool to room temperature and place in the fridge.

8) Find a large stockpot, clean bucket and trash bag, or small cooler and trash bag. This must be big enough for your turkey to complete fit into.

Instructions make brine solution in a crock pot:

(I usually do this method since I work during the day.)

1) Monday night before Thanksgiving, prepare your turkey’s brine solution.

2) Chop up in large chunks onions, carrots, and celery and place in a large crock pot.

3) Add two quarts of water to the crock pot and place the crock pot insert into the fridge.

4) Tuesday morning put the crock pot insert in the crock pot base and set it on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours.

5) When the solution is done cooking, turn off the crock pot.

6) Strain out veggies into a bowl for turkey soup for after Thanksgiving.

7) Add thyme and rosemary to liquid.

8) Find a large stockpot, clean bucket and trash bag, or small cooler and trash bag. This must be big enough for your turkey to complete fit into. Here is a link to the stockpot I use. I can put a 25 lb. turkey in it without a problem.

Note: If you are using a cooler or a bucket and it cannot fit in the fridge you will want 1 or 2 bags of ice.

Instructions on how to brine the turkey:

Brining notes: The turkey will soak in the brine solution for 1 hour for every 1 pound of turkey. So, if I have a 15-pound turkey, I will soak the turkey for 15 hours.

Whatever you do, don’t over soak your turkey or it will affect the texture of the meat!

You can always remove the turkey for the brining solution early if you want. You want to make sure your turkey will be ready to be removed from the brining solution on Wednesday evening. That way you will have a chance to apply any marinade or dry rub to your turkey if desired.

Depending on the size of your turkey and your schedule, you can choose to start brining you turkey Tuesday night (for a turkey over 20 pounds) or Wednesday morning (for a smaller turkey).

1) Verify the time you want to remove the turkey from the brine solution so you will know when to start the brining process.

2) Remove the wrapper, neck, and giblets from your turkey.

3) Place the turkey in the large stockpot, or inside a trash bag placed in a clean bucket or cooler.

Note: The turkey must fit completely in the container so it can be submerged. I like to use a large stockpot here is the one I use.

4) Add the brine solution to the pot or bag inside the bucket or cooler.

5) If the turkey is not covered, mix more water, salt, and sugar and stir to dissolve sugar.

6) Add the mixture to the brine, until the turkey is completely cover.

7) Cover or securely close the bag and place it in the fridge.

Note: If you are using a cooler or a bucket and it cannot fit in the fridge you will want 1 or 2 bags of ice. Place the ice on top of the turkey and around if possible. Keep in a cool place where pets and young children will not bother the turkey.

8) Prepare your dry rub or marinade for your turkey and set it to the side.

(Optional if you are deciding to do this step.)

9) Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse inside and out.

10) Place the turkey, breast side up in a roasting pan, inside a roasting bag (optional).

11) Dump out the brining liquid.

12) Apply your desired dry rub or marinade to your turkey. I do this by separating the skin from the breast creating a pocket (Don’t remove the skin!). I mix dry rub with the soften butter and stuff it between the skin and the meat. Cover the entire breast with 1/4 inch thickness of butter. Then use a turkey injector to apply the marinade to the turkey deep into the meat.

13) Cut in quarters onion, lemons, and oranges and place in turkey cavity.

14) If using the turkey roasting bag, follow the instruction on how to use the roasting bag.

15) Put the turkey into the fridge until you are ready to cook.

Instructions on how to cook the turkey:

Notes: Never brown or partially cook turkey to refrigerate and finish cooking later. It is not necessary to baste a turkey since we just brined it and have it in a turkey roasting bag.

Traditional basting by pouring juices over a turkey’s surface while it roasts will not make the meat juicier (that what brining is for). The liquid penetrates only about 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch beneath the skin and most of the juice will run off into the pan. Opening the oven door to baste a turkey can cool the oven and possibly lengthen the roasting time. Here is a helpful chart on roasting a turkey by how much it weighs and time.

Approximate Roasting Times for Turkey
(325 F oven temperature)

Always use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of both turkey and stuffing.

Size of Turkey Unstuffed Timing Stuffed Timing
8 – 12 lbs.3 1/2 Hours4 Hours
12 – 14 lbs.4 Hours4 1/2 Hours
14 – 18 lbs.4 1/2 Hours5 Hours
18 – 20 lbs.5 Hours5 1/2 Hours
20 – 24 lbs.5 1/2 Hours6 Hours

If you want to smoke your turkey instead of cooking it in the oven, check out this post!

1) Verify the time you want to serve the turkey so you will know when to start cooking.

2) Preheat the oven to 325 °F.

3) Remove the turkey from the fridge and place it in the oven.

4) Set kitchen timer to the desired cooking time for the turkey.

5) Tent foil over the turkey when it is a golden brown but still has time to cook.

6) When the turkey is done cooking remove it from the oven.

7) Cut open the roasting bag if you used one. Watch out for the hot steam!

8) Remove turkey from pan and place it on a large patter.

9) Cover loosely with aluminum foil and allow the turkey to rest for 20 minutes before carving.

Instructions for gravy:

4 cups Chicken broth
4 tablespoons Butter
1/4 cup Flour
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 tablespoon Garlic, crushed
2 teaspoon Onion powder
T

1) 30 minutes before turkey is ready to come out of the oven. In a saucepan combine butter, stock, or broth, and heat to medium-high.

2) Wisk in flour, garlic, and seasonings.

3) When it starts to boil, reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking until gravy has reduced and thickened.

4) Serve with turkey.

how to roast a turkey in the oven recipe

How to Slow Roast a Turkey

Do you want to learn how to slow roast a turkey? Is this your first time cooking a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner? Do you want to cook a beautiful juicy turkey without it being dried out like the turkey in the movie Christmas Vacation? I will teach you the tricks I use to cook a tender juicy turkey that your family and friend will rave about!
I have cooked Thanksgiving dinner for many years, and the only way I have found to roast a juicy turkey is to brine your turkey first. Don’t worry, I will take you through the process of how to prepare your turkey from start to finish. I will even cover how de-frost and season your turkey before cooking!
Print Recipe Pin Recipe
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword Oven Roasted Turkey, ThanksGiving
Course Main Course
Cuisine American

Equipment

  • Foil
  • Foil Roasting Pan
  • Large Stock Pot
  • Turkey Injector (for the marinade)
  • Reynolds Turkey Roasting Bag (BPA Free)
  • Crock Pot

Ingredients
  

Turkey:

  • 18 lb. Frozen Turkey
  • 2 Md. Lemons Quartered
  • 2 Md. Oranges Quartered
  • 1 Lg. Onion Quartered
  • 2 Pkg. Butter
  • Marinade
  • Dry Rub

Brine Solution – Note: If you’re cooking a larger turkey and need more brine, use 1/2 cup salt and 1/4 cup sugar for every gallon of water needed to cover the turkey.

  • 2 Gallons Water Divided (This can be adjusted for a bigger turkey!)
  • 4 Md. Onion Quartered
  • 8 Lg. Carrots Chopped
  • 8 Stalks Celery Chopped
  • 4 Tbsp. Dried Thyme
  • 4 Tbsp. Dried Rosemary
  • 1 Cup Salt
  • ½ Cup Sugar

Turkey Gravy:

  • 4 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 4 Tbsp. Butter
  • ¼ Cup All-Purpose Flour
  • Salt To taste
  • Black Pepper To taste
  • 1 Tbsp. Garlic Crushed
  • 2 Tsp. Onion Powder

Instructions
 

Turkey Thawing Notes:

  • What is the best way to thaw a turkey? I usually pull the turkey out of the freezer the Sunday before Thanksgiving, put it on a cookie sheet, and place it in the fridge to defrost. 
    how to roast a turkey in the oven recipe
  • There are three ways to safely thaw a turkey, but using the fridge for thawing is recommended. Defrost the turkey in its original wrapper on a tray in the fridge for 24 hours for every 5 pounds. Never thaw a turkey at room temperature. You can also place the wrapped turkey in the sink and cover it completely with cold water for about 30 minutes per pound.
    Change the water every 30 minutes to make sure it stays cold. If the wrapping is torn, place the turkey in another plastic bag, close securely, and then place it in water. Cook immediately or place in the fridge after thawing.

Instructions make brine solution in a pot:

  •  Tuesday night before Thanksgiving, prepare your turkey’s brine solution.
  •  Chop up in large chunks onions, carrots, and celery and place in a large pot.
  • Add two quarts of water to the pot and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for one hour.
  • Remove from heat and strain out veggies into a bowl for turkey soup for after Thanksgiving. You can even freeze them for later.
  • Add thyme and rosemary to liquid.
  • Cover and cool to room temperature and place in the fridge.
  • Find a large stockpot, clean bucket and trash bag, or small cooler and trash bag. This must be big enough for your turkey to complete fit into.

Instructions make brine solution in a crock pot:

  • Monday night before Thanksgiving, prepare your turkey’s brine solution.
  • Chop up in large chunks onions, carrots, and celery and place in a large crock pot.
  • Add two quarts of water to the crock pot and place the crock pot insert into the fridge.
  • Tuesday morning put the crock pot insert in the crock pot base and set it on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours.
  • When the solution is done cooking, turn off the crock pot.
  • Strain out veggies into a bowl for turkey soup for after Thanksgiving.
  • Add thyme and rosemary to liquid.
  • Find a large stockpot, clean bucket and trash bag, or small cooler and trash bag. This must be big enough for your turkey to complete fit into. 
    Note: If you are using a cooler or a bucket and it cannot fit in the fridge you will want 1 or 2 bags of ice.

Instructions on how to brine the turkey:

Brining notes: The turkey will soak in the brine solution for 1 hour for every 1 pound of turkey. So, if I have a 15-pound turkey, I will soak the turkey for 15 hours.

Whatever you do, don’t over soak your turkey or it will affect the texture of the meat!

  • You can always remove the turkey for the brining solution early if you want. You want to make sure your turkey will be ready to be removed from the brining solution on Wednesday evening. That way you will have a chance to apply any marinade or dry rub to your turkey if desired.
    Depending on the size of your turkey and your schedule, you can choose to start brining you turkey Tuesday night (for a turkey over 20 pounds) or Wednesday morning (for a smaller turkey).
  • Verify the time you want to remove the turkey from the brine solution so you will know when to start the brining process.
  • Remove the wrapper, neck, and giblets from your turkey.
  • Place the turkey in the large stockpot, or inside a trash bag placed in a clean bucket or cooler.
    Note: The turkey must fit completely in the container so it can be submerged. 
  • Add the brine solution to the pot or bag inside the bucket or cooler.
  • If the turkey is not covered, mix more water, salt, and sugar and stir to dissolve sugar.
  • Add the mixture to the brine, until the turkey is completely cover.
  • Cover or securely close the bag and place it in the fridge.
    Note: If you are using a cooler or a bucket and it cannot fit in the fridge you will want 1 or 2 bags of ice. Place the ice on top of the turkey and around if possible. Keep in a cool place where pets and young children will not bother the turkey.
  • Prepare your dry rub or marinade for your turkey and set it to the side (optional).
  • Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse inside and out.
  • Place the turkey, breast side up in a roasting pan, inside a roasting bag (optional).
  • Dump out the brining liquid.
  • Apply your desired dry rub or marinade to your turkey. I do this by separating the skin from the breast creating a pocket (Don’t remove the skin!). I mix dry rub with the soften butter and stuff it between the skin and the meat. Cover the entire breast with 1/4 inch thickness of butter. Then use a turkey injector to apply the marinade to the turkey deep into the meat.
  • Cut in quarters onion, lemons, and oranges and place in turkey cavity.
  • If using the turkey roasting bag, follow the instruction on how to use the roasting bag.
  • Put the turkey into the fridge until you are ready to cook.

Instructions on how to cook the turkey:

Notes: Never brown or partially cook turkey to refrigerate and finish cooking later. It is not necessary to baste a turkey since we just brined it and have it in a turkey roasting bag.

  • Traditional basting by pouring juices over a turkey’s surface while it roasts will not make the meat juicier (that what brining is for). The liquid penetrates only about 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch beneath the skin and most of the juice will run off into the pan. Opening the oven door to baste a turkey can cool the oven and possibly lengthen the roasting time. Here is a helpful chart on roasting a turkey by how much it weighs and time.
    Roasting Turkey Chart
  • Verify the time you want to serve the turkey so you will know when to start cooking.
  • Preheat the oven to 325 °F.
  • Remove the turkey from the fridge and place it in the oven.
  • Set kitchen timer to the desired cooking time for the turkey.
  • Tent foil over the turkey when it is a golden brown but still has time to cook.
  • When the turkey is done cooking remove it from the oven.
  • Cut open the roasting bag if you used one. Watch out for the hot steam!
  • Remove turkey from pan and place it on a large patter.
  • Cover loosely with aluminum foil and allow the turkey to rest for 20 minutes before carving.

Instructions for gravy:

  • 30 minutes before turkey is ready to come out of the oven. In a saucepan combine butter, stock, or broth, and heat to medium-high.
  • Wisk in flour, garlic, and seasonings.
  • When it starts to boil, reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking until gravy has reduced and thickened.
  • Serve with turkey.

Notes

Thawing Notes:
There are three ways to safely thaw a turkey, but using the fridge for thawing is recommended. Defrost the turkey in its original wrapper on a tray in the fridge for 24 hours for every 5 pounds. Never thaw a turkey at room temperature. You can also place the wrapped turkey in the sink and cover it completely with cold water for about 30 minutes per pound.
Change the water every 30 minutes to make sure it stays cold. If the wrapping is torn, place the turkey in another plastic bag, close securely, and then place it in water. Cook immediately or place in the fridge after thawing.
Brining Notes: 
The turkey will soak in the brine solution for 1 hour for every 1 pound of turkey. So, if I have a 15-pound turkey, I will soak the turkey for 15 hours.
Whatever you do, don’t over soak your turkey or it will affect the texture of the meat!
You can always remove the turkey for the brining solution early if you want. You want to make sure your turkey will be ready to be removed from the brining solution on Wednesday evening. That way you will have a chance to apply any marinade or dry rub to your turkey if desired.
Depending on the size of your turkey and your schedule, you can choose to start brining you turkey Tuesday night (for a turkey over 20 pounds) or Wednesday morning (for a smaller turkey).
If you are using a cooler or a bucket and it cannot fit in the fridge you will want 1 or 2 bags of ice. Place the ice on top of the turkey and around if possible. Keep in a cool place where pets and young children will not bother the turkey.

Cooking Notes:
Never brown or partially cook turkey to refrigerate and finish cooking later. It is not necessary to baste a turkey since we just brined it and have it in a turkey roasting bag.
Keyword Oven Roasted Turkey, ThanksGiving

If you like this recipe, then you will love these recipes!

I hope you enjoy this roasted turkey recipe as much as my family does. Please share this recipe if it was helpful to you!

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