13 ratings

Basic Roasted Turkey Recipe

Basic Turkey
Maryse Chevriere

Basic Turkey

Try a recipe search for ‘Turkey’ on any food site and you’ll find this holiday bird brined, fried, grilled, roasted, buttered, truffle-stuffed, duck fat-rubbed, or seasoned in endless ways. But where’s the easy, straightforward recipe? 

Most chefs will tell you that a good-quality product doesn’t need much work; in fact, the less you do, the more it will stand out. That's also what we believe here at The Daily Meal. It’s fun to experiment and try new recipes, but sometimes simple wins.  

So we turned to chef-instructor Sabrina Sexton for a basic turkey recipe. No fancy tricks, no crazy rubs, just an easy way to cook a good-quality bird. - Yasmin Fahr


For the turkey:

  • One 8-10 pound turkey, brined if desired 
  • 4 tablespoons softened butter
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 1 lemon zested
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 head garlic

For the gravy:

  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • Salt and pepper


For the turkey:

Heat oven to 350 degrees. If the turkey was brined, remove the turkey from the brine and pat it dry. Carefully loosen the turkey skin from the breast and around the thighs.

In a small bowl, mix the softened butter with the sage and lemon zest and season with salt and pepper. Rub the sage butter under the skin, spreading it over the meat as evenly as possible. Brush the outside of the bird with the melted butter.

Cut the top third off the head of garlic to expose all the cloves. Place it and the zested lemon inside the turkey. Truss the bird and place it on a rack in a roasting pan. Roast the turkey, breast side up, for about 45 minutes.

Remove the bird from the oven and place it breast side down in the pan. Baste with the drippings in the pan, or additional melted butter. Return the turkey to the oven and roast an additional 45 minutes. Turn the bird so it is breast side up again and baste again. Continue roasting until the turkey reaches 165 degrees when checked in the inner thigh with a poultry thermometer. (Poultry needs 15-20 minutes per pound to cook, so a 10-pound bird will take somewhere between 2 1/2–3 hours).

If the turkey browns too rapidly, cover the breast loosely with foil to finish, or reduce the heat in the oven to about 300 degrees. Remove the turkey from the oven and place it on a board to rest.

For the gravy:

Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the pan. Place the roasting pan over low heat on the stove. Add the flour and stir to blend it evenly. Cook the flour mixture 1-2 minutes until the flour turns a pale brown color. Add the stock and bring the mixture to a simmer, while stirring constantly. Carefully pour the gravy into a saucepan and simmer on the stove for 10 minutes. Strain if desired. Taste and add salt and pepper, if necessary.

Carve and serve with the Sage and Cornbread Stuffing recipe.


Click here to see How to Carve the Perfect Turkey.

Click here to see the Cranberry-Jalapeño Relish recipe.