Perfect Roast Turkey

Perfect Roast Turkey

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Jacque Hodges


I'm in charge of Thanksgiving dinner now that my Mom doesn't cook any more. This recipe works every time resulting in a juicy, flavorful, and beautifully browned bird.


★★★★★ 1 vote

2 Hr
5 Hr


  • 1
    20-21 pound fresh whole turkey, giblets and neck removed from cavity and reserved
  • 1 1/2 c
    unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 Tbsp
    unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 bottle
    dry white wine, 750 ml (or chicken stock if you prefer)
  • 2 tsp
  • 2 tsp
    freshly ground black pepper
  • ·
    stock made from reserved giblets. i cover giblets with water and add a quartered onion, and a bundle of herbs, sage, rosemary, thyme. salt and pepper to taste

How to Make Perfect Roast Turkey


  1. Rinse turkey with cool water and dry with paper towels.Let stand at room temp for 2 hours.
  2. Place rack on lowest level in oven. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Combine melted butter and white wine in bowl. Fold a large piece of cheesecloth into quarters and cut into a 17", four layer square. Immerse cheesecloth in the butter and wine: let soak.
  3. Place turkey, breast side up, on a roasting rack in a heavy metal roasting pan. If the turkey comes with a pop up timer, remove it: an instant read thermometer is a much more accurate indication of doneness. Fold wing tips under turkey. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp each of salt and pepper inside turkey. Fill large cavity and neck cavity with as much stuffing as they will hold comfortably; do not pack tightly. (Cook remaining stuffing in a buttered baking dish for 45 minutes at 375*) Tie legs together loosely with kitchen string. Fold neck flap under and secure with tooth picks. Rub the turkey with the room temp butter and sprinkle with the remaining 1 1/2 tsp salt and pepper.
  4. Lift cheesecloth out of liquid and squeeze it slightly, leaving it very damp. Spread it evenly over the breast and about halfway down the sides of the turkey; it can cover some of the leg area. Place turkey, legs first, in the oven. Cook for 30 min. Using a pastry brush, baste cheesecloth and exposed parts of turkey with butter and wine. reduce oven temp to 350* and continue to cook for 2 1/2 more hours, basting every 30 min with butter and wine and watching pan juices. If the pan gets too full, spoon out juices, reserving them for gravy.(I've never had this happen)
  5. After this third hour of cooking, carefully remove and discard cheesecloth. Turn roasting pan so that the breast is facing the back of the oven. Baste turkey with pan juices. If there are not enough juices, continue to use butter and wine. The skin gets fragile as it browns, so baste carefully. Cook 1 more hour, basting after 30 min.
  6. After this fourth hour of cooking, insert an instant read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. Do not poke into a bone. The temperature should reach 180* (stuffing should be between 140* and 160*. The breast does not need to be checked for temperature.. If legs are not fully cooked, return to oven and cook another 20-30 min.
  7. When fully cooked, transfer turkey to a serving platter and let rest for about 30 min. Meanwhile, make the gravy. Pour all the pan juices into a measuring cup. Let stand until grease rises to the top, about 10 min, then skim it off. Place roasting pan over medium high heat. Add 1 cup dry red wine, white wine, water, or broth to the pan-your choice. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the pan until the liquid boils and all the crispy bits are unstuck from the pan. Add giblet stock to pan. Stir well and bring back to a boil. Cook until liquid has reduced by about half, 10 min.or so. Add the defatted pan juices and cook over medium high heat 10 min more. You will have about 2 1/2 cups of gravy. Season to taste, strain into warm gravy boat and serve with turkey.

Printable Recipe Card

About Perfect Roast Turkey

Course/Dish: Turkey Roasts

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