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Joy of Cooking’s Classic Roast Turkey

A perfectly browned, supremely moist turkey takes the spotlight of any traditional Thanksgiving spread. This recipe for Classic Roast Turkey from the latest edition of Joy of Cooking (Simon and Schuster, 2019), originally written by now-iconic American home chef Irma S. Rombauer, does just that.

This is the ideal method to use for birds over 15 pounds in weight, though it works well for smaller birds, too. The lower heat ensures that the bird cooks to doneness relatively evenly. While we give the option to stuff the bird, please be aware that you will have to remove the stuffing and finish cooking it in a baking dish, as it will not cook through at the same rate as the turkey.

A day or more before roasting the turkey, you may brine or drybrine it (we recommend dry-brining) if desired. If you have wet-brined the bird, pat it dry and allow it to air-dry overnight, uncovered and refrigerated, on a rack set over a baking sheet. It is imperative to dry out the skin to encourage browning.

The Joy of Cooking: Classic Roast Turkey

Courtesy The Joy of Cooking

 1 turkey (ideally 15 lb.; see notes)
 Bread or cornbread stuffing (optional)
 Gravy (optional)

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 500°F.


If you wish to stuff the bird, have hot or at room temperature: bread stuffing or corn bread stuffing with any desired additions.


If you have not done so already, remove the giblets and neck from: One 10- to 25-pound turkey If the bird is not kosher, self-basting, or brined, rub all over with salt.


Loosely pack the body and neck cavities with the stuffing, if using. Bring the legs together and tie them to hold the stuffing in. Set the turkey breast side up on a V rack in a roasting pan or on a large rimmed baking sheet. Any leftover stuffing can be placed in a buttered baking dish. Brush the turkey’s skin all over with 3 to 6 tablespoons melted butter, depending on the size of the turkey, or as needed.


Transfer the turkey to the oven and immediately reduce the oven temperature to 325°F. Roast until the internal temperature of the breast reaches 155°F, and the thickest part of the thigh reaches at least 170°F. (Stuffing must reach 165°F.) This may take as little as 2 hours for a 10-pound turkey and up to 6 hours for a very large turkey. Transfer the turkey to a platter and let rest for at least 20 and up to 40 minutes before carving.


If the breast is done but the thighs are not, take the turkey out of the oven and carve the legs off at the hip joint. Place the legs on a rimmed baking sheet and return to the oven to finish cooking through while the breast and carcass rests.


If the stuffing is not done, spoon it into a buttered baking dish and place in the oven to cook through as the turkey rests. While the turkey rests, prepare gravy if desired.


Finally, if at the end of cooking you are not happy with the degree of browning, increase the oven temperature to 500°F and let it preheat when you remove the turkey to rest. When the oven is preheated and the gravy made, place the rested turkey back in the pan and roast until the skin is browned, about 10 minutes.