Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe

Author: Veruska Anconitano, Award-Winning Food Travel Journalist, Sommelier & Outdoor LoverAuthor information
About the author
Veruska Anconitano
Veruska is a a food travel journalist with awards to her credit, such as World Best Food Travel Journalist. She holds a certification as a sommelier and she is also an ardent lover of the outdoors. Aside from this, Veruska is a Multilingual SEO and Localization Consultant and co-owns multiple websites that cater to a global audience.
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If you’re looking for the perfect Thanksgiving turkey recipe, keep reading for the solution: in this guide we will explain to you how to cook the Best Thanksgiving Turkey with a simple and recipe.

In fact, despite the fact Italians don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, we are used to cook chicken pretty much every Sunday at home or during the big festivities.

It’s not really hard to find people interested in cooking the turkey and celebrate the Thanksgiving Day to experiment with a different tradition or simply to learn how to cook a turkey and cook it at home for a Sunday lunch (or use the same method for cooking a chicken!). So, year after year, I’ve developed my own way for making a traditional turkey for Thanksgiving, also thanks to the help of friends from the US which have guided me in every step.

Assuming I’m not American, I prefer to prepare the turkey without the filling because in this way the meat cooks faster and you can enjoy the fatty juice that comes out with it.

I’m now used to serve my turkey the 4th Thursday every November probably when the Americans are still sleeping or just wakening up together with a big dose of gravy and a pumpkin pie; and without forgetting friends and family, a huge addiction to our table.

How to cook a perfect turkey for Thanksgiving?

1. Rub your turkey with butter or oil and cook it in the oven at low temperatures to make the skin crispy and juicy;
2. Put your turkey in salted brine at least 24 hours before so that the meat will come out tender and easy to cook;
3. Prepare the stuffing, if you want to add it, the day before so that it will be seasoned to perfection;
4. Cook your turkey chest down so that the cooking liquid will be distributed evenly and it will cover both the wings and thighs, the parts of the turkey that dry more easily;
5. After having cooked it, leave the turkey rest for at least 30 minutes to allow the juice to reduce and the fat to be absorbed by the meat. Besides, after 30 minutes the meat will not tear apart when you will cut it.

Ingredients for 1 whole turkey

  • 1 turkey
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • 500 ml vegetable broth or water


  1. Preheat the oven to 250°/482°F and in the meantime pull the turkey out of the fridge. Remove it from the fridge in advance it allows the meat to soften and therefore to bake faster and better in the oven not having to withstand a drastic temperature change.
  2. Season the turkey with salt and pepper to taste, then place it in a large roasting pan with the broth or water.
  3. Put the turkey in the oven with the breast downwards and lower the temperature to 190°/374°F. Leave in the oven for at least 3 hours and a half, but every 45 minutes pull out the turkey from the oven and sprinkle with his own cooking liquid using a spoon so as to prevent it from drying. In the last 40 minutes of cooking you can brush back the chicken with butter or oil to allow the skin to become even more crispy.
  4. The turkey is ready when the meat temperature is about 80°/176°F in the middle (check the temperature with a thermometer or removing a little bit of skin to see if the meat is white and well cooked). Once ready, transfer the turkey into a clean pan and let it cool at a room temperature for at least 30 minutes so that the cooking liquid will be absorbed and, at the time of cutting it, the turkey will not tear apart.
  5. Prepare the gravy making simmer the cooking liquid of the turkey together with a glass of white wine in the pan where the turkey has been cooked without forgetting to scrape the bottom of the pan to give more flavor to the sauce.
  6. Serve the turkey with the gravy after cutting it to pieces.


Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 4 hours

Total time: 4.5 hours

Turkey Recipe

How long to cook a Turkey?

One of the most frequent questions is How long do I cook a 16, 18 or 13 pound turkey? In general, you need to add 15 minutes per pound at the 325 degree cooking time. The temperature increase at the end does not change.
Here is a handy list of how long to cook your turkey s:

  • 10 pounds: 1 hour 30 minutes at 325°F; 1 hour at 400°F.
  • 12 pounds: 2 hours at 325°F; 1 hour at 400°.
  • 14 pounds: 2 hours, 30 minutes at 325°F; 1 hour at 400°F.
  • 16 pounds: 3 hours at 325°F; 1 hour at 400°F.
  • 18 pounds: 3 hours, 30 minutes at 325°F; 1 hour at 400°F.

To convert your weight from pound to Kgs use this tool and to convert your oven degrees from Fahrenheit to Celsius use this tool.

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