Classic Roast Turkey

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Prep Time: 90 minutes
Cook Time: 210 minutes
Servings: 14

Although many cooks now choose to brine their turkey or use a spice rub before cooking it, there’s nothing wrong with an old-fashioned roast turkey prepared in the simplest way possible, as we have done here. This recipe is a boon to cooks who are short on prep time and is also a favorite of purists who like their turkey just the way their mothers prepared it.


  • 1 fresh turkey, 16 to 18 lb. (7.25 to 8 kg), neck and giblets
  • Olive oil as needed
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) (4 oz./125 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled


Rinse the turkey inside and out with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Drizzle the turkey with olive oil, spreading it all over to coat the skin, then sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Tuck the wings behind the back. Place the turkey, breast side up, on a rack in a large roasting pan. Truss the legs with kitchen twine, if desired. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour.

Position a rack in the lower third of an oven and preheat to 400°F (200°C).

Roast the turkey for 30 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 325°F (165°C). Continue roasting, brushing the turkey with the melted butter and any juices that have accumulated in the pan every 30 minutes, until the skin is golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast, away from the bone, registers 165°F (74°C) and into the thigh registers 175°F (80°C), 2 to 3 hours more.

Transfer the turkey to a carving board, cover loosely with foil and let rest 20 to 30 minutes before carving. Serves 12 to 14.

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