Perfect Roast Turkey

A Thanksgiving turkey is not a tradition where I come from. I first developed this recipe when I married my American husband, using my favorite poultry recipes as reference and inspiration. Over the years, I reevaluated and improved it. Now, I’m finally ready to share it. It is simple to prepare and – since it’s the oven that does most of the work – not overly work-intensive.

Keep in mind, that, depending on the size and weight of your turkey, you might need to adjust the ingredient quantities and time. If you can’t find parsnip in your local grocery store, replace it with a parsley root, or use additional carrots and onions.

As for the gravy, personally, I prefer the vegetable-infused pan juices over the traditional but thick and heavy turkey giblet gravy and save the neck and giblets for later to cook a delicious pot of soup, like my Polish Pickle Soup.

Perfect Roast Turkey

Recipe by Anna BembryCourse: MainCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Simple


Prep time


Resting time


Cooking time



A perfectly juicy and aromatic roast turkey for every festive occasion.


  • For the turkey
  • 1 fresh or thawed turkey

  • about 4 oz / 113 g or 1 stick butter, melted

  • salt and freshly ground pepper

  • paprika powder

  • dried thyme

  • dried oregano

  • For the filling
  • 2 medium-sized apples, peeled, cored and cut into rough cubes

  • 2 medium-sized onions, peeled and cut into rough cubes

  • 1 tablespoon dried marjoram

  • salt and freshly ground pepper

  • Additionally
  • 2 large onions, peeled and quartered

  • 3 – 4 carrots, peeled and cut diagonally into large cubes

  • 2 parsnips, peeled and cut diagonally into large cubes

  • 2 – 3 celery sticks cut into rough cubes

  • 2 – 3 sprigs fresh thyme

  • 2 – 3 sprigs fresh sage

  • 1 head of garlic

  • Equipment
  • large, deep, roasting pan and aluminum foil


  • Preheat the oven to 175C / 350F. Remove neck and giblets from the cavity and set aside for later to prepare a homemade giblet stock or a soup. Rinse the bird inside and out. Pat dry and place, breast side up, in a deep roasting pan.
  • In a mixing bowl combine apple and onion cubes. Generously spice with salt, freshly ground pepper, and marjoram. Stir to combine and stuff with it the cavity of the bird.
  • Brush the outside of the turkey generously with melted butter and sprinkle with salt, freshly ground pepper, paprika powder, dried thyme, and oregano. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine and tuck the wing tips under the body of the turkey.
  • Spread quartered onions, carrots, parsnips, and celery in the roasting pan, all around the bird. Separate the garlic cloves (don’t peel!), gently crush each clove with the broad side of the knife and scatter around the bird. Arrange sprigs of fresh thyme and sage in the roasting pan.
  • Tent the turkey with aluminum foil and roast for 2.5 – 3 hours, depending on the size and weight of the turkey, or until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and the thigh. (If you are not sure, follow the cooking instructions on the packaging). Halfway through the cooking time, you might need to strain and collect some of the excess drippings to prevent the roasting pan from spilling over.
  • Remove the aluminum foil, baste the turkey with pan juices and crank the oven to 425F/220C. Roast for another 30 – 45 minutes, until the skin is golden and crispy, occasionally basting the bird with roasting juices. Remove from oven and let it rest 15 – 20 minutes – best if underneath an aluminum foil tent – before serving.


  • You can skip the peeling, if carrots and parsnips are fresh, with a thin skin and a tasty look.
  • The vegetables and juices from the roasting pan make a tasty side dish and a delicious gravy.
  • The easiest way to check whether the turkey is cooked is by sticking a knife into the meat at the joint between the leg and the lower part of the breast. The juices should be clear when running out. If these are pink and milky, the bird needs more time.

Shall we talk about it?