• Sweetbriar Rose

How to Cook the Perfect Turkey

If you’re like most American families, you prepare a large turkey on Thanksgiving for friends and family to enjoy. Whether you have just close family over, celebrate a Friendsgiving, or have a combination, turkey is the most common meal eaten on Thanksgiving.

So many Americans enjoy turkey on Thanksgiving that around 45 million turkeys are killed each year for the annual feast. Unfortunately, many Americans eat turkey each Thanksgiving but don’t necessarily enjoy it. Because turkey is such a large bird, it is often hard to cook evenly while keeping it moist and tender.

If you struggle to cook a juicy turkey, you are not alone. Thankfully, we have a fantastic recipe that is fool-proof! It does not take much work, you won’t spend all day basting the turkey, and you will get compliments for the perfect texture of the turkey.

After you have enjoyed turkey and all the fixings with your family and friends on Thanksgiving Thursday, stop by Sweetbriar Rose Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. We always have delicious cookies, pastries, and sandwiches. We’ll have some Thanksgiving specials you won’t want to miss, as well.

The Turkey

While turkey likely was not the bird enjoyed at the first Thanksgiving, it is the go-to today. Turkeys, unfortunately, are notoriously tricky to cook.

Don’t panic. We have some tips to help you cook the perfect turkey.

Know which turkey you want. There are many options, from fresh to frozen, from organic to heritage. Heritage turkeys are more traditional and often more flavorful, while organic turkeys are raised to a higher standard but are more expensive. Frozen turkeys are snap-frozen immediately after butchering.

Allow time to thaw. If you have a frozen turkey, be sure you allow enough time for the turkey to thaw. In the fridge, it takes about 24 hours for every 5 pounds of turkey. In cold water, allow 30 minutes for each pound, changing the water every 30 minutes.

Choose the right size. To ensure you have enough turkey, count how many people will be at your table. Typically, you will want between one and one and a half pounds per person, then add a couple of pounds for bones. So, for a group of 10, you will want between 14 and 18 pounds of turkey.

Use a rack. Ensure you have a rack that fits your roasting pan. Keeping your turkey up and out of the juices will allow it to crisp all the way around.

Add veggies. Surrounding your turkey with vegetables like carrots, onions, celery, and even oranges will add flavor to your turkey and gravy.

Don’t forget to brine. Brining is something so many people skip. You don’t know what you’re missing if you haven’t been brining your bird. Most brines have water, salt, sugar, and spices or herbs. Check out this classic brine recipe.

Go for breading, rather than stuffing. While it might be traditional to stuff the turkey with grandma’s famous stuffing recipe, we recommend cooking the stuffing, or breading, on the side in its own dish. Cooking the stuffing inside the turkey will increase the cooking time for the turkey and highly increase your chance of getting sick. The stuffing inside the turkey is the perfect breeding grounds for bacteria that will ruin your Thanksgiving.

No basting, just butter. Basting the turkey means you have to open the oven door more often. Allowing the temperature to fluctuate can dry out your turkey. Instead, cover your turkey with butter or oil, even put pats of butter under the skin for extra tenderness.

Use a good meat thermometer. You will know your turkey is done when a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest section of the turkey in the thigh is 165℉. Be sure you avoid the bone when taking the temperature.

Let it rest. When the thermometer reaches 165℉, remove your turkey from the oven and set it on the stovetop. Cover the bird loosely with foil and let it rest for at least 15 minutes and even up to 30 minutes. The turkey will continue to cook as it rests.

The Recipe

This recipe is based on a 15-pound turkey. Adjust ingredients accordingly for a larger or smaller bird.


1 15 pound turkey, neck and giblets removed

2 tbsp dried parsley

2 tbsp dried rosemary

2 tbsp dried sage

2 tbsp dried thyme leaves

1 tbsp lemon pepper

1 tbsp salt

2 stalks celery, cut into pieces

1 orange, cut into wedges

1 onion, cut into wedges

2 carrots, cut into pieces

6 tbsp butter, optional

1 can chicken broth

1 bottle champagne



  1. The night before, place your turkey in a large container with brine. Ensure you can cover your turkey. Leave in the fridge overnight.

  2. Preheat oven to 350℉. Line a roasting pan with long sheets of foil. You will want to wrap the foil around the turkey.

  3. Combine parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme, lemon pepper, and salt in bowl. Run the mixture inside the cavity of the turkey. Place vegetables and orange inside the turkey cavity and around the turkey.

  4. For added juiciness, divide the butter and place small pats between the skin and meat of the turkey. Attempt to space the butter all over the turkey evenly. This step is optional.

  5. Pour the chicken broth and the champagne in, around, and over the turkey. Cover the turkey with the foil, being careful not to touch the turkey.

  6. Bake the turkey for 2.5 to 3 hours. Uncover the turkey and bake for an additional 30 to 50 minutes, until the skin is golden brown.

  7. Check the temperature of the turkey and ensure it is 165℉. Remove from the oven, cover with foil, and allow the bird to rest at least 15 minutes before carving.

  8. Enjoy!

Don't forget to stop by Sweetbriar Rose Thursday through Sunday. We hope to see you soon.

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