If you’ve never made a turkey before you’re in the right place…
The first thing I will tell you about making a turkey is that if you are making a frozen one, you will need to defrost it in your refrigerator for a few days before you make it! So first things first, read any and all labels on your turkey before you remove the packaging. I like to grab my camera and snap a pic of the directions that are on the plastic outer wrapping of the turkey and also the tag that shows the weight of my turkey. This is just so later when I am figuring out how many hours to bake it, I don’t have to dig in the trash for the label (hey, we’ve all been there!).
So get that turkey in the fridge and on a pan so it can defrost. I usually put mine on a broiler pan in the fridge in case of any leakage. Use whatever pan you have that fits in your fridge and has a raised edge.
When you are ready to bake your turkey the first thing you should do is get the pan ready for the turkey, since once you open the packaging, you’re gonna need to get that turkey on the pan pretty fast.
I use the bottom section of a broiler pan to bake my turkey, but first I wrap the turkey in foil by creating a bag out of foil. Sound confusing? Trust me, it’s not. My mother taught me how to do this years ago. Here are step-by-step instructions for how to make your turkey.
1) Spray your pan with cooking spray to help make cleanup easy.
2) Cut two long sections of foil, trying to make them the same length. I made mine about 2 & 1/2 times the length of my pan. Place the pieces of foil on top of each other, lining them up so the long edges meet.
3) Next, holding both sheets of foil together, make a 1/2″ fold along the entire long length of one of the long edges of the foil, pressing it down as you go to make a flat seam. Then fold that 1/2″ section over once more and press it down to create a tight, neat fold. You want to try to seal the foil edges together as tight as you can because you are creating a leak-proof bag.
4) Next, open the foil up by lifting the top sheet of foil.
5) Once you open the foil it should look like this. Try to keep it as neat as possible.
6) Next center your foil over your pan. Now you have a nice bag to bake your turkey in!
7) Dice up one medium size onion and two washed stalks of celery.
8) Lay a smaller, third piece of foil that is as long as the length of your pan over the seam of the bag (optional, but I do it for an easier cleanup) and place the onion and celery on the pan. Your turkey will cook on top of the onion and celery and that is how you get the best, most flavorful drippings for gravy.
The turkey I made in these photos was 15 1/2 pounds
9) Open your turkey in a clean sink or basin and rinse with cold water. Remove the bag containing the gizzards and the neck from inside the bird. I discard them, but you can use those for your stuffing or gravy if you like.
Lightly salt the inside of the turkey and then place the turkey breast side up on the pan on top of the onion and celery. If you want you can truss the legs of the turkey together with baking twine. This turkey came with a plastic truss on the legs that you do not have to remove and can bake in the oven.
10) Melt 3 tablespoons of butter and pour or rub that over the turkey.
11) Next, bring the sides of the foil up on all sides of the turkey to create a packet, or bag. Bring the edges of the foil together on the top of the turkey and fold over to create a seal. It does not have to be sealed very tightly. This type of bag is not leak-proof, but it certainly is a great way to roast a turkey and helps tremendously with cleanup.
12) Preheat your oven to 325° Fahrenheitand bake your turkey according to the directions on the packaging. The directions will look similar to these below. Follow directions on your package for roasting temperature. Final internal roasting temperature should be 185°.
Roasting temperature 325° Fahrenheit
8-12 pound turkey for 2.75 – 4 hours
12-16 pound turkey for 4-5 hours
16-20 pound turkey for 5-6 hours
20-24 pound turkey for 6-7 hours
24-30 pound turkey for 7-8 hours
HEADS UP: If you are making a very heavy turkey you might need someone to help you to get it into and out of the oven!
After the first hour or two of cooking you can open the top of the foil and use a turkey baster to transfer some of the juices from the bottom of the pan and pour them over the top of the turkey. Then just fold the foil back over the turkey and continue to bake.
13) Open the top of the foil for the last 45 minutes of baking to brown the turkey. Once finished, allow to rest before carving.
14) To make gravy, use a small pot to melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add a heaping tablespoon of flour and whisk together well. Then add the broth from below the turkey by using the turkey baster to transfer the juice along with the cooked onion and celery into the pot and whisk together over medium high heat until it begins to simmer and then turn it down to low. Once it thickens, turn the stove off.