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The Easiest Roast Turkey and Gravy to make for Thanksgiving

Roasted Turkey on White Ceramic Plate

I remember the first time I ever made a roast turkey in the oven. It was so delicious and moist. We ate until we couldn’t breathe. Then we all went for a nap and when we woke up we deboned the rest of the turkey to put in the fridge for the next day’s sandwiches. We still had about 4 pounds (2 kg) of turkey left. Turkey sandwiches with cranberry sauce FTW!

Whenever I rave about the turkey I usually make people always comment that they don’t like turkey because it’s always dry. If that is your opinion as well, allow me to change your mind. Successfully roasting a turkey does take a little more finesse than just plopping it in the oven and crossing your fingers. But it’s not hard either.

What size turkey do you need for the number of people you’re hosting on Thanksgiving? According to the Food Network, about 1.5 pounds per person will do. You can read more about that here.

The first thing you need to do in preparing for your Thanksgiving dinner is defrost the bird. Depending on the weight of the turkey and your preferred method of defrosting, this will take a reasonable amount of time, so you need to plan this part well.

WeightDefrosting Time (Refrigerator)Defrosting Time (Cold Water)
6-8 lb (2.7-3.6 kg)18-24 hours4-6 hours
10-12 lb (4.5-5.4 kg)24-36 hours8-12 hours
14-18 lb (6.4-8.2 kg)36 hours +12-16 hours
18 lb + (8.2 kg +)48 hours or more18 hours +
Timing Chart for Defrosting Large Birds

Once your turkey is fully defrosted (or if you’re lucky enough to have a fresh one), you need to plan your roasting time next:

WeightRoasting Time (Unstuffed)Roasting Time (Stuffed)
6-8 lb (2.7-3.6 kg)2-2.5 hours2.5-3 hours
10-12 lb (4.5-5.4 kg)3-3.5 hours4 hours +
14-18 lb (6.4-8.2 kg)3.5-4 hours5-6 hours
18 lb + (8.2 kg +)4 hours +6 hours +
Timing Chart for Roasting Turkey and other large birds

Using these timing charts you will be able to plan your Thanksgiving down to a T. There are a few dishes you can make a day before, but while the turkey is in the oven, you can easily finish the rest of your side dishes.

I am convinced that this recipe is easy enough for anyone to make. I believe that if you can read, you can cook. As long as the recipe is well written!

All credit goes to Mark Bittman for this recipe. It is from his book “How To Cook Everything – Simple Recipes for Great Food”, or as I refer to it, the Ultimate Food Bible. You can buy his book here. I do not receive any royalties from these sales, I just think it’s a GREAT book! For other Thanksgiving-related cookbooks, please click here.

roasted chicken

Roast Turkey and Gravy without Stuffing

Easy recipe for roast turkey and gravy that you can make any time of the year, not just for Thanksgiving.
Prep Time 1 day
Cook Time 4 hours
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 8 people
Calories 500 kcal


  • 1 turkey with giblets
  • 1 whole onion
  • 1-2 cups onion chopped
  • 1 whole carrot unpeeled, halved if large
  • 1-2 cups carrots peeled and chopped
  • 1 bunch parsley stems
  • ½ tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 8 tbsp butter melted, or extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½-1 cup celery chopped
  • 1 cup chicken stock or water plus more as needed
  • ¼ cup cornstarch mixed with
  • ½ cup cold water per 3 cups gravy


  • Make sure the turkey is fully defrosted. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Put the turkey neck, wing tips, and gizzard (not the liver) in a medium saucepan. Add the whole onion, the whole carrot, and the parsley stems. Add enough water to cover everything. Add ½ teaspoon of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat to a simmer. Occasionally add boiling water to keep all the ingredients covered. Remove any foam that might appear with a ladle. Simmer for one hour, then turn off the heat, cover and refrigerate if necessary. Reheat when you get to step 5.
  • Use a roasting pan with a flat rack (or a V-shaped one if you have it). Brush the turkey with 1 tablespoon of butter (or oil) and sprinkle with salt and pepper. If you can handle the turkey easily, place it breast side down. If not, put it breast-side up and cover it loosely with aluminum foil. Remove the foil when one hour of cooking time remains. Scatter the chopped onions, carrots, and celery around the turkey. Drizzle the vegetables with 1 tablespoon of butter or oil.
  • Baste every 30 minutes with a little bit of extra butter or oil and add stock or water to the vegetables to keep them moist (either too wet than too dry, these vegetables won't be eaten). If you started the turkey with the breast down, turn it over after an hour or so.
  • When there is about one hour to go and the breast is not sufficiently browned, turn the oven up to 400°F (200°C) for the remaining cooking time. If at any time the bird appears to be browning too quickly, turn the heat back down (you can open the oven door to hasten the oven's cooling).
  • When the bird is done, remove it from the oven, place it on a platter, and let it rest for at least 15 minutes before carving it. Reheat the giblet stock and strain it into a bowl. Also, strain the vegetables that were cooked with the bird into the same bowl. Press on them to extract as much liquid as possible. Mince the reserved liquid.
  • Place the roasting pan over two burners on your stove, turn the heat to medium-high, and add two cups of the liquid and the reserved liver. Cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan until the liquid is reduced slightly. If your bird is small, season the gravy to taste and serve. If it is large, ass as much more stock as you like. If you want a thicker gravy, combine ¼ cup cornstarch with ½ cup cold water (per 3 cups of gravy) and stir into the gravy until thickened.
  • Carve the turkey and serve it with gravy.
Keyword roast turkey

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