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Thank you Elise for this recipe. I made it today and the breast meat was very moist and tender. Unfortunately the legs were not done and I had to put them back in the oven and bake them longer. The meat was very pink Inside. Can you tell me what rack you put your roasting pan On in the oven? I’m not sure if that made a difference. For the legs not cooking properly. I put my pan in the center of the oven. It was the third rack up from the bottom and the oven has 6 rack holders. Thanks very much. I want to try it again fir Thanksgiving so need to find out what I did wrong. I appreciate your advice.
Hi Mary, great that you are getting a headstart on cooking a turkey! For what it’s worth, every turkey is different. I’ve ordered turkey after turkey to test this recipe and make photos and videos for the recipe and it’s amazing how much variation there can be between different turkeys of the same weight. So, you did nothing wrong. If you cook the turkey breast-side-down, the the thighs are higher up in the oven (heat rises) and more exposed to the heat of the oven. I usually find that this approach results in the thighs and breasts coming to their temperatures at about the same time. But, in the case that the breast gets there first, I would cut them away from the carcass, and return the rest of the turkey to the oven to finish, just as I assume you did in this case. By the way, you know those photos showing beautifully browned turkeys as centerpieces for a Thanksgiving dinner? That’s just not practical in real life. The best way to serve the turkey is to make sure that the pieces are cooked properly and not overcooked, cut the turkey in the kitchen, and arrange the cut pieces on a platter to serve.
To answer your question, our turkeys are pretty big (usually around 18 pounds) so the roasting pan goes in the second to the bottom rack in the oven, to make sure there is enough clearance at the top of the oven. I also use a rather high sided roasting pan, as pictured in the photos.
Excellent recipe. Also, I want to Express just how nicely the directions were done. Very nice to follow.
Very good! I didn’t use the high heat during beginning – and only needed 2.5 hours for a 15 pound turkey. (but we just had a new convection oven and maybe that’s why).
This time I used an Organic One – it makes a huge difference! From now on our Thanksgiving Turkey will be Organic and we will probably use this method again.
(these past years, I always brined it – I always do prep my own brine).
This was wonderful. I am so tired of brined/dry brined turkeys with sugar, garlic and weird red spices. The meat doesn’t taste like turkey and the drippings are too salty to make gravy. I followed the recipe closely. I added a cup of water to the roasting pan a couple of times because I didn’t want the fat to burn. The breast was pale, but I turned the turkey over and put it under the broiler as directed. The 10 lb turkey was done in less than 2 hours probably because I have a convection oven. Thanks!
I’ve been using this recipe for 6 years. Everybody I’ve subjected it to has said it’s the best turkey they’ve ever had. Not sure why conventional “wisdom” still dictates cooking turkey breast side up. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe.
This was my first time EVER making a turkey and I cooked a 25lb turkey with this recipe (no rinsing, brining, basting, or trussing). It turned out fantastic! The breast was juicy and delicious and everything was fully cooked. It barely fit in my pan and I had a hard time lifting the pan in and out of the oven and totally guessed where to put the thermometer. But everyone said it was the best they’d ever had. Thank you for making my first time hosting Thanksgiving a success!
I’ve been using your recipe for 9 years now. I am now nominated each year to cook the turkey at both my husband’s side of the family and my family thanksgiving! Thank you for the wonderful recipe! It really does make the turkey juicy and delicious! Even those who were not huge turkey fans before tell me it’s the best bird they’ve ever had!
Fantastic Jennkyle338! I’m so glad to know you’ve been successful with the recipe all these years.
Has anyone tried this in a convection oven
Hi, Deb! I think this would be great in a convection oven! Foods generally cook more quickly in convection ovens, so just start checking the temperature early on and adjust the total cooking time as needed.
Yes! For several years now with great results.
Yes, I just got one for Thanksgiving – this is my second Turkey
The first one was brined – perfect.
This time I used this recipe and it came out perfect! I had an Organic turkey, 15 pounds – put it there at 350 F for about 2.5 hours. Came out juicy.
After using your recipe I have been given the honor of cooking the turkeys for my Boy Scout troop’s Thanksgiving Feast. My troop loves feasting on these perfectly cooked turkeys. Never any leftovers.
I’ve cooked many turkeys over the years (breast side up), but I used this recipe last year, which resulted in the very best turkey I ever made. The breast finished beautifully, and the family commented on how much juicier and tastier it was. I’m using the same recipe this year. Thanks!!!
So, I’m normally THAT person who is a lurker and never comments, but after year 11 of using this same exact recipe (and coming back year after year), I felt the urge to comment and THANK Elise for sharing this recipe.
Again, I’ve been using this exact recipe for over TEN years, and consistently, every year, I get so many comments about how juicy and delicious my bird is. The best part is that you CANNOT MESS IT UP, except if you get the time/math wrong. I’ve done years where I put more veggies in the bird, didn’t truss the bird, overpeppered, etc, but didn’t really matter…the fundamentals are there to make even a dummy cook the bird well.
Thanks again, Elise, and to those celebrating Thanksgiving next week, Happy Turkey Day!
My dad used to do it this way too!! So I’m going to try this method this year and your recipe because I hate stuffing turkeys. Such a messy job. It lands all over the floor.
OMG I have always loved turkey and after making this recipe I feel like I didnt know what I was missing for 52yrs For holidays my hubby and I always went back and forth because he doesn’t prefer turkey and I dont prefer ham. Since he tasted your recipe he loves Turkey now lol. Thank you for that. Not only is this Turkey the best we have ever tasted. It makes a omg awesome gravy.
I’m so glad you and your husband liked it Dichele!
My husband said liked? Lol he loves it lol. Ty again for sharing that recipe of your moms.
Recipe very vague. Cook 1 to 2 hours? Lower oven to 325. Cooked a defrosted 11.9 lb turkey 400 for 20 minutes.Lowered oven to 325 for 1 3/4 hours.Lowered to 225. Still cooking 1 hour later.
Hello Patricia, I’m afraid cooking a turkey doesn’t get more precise than this. It’s a large bird and there are several variables involved that would affect cooking time, including the size of the turkey, the internal temperature of the bird when you start cooking it, and the shape of the oven pan and configuration of the oven. This is why it is so helpful to use a remote digital thermometer when cooking a large roast of any kind. If the roast isn’t cooking fast enough (as evidenced by the read-out on the remote), you can increase the oven temp. If it’s cooking too fast, you can lower the oven temperature.
I showed this recipe to my daughter and she fixed it for our family get together and couldn’t believe how juicy and tender it was. It was delicious. Thanks
Thank you for being so thorough with how to make a turkey. I’ve been using this recipe as a bible every time I make one and my family thinks I’m the “turkey whiz” because of it now.
VERY juicy white meat, perfectly cooked dark meat! My bird was about 11 pounds and not “self basting” so I didn’t get a lot of drippings as they evaporated on the hot pan. Next time I will add some broth and wine to the pan at the start, but other than that, my turkeys will cook upside down from now on! 13 minutes per pound was exactly perfect. THANK YOU!
The roasting time was WAY longer than stated. I followed the recipe exactly and we ended up eating 2 hours late. Christmas dinner was pretty much ruined as everything else sat getting cold and limp and had to be reheated. What we could eat off the edges (because some was still pink) was juicy and flavourful. I’d try breast side down again but allow way more time.
Hi J, cooking time depends on so many variables, the first one being how cold your turkey is to begin with. When I make this every year the first thing I do in the morning is take the turkey out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter for several hours before cooking it.
Also, if you are using a meat thermometer you can test to see how fast your turkey is cooking (especially if you have a remote thermometer as recommended, that way you don’t have to open the oven to check.) If you are getting close to serving time and that turkey isn’t cooking fast enough you can always increase the oven temperature. Likewise if the turkey is cooking too fast and looks like it will be done to soon, you can lower the temperature.
I have been making this upside down turkey recipe during the holiday season for 4 years and by far it’s the simplest, and straight forward. Turkey comes out juicy every time! I’ve added brining when I have the time but it’s not absolutely necessary!
I’ve been reading your blog for many years now; roasting breast side down was one of the best tips for roasting turkey and any other bird and I’ve been doing it this way ever since. I’m not a fan of white meat, but now it’s always juicy and delicious. It’s rather surprising that I’ve not read this tip before, and I read a lot of food blogs and magazines. Thank you!