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ultimate classic roast turkey on a platter with herbs

Ultimate Classic Roast Turkey

Course Entree
Cuisine American
Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 5 hours
Total Time 7 hours
Servings 12 –15
Author Michelle


  • 20 lb turkey thawed, giblets and neck removed from cavity and reserved. Pop-up timer removed (if present)
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • One 750-ml bottle dry white wine
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 recipe Easy Sausage Stuffing (link in Notes) or your favorite stuffing recipe (see note)
  • Sprigs of rosemary sage, and thyme
  • 32 oz chicken stock (use good quality store-bought stock or homemade)


  • Rinse the turkey carefully by pouring cool water over it, taking care not to splash; pat dry with paper towels. Cover in plastic wrap. Let stand for 2 hours at room temperature.
  • You need only one rack in the oven: move it to the lowest possible level. Heat the oven to 450°. In a medium bowl, mix the melted butter into the white wine. Soak a piece of cheesecloth (enough to cover the bird) in the mixture.
  • Put the turkey on the roasting rack of a heavy metal roasting pan with the breast facing up. (Trust me: don’t use the throw-away, flimsy, aluminum baking pans!) Fold the tips of the wing underneath the turkey. If necessary, break the wing joints so that they fold easily. Sprinkle a large pinch of salt and a large pinch of pepper inside the turkey cavity. LOOSELY fill the cavity with as much stuffing as it can comfortably accommodate without packing. Tie the turkey’s legs together with kitchen twine. Fold the neck flap underneath the bird. Give the turkey a massage with the room-temperature butter, loosening the skin where possible and pushing the butter underneath. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.
  • Remove the cheesecloth from the wine/butter mixture. Carefully squeeze so that the cloth remains wet. Spread the cloth as evenly as you can over the breast and sides of the turkey so that it covers part of the leg. Tuck the herb sprigs into and on top of the cheesecloth, so that they’re spread evenly over the top of the bird. If you can, put the turkey into the oven legs first. (If not, simply rotate the pan every hour or so.) Roast for 30 minutes. Use a turkey baster to dampen the cheesecloth and any exposed turkey with the wine/butter mixture. Lower the temperature to 350°; cook another 2 1/2 hours, basting every 30 minutes. 1 hour into the roasting time, add the chicken stock to the bottom of the roasting pan when you baste the turkey. Monitor the level of the pan juices, removing some if they rise too high. (Reserve the juices for gravy.)
  • Remove the cheesecloth and discard. Baste the turkey with pan juices. If you don’t have enough juice, keep using the wine/butter mixture. Cook 1 more hour, basting after 30 minutes. Be careful not to mess up the skin.
  • Check the temperature of the bird with an instant-read thermometer (insert in the thickest part of the thigh, being careful not to hit bone). The temperature in the thigh should reach 180°. Also check the stuffing’s temperature: it needs to be ~165°. Continue roasting and basting as needed.
  • By now, your turkey should be a beautiful, golden-brown color. When fully cooked, transfer the turkey to a carving board. Let it hang out for at least 30 minutes. (However, you ARE allowed to sneakily remove and snarf a bit of skin.) Carve and set on a serving platter, separating white from dark meat and framing with the drumsticks. Make it pretty with some herb sprigs. Reserve the carcass for making stock.


*If you don't want to stuff the bird with stuffing, you can put herbs, onions, and lemon slices into the cavity. Discard when you carve the bird.
Easy Sausage Stuffing