Step by Step How to Roast a Turkey

Nuvita Biscuits

From preparing the bird to serving slices of it doused in gravy, here are 12 steps to the perfect turkey.
Serves 12 to 14

1 20- to 21-pound fresh whole turkey, giblets and neck removed from cavity and reserved
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter (3 sticks), melted, plus 4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 bottle dry white wine
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
Classic Stuffing (recipe below)
1 cup dry red or white wine for gravy (optional)
Giblet Stock (recipe below)

Tools and Materials
Kitchen string
Pastry brush
Instant-red meat thermometer

Classic Stuffing

The terms stuffing and dressing are often used interchangeably, but they do have different meanings: Stuffing is cooked inside the bird, dressing is on its own.

Yield: Makes 12 cups


12 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 onions, (2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
16 celery stalks, cut into 1/4-inch dice
10 large fresh sage leaves, chopped, or 2 teaspoons crushed dried sage
6 cups Homemade Chicken Stock, or canned low sodium chicken broth, skimmed of fat
2 stale loaves white bread, (about 36 slices), crust on, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 teaspoons salt
4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
3 cups (about 2 bunches) fresh coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley, leaves
2 cups pecans, toasted and chopped (optional)
2 cups dried cherries, (optional)


Melt butter in a large skillet. Add onions and celery, and cook over medium heat until onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add sage, stir to combine, and cook 3 to 4 minutes. Add 1/2 cup stock, and stir well. Cook for about 5 minutes, until liquid has reduced by half.

Transfer onion mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add all remaining ingredients, including the remaining stock; mix to combine.

Giblet Stock


Giblets (heart, gizzard, and liver) and neck, reserved from turkey
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 rib celery with leaves, stalk cut into 1/4-inch cubes, leaves roughly chopped
1 small leek, trimmed, washed and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 dried bay leaf


Trim any fat or membrane from giblets. The liver should not have the gallbladder, a small green sac, attached. If it is, trim off carefully, removing part of the liver if necessary. Do not pierce sac; the liquid it contains is very bitter. Rinse giblets and neck; pat dry.

In a medium saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add chopped onions, celery and leaves, and leeks. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper; cook another 5 minutes. Add 4 cups water, bay leaf, gizzard, heart, and neck (do not add liver; it needs to be cooked separately or it makes the stock bitter). Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Cook for 45 minutes, or until gizzard is tender when pierced with the tip of a knife.

Meanwhile, chop the liver finely. Melt remaining tablespoon of butter in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add liver and cook, stirring constantly, 4 to 6 minutes, until liver no longer releases any blood and is fully cooked. Set aside.

After 45 minutes of simmering, the liquid should reduce to about 2 1/2 cups. If it has not, increase the heat and cook another 10 to 15 minutes.

Strain broth. Chop gizzard and heart very fine and add to strained broth along with chopped liver. Pick meat off neck and add to broth. Set aside until needed for gravy.


Step 1: Get Started

Rinse turkey with cool water and dry with paper towels. Let stand for 2 hours at room temperature.

Warm the butter and white wine together and soak a large piece of cheesecloth in it. Peppercorns and coarse salt season the bird.


Step 2: Prepare the Turkey

Place rack on lowest level in oven and heat to 425 degrees.

Tuck the wing tips under the body of the bird, and place turkey breast-side-up in a roasting pan. Season inside of bird with salt and pepper. If your turkey comes with a pop-up timer, remove it; an instant-read thermometer is a much more accurate indication of doneness.


Step 3: Make Stock

Use the giblets (liver, heart, and gizzard), neck, vegetables, and seasoning to make


Step 4: Stuff the Bird

Insert the stuffing just before the turkey goes into the oven; never do it ahead of time and don’t pack it too tightly; the stuffing won’t cook evenly and bacteria may grow. Don’t forget to stuff the neck cavity.

Step 5: Secure Neck Flap

Pull the flap of skin at the neck down and use toothpicks to fasten it.

Step 6: Truss the Bird

Pull the legs together loosely and tie them with kitchen string — a bow will be easy to untie later. Any kind of sturdy white string or twine will do, as long as it’s made of cotton, not polyester (which may melt in the oven’s heat). Rub the turkey with butter and season salt and pepper. Choose a heavy roasting pan with sides two to three inches high; don’t use one with a nonstick surface. A roasting rack will keep the turkey from sticking to the pan.

Step 7: Cover with Cheesecloth

Cover the turkey with cheesecloth that has been soaking in the butter and wine. It should cover the breast and part of the leg area. Place turkey, legs first, in oven and roast 30 minutes, then brush cheesecloth and exposed turkey parts with butter mixture and reduce temperature to 350 degrees.


Step 8: Baste the Turkey

Every 30 minutes, use a pastry brush (better than a bulb baster) to baste the cheesecloth and exposed areas of the turkey with the butter-and-wine mixture. The turkey pictured here is out of the oven, but basting should be done in the oven and as quickly as possible so the oven temperature doesn’t drop. Watch the pan juices; spoon out and reserve them for the gravy if they are in danger of overflowing.

Step 9: Final Roast

After the second hour of cooking, carefully remove and discard the cheesecloth; it will have turned quite brown. Baste the turkey with pan juices, taking care not to tear the skin, and return it to the oven.


Step 10: Take the Temperature

After another half hour of cooking, insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, avoiding the bone; when the temperature reaches 165 degrees, the bird is ready. This will take 1 to 2 hours more (start taking temperature after 2 1/2 hours total cooking time).


Step 11: Make Gravy

Transfer the turkey to a serving platter to rest for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the gravy. Pour pan juices into a glass measuring cup; when the grease rises to the surface, skim it off and discard. Place the roasting pan over medium-high heat and add a cup of dry red or white wine or water; bring to a boil and use a wooden spoon to scrape up all of the brown bits. Add giblet stock, return to a boil, and cook until reduced by half. Add reserved, defatted pan juices, cook ten minutes more, and strain into a gravy boat.

Step 12: Carve Turkey

Use a thin-bladed, carbon-steel knife to carve the meat into thin slices. Make sure bird is sufficiently rested (approximately 15 minutes after it has been removed from the oven) before cutting.

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