How to Roast a Turkey

Posted on November 21st, 2010 by Gavin | Posted in Bread, Meat, & Cheese, Notes & News, Recipes

Another customer request, this time it’s how to roast a turkey!

Sure, you’ve got your guest list and you’ve calculated how much turkey you’ll need to feed everyone. You’ve also gone to LifeSource and picked up  the freshest and best tasting Turkey on the planet but what do you do with it once you get it home?

If you have a free range turkey, then it’s fresh and you just need to keep it refrigerated until you’re ready to prepare it. Organic turkeys are shipped frozen so you’ll need to thaw them.

First of all you’ll want to be über careful when handling your turkey to prevent creating an environment that’ll grow little nasties – this includes taking care not to contaminate your prep area. The USDA has a nice little guide on how to handle your turkey safely, and we recommend you head over there and read the whole thing.

Here’s what they have to say about thawing a turkey:

There are three ways to thaw your turkey safely — in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave oven.

In the Refrigerator (40 °F or below)
Allow approximately 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds
4 to 12 pounds 1 to 3 days
12 to 16 pounds 3 to 4 days
16 to 20 pounds 4 to 5 days
20 to 24 pounds 5 to 6 days

Keep the turkey in its original wrapper. Place it on a tray or in a pan to catch any juices that may leak. A thawed turkey can remain in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days. If necessary, a turkey that has been properly thawed in the refrigerator may be refrozen.

In Cold Water
Allow approximately 30 minutes per pound
4 to 12 pounds 2 to 6 hours
12 to 16 pounds 6 to 8 hours
16 to 20 pounds 8 to 10 hours
20 to 24 pounds 10 to 12 hours

Wrap your turkey securely, making sure the water is not able to leak through the wrapping. Submerge your wrapped turkey in cold tap water. Change the water every 30 minutes. Cook the turkey immediately after it is thawed. Do not refreeze.

In the Microwave Oven

  • Check your owner’s manual for the size turkey that will fit in your microwave oven, the minutes per pound, and power level to use for thawing.
  • Remove all outside wrapping.
  • Place on a microwave-safe dish to catch any juices that may leak.
  • Cook your turkey immediately. Do not refreeze or refrigerate your turkey after thawing in the microwave oven.

REMINDER: Remove the giblets from the turkey cavities after thawing. Cook separately.


Once the bird is thawed, you’ll probably want to clean, prep, & cook it – right? On to the recipe!

  • Preheat the oven to 325° (this is the foodservice recommended minimum temp – safety first!)
  • Remove anything (such as the little bag with the neck & giblets) from the cavity and wash the bird inside and out. Pat it dry with some paper towels. Wondering what do do with those giblets?
  • Tie the legs together loosely with kitchen twine and tuck the wings under the shoulders.
  • Rub the skin with Olive Oil, and sprinkle the bird with Salt & Pepper inside and out.
  • Place the Turkey breast-side-up in your roasting pan and place it in the oven on the lowest rack.
  • You can baste it with the pan drippings (or keep some turkey broth on the stove in case the pan is dry) every half hour or so, or you can try one of these methods for adding moisture to your bird. Note: basting is traditional, but every time you open the oven door you release all the heat which slows the cooking time. Just an FYI. 🙂
  • Roast for 10 to 12 minutes per pound until a meat thermometer inserted into the deepest part of the thigh (without touching the bone) reads at least 165°. If it starts to get too dark on the outside but the inside isn’t done yet you can tent it with foil. Note: some recipes call for roasting free-range and organic birds only up to 140° – 150° due to the tendency for them to get overdone. The USDA recommends a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°, so that’s what we’ve gone with here.
  • Once it’s done cooking let the turkey rest at room temperature for at least 20 minutes before carving – this will help it retain moisture. Use this time to make turkey gravy with the drippings!

Obviously, this is the most basic recipe in the world but it should be enough to get you started in the right direction. If this seems a little boring to you and you’d like to try something with a bit more flair I highly recommend checking out the options on (which is where I got a lot of the info I posted here). A quick Google can also yield tons of great turkey recipes, including guides on how to carve that freshly roasted turkey you just prepared.

However you choose to prepare to turkey (or if you’re celebrating turkey-free) we’d like to wish you and your loved ones a very Happy Thanksgiving!

photos by tuchodi and someToast