Here’s How I Roast A Turkey

Two methods here, one in the oven the other in the smoker.

Conventional Oven 

Preheat the oven to 400* F. 

Paint the breast portion with soft butter, add some herbs if desired. cover the breast with a foil tent.

Roast the turkey at 400* for 35 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 and roast the remaining time indicated on the packaging of the turkey.

Uncover the breast the last 1 1/2 hours. The USDA recommends that you let the turkey breast come to 170* and the legs to 180* before removing the turkey from the oven. Remember however that the turkey will continue to cook after you take it out of the oven, especially if you cover it with foil and allow it to rest for 20 minutes.  The resting period will also allow the juices to settle in the meat, making for a better tasting turkey.

Here is a chart for roasting turkey from the USDA


4 to 8 pounds (breast) 1½ to 3¼ hours
8 to 12 pounds 2¾ to 3 hours
12 to 14 pounds 3 to 3¾ hours
14 to 18 pounds 3¾ to 4¼ hours
18 to 20 pounds 4¼ to 4½ hours
20 to 24 pounds 4½ to 5 hours


4 to 6 pounds (breast) Not usually applicable
6 to 8 pounds (breast) 2½ to 3½ hours
8 to 12 pounds 3 to 3½ hours
12 to 14 pounds 3½ to 4 hours
14 to 18 pounds 4 to 4¼ hours
18 to 20 pounds 4¼ to 4¾ hours
20 to 24 pounds 4¾ to 5¼ hours

A Couple of Quick Tips:

Cook your turkey ahead of time, say on Wednesday, then after it cools somewhat, carve it up. Place dark meat together, white meat together and put all the meat into a large casserole dish or lasagna pan. Cover the meat with chicken broth. Seal with foil. Refrigerate.  On Thursday, or the day or your event, take the turkey out of the frig, place in a 350*F oven and reheat about 1 hour. The meat will be flavorful and moist!

Use a turkey baking bag if you aren’t concerned with the looks of your turkey.  It will get your turkey done to the perfect, fall-off-the-bone tenderness. If you want it brown you’ll have to let it spend a little time under a broiler.

Roast your turkey in the oven breast side down so that the thickest part of the breast meat will cook in the drippings. This makes for an extremely moist turkey.


Heat your smoker according to the manufacturer’s instructions to 250*F

Brine your turkey.

Drain the turkey and place in a heat proof pan that will fit in your smoker.  BTQ, make sure your turkey isn’t too large for your smoker as well!

Cover the turkey with a lid or foil and allow it to cook 20 minutes for each pound of turkey.  After the first three hours of cooking you can uncover the turkey and use the drippings to baste it.  If it starts to get too brown, cover it back up.

Once it’s done, allow it to rest on the counter top for about 15 minutes before carving.

About Sylvia

Sylvia Britton is the owner of the Christian HomeKeeper website and ministry and began the ministry in 1997 when her husband brought home their first PC. She and her husband Mark live in Tennessee and are the parents of 5 grown children and grandparents to five so far. They homeschooled their five children from 1991 to 2016. You can follow Sylvia on Facebook or consider joining her Facebook Group called Christian Homekeepers and Like her official CHK Page on Facebook.
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6 Responses to Here’s How I Roast A Turkey

  1. Pingback: All My Turkey Helps In One Place

  2. Polona says:

    Can you add a Pintres button to this post please? Want to save it to my handy board …

    • Sylvia says:

      You know, usually there is one! Don’t know what happened. But… if you’d like to follow my pins… “Sylvia Britton” I have pinned it.

  3. pilar roy says:

    Sylvia, does your turkey end up looking like the one in the picture? I really want my turkey to look like that, lol. My mamma’s never looked like that, is it because she used a bake-in bag?

    • Sylvia says:

      A baking bag has its place. My mil uses one and her turkey is always moist and flavorful. To get that pretty brown color you need to baste during the roasting process. It is the oils/butter that makes the skin get that nice color.