Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe

One of my favorite holidays is Thanksgiving.

To the best of my recollection, this has always been the recipe my family has used to make the turkey for Thanksgiving. This is the method my grandfather, a professional chef, always used to roast the chickens he served at the restaurant he worked at, as well as the turkeys we ate for Thanksgiving and Christmas. My parents learned the technique from him and taught my sister and me how to make the best turkey ever.

Nothing fancy like deep fat fryers, big plastic tubs, surgical gloves, or brining spices are needed for this Thanksgiving turkey dish. Moreover, few components are required.

The only advanced preparation required is a fast marinade made in the food processor (the dish may just as easily be made with a conventional knife and cutting board). Salt and garlic are the primary seasonings. However, the food doesn’t taste particularly garlicky once it’s cooked. It’s the most subdued and delicious roast turkey we’ve ever tasted.

I think I’ve said enough for now. Keep an eye out for some other Thanksgiving side dishes in the coming days, and in the meanwhile, peruse our trove of holiday fare. Onward.


  • 12-14 pound of young turkey
  • 7 cloves of garlic
  • 4 carrots (2-inch lengths)
  • 3 stalks of celery (2-inch lengths)
  • 2 onions (wedges)
  • 1/3 cup of olive oil
  • 2 – 2 1/2 tablespoons of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper


  1. Start thawing your turkey in the refrigerator 4-5 days before roasting (depending on the size of your turkey). For every 5 pounds, allow 1 day for thawing. Marinate it in a mixture of garlic, salt, black pepper, olive oil, and butter for a day before roasting. Pulse the ingredients until you get a fine paste.
  2. Layer the bottom of your roasting pan with your vegetables. Put your turkey on this “rack” in the oven.
  3. Take the turkey out of the plastic bag. Take out the turkey’s neck and giblets, then wash it thoroughly in cold water. Lay it breast-side up in the pan after drying it off completely with paper towels.
  4. Coat the top of the turkey with half of the marinade, making sure to get it into all the nooks and crannies and into the cavity. To use the remaining marinade, turn the turkey over so the breast is down and brush it all over the meat. Tightly wrap the roasting pan in plastic and refrigerate overnight for the flavors to blend. You can also add the neck and giblets to the marinade and roast them together.
  5. It’s best not to put a cold turkey into a hot oven, so on the morning of the big day, take the turkey out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter. Preheat oven (425 degrees F) and place a rack in the lowest third of the oven about 3 hours before you plan to dine. Before you put the turkey in the oven, remove the plastic wrap from the roasting pan and elevate the bird so that any juices that may have collected in the cavity can drain. Roast at 425 degrees for 1 hour, turning the pan halfway through, making sure the wings are tucked in.
  6. The turkey should be taken out of the oven and the temperature reduced to 325 degrees. Turn the turkey over, breast side up, using clean kitchen towels or a strong wooden spoon.
  7. For a further hour (for a 12 pound turkey) to an hour and a half (for a 14 pound turkey), roast the bird at the reduced temperature, checking to see that the thigh registers 165 degrees and the juices flow clear (i.e. not pink). Turn the pan again at the midway point of the second roasting.
  8. Put the turkey on a carving board or dish. Rest it for 20 to 30 minutes before carving.
  9. Obviously, everyone has their own way of making gravy, but here’s ours: Remove the roasting pan’s juices to a gravy separator. Ten tablespoons of fat and six cups of liquids are what you’re after. Butter can be used to increase the fat content, and chicken stock can be used to increase the liquid content if you find yourself short on either. Put the butter and/or turkey fat in a large pot and heat it over medium heat. Whisk continually as you add enough flour to produce a roux. The roux is unfinished until it turns deep brown, which takes around 10 minutes.
  10. Gradually include the turkey stock or juices into the mixture. Prepare to taste with salt and pepper. Keep simmering until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. A little additional broth or water may be needed if the consistency is too thick. All done!
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