Turkey is the perfect main dish to make for Christmas dinner. However, if you’re looking to spice up your usual recipe — after all, Thanksgiving was less than five weeks ago! — we have some tips on how to make the perfect holiday bird. Follow this easy, six-step recipe:

To make the following recipe for a roasted, un-stuffed turkey, courtesy of Butterball, you will need:

  • A fresh/thawed frozen turkey 
  • Vegetable oil/cooking oil


1. The first thing you need to do is prepare your turkey. Start by pre-heating your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. While you’re waiting for the oven to heat up to the proper temperature, remove any packaging from your turkey. Make sure to take out the giblet bag if there is one! If there are any juices on the outside of the bird, pat it down with paper towels. 

2. Once your bird is prepared, place it in a 2 to 2.5 inch deep roasting pan. You’re going to want to put it in breast side up. If the wings are untucked, tuck them in. Place an oven-safe thermometer into the turkey’s thigh.

3. Before you let your turkey begin cooking, you’re going to want to spray or brush it with a light coat of either vegetable or cooking oil. This will make your holiday bird crispy and give it that roasted appearance you're looking for. When you’re done with this step, it’s time to put your bird into the oven.

4. Pay attention to the time (more on cook times below). When your turkey is 75 percent done cooking, remove it from the oven, but don’t start carving just yet! You’re going to want to cover the most sensitive parts of the turkey — the drumsticks and the breast — with tin foil. This process will keep the turkey from getting too dry. Once finished, put the turkey back into the oven.

5. When the time is up, check the turkey’s temperature. The bird’s thicket region should be at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit to be safe for eating, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service’s (USDA) guidelines

6. Put the bird onto a platter and wait 15 minutes before carving. Then slice, and enjoy your Christmas dinner.

Turkey Cook Times:

The following cook times for unstuffed turkeys are provided by the USDA:

4 to 6 lb. breast — 1 1/2 to 2 1/4 hours

6 to 8 lb. breast — 2 1/4 to 3 1/4 hours

8 to 12 lbs. — 2 3/4 to 3 hours

12 to 14 lbs. — 3 to 3 3/4 hours

14 to 18 lbs. — 3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hours

18 to 20 lbs. — 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours

20 to 24 lbs. — 4 1/2 to 5 hours

Optional Step:

If you want to make your turkey special for Christmas, consider making maple-flavored gravy. Epicurious.com has the the perfect guide.

You will need:

  • Roughly 3 cups of chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh thyme (chopped)
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons of apple brandy (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons of reserved maple butter (Read Martha Stewart’s recipe for maple butter here.)


1. Remove the fat from the turkey roasting pan. Pour the remaining juices into a measuring cup. Add chicken stock to make three cups of liquid. 

2. Put the liquid into a saucepan and allow it to come to a boil. 

3. Put the reserved maple butter and flour into a mixing boil. Once it becomes a paste, whisk it into the liquid mixture and add in thyme and bay leaf. 

4. Allow the mixture to come to a boil and whisk it occasionally. Add in apple brandy, salt and pepper if desired. The gravy should cook for 10 minutes.

Merry Christmas!