Even for veteran chefs cooking a turkey can seem like a daunting task. Thankfully for those in charge of making their family’s Thanksgiving dinner this 2015 holiday, you have no need to worry! We have an easy 9-step recipe to follow that’s so simple, even beginners in the kitchen will be able to make the perfect holiday bird.

To make this recipe you will need:

- A turkey, of course. (The following recipe, courtesy of Butterball, calls for a fresh or frozen whole turkey.)

- Cooking oil/spray

- Cooking pan 

- Water or broth

- Tin foil

- A baster

- Oven-safe thermometer


1. Make sure your turkey is thawed before you begin cooking. Your bird can thaw in cold water or in the refrigerator. For a guide on how long to allow your turkey to thaw, refer to FoodSafety.gov’s guide

2. Before you begin preparing your bird, pre-heat your regular and convection oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. While you’re waiting for the oven to pre-heat, now is the time to prepare your bird. First, remove any packaging, giblets and gravy packets from the bird. For fresh birds, you will need to pat down its juices. Do not rinse the bird, use paper towels for this process. 

4. Next, place the turkey in a 2-inch (2.5-inch is fine) pan breast up. Spray or brush (based on preferences) the bird with vegetable oil for the best results. 

5. Don’t forget to inset your oven-safe thermometer into the bird before placing it in the oven. This will help you keep track of when your turkey is done cooking to avoid it getting too dry. The best place to put the thermometer is into the bird’s thickest region: one of the thighs.

6. Once your oven lets you know its reached the perfect temperature, it’s time to put your bird in. Different sized turkeys need to cook for different amounts of time. To find out how long you need to cook your holiday bird, refer to our cook time guide listed below. 

7. If you’re in charge of cooking the Thanksgiving Day bird, it’s likely you have other dishes to worry about this holiday, but you can’t forget about your turkey while its cooking. In order to keep the bird moist and delicious, it’s best to baste your turkey while its in the oven. Using a baster and two cups of water or broth to complete this process. 

8. When your turkey is 75 percent cooked, remove it from the oven, but don’t carve it just yet! Unless you’re a fan of dry turkey, you will want to cover the bird’s breast and legs with tin foil. Once complete, put the turkey back into the oven to finish cooking. 

9. When your bird is finished cooking -- it should be at least 165 degrees -- remove it from the oven and allow it to sit for several minutes before carving. Being patient allows the bird’s juices to soak into the meat. If you carve too soon, you may be disappointed with the results. After carving, enjoy!

Oven Cook Times:

The following time table is provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service and is meant for unstuffed turkeys:

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

Happy Thanksgiving!