While Thanksgiving might be a very different celebration this year, those who are still celebrating the holiday in some way likely still find the turkey to be the most essential part of their dinner—even a scaled-down one.

Luckily, those still cooking their holiday bird this Nov. 26, especially if they’re celebrating the holiday on their own due to COVID-19, won’t have to worry about the meal being too difficult because cooking a turkey is actually easier than it looks. Check out this easy roast turkey recipe that is perfect for everyone—from beginners and first-timers to seasoned pros—this Thanksgiving 2020. (via Tastes Better from Scratch.)

You will need the following items:


  • 1 turkey, weighing between 12-20 lbs.
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 1 apple, quartered
  • ¾ ounce each of fresh rosemary, thyme and sage

For the herb butter:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • ½ tsp. Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
  • Fresh chopped herbs

Turkey Prep/How To Thaw:

Before even thinking about getting the turkey in the oven, the bird had to be properly prepped, and, if starting with a frozen bird, it needs to be thawed before being cooked. Times vary for thawing depending on the weight of the bird, though you can learn how to do so safely here. For this recipe, proper thaw time is between 3-5 days in the refrigerator or 6-10 hours in cold water.

Once the turkey is thawed, remove from the fridge one hour prior to roasting so it can come to room temperature. Adjust your oven rack to keep the turkey properly seated in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Remove the neck and giblets from inside the turkey and pat it dry with paper towels.

Step-by-Step Recipe:

1. Start by preparing the Herb Butter by combining the butter, minced garlic, salt, pepper, one tablespoon of fresh chopped rosemary, one tablespoon of fresh chopped thyme and half a tablespoon of fresh chopped sage.

2. For the bird, season the cavity of the turkey with salt and pepper, then stuff it with the quartered lemon, onion, apple and leftover herbs.

3. Using your fingers, loosen and lift the skin above the breast of the turkey and smooth a few tablespoons of the herb butter underneath. Then tuck the wings of the turkey underneath the bird and set on a roasting rack inside a roasting pan.

4. Microwave the remaining herb butter mixture for 30 seconds, and then use a basting brush to brush all over the outside of the turkey, legs and wings.

5. Roast at 325 degrees F for either 13-15 minutes per pound or until internal temperature on a meat thermometer inserted in either the middle of the thigh and breast reads 165 degrees.

6. Check the turkey halfway through cooking, and once the skin is golden brown, cover the top with tin foil to protect the breast meat from overcooking, or start by cooking it tented with foil and remove the covering during the final hour of cooking.

7. Remove from oven after cooking and allow the turkey to rest for 20-30 minutes before carving. Reserve any drippings and juice remaining in the pan to make gravy.

Oven Cook Times:

Cook time can vary on turkeys, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service advises the following times for stuffed birds.

  • 6-8 lb. Breast or 8-12 lb. bird: 3-3 ½ hours
  • 12-14 lb. Bird: 3 ½ -4 hours
  • 14-18 lb. Bird: 4- 4 ¼ hours
  • 18-20 lb. Bird: 4 ¼-4 ¾ hours
  • 20-24 lb. Bird: 4 ¾-5 ¼ hours

Thanksgiving Turkey Follow this recipe for an easy Thanksgiving turkey.  Photo: PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay