Over the years, I’ve made many a turkey. I’ve done it the old-fashioned low and steady way, the oven bag and the foil method. And to be honest, cooking a turkey isn’t really that hard… the key is to catch the turkey when its ready to come out.
I think the foil way is my favorite. Its easy, clean up is easy, the turkey is totally juicy and there’s LOTS of stock for gravy and leftovers. When you use the foil or bag, it creates a crock pot kind of environment – lots of moisture!
I use a mix of a couple of recipes (I’ve included them in the references section), but its basically like my “Cooking a chicken in a crock pot” recipe.
- Roasting pan (turkey will give off an inch or more of juice)
- Heavy duty aluminum foil
- Turkey (thawed/defrosted)
- 1 medium to large onion, sliced
- 2-3 stalks of celery, sliced in half lengthwise
- 2-3 stalks of carrots, sliced in half lengthwise
- 2-3 sprigs of thyme
- 1-2 sprigs of rosemary
- 2-3 leaves of sage
- 1 tablespoon of salt per 8 pounds of turkey
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
- 3+ tablespoons of paprika
If you’re using a foil roasting pan that you will be tossing:
You don’t need to line it. You’ll just need two pieces of foil to cover the pan.
If you’re using a metal roasting pan:
You’ll want to line it. I can give the instructions on how to do it, but Reynolds has a really good video about it.
Preheat the oven to 450°. Take out the giblets from the turkey (they usually come in a pouch, but sometimes they are loose. If they’re loose, look for the heart, lungs, liver & neck). If you want to make your own gravy, save the giblets minus the liver (you can eat the liver separately, but I don’t recommend cooking it to make gravy… it changes the flavor). Rinse the turkey out. Make sure to rinse from both sides. Then pat the turkey dry with some paper towels.
After you have lined the pan, put celery, carrots and half of the onions in the bottom of the pan. Place the turkey in the pan. Put all of the spices except the paprika inside the turkey cavity. Then rub the paprika on the outside of the turkey skin. To be honest, I never measure the paprika… I just sprinkle paprika all over to make sure it is covered.
If your turkey does not have a pop up timer, you’ll need to insert a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh. Make sure that the pop up timer or the thermometer are facing the front of the oven when you put the turkey in.
Fold the foil over the turkey making sure to leave a few inches of space. You want the moisture to be able to circulate around the turkey.
Use the cooking time chart from the Reynolds website to determine how long you’ll need to cook the turkey for. Set your timer for 45 minutes – 1 hr before its supposed to be done.
When the timer goes off, either remove the foil (if you’re using an aluminum throw away roasting pan) or open the foil and fold it back. Pull the rack out completely or take the turkey completely out of the oven so that you don’t accidentally burn yourself on the side or top of the oven before removing the foil.
Then either using a ladle, brush or large spoon take juice from the pan and distribute evenly all over the skin. The basting is what helps make the skin crispy – it does not make the meat juicy. If you’ll be making your own gravy, take a cup or more of the stock from the bottom of the pan and start making your gravy.
Reduce the heat to 350° and then set your timer for 30 minutes. If you have a light and a see-through door, you don’t need to open the oven (which will help the turkey cook faster). Check to see if the timer has popped or the thermometer reads 180. Set your timer to go off every 10 minutes until the turkey is ready.
When the turkey is ready, take it out of the oven and let it sit for about 30 minutes before you begin carving.