Right. You want to prove that you are an awesome cook. So you volunteered to have thanksgiving at your home. But you have never cooked a turkey. Don’t panic! Its pretty straightforward. Still time to solidify your reputation as a Thanksgiving chef extraordinaire!

This method uses high heat to seal the bird’s skin and all the juices while cooking. You can stuff the bird or not stuff the bird depending on your preference.  Please use a good metal pan – a foil aluminium pan is not recommended for this method.

Firstly prepare the bird.

2-3 days before
Usually its frozen so – take it out and submerge it under cold water for 2-3 days (bathtub works) check it  – for a big bird over 24 lbs it will take probably 3 days. Make a note of the weight of the bird (very important!)

For a fresh bird  don’t bother taking it for a swim.

The big day comes

Have your roasting pan ready and at hand for transferring bird to.

Have your stuffing ready at hand if you are stuffing bird.

Take the bird out of the bathtub carefully. You can’t cook a turkey if you are laid up in the hospital (or maybe thats the escape plan?)

Put the bird in the sink you have washed out and disinfected thoroughly. Turn the oven to 450º farenheit (232ºC)

Take out the neck (in the front part of the bird – its not usually wrapped). Take out the liver, heart and gizzard (giblets) from the back part of the bird (its usually packaged up for you) Put all the innards into a pot with a coarsely cut up carrot, onion with skin (washed) and chopped in half, a celery stalk cut up. Cover with water and set on stove. Don’t turn on element yet for it.

Wash out the bird’s innards thoroughly (yes its totally revolting but necessary). Drain.

Transfer bird to your roasting pan – do not add water – but a metal grill that lifts the bird off the bottom of the pan so it doesn’t stick is handy. Stuff your bird’s neck and back cavities if that’s the plan.

Once the oven is heated up, carefully transfer bird to oven. Roast your turkey on high heat uncovered for 20 – 30 min- depending how big the bird is.

After 20- 30 min at 450º farenheit turn down to 325-350º farenheit.  Once your bird starts to turn golden brown on the top cover the top with foil and continue to roast. Towards the end of the roasting, the juices will start to come out of the bird and you can baste the top of the bird with the juices from the pan if you like. Be careful of course because it’s all very hot. (If you want to add a glaze add it at the end – 5 – 10 min before end of cooking – water mixed with apricot jam or a little honey works well but use your imagination).

During the time the bird is cooking, cook your turkey gizzards and neck along with the celery and carrots for about 45 min. Strain the liquid into a container to cool. This is your stock. Throw out the cooked celery, onion etc. If you have a pet – they love the turkey gizzards!

Here’s where your turkey weight will determine how long it will cook:

A stuffed turkey requires about 15 minutes per pound while unstuffed turkeys require 12-15 minutes so if your turkey is larger than 24 lbs apply these rules.  Please note to ensure turkey is cooked and ready for safe consumption use a meat thermometer. Check the temperature at the thickest part of the breast and the innermost part of the thigh (not touching the bone). If you stuffed the turkey, you also need to check the temperature in the middle of the stuffing. All three locations should read at least 165 – 175 degrees Fahrenheit.  Also if the wings move freely  from the body when wiggled – that is a sign the bird is close to being ready.


8 to 12 pounds:  2 3/4 – 3 hours

12 to 14 pounds:  3 – 3 3/4 hours

14 to 18 pounds: 3 3/4 – 4 1/4 hours

18 to 20 pounds: 4 1/4 – 4 1/2 hours

20 to 24 pounds: 4 1/2 – 5 hours


8 to 12 pounds:  3  – 3 1/2 hours

12 to 14 pounds:  3 1/2 – 4 hours

14 to 18 pounds: 4  – 4 1/4 hours

18 to 20 pounds: 4 1/4 -4 3/4 hours

20 to 24 pounds: 4 3/4 -5 1/4 hours

When your bird is done take it out of the oven. Congratulations on cooking an awesome turkey!  Move the bird to another pan (large plate) and wrap it with foil it until it is ready to carve.

Now take your roasting pan with the turkey juices – take a spoon and try to skim off most of the fat (this will be clear and forms a layer on top of the turkey drippings), the cloudy bits (drippings) with the turkey juice are what you want to keep for the gravy. This take about ten minutes so be patient and get as much fat skimmed off as you can.

Add the stock to your remaining juices and stir. Take about 1/2 a cup of flour – add some of the juice/stock to the flour and mix to make a liquidy paste (you can use corn starch instead if you like). Add the liquid flour mixture to the stock . Place on the stovetop and turn on the burners to low – med heat. Heat and stir constantly until the gravy is thickened and a nice colour. While you are doing this assign someone who likes cutting things up ( in a good way) to carve up the bird. And hopefully someone to assemble all the greens and potatoes for you.

Voila! You have just made a great turkey. And you can take all the credit for being awesome!

The secret if any, is the high roasting and keeping an eye on the cooking! 

Have a great thanksgiving from all of us at organicbox.ca!