Roasting a turkey need not be a stressful affair, all it takes are a few simple steps and some basic aromatic ingredients to cook a delicious and flavourful Easy Roast Turkey with Gravy.
With all the preparations necessary for the holidays, cooking a holiday feast can be a stressful and needless to say time-consuming affair. However, a roast turkey, the classic holiday table centrepiece, doesn't have to be complicated.
Truth is, while a turkey takes some time to roast, it actually takes very little effort and hands-on time. With this recipe for an Easy Roast Turkey with Gravy, I will show you how simple it is to cook a flavourful, tender and juicy roast turkey and gravy.
Defrosting a Turkey
The first thing to remember is that if you're using a frozen turkey you'll need to defrost it in the fridge for a few days, even longer if it's an especially large turkey.
If you forget to take the turkey out before the big event, you can defrost a turkey in a sink full of cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes until the turkey is defrosted. It takes about one hour per pound, so you still need to allow several hours for this process.
Preparing a Turkey for Roasting
To get your turkey ready for roasting you'll first need to remove the neck and giblets from the cavity. Make sure to add them to the roasting pan along with the turkey, they're great for flavouring the drippings and pan juices for the gravy.
The trick to having a flavourful turkey is to ensure you use aromatic ingredients to rub the bird with, stuff in its cavity and to roast alongside the turkey. No need for expensive ingredients here, all you need are some basic aromatics.
Here are the ingredients needed for cooking a nine to ten-pound turkey. Please see the recipe card at the end of the post for ingredient amounts.
- Carrots coarsely chopped
- Celery stalks coarsely chopped
- Onion (yellow or white)
- Garlic cloves
- Fresh rosemary, thyme and parsley
- Salt and pepper
- Ground cinnamon, optional
Not only will these ingredients ensure a flavourful roast turkey but the drippings and pan juices from the turkey will provide you with a tasty base for a delicious gravy.
Most of the turkey's flavour, golden colour, and crisp skin will actually come from the butter rub, a mixture of butter, crushed garlic and salt. This rub goes all over the turkey (under and over the skin) and will season the turkey while it roasts.
Next, the turkey gets a light sprinkling of freshly ground pepper and ground cinnamon. My family has been using this rub for as long as I can remember and it tastes absolutely amazing. The cinnamon will not make your turkey taste like dessert! In fact, cinnamon is a spice often used to flavour savoury Middle-Eastern dishes.
If you don't own a meat thermometer it's a good idea to purchase one. They're not expensive and will take the guessing work out of knowing when your turkey is fully cooked.
To know if a turkey is done without a meat thermometer, pierce the turkey with a knife in several places, if the turkey is done the juices will run clear.
If you are making side dishes you'll want to be working on them while your turkey is roasting. Because once your turkey is cooked, you will want to turn your attention to the gravy that you'll be making from the turkey drippings.
How to Make Gravy from Pan Drippings
The aromatics that were used to roast the turkey will work wonders for this gravy. To make it you will need the following ingredients:
- Reserved pan drippings, veggies and herbs.
- Turkey or chicken stock
- Remove the cooked turkey from the roasting pan. Place the pan with the remaining drippings, veggies and herbs over medium heat. Add the broth and scrape the bottom of the pan. Simmer for a few minutes and then strain the broth into a large measuring cup or heatproof bowl.
- In a large saucepan, over medium-high heat, melt the butter and add the flour. Cook the butter and flour mixture (roux) until it starts to colour. Add the reserved broth, whisking to remove any lumps.
- Let the gravy simmer over medium heat, taste the gravy and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
If you need a tutorial on carving a turkey, The Kitchn has a thorough turkey carving tutorial on their site. Plan to serve your turkey dinner shortly after carving it, otherwise make sure to cover it to keep it warm.
If you need inspiration, take a look at my Holiday Favourites section to see other delicious dishes you can make to enjoy alongside this roast turkey. There you will be able to find everything you need from appetizers to desserts to complete your holiday feast.
Leftover roast turkey needs to be refrigerated as soon as possible after dinner. Plan to freeze turkey if you have too many leftovers to consume within 3 days.
To freeze turkey, remove the meat from the bones and place the turkey meat in an airtight container that isn't too large for the amount of meat. You can freeze turkey meat for up to three months.
If you used this flour-based gravy recipe, you can also freeze any leftover for up to three months. Poor leftover gravy in a freezable container (freezer bags can also be used) and place it in the freezer.
What to do with Leftovers
And finally, if you have any leftover turkey, try making this amazing Creamy Chicken Noodle and Vegetable Soup. Just use turkey instead of chicken.
You can also add turkey to this Tomato Orzo Soup or this Easy Black Bean Soup. Since the turkey is already cooked you simply need to add it to the soup pot at the end of cooking. It just needs a few minutes to heat up.
Side Dishes for Turkey Dinner
- Sweet Potato Biscuits
- Pomegranate, Pear and Pecan Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
- Spinach and Clementine Salad
- Roasted Sweet Potato Salad with Citrus Tahini Dressing
- Easy Spanakopita
Easy Roast Turkey with Gravy
- 9 to 10 lbs turkey fresh or defrosted
- 1 tablespoon butter softened
- 3 carrots coarsely chopped
- 2 celery stalks coarsely chopped
- 1 large onion quartered
- fresh herbs, rosemary, thyme, parsley sprigs
- 3 garlic cloves, medium
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon ground pepper
- ½ -¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon optional
For the Gravy
- reserved pan drippings, veggies and herbs
- 4 cups turkey or chicken stock more broth to thin out gravy if necessary
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 2 tablespoons butter the drippings are already fatty so no need to use too much butter here.
- Preheat oven to 325° F. Place rack in the lower position.
- Pat turkey dry with paper towels.
- Crush garlic cloves with salt to make a paste. Mix the softened butter with the garlic paste. Rub butter and garlic mixture all over the outside of the turkey as well as inside the skin (especially at the breast) and inside the cavity. Sprinkle freshly ground pepper and about half a teaspoon of cinnamon all over turkey.
- Set a rack inside a large roasting pan. Place turkey breast side up on the rack. Tuck tips of wings under turkey. Place a few pieces of carrots, celery and onion inside the turkey's cavity along with some fresh herbs. And then spread the remainder of the vegetables and herbs around the turkey in the pan. You can add the neck, heart and gizzards to the pan and tie the legs together with kitchen twine. Pour 1 cup of water into pan.
- Roast turkey, basting about every 30 minutes with the pan juices. Add more water to pan if it's drying out. Rotate the pan a couple of times for even browning. Around 2 hours into roasting, cover the breast loosely with foil.
- Using a meat thermometer, start checking for doneness at the 2 hour mark (for a 9 to 10 lb turkey). A turkey is fully cooked when a thermometer placed in the thigh reads 170° F and in the breast 165° F. Once the turkey is fully cooked, transfer the turkey to a cutting board or platter, cover it loosely with foil and let it rest while you prepare the gravy.
How to Make Gravy
- Place the roasting pan with the remaining drippings and aromatic veggies and herbs over medium heat, add broth and scrape the bottom of the pan. Simmer for a few minutes. Strain the broth into a large measuring cup or heatproof bowl.
- In a large saucepan, over medium-high heat, melt butter and add flour. Cook until flour and butter mixture (roux) starts to colour. Add reserved broth, whisking to remove any lumps. Let gravy simmer over medium heat, taste and adjust salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve turkey with gravy.
- Turkey cooking time varies by weight. Therefore, it is always safer to check the temperature of the turkey with a meat thermometer. A turkey is cooked when a meat thermometer placed in the thigh reads 170°F and in the breast 165°F.
- Cinnamon may seem like an odd spice to use on a turkey, but in actuality, cinnamon has a savoury element to it and is commonly used in savoury Middle-Eastern recipes.
This post has been updated. It was originally published in December 2017.