Roasting a turkey need not be a stressful affair, all it takes are a few simple steps and some basic aromatic ingredients for a delicious and flavourful Easy Roast Turkey with Gravy.
With all the preparations already involved with the holidays, cooking a holiday dinner 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 and straightforward it is to have a flavourful, tender and juicy roast turkey.
Defrosting a turkey
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 days 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 the turkey for roasting
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. However, if you don’t have a meat thermometer a good indicator of doneness is that the juices run clear when you pierce the turkey. To get your turkey ready for roasting you’ll first need to remove the neck and giblets from the cavity. I like to keep them to roast alongside 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. Not only will this ensure a flavourful turkey but the drippings and pan juices from the turkey will provide you with a tasty base for a delicious gravy. No need for expensive ingredients here, all that is required are some basic aromatics you probably already have at home (take a look at the recipe below for a list of ingredients).
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 and will season the turkey while it roasts. Next the turkey gets a light sprinkling of freshly ground pepper and ground cinnamon (yes, cinnamon). My family has been using this rub for as long as I can remember and I can assure you it tastes absolutely amazing. I promise you the cinnamon will not make your turkey taste like dessert! In fact, cinnamon is often used as flavouring for savoury Middle-Eastern dishes.
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. I won’t repeat the instructions for making the gravy here as all of the directions are indicated in the recipe below. Just know that all of those aromatics that were used to roast the turkey will work wonders for the gravy.
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.
And finally, if you have any leftover turkey, try making this amazing creamy soup. Just use turkey instead of the chicken.
- 9 to 10 lbs turkey fresh or defrosted
- 1 tbsp butter softened
- 3 carrots coarsely chopped
- 2 celery stalks coarsely chopped
- 1 large onion quatered
- fresh herbs, rosemary, thyme, parsley sprigs
- 3 garlic cloves, medium
- 2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. ground pepper
- 1/2 -3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon optional
- reserved pan drippings, veggies and herbs
- 4 cups turkey or chicken stock more broth to thin out gravy if necessary
- 4 tbsp. flour
- 2 tbsp. butter the drippings are already fatty so no need to use too much butter here.
- Preheat oven to 325° F. Place rack in 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.
- 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 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.