Thanksgiving Perfect Turkey Recipe

So, it’s turkey time again!  If you don’t have an awesome recipe for Thanksgiving turkey give this one a try!

It’s great because you can put your turkey in the night before. YES, the NIGHT BEFORE you want to eat it and you wake up in the morning with the delicious aromas filling the house. Another awesome thing about this recipe is that even if you cook a large turkey, it comes out moist and tender.

I first found the recipe in a book by Emilie Barnes called “The Complete Holiday Organizer”. I was going to add a link to buy the book, but it appears to be out of print. Sorry. For those of you who haven’t heard of her, she is/was a Christian version of Martha Stewart before anyone ever heard of The Martha. I’m going to include the text from the book to give you some background. I hope you try it and enjoy it. It’s SO easy!

“Perfect Turkey Every Time”

” Trust me on this one. The white meat melts in your mouth. This is a SLOW roasting method, but once in the oven, you can forget it until it comes out.

Choose desired size turkey, wash it well, and remove the neck and giblets from inside the cavity. Dry turkey with paper towels, lightly salt the cavity and stuff with dressing of your choice, if desired. Rub the outside well with pure olive oil.

Put the turkey BREAST side down (this bastes itself, making the white meat very moist) on a rack in a roasting pan.

Put into a 300 degree F preheated oven for one hour to destroy bacteria on the surface. Then adjust the heat to 180-185 degrees for any size turkey.

This is important. The turkey can go in the oven the night before eating it!

Example: I have a 22 pound turkey. At 5:00 p.m. Thanksgiving Eve I put the turkey in the oven prepared at 300 degrees for one hour. I turn the temperature down to 185 degrees and leave the turkey uncovered until it’s done the NEXT day about 10 or 11 a.m.

Although the cooking times seem startling at first , the meat is amazingly delicious, juicy and tender. It slices beautifully and shrinks so little that a turkey cooked at regular temperatures no longer tastes good. It cannot burn so it needs no watching. It literally cooks itself. ” I do feel the need to baste every once in a while, but that’s probably more habit than anything, besides I like to open the oven and smell the turkey.

A good rule for timing is about 3 times longer than a standard recipe. For example: a 20 pound turkey that normally takes 15 minutes per pound to cook would take 5 hours. This slow cook method would be 3 times 5, so it equals 15 HOURS to cook the slow way. A smaller turkey cooks 20 minutes per pound, so an 11 pound turkey takes 3 hours, 40 mins standard, times 3 which equals 11 hours for the slow roast way.

Now here’s the cool part. Once it’s done, it will NOT overcook or dry out. You can leave it in the oven an additional 3 – 6 hours and it will still be perfect! Thus your roasting can be adjusted totally to your convenience. So allow yourself plenty of time. It’s better to put it in a little early than too late though, since you want to be sure that it’s done. That’s it. That’s all you need to do. Can it be more simple?

I’ve been using this recipe for probably 20 years and have never been disappointed when I followed the directions.

One item I need to point out. If your family actually puts the whole turkey on the table as a nice presentation, then you need to know that cooking it breast side down will not be quite as pretty as the picture above. If you’re like our family and you just take it out of the oven and slice it up on platters, no one will even know that you cooked it upside-down.

New idea: Now with all that said, I saw a show on the Food Network last night that had a recipe for a way to prepare the turkey before putting it in the oven. I may try this recipe from Sandra Lee’s Semi-Homemade Thanksgiving show, but I will still use the slow roasting method above for cooking, because it is so delicious.

Have fun and let me know how your dinners turn out.

5 thoughts on “Thanksgiving Perfect Turkey Recipe

  1. I love the recipe for the turkey and think I will try it this Thanksgiving when the Thompson’s come. (I’m Linda’s sister.) Have a question – do you cover the turkey at all?


  2. Hi Nancy,Thanks for sharing the recipe. Amy told me about it last Thanksgiving. It sounds great.About Emilie Barnes, my mother-in-law and I went to several of her seminars, many years ago. We had a great time. She spoke at my church last year. She has had health problems, but she is still the same, very excited about sharing her ideas and love for Christ.


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