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Article: Holiday Roast Turkey

Holiday Roast Turkey

Holiday Roast Turkey

The key to the perfect holiday turkey starts with math.  We’ll try not to make your head hurt but you may need a cup of coffee to get through this.

What Size?

In order to determine how big of a turkey you need to buy, you need a head count.  I understand that for some families getting a firm commitment from relatives may be like pulling teeth. Once you have your “guestimate,” the general rule of thumb is to figure 1 - 2 lbs of turkey per person.  It really all depends on how much leftovers you want to wind up with for both yourself and your guests.

Fresh or Frozen?

How much room do you have in your freezer and how many days do you have left until the holiday?  If you buy a frozen turkey, the number of days you will need to properly thaw it in the fridge will be based on the weight of the bird. I like to allow for an extra 12 - 24 hours of refrigerator thawing just to be sure the turkey is thawed. (Yes, I’m paranoid). If your fridge is more packed as it typically is during the holidays, it will stay colder.

To Stuff or Not to Stuff?

This is a matter of personal preference.  The important thing to understand is that this decision impacts your cooking time.  Personally, I like to do my stuffing separately. Some will argue stuffing outside the turkey is no longer stuffing, it's dressing. 

Check out the handy-dandy thawing and cooking charts in the recipe below.

Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: Depends on Size of Turkey (See Chart)
Yield: Depends on Size of Turkey
Difficulty: Medium


  • Turkey (Size depends on your needs)
  • Prepared stuffing (if using)
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1 Stick Butter
  • 1 Bunch of Sage
  • 1 Bunch of Thyme
  • 1 Bunch of Rosemary
  • 1-2 Tbsp Canola Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper


Refrigerator Thawing Guide 

  • Leave the turkey in its unopened wrapper and place it breast side up on a tray to thaw it in the fridge.


Refrigerator Thawing

10 to 18 lbs.

3 to 4 days

18 to 22 lbs.

4 to 5 days

22 to 24 lbs.

5 to 6 days

24 to 30 lbs.

6 to 7 days


Preparing the Turkey:

  • Remove the wrapper and any packaging containing the neck and giblets. I boil the giblets in a few inches of salted water in a Swiss Diamond saucepan for about 15 minutes, allow them to cool and then the dog scores his holiday feast.
  • I rinse the juices off the turkey and pat it dry with paper towels.
  • If you’re stuffing the turkey, stuff the neck cavity and body cavity.  I don’t stuff, but I do place a stick of butter, a lemon cut in half and a handful of fresh herbs (sage, thyme, and rosemary) inside the cavity.
  • Place your prepared turkey in a Swiss Diamond Roasting pan.  Lightly spray or brush a thin layer of cooking oil over the outside of the turkey, coating the skin and season with salt and pepper.
  • Place the turkey in a preheated 325°F oven and roast according to times outlined below:

Roasting Guide


Approximate Roasting Time @ 325°F



10 to 18 lbs.

3 to 3-1/2 hrs.

3¾ to 4-1/2 hrs.

18 to 22 lbs.

3-1/2 to 4 hrs.

4-1/2 to 5 hrs.

22 to 24 lbs.

4 to 4-1/2 hrs.

5 to 5-1/2 hrs.

24 to 30 lbs.

4-1/2 to 5 hrs.

5-1/2 to 6¼ hrs.

  • To check for doneness, insert a meat thermometer into the thigh.  The turkey is done when the meat thermometer reaches 180°F.  If you stuffed your turkey, the stuffing should reach a temperature of 160°F. 
  • Let the turkey stand 15 minutes before carving.

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