roast turkey on a platter.
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raw turkey prepped for oven.

Note:  When you soak the cheesecloth in the butter and wine or stock mixture, you are going to place over the breast of the turkey and down the sides.  You’ll keep that on during the first two hours of roasting and baste right over the cheesecloth.  At the two hour mark, you’ll remove the cheesecloth and continue cooking and basting until done.  The result, perfectly cooked and moist turkey breast.

soaked cheesecloth on top of turkey.
two hours of cooked turkey with cheesecloth ready to be removed.
roasting turkey with cheesecloth removed.
raw turkey prepped and seasoned.
roast turkey on a platter.
roast turkey on a platter.

Roast Turkey

Every holiday we roast the big bird. Here is our basic family "how to" for our roast turkey.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 6 hours
Course Dinner
Cuisine General
Servings 10 Served
Calories 6 kcal

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.


  • 1 12-15 Lb. Fresh or frozen Whole Turkey thawed if using frozen
  • 1 Cup of softened unsalted butter melted, plus 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 Bottle of Dry White Wine 750-ml or 3 1/2 Cups chicken or turkey stock or broth
  • 1 Bunch of Fresh Sage
  • 1 Bunch of Fresh Rosemary
  • 1 Bunch of Fresh Thyme
  • 1 Lemon cut in half
  • 1/2 Onion cut into two wedges
  • 2 Tsps. Kosher Salt
  • 2 Tsps. Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 Tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tsp. Onion Powder


  • Rinse your turkey with cool water and be sure to remove the giblets from the inside of the turkey. (Save for your turkey stock.). Pat the turkey dry with paper towels and be let stand at room temperature for at least 2 hours. (This ensures the turkey will roast evenly and that the skin will get crispy.)
  • Heat the oven to 450 degrees F. and place the oven rack on the lowest level. Combine the melted butter and white wine or stock in a bowl. Unfold a large piece of cheese cloth and shape into a rectangle to fit over the breast of the turkey.  Soak the cheesecloth in the butter mixture for a minute or two.
  • Place your turkey, breast side up on a roasting rack in a heavy roasting pan. Fold the wings under the turkey. Sprinkle salt and pepper inside the turkey. Stuff the fresh herbs, lemon halves, and onion into the cavity. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine (I tie a bow so that it is easy to get it off when it comes out of the oven) OR if your turkey has the convenient turkey flap of skin just tuck the legs into that.  (I find that often on Butterball turkeys.)   Fold the neck flap under the turkey and secure with toothpicks. Rub the turkey with the remaining 3 Tbsp. of softened butter and sprinkle all over with the remaining salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. (Season the bird generously.  There is a lot of turkey and you want it all seasoned well.)
  • Take the cheesecloth out of the butter mixture and gently squeeze out excess liquid but leave it very moist. Spread if over the turkey breast and about half way down the sides of the turkey. Put the roasting pan into the oven and roast for 30 minutes at that high temperature. Using the butter mixture in the bowl and a pastry brush, baste the areas covered with cheesecloth and all exposed areas of the turkey. Reduce over to 350 degrees F. and continue cooking for another 1-½ hours. Be sure to baste the bird every half hour with the wine and butter mixture (or stock and butter mixture).  Watch your pan’s juices. If it gets full, spoon out some of the liquid. DON’T throw that out. It is great in gravy or added to my Easy Turkey Gravy for Two or  Mushroom Turkey Gravy.
  • You can remove the cheesecloth at the two-hour mark and toss it. Rotate your pan in the oven to ensure even roasting. Baste the bird with the pan juices or wine butter mixture if there is any left. You will continue cooking for about ½ – 1 hour more but you need to start checking the internal temperature.
  • Insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. Don’t touch the bone. The temperature should be 180 degrees F. If the legs aren’t done yet, keep basting with warm pan juices and continue to roast for another ½ hour. Check thigh’s temperature again.
  • When it reaches that perfect temperature and is golden brown, remove from the oven and let rest covered at least 30 minutes. Move to a cutting board or serving platter, carve and enjoy.


Calories: 6kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 0.2gFat: 0.01gSaturated Fat: 0.004gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.004gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.003gSodium: 383mgPotassium: 19mgFiber: 0.2gSugar: 0.3gVitamin A: 0.1IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 4mgIron: 0.1mg
Keyword dinner, healthier choice, thanksgiving
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