Thanksgiving Turkey- My Tips & Recipe

Thanksgiving is just a few days away. It was never really celebrated exactly in my home but either way I truly love trying new foods and I knew that this year would be the one to cook my first ever turkey. I also thought it would be extremely difficult but I was really happy with how well it turned out. 

This 12 lb. turkey could have easily fed 3 more people. We shared it with my father in law last night (my mother in law is out of town) and even after sending him home with some leftovers there is still so much left for turkey sandwiches and turkey salad to be eaten today.

 I wanted to try cooking a turkey a few days before thanksgiving so that if it did turn out well I could share my tips and recipe with you. And as it was absolutely wonderful, here it goes:

The stuffing is totally your choice. I just liked the idea of apples, beef sausage,  bread and herbs etc. it felt so autumnal and it gave the turkey lovely flavor. Also I used dried herbs in my stuffing but I always recommend using fresh herbs when you can.

Almost every recipe for turkey will usually mention brining the turkey as the very first step but if you are using a kosher turkey like I did, you do not need to do so as it has already been soaked in salt before being packaged at the store.

 Aaron's Beef Sausage

You will want to cook your turkey in a large roasting pan- if you are using a disposable one like I did then place it on a rimmed baking sheet to avoid the bottom ripping while it's cooking from the heavy turkey and the oven rack poking into it. The juices leaking out over the bottom of your oven is not a fun mess to clean up after.

I purchased mine already defrosted as I planned to cook it within a couple of hours. If you do buy it frozen you will want to let it defrost in it's wrapping on a rimmed baking sheet in the fridge. Expect it to take about 24 hours for every 5 lbs. If you would like it to defrost quicker then you have the option to thaw the wrapped turkey in cold water, changing it every thirty minutes and that will speed up the time table to about 2 to 3 hours for every 5 lbs. 

Also, I used a 12 lb. turkey but if you are using one that is larger then that, you will want to add on 15 minutes to the cooking time for every lb more.

A meat thermometer can be a handy tool in easily telling you when your turkey is cooked perfectly. I did not use one this time but I'm sure it can make things less complicated.  

If you are planning on stuffing your turkey then you will want to prepare the stuffing outside of the turkey while it begins to roast in the oven. Stuff the turkey when there is about an hour of cooking time left. If you do this too early the stuffing can overcook or worse, burn. 

Many recipes mention cooking up a separate recipe for gravy. I felt like the juices released from the turkey during cooking made a good enough gravy so I opted to use that.

If you are new to carving, need to refresh your memory or would like to learn a couple of tricks I would recommend visiting YouTube or as both have easy to follow videos showing you the exact methods. Although I myself had never carved a turkey we had an easy time with the guidance of one of those videos.
My one carving advice would be to let the turkey sit for about 20-25 minutes before trying to cut into it and use a very sharp knife to do so.

I served this turkey with it's stuffing (that I scooped out) to the side right after carving, some creamy mashed potatoes and a delicious homemade molasses pie for desert. I personally liked the turkey breast best.  And finally for my recipe:

Roasted Turkey with Apple & Beef Sausage Stuffing:


1 Whole Young 12 Lb. Turkey
1 Stick Margarine, Melted
1 Tsp. Salt and Pepper

6 Apples, Peeled And Chopped Up Small
12 Pieces of Rye Bread, Cut Up into Small Pieces
1 Package of Aaron's Beef Sausages, Cut Up into slices
1 Large Leek pale green and white parts only, Sliced Up into rings
1 Large Parsnip, Peeled and Cubed
1 Cup Chicken Broth
1 Stick of Margarine
1 Teaspoon Dried Thyme Spice
1 Teaspoon Dried Rosemary Spice
1 Tsp Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Pepper


1. Remove wrapper from around defrosted turkey and rinse under cold water in the sink. Pat it dry with a towel or paper towel. Remove the neck which should be sitting unattached at the beginning of the turkeys cavity. It can be cooked along with the turkey (which is what I did) or set aside to be used in a soup at a later time.

2. Place the turkey in a large roasting pan breast side up.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 and melt the margarine in a small oven proof or disposable sauce pan in the oven keeping an eye on it so that it doesn't burn.

4.  Place your hands under the skin and lift it up off of the turkey a little, stretching it up and out without removing it. Then tie the legs together tightly with some form of twine.

5. Add Salt and Pepper to the melted margarine and with a pastry brush take a little bit of the mixture and spread it over the entire turkey including it's underside and under the skin that you lifted up previously. Then put the roasting pan in the oven to begin roasting the turkey. 

6. Roast the turkey in the oven for 3 hours on 350 degrees to start. Remove the roasting pan from the oven every 30 minutes or so and baste the top and sides of the turkey with more of the melted margarine using the brush and being very careful as it'll be very hot. After 2 hours there most likely wont be much melted margarine left for basting but there should be lots of juices in the bottom of the pan to use instead.

7. While the turkey is cooking you can start on the stuffing. Combine prepared chopped apples, pieces of bread, beef sausage, leek and parsnip and place them in a 9x13 pan. Then heat the chicken stock and margarine in a small sauce pan until it comes up to a boil and add the spices to it.  Pour the chicken stock over the apple mixture and stir with a spoon to distribute it evenly. Then place it in the oven on 350 for 40 minutes.    

9. Once 3 hours has passed remove the turkey from the oven to stuff it if you choose to do so. With clean hands or a large spoon like utensil, fill the turkeys cavity with the prepared stuffing till almost full, then cover it in a tent of foil and put it back in the oven and turn up the temperature to 450 for one hour- the last hour.

10. Remove from the oven and remove the foil. Let it cool for 20 minutes before carving. Remove stuffing to a serving bowl and serve along side the turkey. Take whatever juices are in the pan and place them in a bowl as a gravy if you choose. 

There you have it. That is my thanksgiving turkey recipe. Do you have one of your own you would like to share? Feel free to do so in the comments form below.  I absolutely love to hear from my readers. If you do make this recipe feel free to send me a picture on twitter, instagram, by email, facebook etc. I would love to see how yours turns out!

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Thanks so much for stopping by!

Wishing you a very Happy Thanksgiving in ahead of time! 


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