Once the turkey is fully thawed, it’s time to prepare it for roasting. These simple steps make a big difference in the finished bird, and couldn’t be easier. The tuck and truss give the turkey a compact shape and keeps the wing tips and drumsticks from drying out. An elevated roasting rack lets juices drip away from, rather than submerge the bird. A final baste ensures a gorgeous bronze and moist, tender meat.
Step 1: Lift and Tuck Turkey Wings
Lift the wing tips up and over the back so they are tucked tightly beneath the turkey (imagine placing both hands behind your head, elbows bent; the tucked wings will look the same). This will help to prop up the bird and keep the wing tips from burning. Tucking turkey wings also makes handling the bird much easier, and it gives your turkey that classic Thanksgiving centerpiece look.
Step 2: Place the Turkey on a Roasting Rack; Tie Turkey Legs
Elevate the turkey on a roasting rack so heat can circulate beneath and around the bird. This will ensure the bird has adequate airflow, which will help with even cooking. Cut a piece of kitchen twine to about eight inches. Cross the turkey legs, and tie the turkey legs together for a compact shape that will cook more evenly and make handling the turkey more manageable. The neck will flavor any liquid at the bottom of the pan for a fantastic gravy base, so don't toss the pan into the sink once you remove the turkey. You need those delicious liquids.
Step 3: Baste Turkey
While the turkey is cooking, prepare a flavorful liquid for basting the turkey. You can use the natural juices in the bottom of the pan, stock, gravy, oil, butter, or any flavorful basting liquid you want. Baste the turkey in the last 20 minutes of cooking. This final dousing serves as a barrier between the bird and the heat. Since the meat is mostly cooked at this point, this last baste will keep it from drying out.
Now that you've mastered the steps for cooking the turkey, pick out a recipe for the big meal. Our Roast Turkey Recipes are the classic Thanksgiving centerpieces you've treasured your whole life. You'll find traditional recipes, as well as a few adventurous turkey brines and rubs.
If you're looking to try a new cooking technique, our guide to spatchcocking a whole turkey will help you turn out the best roast turkey you've ever had. Once your recipe is decided, learn how to slice up the turkey for your big presentation. Watch our How to Carve a Turkey tutorial for simple tips and techniques for the perfectly carved turkey every time.