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The Most Delicious Turkey Ever!

Quick Roast Turkey Method

Have you ever worked from the early morning hours, into the afternoon, preparing a Thanksgiving dinner only to suffer through dry, tough, turkey? Rest easy, friends. Those days are behind you.

My mother in law found this method of doing Thanksgiving turkey in her local newspaper a couple of years ago, and it was the best turkey any of us could remember having. It wasn't like any turkey I had tried before. It was moist and tender and flavorful. I have been doing it this way ever since. In fact, we like it so much that we now have roasted turkey several times a year.

The best part of this method is the 1-2 hour cooking time. That's right! Only an hour for smaller birds! No more setting your alarm clock to get up in time to get the bird in the oven.

What gives it the moisture that is missing from most of the Thanksgiving turkeys I have had in the past is 2 fold. First, it is soaked overnight in a brine, and second, it is roasted over a pan of water. Those two things in combination with the high heat and short cooking time will produce a bird you will be proud of.

Here you go, girls. I promise you won't go wrong with this recipe.

Roasted Turkey

  1. Soak the bird for 6-8 hours (Overnight is fine.) in an ice chest of water with 2 cups of salt, 1 cup of brown sugar, and plenty of ice. Make sure the birds is submerged.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 500 degrees.
  3. Rinse turkey and put on a rack in roasting pan.
  4. Stuff turkey with half an onion, some garlic cloves, and half an apple.
  5. Rub outside with butter. Sprinkle salt and pepper inside and out.
  6. Add one inch of water to bottom of pan.
  7. Roast for approximately 1-2 hrs. at 500 degrees (depending on the size of the bird).
  8. Cover turkey lightly with a foil tent if it becomes too brown.
  9. Check water and add more if needed.
  10. Remove when internal temperature reaches 161 degrees or when popper comes up.
  11. Be careful when you take it out. Remember, there is water in the bottom of the pan.

Mmmmmmmm...... I can almost taste it now!

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  1. Sounds delicious!

  2. Lori - The Simple Life at Home says:

    Wow! I think I’ll try this recipe this year. I love the short cooking time. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Mommy Cracked says:

    That sounds super easy and yummy! I have never cooked a bird before, but now I am tempted!

  4. Infinity Goods says:

    One hour! WOW! I can confirm brine is great and will make your bird moist.
    Never used water in the roasting pan.

    Does it steam your turkey?? I’d really like to know.

    Thank you for this new method. I just have to try it this year. One hour will give us such freedom!

  5. Stephanie @ ATime4Everything.com says:

    I will have to try this with my own turkey. My mom is cooking ours and well…you know how that goes! She will do it her way! :)

  6. ~*~ Jennifer ~*~ says:

    HEY — no bag?? I hate the bag…

    Hmm… I think I’ll try this!

    THANKS for sharing!!

  7. Thehotrod5 says:

    Wow that sounds gret! Kyle cooks our turkey only he deep fries it. It too only takes about an hour and comes out sooooooooooo juicy and moist.

    Thanks for the recipe!


  8. I have tried the cold oven method, but not this. Thanks for the idea!

  9. Does the salty brine cure the meat enough that it doesn’t need a longer cooking time?

  10. Myfriendconnie@SmockityFrocks says:

    Infinity Goods, I’m not sure how or why. I just know it works. The outside is a nice crusty brown and the inside is moist and tasty.

    Gibee, No, the high temp. is what makes for a short cooking time. The internal temp. of the turkey still needs to reach “done”.

  11. When I cook chickens at a high temperature, they taste so good, but get the inside of the oven very messy. Is that the case with roasting the turkey this way?


  12. Myfriendconnie@SmockityFrocks says:

    Melkhi, I used the convection setting and it did make my oven a mess. When I mentioned it to my mother in law, she said hers didn’t do that. Maybe it was the fan on the convection setting that blows the drippings around?

  13. Thanks! Well I guess it is worth the mess if it tastes that good. :)

  14. So, is the turkey completely thawed before this process?

    Does size of turkey affect cooking time? Our turkey is 17 lbs. this year.

    Do you have any ideas for the best defrosting method? We’re always shocked that it’s not completely defrosted Thanksgiving morning.

    How confident are you that if I follow your instructions that I too will have a successful bird? I have company this year and as a general rule don’t make things different or new for company. I always try them out first. Could I try this on a chicken?

  15. Myfriendconnie@SmockityFrocks says:

    Nikki, THE PRESSURE – I CAN’T TAKE IT!!!!!! Just kidding! I do start with a thawed turkey. The one we’re using for Thanksgiving is in the fridge right now. I can’t remember the size we use, but it’s always a big’un. I just keep checking the internal temp. after an hour until it reaches 161. My mother-in-law tried it on 16 people for the first time on Thanksgiving Day a couple of years ago and it went off without a hitch. I have done it with chicken. It gets done a lot quicker. Can’t remember the timing on it, but if you’re nervous about it, you might want to try that first and check the internal temp. often.

  16. This sounds so good I’m sure I’ll try it sometime. But I’d better not try it for a Holiday, I’m not sure what my dad would do to me if anything was different from “whats its always been!”

  17. I’m so excited to try this. I have a whole chicken in the fridge that I’m going to try it for tomorrow.

    About your thawing turkey, is it in its original wrapper in your fridge? How long have you had it in there? Do you have it in a brown paper bag or anything like that?

    We usually thaw our turkey in the fridge the recommended 3-4 days before Thanksgiving. And then inevitably Thanksgiving morning, it’s still frozen. So then we have to do the waterbath defrosting and push back the dinner a couple hours.

  18. Myfriendconnie@SmockityFrocks says:

    Nikki, My husband brought home the turkey yesterday and we’ll keep it in the fridge until the evening before Thanksgiving. That night, we’ll do the brining in the ice chest. We have had the rock solid frozen turkey before, too, so now we just leave it in the fridge, in it’s original wrapper, for the week preceeding the big day. Let me know how yours turns out. (I’m still waiting to see the Princess Party pictures, too!)

  19. Myfriendconnie@SmockityFrocks says:

    DOH! I just ruined my genius reading level with that stray apostrophe up there. I meant “its”, not “it’s”.

  20. Wanda styraky says:

    Connie, I learned to cook a turkey from my mother who learned from hers. We usually cook a 12-16 lb turkey and it is very simple and very moist.

    After the turkey is thawed and the insides are removed, place an onion sliced in half in the cavity. Rub the turkey with salt, pepper, rosemary, and butter. Slip the turkey into a brown paper grocery bag and staple the end shut. Place it on a racked pan and slip in the oven. Bake as directed on turkey wrapper, usually 3-3.5 hours.

    When time is up, slit the top of the bag. You will have the most amazingly moist turkey.

    People are always amazed I use a grocery bag, bu that isnthe fun of following the generations before you!

  21. I cooked my turkey today by this method and it is yummy! I have always brined, but never roasted at such a high temp. I was using a meat thermometer, and when it still wasn’t done (I was going for 170) after a couple of hours, I got nervous of drying it out at such a high temp and lowered it to 450 to finish up. Anyway, in just under three hours I had a golden, moist, delicious turkey! (I think mine was 15-17 pounds).
    Thanks for the directions! :)

  22. Hi!

    This looks wonderful and I’m seriously considering preparing our turkey this way this year. I did just have a few questions.

    Does the saltiness affect your gravy at all?

    Are you still able to make gravy even with the water in the bottom of the pan?
    Could stuffing be substituted for the onion, garlic and apple (or would it end up too salty?)

    Thanks very much!

  23. Renee Rayder says:

    If you don’t want to have to soak it beforehand my family has a turkey recipe that is DELICIOUS, moist and easy. Take a paperbag and rub the whole inside with a stick of butter until it looks greasy. Rub the outside of the turkey with butter and then put it inside the greased bag. Roll the end of the bag and staple it shut. Then put the bag in a pan. Bake the turkey for 45 mins to 1 hour on 500*; the 45 mins to 1 hour on 400*, then 45 mins to 1 hour on 300* (depending on size). I guarantee a 28 lb turkey will be done in the 3 hours. The turkey is so moist and tender when cooked this way.

  24. I have my turkey in the brine right now. But I just looked at my new roasting pan and it says it only goes up to 450°. Can I use it up to 500? Does everyone else’s pan say 450, but it’s really ok up to 500? Any thoughts? Thanks!

  25. I’m planning to do our Christmas turkey this way but I have one question – why do I have to put ice in the brine? Can’t I just stick the turkey in the brine in a big pot overnight and have it in the fridge? Our bird isn’t that big so it would probably fit in there.


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