Easy Overnight Turkey with easy gravy is crispy and golden brown on the outside, moist and juicy on the inside, and no basting is needed!
The Overnight Turkey Recipe, a hallmark of American cuisine, is celebrated for its comforting flavors and often features as the centerpiece in family and holiday gatherings. A holiday classic, most people are used to the Traditional Roast Turkey Recipe. Along with other easy Holiday Recipes you can make in your slow cooker, you could put the recipes together the night before and wake up to a fully prepared feast without any of the extra work! Plus, this recipe is perfect for those of you who like to serve Thanksgiving lunch!
Flavor-wise, Overnight Roasted Turkey is a medley of savory and aromatic tones, thanks to a blend of garlic, rosemary, and sage. The low-temperature overnight roasting not only infuses deep flavors but also ensures a moist, tender outcome, making it perfect for family meals and larger gatherings. While it’s synonymous with Thanksgiving and Christmas, its simplicity and appealing taste have made it a year-round favorite for both formal and casual dining.
Overnight Turkey vs. Classic Turkey
A typical roasting temperature is around 325º F for 4 to 5 hours depending on the size of the turkey.
As the turkey slowly roasts at around 200º F for almost 10 hours, the lower temperature and moisture are basting your turkey while you sleep. No need to baste the turkey! So easy!
Video: How to Make Overnight Turkey
Table of contents
- Overnight Turkey vs. Classic Turkey
- Video: How to Make Overnight Turkey
- Sabrina’s Overnight Turkey Recipe
- Kitchen Tools & Equipment
- How to Roast an Overnight Turkey
- Nutritional Facts
- Tips & Tricks
- Storing Leftover Turkey
- Stuffing for Overnight Turkey
- Gravy for Overnight Turkey
- Alternative Size & Cooking Times
- Variations on Overnight Turkey
Sabrina’s Overnight Turkey Recipe
This Overnight Turkey Recipe is a contemporary twist on the traditional Holiday turkey. Originating from the festive feasts of early America, this dish is a staple of Thanksgiving, symbolizing prosperity. While variations exist, such as brining or deep-frying, this recipe sticks to simplicity, focusing on the natural flavors of the turkey, seasoned with herbs like rosemary and sage. It’s versatile and suitable for both grand celebrations and casual family dinners.
This version of the turkey recipe stands out for its straightforward overnight roasting method, appealing to cooks of all skill levels. Avoiding the need for constant basting, it delivers a moist and delicious bird with minimal effort.
- 14-16 pounds Whole Turkey: The centerpiece of the dish, a whole turkey provides a substantial amount of meat that’s ideal for feeding a large group.
- ½ cup Unsalted Butter: Butter adds richness and helps to brown the skin of the turkey.
- 1 tablespoon Kosher Salt: Kosher salt is ideal for seasoning the turkey evenly without being overpowering. It also helps in retaining moisture within the meat.
- 1 teaspoon Coarse Ground Black Pepper: Adds a mild heat and depth to the flavor profile. Coarse-ground pepper provides a more pronounced flavor than finely ground pepper.
- 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder: Garlic powder offers a concentrated flavor that infuses the turkey with a subtle garlicky aroma and taste. Substitution: Minced fresh garlic can be used, but keep in mind it will have a more pungent flavor.
- 1 teaspoon Dried Rosemary: Rosemary provides a woody, citrusy aroma, complementing the turkey’s savory flavors. Dried herbs are more potent than fresh, so they work well in a slow-cooked dish. Substitution: Fresh rosemary can be used; triple the amount since fresh herbs are less concentrated.
- 1 teaspoon Dried Sage: Sage brings a slightly peppery, earthy note, traditional in poultry seasoning. Like rosemary, its dried form is more concentrated, ideal for slow cooking. Substitution: Fresh sage can be substituted in a 3:1 ratio.
- 32 ounces Chicken Broth: Adds moisture to the turkey during the cooking process and forms the base for the gravy. The broth’s savory flavor complements the turkey’s richness. Substitution: Vegetable broth can be used for a lighter flavor profile.
Kitchen Tools & Equipment
- Roasting Pan with Rack: A large roasting pan fitted with a rack is essential for cooking the turkey. The rack elevates the turkey, allowing heat to circulate evenly. A pan approximately 16 x 13 inches or larger is recommended, depending on the size of the turkey.
- Meat Thermometer: Crucial for ensuring the turkey reaches the safe internal temperature of 160°F before the final browning stage.
- Aluminum Foil: Used to tent the turkey during the initial long, slow cooking process to prevent excessive browning.
- Medium Bowl: Needed for mixing the butter, salt, pepper, garlic powder, rosemary, and sage. Any standard kitchen bowl will suffice.
- Paper Towels: For drying the turkey inside and out before applying the herb-butter mixture.
- Kitchen Utensils (Spatula, Spoon, or Brush): To apply and spread the butter mixture evenly over the turkey. Substitution: Clean hands can be just as effective for rubbing the mixture onto the turkey.
How to Roast an Overnight Turkey
Time needed: 10 hours.
- Preheat Oven
Set to 180 degrees (or 200 degrees if that’s the minimum).
- Dry and Butter the Turkey
Thoroughly dry a 14-16 pound thawed turkey, then rub it with the herb butter.
- Set in Pan and Add Broth
Place the turkey breast side up in a roasting pan, pour 32 ounces of chicken broth into the pan.
- Tent with Foil and Roast
Cover with foil, cook for 9 hours.
- Check and Crisp
After 9 hours, check internal temperature for 160 degrees. Then, increase oven to 450 degrees, remove foil, and roast for another 15-20 minutes for a crispy skin.
- Rest and Serve
Let the turkey rest for 30 minutes before carving. Enjoy your succulent and flavorful turkey!
Tips & Tricks
- Ensure Complete Thawing: Start with a completely thawed turkey to ensure even cooking. A partially frozen turkey can cook unevenly, resulting in some parts being overcooked while others remain undercooked. Thaw the turkey in cold water in the refrigerator for several days prior to cooking, allocating about 24 hours for every 4-5 pounds of turkey.
- Crispy Skin Trick: For a juicy turkey with extra crispy skin, brush or spray a little oil over the turkey skin before increasing the oven temperature for the final browning phase.
- Avoid Opening the Oven Too Often: This causes temperature fluctuations that can lead to uneven cooking. When needed, keep the oven door opening to a minimum.
Storing Leftover Turkey
To keep leftover Overnight Turkey fresh, carve and store the meat in airtight containers in the fridge within two hours of cooking. Adding a bit of chicken broth can help maintain moisture. Consume within three to four days for best flavor.
Reheating Overnight Turkey
For reheating, warm the turkey in a 325°F oven, covered with foil and a splash of broth to prevent drying. Heat until the internal temperature reaches 165°F, ensuring the turkey stays juicy and flavorful. Reheating time will be about 30 minutes if the bird has not been carved. Check internal temp with a thermometer.
Freezing Overnight Turkey
To freeze, wrap carved turkey pieces tightly in freezer-safe materials and store in airtight containers. It can be kept frozen for up to 4 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight to preserve taste and texture for later enjoyment.
Stuffing for Overnight Turkey
It is not recommended to stuff a slow-cooked turkey. Grandma’s favorite stuffing recipe (normally cooked in the cavity of the turkey) will be a flop because the low temperature and moisture overnight will make it a soggy mess.
Stuffing is best cooked separately at all times for food safety reasons. By the time the liquid from the turkey (that the stuffing has absorbed) reaches a food-safe temperature, the white meat of the turkey will be overcooked. It is always best to cook them separately.
This Thanksgiving be kind to yourself. Plan for Thanksgiving dinner to be around Noon. Both the Overnight Turkey and the Slow Cooker Stuffing will be hot and ready to enjoy.
Gravy for Overnight Turkey
This recipe calls for 32 oz. of broth to roast your Thanksgiving Turkey in all night long. Cooked low and slow, the turkey juices will be full and rich with flavor.
This year’s gravy might just be the best gravy you’ve ever had. Here’s a tried and true recipe tested for years for you to use.
- Pour the liquid left behind in the roasting pan into a measuring cup and remove as much of the fat (reserve two tablespoons) as you can.
- Add two tablespoons of your turkey fat into a saucepan on medium-high heat and combine with 2 tablespoons of flour.
- Whisk and let cook on medium for a minute to cook out the raw flour taste.
- Add in the rest of the turkey broth and let it cook until thickened approximately 3 – 5 minutes.
- Season to taste.
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Alternative Size & Cooking Times
25-pound Turkey Cooking Time
Under normal circumstances, expect the cooking time of a thawed 25-pound turkey to be the same as the 15-pound turkey as this is slow-cooked.
10-12 pound Turkey Cooking Time
At 180°F (82°C), the cooking time will naturally be shorter than that of a larger turkey. Estimate around 5 go 6 hours for an unstuffed turkey of this size, but always verify the internal temperature with a meat thermometer for food safety.
Cooking Two 10-12 pound Turkeys
When cooking two 10-12 pound turkeys simultaneously at 180°F (82°C), the cooking time will be the same as the recipe instructions here.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you’re in a pinch and don’t have the seasonings called for in this recipe, you can swap 1 tbsp of poultry seasoning for 2 tsp sage and 1 tsp either dried thyme or marjoram.
You’ve been to the store so many times already and you don’t want to run back for chicken broth? No worries, if you have 1 bouillon cube or 1 teaspoon of instant bouillon granules, pour into 1 cup of water, and Voila! you have 1 cup broth. You’ll need 4 cups of broth to cook a 14 – 16 lb bird.
Some place a celery stalk, small onion, and a small peeled carrot in the cavity of the turkey while cooking to add flavor. But, unless cooking potatoes, we recommend avoiding this as the vegetables tend to become too soggy for enjoyment.
- 14-16 pounds turkey , thawed
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter , softened
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 teaspoon dried sage
- 32 ounces chicken broth
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees. (If your oven has a minimum temperature of 200 degrees, set it to 200, but the turkey will likely be done sooner, so use a meat thermometer).
- In a medium bowl, mash together the butter, salt, pepper, garlic powder, rosemary and sage.
- Dry your turkey well inside and out with paper towels, then rub the butter mixture all over the outside of the turkey.
- Put the turkey on a rack in a roasting pan breast side up then pour the chicken broth into the bottom of the pan.
- Tent the roasting pan with aluminum foil but make sure the foil is not touching the turkey.
- Cook the turkey for 9 hours.
- Use a meat thermometer to check the turkey's internal temperature and make sure the thickest part of the turkey thigh is at 160 degrees.
- Raise the oven temperature to 450 degrees, remove the foil tent and cook an additional 15-20 minutes until the skin is browned and crispy.
- Remove the turkey from the oven and allow to rest for 30 minutes, with the foil loosely covering the turkey.
Variations on Overnight Turkey
- Herb Variations: Swap out rosemary and sage for other herbs like thyme, oregano, or tarragon for a different aromatic experience. Fresh herbs can also be used for a more subtle flavor.
- Citrus Twist: Add lemon or orange zest to the herb butter for a refreshing citrus note. The acidity of the citrus balances the richness of the turkey.
- Spicy Rub: Incorporate spices like smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, or a Cajun seasoning blend into the herb butter for a kick of heat.
Photos used in a previous version of this post.