No-Baste Turkey is the easiest turkey recipe you’ll make and it’s guaranteed to make you a crispy, moist unfussy holiday main course!
If you tried my recipe for Roast Turkey last year and want to make the easiest Thanksgiving turkey ever that you don’t have to babysit, try this delicious No-Baste Turkey. That’s right, you don’t actually have to baste it, and this turkey turns out moist and tender with crispy skin.
Is it necessary to baste a turkey? Absolutely not, if you know what you’re doing. If you want a juicy turkey for this year’s Thanksgiving dinner, but hate having to baste it every few hours? This Thanksgiving turkey recipe takes the hard work out of roasting the bird, which frees you up to get the rest of the house ready for your dinner guests. You also don’t have to worry about brining the turkey days head of time, all you’ve got to do is thaw it out ahead of time.
Something that you may notice about this recipe is the cooking time. Instead of roasting the turkey at a lower temperature for a long time, you bake the turkey on a very high temperature for a short cook time, then turn off the oven and leave the turkey inside with the door closed until the oven completely cools down. The oven will take around 6 hours to fully cool, which makes for a moist turkey that has plenty of pan drippings to make turkey gravy out of.
HOW TO MAKE NO-BASTE TURKEY
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VARIATIONS ON NO-BASTE TURKEY
- Spices: Try adding in a dash of black pepper, paprika, Cajun seasoning, Italian seasoning or garlic to give the turkey a different flavor without having to worry about changing up the entire recipe.
- If you want to make this a one pan meal, try adding in vegetables around the base of the turkey. Be sure to leave the chunks of these vegetables quite large. Using root vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots and russet potatoes would be a good fit.
NO-BASTE TURKEY FAQS
- Should you put water in turkey roasting pan? Yes, you should. Add boiling water to the turkey pan, then put it in the oven to roast.
- How do I keep my turkey moist? If you’re not basting the turkey, it’s essential to keep the oven door shut to keep the meat moist. Opening the door releases the moisture.
HOLIDAY SIDE DISH RECIPES
HOW LONG IS NO-BASTE TURKEY GOOD?
- Serve: Never leave a No-Baste Turkey out at room temperature for longer than about 2 hours.
- Store: Let the turkey completely cool down to room temperature, then cover it in plastic wrap or cut it off of the bones and store the meat in an airtight container. The turkey will stay good in the fridge for up to 3 days before it goes bad and you need to throw it out.
- Freeze: You can freeze a fully cooked No-Baste Turkey for up to 3 months before you should eat it or throw it out.
WHEN IS NO-BASTE TURKEY SAFE TO EAT?
According to the USDA’s official website, turkey is considered safe to eat when the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F (73.8 degrees C). Always check the thickest part of the turkey with a meat thermometer before you serve to be certain that it has cooked through.
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter , softened
- 12 pound turkey , thawed and cleaned out
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons coarse ground black pepper
- 2 stalks celery , cut into 1" chunks
- 1 yellow onion , cut into 1" chunks
- 1 large carrot , cut into 1" chunks
- 2 cups boiling water
- Preheat your oven to 500 degrees and get a large roasting pan at least two inches larger than your turkey on all sides and walls 2 inches tall.
- Add the turkey to the roasting pan and rub the it with butter inside and out and season with salt and pepper.
- Add the chopped carrots, celery and onions inside the turkey cavity.
- Add the boiling water to the bottom of the roasting pan carefully then cover with foil tightly (take care to be sure you tent it over the turkey but the foil is not touching the turkey skin) and place into the oven.
- Bake for 60 minutes then turn off the oven but do not open the door or remove the foil or do anything at all.
- Leave the turkey undisturbed in the oven for 5 hours until the oven has completely cooled.
I’m at the end of hour one and haven’t opened anything, but I just realized that I did not boil the water before I put it in the bottom of the pan. It’s an 11.55 lb bird. Should I extend the 500 a bit to compensate?
My new 12 lb oven roaster with lid does not have a rack. can I still put the water in?
Making my first ever turkey, this sounds perfect. How do I reheat this? I want to cook the stuffing after the 5 hours stint so the turkey would want to reheat the turkey and/or get a nice crisp on it?
Left us with an undone turkey! Followed instructions exactly for our 12lb turkey. Opened the oven and it was cold. Internal temp was just 120 degrees! Now what!?
Can you walk me through your steps. I’ve tested this on a 12 pound bird once a month since last thanksgiving because this recipe is so important to people. You had a fully thawed (not stuffed) bird? 12 pounds? You cooked for the alotted hour at 500 degrees? Did you leave the oven closed and not open at all? Five hours later your oven is cold?
As for what you do now it’s hard to tell because I’m not sure how it would be a cold oven. In our testing the oven was never cold when opened after the five hours. If turkey is still hot to touch I’d cover and cook at 325 until it’s cooked through, probably another hour. But I can’t vouch for the safety if the oven is cold. I don’t know how long your oven has been cold for.
I’m here all afternoon if you are around and need to troubleshoot.
What about for a 16lb turkey?
No, it must be with this sized bird. The timing is based on that size. I wish it worked with larger ones too!
1 hour and 500 then sit for 5 for a total of 6 hours?
Yes, 1 hour at 500 and then it sits in the oven for 5 hours. Enjoy!
I’m going to use your recipe because it looks so nice and easy!
Do I use the kind of roasting pan with a V shape rack or just put the turkey directly in the boiling water?
There’s a wire rack in the roasting pan. 🙂
I am in charge of the turkey & you’ve made it look so easy & tender! Here’s to making the perfect Turkey!
This turkey is golden & perfect!! So moist & tender! I can’t wait until next week!!
This turkey looks AMAZING. I think I need to try this recipe for Thanksgiving this year!
This turkey recipe is so easy and AMAZING!
My oven is faulty and I can’t roast a turkey at high temperature. Do you have a recipe for an overnight turkey?
Hi Janet, I do not, but now I am intrigued. I will look into this further.
does the turkey need to be on a rack do the boiling water isnt touching it or should it be resting in the water?
It’s on a rack in the roasting pan. 🙂
What changes to cooking time is required if I stuff the turkey?
I don’t recommend cooking this recipe with a stuffed turkey.
Not this exact recipe but I have done a turkey like that and it is the best, so I am going to do this recipe this time.
So glad you’ve tested it out and like this style! Let me know how this one turns out!
The only problem I see with this recipe is that, since the oven remains closed for six hours, one would need a separate oven in which to cook the stuffing! No…Stove Top just does not cut it with my family!
That is true. You could always prep the stuffing before and then warm up while your bird is resting.
Have you ever used a remote meat/oven temperature probe when using this technique? I am curious as to how long the bird sits in the danger zone and how quick the oven cools. I would love to see the temperature curves. It seems like how long the oven takes to cool would vary greatly based on the oven model. 500 is a hot oven, but 5 hours is a long time.
I haven’t but that’s a great idea!
I’ve been making my turkeys like this for over 20 years. The only difference is I put it in a cold oven, turn it to 500 then start the timer when the oven gets to temperature. The turkey is juicy and beautifully browned every time.
Love this, I use a similar one for prime rib.
How are you getting crispy skin, just broiling after?
No broiling, just making sure not to open the oven while cooking and put plenty of butter on it. 🙂
Can you use this recipe with a larger turkey?
No, it must be with this sized bird. The timing is based on that size. I wish it worked with larger ones too!
Can you use this method if you are roasting a 18 pound turkey?
I tested it with 18 pounds 4 times, and I could not recreate a good result. So if someone else can find the magic timing on it they’re better than me. I’d stick to this sized bird and roast off a couple thighs on the side if you need more meat.
Will this work if the turkey is stuff with dressing
No, it would not. The stuffing would cause the turkey to require significantly more heat and time to come to temperature. I also wouldn’t add the stuffing in the bird as it would have to sit in it for the remainder of the time in the oven and it would get soggy.
Can you do this with turkey breasts?
Breasts are quick! I would recommend using a simple Roasted Turkey Breast recipe like my recipe here: https://dinnerthendessert.com/roasted-turkey-breast/
What is cooking time for a 14pound Turkey?
I don’t have a cooking time for a larger turkey. I have only tested up to 12 lbs. Sorry 🙁
I’ve done up to 18 lbs like this but set the timer for an extra 15-20 minutes. I also put mine in a cold oven and start the timer once the temp reaches 500. Tent with foil, shiny side out and make sure foil isn’t touching the bird. Leave both ends of the foil open.
Takes 5 hours but 500 degrees for 60 minutes then sit for 5 hours????
Yep. It only cooks for 1 hour, but then you just let it sit untouched. The thing that’s good about this one is it doesn’t require the babysitting. I’ve had client’s I cook for who make this bird and swear by it because they can put it in, forget about it and go on about their day. Then when it’s dinner time just pull it out of the oven with some easy stove-top or fresh sides. I know it seems unique that it sits in the oven, but really, the benefit of not babysitting is not to be overlooked, I promise!
The recipe looks easy to follow…
“… then cover with foil tightly (take care to be sure you tent it over the turkey but the foil is not touching the turkey skin…”
I visualize myself attempting to cover with foil TIGHTLY and ensure ‘the foil is not touching the turkey skin’.
Would greasing the foil and minimize touching the turkey skin suffice ???
I knew I should’ve photographed my method here, but I worried people may have thought it was overkill. What I actually did was make a two part foil “system” in my tests which worked really well! I took two pieces, the first one I crimped around half the pan making sure I wasn’t touching the bird (I was about an inch above), then I made about a 2 inch foil lip in the center pointing up above the bird all the way across. Did the same on the second half so the extra foil would meet. Since I knew I was high enough above the bird the first time I knew I wasn’t touching. Then I crimped together the middle of the foil where I left an extra couple of inches pointing up, this way I knew it was sealed tight all the way around and across the middle. If this does not make sense please tell me and I’ll endeavor to make a mock up photo and add it to the post!
Please post pic
I’ll work on it this weekend for you. Thanks for your patience.
Please post a photo of covering the bird with foil. I think I know what you mean, but a picture would confirm this.
I’ll work on it this weekend to post ASAP!
Please post picture soon!
Just a quick question Sabrina. How would you adjust seasonings and roasting time if you needed to do a 15-pound turkey or alternatively two smaller turkeys – say 10 pounds each? I’m assuming it would be okay to roast two smaller turkeys at the same time? This sounds like a wonderful time-saver, and I’d like to try the technique this year, but because I have a fairly large family, I need more turkey on the table. Thanks very much.
I’ve only tested this with a 12-pound turkey.
Sabrina: Would you do a 4-5 lb chicken his way, and if so, how long would you cook it? I’ve done this with a pork tenderloin and it turned out perfect!
Love your recipes. Are you ever going to put them in a cookbook?
I haven’t tested the time for that small of a bird so I don’t have a recommendation at this time, sorry. Stay tuned for a cookbook. 😉
I can’t rate this method to roast a turkey, since I always roast my turkey (& chicken) the same old ‘foolproof’ way, which my mom & grandmother always use. If you want the most tender & juiciest bird, get yourself one of those (old) black enamel roasting pans w/a lid. The lid is designed to automatically baste whatever you’re roasting, & the bottom of the roasting pan collects the juices (without the meat sitting in them). My turkeys & chickens are always tender & juicy. If I want the skin a bit crispier, I take the cover off, & put the bird under the broiler for a few minutes (just before it’s is done). It’s a perfect bird every time.