How to Roast & Garnish a 12-Pound Turkey & Round-Up

I recently made a turkey the old-fashioned way. (Roasted, rather than brining or putting in a bag.)

I stuffed it with veggies, fresh herbs, and a little citrus. Seasoned it well, rubbed it down with butter (and a quick spray of Pam), and popped it in the oven.

I asked my family, why don’t we have turkey more often?

I always forget how easy it is, and then how we get to benefit from turkey leftovers. Yum!

This is what I love about having an herb trough. I don’t have to think ahead to buying fresh herbs (holiday cooking is FULL of fresh herbs).

BUT … before I show you more about the bird, PLEASE COME BACK TOMORROW this to WIN these fantastic items for your Holiday Entertaining. Here’s a SNEAK PREVIEW:

Back to the bird …

This time I snipped sage, thyme, and even basil from the bed.

Here’s how I made my 12-pound turkey:

-Heat the oven to 375. Remove the wrapping from the turkey, discard the giblets (and neck, if you prefer), rinse the turkey and pat down.

-Stuff the turkey with onions, celery, carrot, lemon and fresh herbs. Also mix together salt and pepper and rub on the inside. Whatever you can fill the cavity with.

-It’s recommended that you tie the turkey together with kitchen twine, tucking it under the bird. (But guess what? I ran out of twine and it worked out fine with no twine).

-Rub the turkey all over with butter and season with salt. If you want, give a quick spray with Pam Spray.

-Place veggies such as carrots, onion, celery (and the turkey neck, if you saved it) on the bottom of a roasting pan. Place the rack on top with the turkey on the rack.

-Roast the turkey, basting with pan juices every 30 minutes to create even browning. (12 pound bird takes about 3 1/2 hours.)

-If the turkey starts to darken, and you still have quite a bit of cooking time, tent it loosely with foil.

Don’t forget to save the juices for gravy!

When ready to serve, there are several options for displaying it:

– Leave the turkey whole as a “centerpiece” until everyone sits down and grace has been said. (One person will have to hop up and slice the turkey while the other dishes are being served.)

– Add fresh fruit such as apples, oranges, lemons, limes – and a variety of fresh herbs around the outer edge of the platter.

– Slice the turkey, but still garnish beautifully with fresh fruit and herbs.

Kitchen TIP: Here’s how to keep the turkey moist and WARM, if you’re slicing the turkey in advance. After the turkey is sliced, just before bringing the platter to the table (or buffet), drizzle the turkey with HOT chicken broth. Just a little bit, to moisten and heat up the meat.

How will you be cooking your turkey this year — the old-fashioned way, brining it, or using a bag?

(Photo credit: Cookin’ Canuck.)

My friend’s expert advice on how to cook a BIRD:
Step by Step: Roasted Turkey from The Pioneer Woman
Crash Course on Roasting a Turkey at Simple Bites
How to Roast a Brined Turkey at Skinny Taste
Flat Roasted Turkey from Miss in the Kitchen
Mayonnaise Roasted Turkey from She Wears Many Hats
Turkey Roasting Tips from Good Life Eats
Herb Roasted Turkey from Sweet Savory Life
Roasted Turkey with Herb Butter and Roasted Shallots from Cookin’ Canuck (Photo credit of turkey above recipe is also from Dara.)

To keep you on track to a stress-free Thanksgiving:
Week 1: Invite, Plan, and Delegate
Week 2: Organize your Shopping Lists
Week 3: Space, Table, and Turkey Planning


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23 Responses to “How to Roast & Garnish a 12-Pound Turkey & Round-Up”

  1. #
    Kim in MD — November 14, 2012 @ 6:43 am

    Your turkey is gorgeous, Sandy!

    I am cooking a brined turkey for Thanksgiving. I have the butcher cut off the leg quarters and wings and I roast the leg quarters separately from the breast. That way I don’t risk over-cooking the breast meat. It works great if you don’t mind not having that Norman Rockwell moment presenting your turkey to your family! I prefer to have perfectly cooked dark and white meat turkey, so this works great for me!

    • Sandy replied: — November 14th, 2012 @ 10:50 am

      That sounds fabulous, Kim! :)

  2. #
    Heather @ Heather's Dish — November 14, 2012 @ 7:50 am

    I don’t think I’m actually cooking a turkey for Thanksgiving this year, which is actually fine since our rental house oven isn’t big enough to get the job done :) BUT if I were cooking a turkey, I’d totally try to brine it and then roast. Your method though? Standard for our weekly roast chicken!

    • Sandy replied: — November 14th, 2012 @ 10:51 am

      I’ve brined, bagged, … done it all. We loved the “roasted” flavor the other night! Back to the basics … :)

  3. #
    Cindy — November 14, 2012 @ 8:44 am

    The old fashioned way but we just put the meat on the platter – not the whole turkey.

  4. #
    Aimee @ Simple Bites — November 14, 2012 @ 9:02 am

    Beautiful bird! Thanks for including my tutorial. =)

  5. #
    Brenda @ a farmgirl's dabbles — November 14, 2012 @ 9:20 am

    Your turkey looks awesome. I so wish our Midwestern winters could keep my outdoor herbs alive. It’s one of the things I miss most about spring through fall. But as for our bird this year…Blake will be smoking one (a big 21-pounder!) in the Big Green Egg. Huge anticipation for Thanksgiving dinner!! Happy Thanksgiving, Sandy, to you and your beautiful family. xo

    • Sandy replied: — November 14th, 2012 @ 10:53 am

      Brenda, smoked turkey is a method I’ve never tried. I’ll be watching you .. :)

  6. #
    Andy from Idaho — November 14, 2012 @ 9:35 am

    This year it is just the two of us so we will have a turkey breast, sweet potato’s, stuffing and veggies.
    Too quiet.

    • Sandy replied: — November 14th, 2012 @ 10:54 am

      Andy, any way you can invite a neighbor or two? Just a thought. But, quiet is good, too! :)

  7. #
    Miss @ Miss in the Kitchen — November 14, 2012 @ 11:11 am

    That is the most gorgeous turkey! I’m usually in charge of the ham rather than turkey for our Thanksgiving dinner. Thanks for including me!

  8. #
    Cookin' Canuck — November 14, 2012 @ 12:11 pm

    That is one gorgeous bird! Every time we roast a turkey, I ask my family the same thing…why don’t we do this more often? It really is so easy and the leftovers are always welcome.

  9. #
    Cassie | Bake Your Day — November 14, 2012 @ 1:27 pm

    These are great tips! My mom still doesn’t brine a turkey…she does the butter rub, stuffs it with veggies and roasts it. I always love it that way!

  10. #
    lisa — November 14, 2012 @ 2:25 pm

    I have yet to make a Thanksgiving turkey…I don’t think I have ever made one…This year my twinsie is making it…but I love the use of all of the herbs! :}

  11. #
    Tickled Red — November 15, 2012 @ 6:39 am

    Love this post! And yes, why is it we don;t eat turkey more? I’m so working on that this year. xoxo

  12. #
    Linda J — November 15, 2012 @ 1:20 pm

    Sandy, Love your recipes, comments, love of family and friends and life. Thank you for posting daily, just love to read what you are doing/thinking. Thank you.

  13. #
    Sommer@ASpicyPerspective — November 16, 2012 @ 6:13 am

    What a gorgeous bird! I think I’m frying my turkey this year just for kicks. :)

  14. #
    Angie — November 16, 2012 @ 9:08 am

    How beautiful!

  15. #
    Janeen — November 16, 2012 @ 10:09 am

    Love the old fashioned way of preparing the holiday bird!

  16. #
    Robyn Stone | Add a Pinch — November 16, 2012 @ 10:45 pm

    Such great tips, Sandy! Love all of these!

    We usually do two turkeys – one smoked and one roasted. I prefer the roasted, personally though. So delicious.

  17. #
    Beth Stagdon — November 17, 2012 @ 5:29 pm

    I am new to your site – came in from Pinterest. I know that I will be spending a lot of time here. Thanks for the wonderful recipes. I do an old fashioned turkey the way my mother and grandmother did it – no fussing – and a very simple onion and celery bread stuffing. My family really likes it but it’s “tradition” so I’ve long given up trying to interest them in a different one.

  18. #
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