Best Turkey Ever

by Maria on November 1, 2012

Simple Tips and Tricks for getting your best Thanksgiving Turkey ever

Turkey, done right, can be one of the most delicious meats out there. The trouble is turkey is really easy to mess up and if you don’t know what you are doing there is a good chance you will come out with an under seasoned, dry, bland bird that is only edible with a heavy dose of gravy.

People will tell you in order to get a moist turkey you need to brine it or baste it a million times or put a special rub on it. Don’t listen to them. There are some very simple, easy steps, that if followed will get you the most delicious, moist turkey you’ve ever made!  You know the kind I am talking about – the kind you can’t stop picking at when no one is looking.

I have strayed from these tried and true steps a few times in the past, only to be very disappointed in the results. With all the hype about brining, I just had to give it a try a couple years ago. For the time and effort it took I was expecting something amazing…not so much!

Time and time again I come back to these simple steps and I am never disappointed. This recipe also works great on whole chickens. Not to mention the drippings make awesome gravy.

The Best Turkey Ever

UPDATE 11/16/2013: The last time I cooked a turkey I only had one lemon. I used one lemon and one naval orange. It was amazing….I would definitely suggest using an orange.


1-2 Lemons (depending on size of turkey, you want about 2-3 tbsp of juice per 8 lbs)
Salt and Pepper
Olive oil


  • Place completely thawed turkey, breast side down, inside roasting pan or inside cooking bag.
  • Squeeze lemon juice onto turkey and place lemon rinds in turkey cavity or around the turkey if you are stuffing the cavity.
  • Generously salt and pepper entire bird, I turn mine so I can also generously get the breast part that I layed down first and then flip it back to breast side down. I use about a tablespoon of salt per 6-7 pounds of turkey.
  • Drizzle a couple tablespoons of olive oil over bird.
  • If using bag: seal bag tightly and cook according to package directions. If using roasting pan, make sure it seals completely. If you think there is any chance it is not a complete seal, cover tightly with tinfoil before putting lid on pan. Cook according to package directions.
  • Do not remove lid during cooking time for any reason.
  • Remove from oven and let rest in pan or bag for thirty minutes before removing from pan or bag. If you have to get your gravy started and need to get the drippings, quickly remove drippings and return meat to pan or keep completely covered with foil. This will help hold the moisture in.
  • Cutting the meat should be the last thing you do before serving your dinner. You want to keep the meat covered and intact until you are ready to eat…that will help it stay moist.

That’s it!  If you have never been confident with Tom before, I promise these simple steps will produce a fabulous Thanksgiving Turkey.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday full of delicious food.


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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

cori November 1, 2012 at 11:47 am

I pinned it…what a fabulous giveaway!


Maria November 2, 2012 at 9:19 am

Thanks for coming to our party Cori.


Rebecca D November 1, 2012 at 12:36 pm

When using a bag, you say to seal tightly. Does that mean that you do not vent the bag, as the directions say, or use a little flour in the bag? I have used a bag for years and would like to try your method this time.


Maria November 2, 2012 at 9:25 am

It’s been a while since I used a bag now that I have a big roaster. The holes in the bag our to let the steam vent and allow the turkey to still get a little of that browned skin action going on. For this method you want most of the steam to stay in and keep circulating the turkey, and we aren’t going for the browned skin look. If I were using a bag I would still shake the bag with flour like the directions say but not put holes in it unless during cooking it started to look like it might explode. :) then I would carefully poke one or two holes in it near the bottom so it could vent a little bit. Hope this helps. Good luck!


Camille (SixSistersStuff) November 1, 2012 at 7:44 pm

Thanks again for letting us be a part of this! What a fun idea. And your turkey looks absolutely amazing . . . you make it seem so easy! :)
XO, Camille


Maria November 2, 2012 at 9:18 am

Thanks Camille, we enjoyed partying with you, your salad looks really more-ish, I can tell I would keep going back for more and more! Thanks a ton! Maria


Jocelyn @BruCrew Life November 1, 2012 at 10:14 pm

I have actually never tried one of these baking bags. Now that I know they really do work and hold the moisture in, I will have to try one this year. Thanks for the tip about not cutting the bird too early. It was fun to participate in this hop with you:-)


Maria November 2, 2012 at 9:17 am

I love the baking bags, but I have an awesome roaster pan that seals super tight that I prefer to use now, but the bags yield great results too. I love your stuffins that was such a genius idea! Thank you so much for participating in is event!


Tammy November 1, 2012 at 11:22 pm

I am cook it breast side down? Not the traditional breast side up? I am definitely trying it this year.


Maria November 2, 2012 at 9:12 am


I know, it sounds crazy, right! Cooking it breast side down helps keep the breast meat extra moist. You don’t get the golden brown picture perfect turkey with this method, but believe me the taste and moistness make up for it. :)


Mari November 2, 2012 at 7:00 am

SUCH a great post!!!!


Maria November 2, 2012 at 9:08 am

Thanks Mari.


Kim g November 2, 2012 at 9:20 am

I will definitely try your turkey recipe. Looks so moist. I may be the one cooking the turkey this year so will need all the help I can get. Blessings to you all!!


Maria November 3, 2012 at 11:46 am

The best thing about this recipe is it is simple. The turkey taste awesome and you really didn’t do anything except cook it upside down, squeeze some lemon juice on it and give it a healthy dose of Salt and Pepper with a little drizzle of evoo on top.:) I hope your Thanksgiving is great!


Jaclyn November 2, 2012 at 11:42 am

Thanks for letting me be part of such a fun virtual progressive dinner! It’s such a fun idea and thanks for hosting a great giveaway. I love love the design of mother huddle! You guys have done a fabulous job. Thanks again! And PS your turkey looks perfect! Tender and delicious. I can’t wait for the Thanksgiving feast!


Maria November 3, 2012 at 11:43 am

Thanks Jaclyn,
We loved having you participate in this event with us. You are incredibly talented and we really appreciate your sweet compliments. Thank You!
Have a great Thanksgiving!


Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts November 2, 2012 at 3:03 pm

A moist turkey is the most important part of Thanksgiving. This looks absolutely perfect!


Maria November 3, 2012 at 11:41 am

Amen, to the turkey being the most important part of Thanksgiving dinner. I love cooking the turkey this way because it doesn’t hide the turkey flavor it just inhances it and makes it super yummy!


Susan November 2, 2012 at 3:55 pm

I use lemon and olive oil and salt and pepper, also. However, have not sealed tightly. I am SOOOOO going to this Thanksgiving! Thank you for the tip.


Maria November 3, 2012 at 11:39 am

The seal really makes a big difference, You’re going to love it….so moist and delicious!


Jackie November 13, 2012 at 4:24 pm

That turkey looks amazing! Every time I look at it I start drooling. I can’t believe that there are only that many ingredients…but I trust you. I may never go back to any other turkey if it tastes as good as it looks.


Maria November 15, 2012 at 12:03 pm

It is so good and easy. I do it on the frozen bone in turkey breast all the time and also with whole chickens. Speaking turkey, I would cut my arm off for one of those Maddocks Turkey steak things. MMMM mmmm MMMMM


Jennifer November 15, 2012 at 12:50 pm

I love the simplicity of this recipe! I have never had good success cooking a turkey and hope this year will be the year. Do you mind sharing which brand of turkey you buy, how big, and how long you cook yours? This unlucky girl needs specifics, fingers crossed I will finally defeat mr. turkey.


Maria November 19, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Hi Jennifer,

I am excited for you to make your own turkey this year, you will do great! I do not have a particular brand that I am loyal to, but I did have my worst turkey when I used a butterball. I’m usually cooking for a crowd so I get a 25 lb or bigger. I just make sure it is completely defrosted and then cook it according to the time frame for it’s size on the back of the package. I add an extra half hour just to be sure because I would rather be safe then sorry. Good Luck and Happy Thanksgiving!


Joy November 7, 2013 at 6:57 pm

Does the lemon add taste? My husband is not a fan of anything ‘lemony’, so was wondering if the lemons were more for tenderizing or taste. I just made your spanish rice with dinner tonight. It was great! I’m enjoying your blog.


Maria November 7, 2013 at 10:50 pm

Hi Joy,

The lemon does not add taste, it is more for tenderizing. I have been meaning to update this post, because last time I made a turkey I only had one lemon, so I used one lemon and one naval orange. It was awesome! If you are worried that your husband will pick up on the taste of the lemon, you can cut the amount in half and still get a moist turkey, by following the other directions.



K November 12, 2013 at 9:08 am

You mention a roaster, I’m not familiar with one. Can you elaborate? Thanks


Maria November 16, 2013 at 10:09 am

A roaster is a large pan that has a lid. If you don’t have one you can put it in a turkey bag that you find at the store.


jenni anderson November 21, 2013 at 9:00 pm

can’t wait to try this


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