Classic Roasted Turkey

5 hours 30 minutesServes 10-12


  • 1 (20 lb) fresh turkey
  • ½ c (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, plus more if needed
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 325°F. Remove giblets and neck from turkey. Discard liver or save for another use. Rinse turkey inside and out with cold water; pat dry with paper towels. Pull off pale yellow fat on both sides of tail and reserve.

Tie ends of drumsticks together with kitchen twine, or tuck them under flap of skin (or plastic or metal “hock lock”). Lift wing tips up and over back and tuck them under bird. Place turkey on a roasting rack set in a roasting pan. Add reserved turkey fat to pan. Generously brush turkey all over with melted butter and sprinkle inside and out with salt and pepper.

Tightly cover breast area (not wings) with aluminum foil. Add 3 c water to pan. Bake, basting every 45 minutes or so (including area under foil) until an instant-read thermometer inserted in meaty part of thigh (not touching bone) registers 180°F, about 4 3/4 hours. During last hour of roasting, remove and discard foil. As water in roasting pan evaporates, add additional water to keep drippings from scorching.

Transfer turkey to a large serving platter. Let turkey stand uncovered for at least 30 minutes before carving.