Classic Stuffed Turkey Recipe
No Thanksgiving is complete without a delicious, Classic Stuffed Turkey Recipe for the holidays! The flavor is top notch and the meat is perfectly seasoned!
Your house is about to smell like the best Thanksgiving candle that could ever exist in the entire universe. We’re starting off Thanksgiving week with the showstopper centerpiece: Classic Stuffed Turkey Recipe!
2020 is such a weird year, am I right? I don’t even know what we are doing for Thanksgiving, if much at all. Our typical large family gathering on my mom’s side of the family has been canceled.
Luckily, we are still going to try and have a virtual reunion via Zoom on Thanksgiving. It won’t be the same, but it’s something! I had such high hopes this year of possibly doing a fun Friendsgiving with a few other couples and then our traditional Thanksgiving, but 2020 has squashed those hopes.
If you are keeping things small in your house, you can make this Classic Stuffed Turkey and use the leftovers for my Turkey Fiesta Soup. You can scale the recipe down to get the size turkey you need, even if it’s just your immediate family you will be serving.
I am so thankful that most of my family lives close and are still able to get together. If you aren’t fortunate enough to be in the same boat, I’m sending all the love to you this holiday season!
It’s going to be so sad not seeing all of my relatives as Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve was normally the only two days of the year I get to see a lot of them! It really is such a bummer, but I’m trying to look at the bright side. We can still have a delicious meal and make that Classic Stuffed Turkey Recipe.
This roasted Classic Stuffed Turkey recipe will give you perfect results every time! It is flavorful, roasted to perfection with that crispy golden skin, and seriously cannot be beat. It really is a breeze to make, it just takes time!
I would say this has to be my favorite way to prepare a Classic Stuffed Turkey for any time of year, but on the Thanksgiving holiday, especially. It just makes a delicious and show-stopping statement. To say to comes out incredible every time I make it wouldn’t even do it justice.
I give you the run-down for this Classic Stuffed Turkey in the instructions below. It might seem intimidating, but you can do this! I won’t prepare my turkey any other way in the future.
If brining turkey is more what you’re looking for, check out my post on How to Brine a Turkey.
- 1 (12-pound) turkey
- Stuffing recipe of your choosing
- Approximately 8 cups warm Turkey Stock
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus additional, melted
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Place oven rack in lowest position and preheat oven to 325°F.
- Butter 8-inch square baking dish or 2-quart casserole dish. Lightly brush roasting rack with vegetable or canola oil and place in roasting pan.
- Remove giblets from turkey. Remove from packaging and rinse.
- Rinse turkey inside and out with cold water and pat dry. Loosely fill small (neck) cavity with stuffing. Fold neck skin under body and fasten with metal skewer, twine, or toothpicks. Fill large body cavity with stuffing.
- Transfer any remaining stuffing (if there is any) to buttered dish and drizzle with ¼ cup stock. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate until ready to bake.
- Transfer turkey, breast-side up, to rack in roasting pan. Tuck wing tips under breast and tie drumsticks loosely together with kitchen twine. Rub turkey all over with softened butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Tightly cover breast area with foil, leaving wings, thighs, and drumsticks exposed. This will slow down the cooking of the breast so it doesn't dry out.
- Roast turkey 45 minutes. Baste with pan juices (lift up foil to reach breast area) and continue roasting, basting approx. every 45 minutes, 1½ hours more (2¼ hours total).
- Baste again and add 1 cup stock to pan if needed.
- Roast for another 45 minutes (3 hours total). Remove the foil from breast area, baste, and add stock if necessary, until instant-read thermometer inserted into fleshy part of thigh (close to but not touching bone) registers 180°F, about 1 hour more (4 hours total).
- Insert instant-read thermometer into center of stuffing in body cavity. If thermometer does not read 165°F, put stuffing into baking dish and microwave on high until 165°F, about 3 minutes for 10 degrees. Cover and keep warm.
- Transfer turkey to large serving platter. Let stand about 20-30 minutes before carving. Don't skip that step! The juices need to redistribute throughout the turkey.
- Meanwhile, bake extra stuffing and make gravy: Raise oven temperature to 350°F.
- Pour pan juices into measuring cup or gravy separator. Let stand until fat rises to top, 1 to 2 minutes, then skim off and reserve fat or, if using separator, carefully pour juices into measuring cup, reserving fat left in separator.
- Transfer foil-covered dish of extra stuffing to oven and bake 10 minutes. Meanwhile, add enough remaining stock to pan juices to total 4 cups. Add melted butter if necessary to total 6-7 tablespoons.
- Place roasting pan across 2 burners on medium/low heat and add fat. Whisk in flour, scraping up browned bits on bottom of pan, then cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Whisk in pan juice–stock mixture and bring to a boil, whisking often. Reduce heat to moderately low and simmer, whisking occasionally, until gravy thickens, about 5 minutes. Whisk in remaining salt and ½ teaspoon pepper and keep warm.
- When extra stuffing has baked 10 minutes, remove foil and bake, uncovered, until heated through, about 10 minutes. Pour gravy through fine-mesh sieve into large bowl, then transfer to gravy boat. Carve turkey and serve gravy and stuffing alongside.
- Test-Kitchen Tips:
- •To combat dryness, most frozen turkeys and some fresh are injected with a saline solution. This is not a good thing, though: Injected birds generally lack flavor and can have a mushy texture. For this reason, we recommend buying a fresh turkey and checking the label to be sure there aren't any additives. (Look for the words "all natural.") Don't be too concerned, though, with the many other terms that can be applied to turkeys, such as free-range, organic, or heritage. All can be excellent.
- •When buying a fresh bird, be sure to purchase it no more than two days before Thanksgiving. If you must get a frozen bird, defrost it in the refrigerator in a pan to catch drips, allowing a full 24 hours for each 5 pounds.
- •Warm, moist stuffing is an optimal environment for bacteria such as salmonella or E. coli to multiply, so it's important to follow safe procedures. Be sure to make the stuffing at the last minute so it can go into the bird warm. This helps it move above the "danger zone" (the optimal temperature range for bacteria growth) more quickly during roasting. When you remove the turkey from the oven, be sure to check the temperature in the middle of the stuffing to make sure it's 165°F, the temperature at which bacteria will be killed. If it's not 165°F, scoop it out of the cavity and microwave it as directed in the recipe.
- •More stuffing tips: Be sure not to overpack the cavities, as the stuffing will expand during cooking. Loosely fill the turkey, then spread the extra in a casserole dish (no more than 2 inches deep) and bake it after the turkey comes out (be sure to refrigerate it until then to impede bacteria growth). Drizzle the portion in the casserole dish with extra stock to make up for the juices it won't get from the turkey. If you want the stuffing that's cooked inside the turkey to be extra-moist (as opposed to having a crisp crust where it's exposed), cover the exposed portion with a small piece of aluminum foil.
- •Opinions vary on whether or not to stuff the bird—some people think it can cause uneven cooking. If you prefer not to stuff your bird, fill the cavities with a chopped vegetable and herb mixture that will impart its flavor to the meat and pan juices: Chop 1 onion, 1 celery rib with leaves, 1 carrot, and 3 tablespoons fresh parsley. Mix this with 1 teaspoon each dried rosemary, sage, and thyme. Sprinkle the cavities with salt and freshly ground black pepper and place the mixture inside. An unstuffed bird will take about 15 minutes to a half hour less to cook than a stuffed bird. When the turkey is cooked, tilt it to allow any juices that have collected in the cavity to drain into the pan. Do not serve the vegetable mixture, as it may not have cooked to a safe temperature.
- •This recipe can easily be scaled up to serve more people. Estimate about 1 to 1½ pounds per person. Cooking times (for a stuffed bird, cooked at 325°F to an internal temperature of 180°F) will be as follows: to 12 pounds: 3 to 3½ hours, to 14 pounds: 3½ to 4 hours, to 18 pounds: 4 to 4¼ hours, to 20 pounds: 4¼ to 4¾ hours, to 24 pounds: 4¾ to 5¼ hours
- •Some experts prefer to cook their turkeys to an internal temperature of 170°F (rather than 180°F, as in this recipe). If you don't mind having the meat slightly pink, this is perfectly safe and makes it more moist. However, Rick Rodgers, who created this recipe, believes that the dark meat in particular does not achieve its optimum flavor and texture until it reaches 180°F. If you choose to stuff your turkey and cook it to only 170°F, its stuffing will almost definitely not reach the safe temperature of 165°F. When you remove the turkey from the oven, be sure to check the temperature in the center of the stuffing, and if necessary remove it and microwave it as directed in the recipe.
- •Letting the turkey stand for half an hour after it comes out of the oven is an essential part of the roasting process. When meat roasts, its juices move to the outer edge of the flesh. Letting it rest gives the juices time to redistribute, making for a moister turkey. An added bonus: The resting time provides an excellent window of opportunity to make the gravy and reheat the side dishes. There's no need to cover the bird—it'll stay warm enough, and covering it would only soften the crispy skin.