Go Back
How to Make a Turkey: Doesn't this Baked Turkey with Traditional Sage Stuffing look scrumptious?

How to Make a Turkey

Mom didn't teach you how to bake a turkey? This simple recipe shows you how.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword turkey; how-to-make-a-turkey
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Resting Time 10 minutes
Total Time 4 hours 25 minutes
Servings 12
Calories 162 kcal
Author Recipe Idea Shop / Lois Carter Crawford


  • 1 12-pound Turkey (or any size)
  • Salt (use sea salt for corn free)
  • Pepper
  • Covered Roasting Pan
  • Traditional Sage Stuffing


  1. Remove the interior parts of your thawed turkey (usually found in the cavity and in the neck of a store-bought turkey).
  2. Rinse the turkey inside and out.
  3. Preheat the oven to 425°F degrees.

  4. Stuff the bird's cavity with Traditional Sage Dressing (stuffing). (Or cook the stuffing separately to be sure it is safe.)

  5. Sprinkle the outside of the turkey with a little salt and pepper.
  6. Place the turkey in the roasting pan or the free-standing roaster. It's best to have one that has a lift-out rack.

  7. Cover and place in a preheated 425°F degree oven and bake for 15 minutes. This seals the juices in the bird.

  8. Reduce the heat to 325°F degrees and bake the turkey for 20 minutes a pound (so for a 12 pound bird, you would bake it 12 x 20, or 240 minutes or 4 hours and for a 20 pound turkey, you bake it nearly 7 hours).

  9. Baste it with its own juices 3-4 times during the roasting time.
  10. Remove the cover prior to the final 20 minutes and return the pan to the oven. These last few minutes help the turkey to develop a nice, browned skin.
  11. The legs will start to pull away from the body when it is done. If you are unclear about when it's done, check the temperature with a meat thermometer. It should reach an internal temperature of 165F degrees in its thickest part.

  12. Remove the turkey from the pan to a platter or another pan for carving. Let stand 10 minutes before carving.


Recipe Notes

If you don't eat the skin, turkey is about 162 calories per 4-ounce serving. I think a 12-pound turkey would feed 12 and still have plenty of leftovers. The size of the turkey doesn't matter; you bake it 20 minutes a pound no matter what size it is.