5 from 4 votes
Photo of platter with whole Thanksgiving turkey
Mom's Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe
Prep Time
35 mins
Cook Time
3 hrs
Total Time
3 hrs 25 mins

Enjoy Mom's Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe with gravy!

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: roasted turkey with gravy, whole turkey
Servings: 13
Calories: 541 kcal
Author: Cooking with Mamma C
Thanksgiving Turkey
  • 13 pounds turkey (whole; fresh or thawed)
  • 1 orange
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 onion (medium)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • salt
  • pepper
Basting Sauce
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup white wine
  • juice from one lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 5 tablespoons butter (salted)
  • 5 tablespoons flour (all-purpose)
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch
  1. Thirty-five minutes before you need to start roasting the turkey, set out a large roasting pan with a rack. Take the turkey out of the fridge and remove the wrapping. Remove the plastic ring from the turkey legs. There is no need to rinse the turkey, unless there is any ice remaining inside the cavities. If so, rinse the cavity to loosen the ice so you can remove it. 

  2. Check both cavities of the turkey to remove the bag of giblets and the neck. Either save the neck for stock or discard it. Pat the turkey and cavities dry and place the turkey on the rack in your pan. Wash your hands well.

  3. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F and make sure there is room for the turkey on the center rack with nothing above it. Rinse and dry your orange and lemon. Cut them in half, then in half again. Peel your onion and quarter it. Peel your garlic and leave the cloves whole. Set a couple tablespoons of butter next to your turkey.

  4. Add salt and pepper to the turkey's large cavity. (If you'll be using salted butter, just lightly sprinkle the cavity with salt.) Stuff the cavity with the quartered orange, lemon, and onion. Add the garlic cloves.

  5. Rub two tablespoons of butter all over the outside of the turkey. You can place some under the skin if there's extra. Tuck the wings under the shoulders so the tips won't burn during roasting. Wash your hands well.

  6. To make the basting sauce, melt a stick of butter (8 tablespoons) in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock and a cup of white wine. Squeeze in the juice of one lemon. Peel two garlic cloves and add them to the pan, along with the pepper. Whisk to combine and cook until it's heated through.

  7. Pour half of the basting sauce all over the turkey. Loosely cover the turkey with foil and place the turkey in the heated oven. Set a timer for 3 hours (or 13 minutes per pound). Set a second timer for 45 minutes, because you will be basting the turkey every 45 minutes. The sauce can stay at room temperature for up to two hours. Refrigerate it at that point and reheat it on the stove before basting again.

  8. Every 45 minutes, take the turkey out of the oven and quickly close the door so the heat won't escape. Baste the turkey with some basting sauce (if you don't have a turkey baster, just spoon some of the sauce over the turkey.) If the pan juices are getting dried out, add some water to the pan. Cover the turkey loosely with foil and continue baking.

  9. Remove the foil during the last hour of roasting, so the skin can brown.

  10. Use an instant thermometer to check for doneness. The turkey needs to reach 165 degrees F to be fully cooked. Check the temperature of the breast, a drumstick and thigh to make sure they're all at least 165 degrees. If the temperature is less than that, roast the turkey for another 15 minutes or so.

  11. When the turkey is done, place it on a cutting board and loosely cover it with foil. Let the turkey rest for 20-30 minutes to let the meat absorb the juices.

  12. While the turkey is resting, make the gravy. Melt five tablespoons of butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the flour and cook for a minute while whisking.

  13. Add 2 1/2 cups chicken stock and 1/2 cup water to the saucepan. Whisk to combine. Add your Worcestershire, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Whisk constantly as the gravy cooks.

  14. To thicken the gravy, add a teaspoon of corn starch to a tiny bowl. Spoon some of the gravy over the corn starch and whisk to combine. Add this mixture to your saucepan of gravy and continue whisking until the gravy thickens. Keep in mind, it will thicken further when it cools.

  15. Carve the turkey and serve with gravy. Store leftover turkey and gravy separately in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

A good rule of thumb is to buy a pound of turkey per person for Thanksgiving. If using a larger turkey (up to 17 pounds), keep all the recipe ingredients the same, but increase the butter used to rub on the turkey before roasting.

Note that the calories per serving are actually less than what's calculated here, because this number includes all the basting sauce.

Nutrition Facts
Mom's Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 541 Calories from Fat 216
% Daily Value*
Fat 24g37%
Saturated Fat 8g50%
Cholesterol 249mg83%
Sodium 508mg22%
Potassium 791mg23%
Carbohydrates 5g2%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 71g142%
Vitamin A 370IU7%
Vitamin C 1.1mg1%
Calcium 42mg4%
Iron 3mg17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.