Oven-Roasted "Low & Slow" Whole Turkey

Oven-Roasted "Low & Slow" Whole Turkey

The thought of cooking a whole turkey can be daunting, but believe me when I tell you that you CAN do this! I typically cook three turkeys for Thanksgiving every year, and one of them is always prepared via this oven method. It gives you a juicy oven-roasted turkey with plenty of nice drippings to make homemade gravy.

Whole Turkey in the oven

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 12 hours


  • Whole Turkey (thawed)
  • Salt


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Rub a small amount of salt on both the inside & outside of your thawed turkey. Just a little bit goes a long way. You'll want it to soak in, not just sit on the surface. We only use up to 0.5% of the turkey's weight, so for a 20# bird we estimate using up to ~0.1 pounds or ~7 tsp of salt at the most, but you can surely use less than that. Remember that you don't need to add very much salt before cooking to achieve the same flavor profile as a larger amount of salt added after cooking would.
  3. Place your turkey in the roasting pan in the 400 degree oven for 1 hour. Make note of what time you put the turkey in the oven.
  4. After 1 hour, lower the oven temperature to 200 degrees F.
  5. Once the internal temp of the turkey breast hits 160 degrees, turn the oven temp down to 170 degrees. I like to use my ThermoWorks bluetooth thermometer to keep track of the temp of the turkey throughout the entire cooking process, but if you do not have a bluetooth thermometer, you can just check it yourself periodically.
  6. Allow the turkey to cook for a total of 12 hours on 20+ pound turkeys. *Check the table below for times on smaller birds.* You do not want to overcook the breasts, so aim for the 160-165 degree range throughout most of the 12 hours. I like to do the low & slow because it gives you a broader serving window. (I'm sure my family isn't the only family that struggles to eat "on time" right?)  It is completely fine & ready to eat as soon as it hits 160 degrees, but on the bigger birds especially, the legs will get more tender over a longer cook time.

*Total time recommendations based on turkey weight:

 12-15 lb

15-18 lb

18-20 lb

20+ lb

6 hours

8 hours

10 hours

12 hours


That's it, you're ready to carve! I typically only let it rest for 1-2 minutes to allow it to hold the juices, but you can let it rest for longer- that is personal preference. Be sure to save the drippings for gravy! (Our homemade gravy recipe can be found here: https://gunthorpfarms.com/blogs/recipes/homemade-turkey-gravy)


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