Serves a Crowd

Slow-Roasted Turkey

November  8, 2014
5 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
Author Notes

This method produces an amazingly crisp skin and some very juicy meat. It requires a lot of time and a very low oven temperature, so it's a good method for those with kitchens with two ovens (lucky!) or for when you're cooking the turkey ahead of time and reheating gently before the big meal. —Erin Jeanne McDowell

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: Erinmcdowell is our Test Kitchen Manager. She wears bandanas and has a dog named Brimley.
WHAT: A turkey that embodies the moral, “Slow and steady wins the race.”
HOW: Place your turkey on a rack in a roasting pan and butter him up. Stuff the bird with lemon and herbs, then roast low and slow for 10 hours, basting frequently. An hour before dinner starts, crank up the heat and finish the turkey for that crispy, golden skin.
WHY WE LOVE IT: This foolproof method ensures a turkey with snappy skin and juicy meat. Plus, you do all of the heavy lifting ahead of time, which means less stress during the hour before the meal: Start the turkey early in the morning, then finish the cooking when your guests arrive. —The Editors

  • Prep time 48 hours
  • Cook time 11 hours
  • Serves a lot
  • 14 pounds turkey
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) softened butter (preferably something with high butter fat, like Plugrá or Kerrygold)
  • 5 lemons, halved
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 4 sprigs sage
  • 1 pinch Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, for seasoning
  • 1 cup white wine
In This Recipe
  1. OPTIONAL FIRST STEP: One of the keys to a miraculously crispy skin is a VERY dry turkey. The best way to accomplish this is to air dry your turkey (in the refrigerator) for 1 to 2 days before you roast. I know this sounds a little crazy, and I do have the luxury of a second fridge at home, but I do it with my chickens too—and it makes a huge difference. Unwrap the turkey, rinse it, and pat it dry inside and out with paper towels. Then place the turkey onto a tray or into a roasting pan and refrigerate, uncovered, for 24 to 48 hours.
  2. Preheat your oven to 250° F. Remove the wing tips or tuck them behind the turkey by bending them backwards and securing them near the neck. Tie the legs tightly together. Place the turkey on a roasting rack inside a roasting pan.
  3. Use your hands to evenly cover the outside of the turkey with the softened butter. Make sure to get the sides.
  4. Stuff the inside of the turkey with the lemon and herb sprigs. Season the turkey well with salt and pepper (inside and out). Pour the white wine into the base of the roasting pan.
  5. Roast the turkey, basting every hour or so (you can go 2 to 3 hours safely without basting, but every hour is best), until the skin is crisp and evenly golden, about 10 hours. (Basting often is the best way to ensure a crisp skin and a moist interior. You could not baste it as often, but the more you baste it, the crisper the skin, the more even the browning, and the juicier the interior.) At this point the turkey can be safely cooled and held until you're ready to reheat and serve.
  6. Turn up the oven temperature to 375° F. Roast the turkey for 40 minutes, until the skin is even crisper and more golden and the meat is fully cooked through. Let cool at least 15 to 30 minutes before carving.

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I always have three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's wrapped in a pastry crust. My newest cookbook, The Book on Pie, is out on November 10th, 2020.