- Prep time 48 hours
- Cook time 11 hours
- Serves A lot
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
This turkey recipe embodies the moral: “Slow and steady wins the race.” Yes, it will take a couple of days to prepare and hours to cook, but the end result will blow your mind away, and you'll get that perfect crispiness and texture. You don't need any fancy ingredients or special equipment either; all you need is a little patience in order to let the bird cook low and slow. This is how you do it: Simply place your turkey on a rack in a roasting pan and butter it 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. 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.
All ovens are different, so be sure to check the internal temperature of the meat about 8 hours after you start cooking. Some may be more powerful than others and result in different cook times. You can also brine the turkey before you air-dry for even more flavor. If you love the end result, try this method with a whole chicken too—of course, keep in mind the cook time will be far less, so keep your thermometer handy. —The Editors
(14-pound) whole turkey
(1 stick) softened butter (preferably something with high butter fat, like Plugrá or Kerrygold)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- OPTIONAL FIRST STEP: One of the keys to 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. Place the turkey onto a tray or in a roasting pan and refrigerate, uncovered, for 24 to 48 hours.
- Heat the oven to 250°F. Remove the wing tips or tuck them behind the turkey by bending them backward and securing them near the neck. Tie the legs tightly together. Place the turkey on a roasting rack inside a roasting pan.
- Using your hands, evenly cover the outside of the turkey with the butter. Make sure to get the sides.
- Stuff the inside of the turkey with the lemon, rosemary, sage, and thyme. Season well with salt and pepper (inside and out). Pour the wine into the roasting pan.
- Roast the turkey, basting every hour or so (you can go 2 to 3 hours safely without basting, but every hour is best), for about 10 hours, until the skin is crisp and evenly golden. (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 until you're ready to reheat and serve.
- Increase the oven temperature to 375°F. Continue to roast the turkey for about 40 minutes, until the skin is even crisper and more golden and the meat is fully cooked through. Let cool for at least 15 to 30 minutes before carving.