A perfect, gluten-free roast turkey for your Thanksgiving holiday! I have tips and tricks on how to make this easy for you!
I started cooking roast turkey on Thanksgiving several years ago, when we began hosting the big day. I love it! Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and one of my favorite things to cook on Thanksgiving is the main course!There are a ton of gluten-free brands of turkeys out there and one that is known well is Butterball. Naturally, however, turkey is gluten-free. This roast turkey is succulent and moist and has very few ingredients. One thing I always do with my Thanksgiving turkey ever year is I stuff it. I grew up stuffing the turkey and it’s really the only way I cook it!
Stuffing a turkey adds flavor to meat, as well as the stuffing. All the breaded goodness inside the bird is cooking and being basted throughout the cooking process. The juices that drip into the pan make their way through some of the stuffing and it just adds so much flavor to the dressing. When you’re gluten-free, you want as much flavor as you can get! These flavors just taste like Thanksgiving perfection! Fantastic!
You will need salt and pepper for this roast turkey recipe. Kosher salt is hefty and seasons well, and it’s the only salt I use in my kitchen for the most part. I use freshly ground peppercorn because it is just so natural and has wonderful flavor. If you are going to make a turkey this year, I highly recommend using both! Seasoning with salt and pepper is very important when making turkey as it can taste bland without it. And for all of your holidays spices, be sure to turn to Spicely! They absolutely rock. They’re certified in everything and you can stock up on them all now. For any gluten-free certified spice you’re looking for, they are the best.
Now, you are also going to need foil. Hefty, big foil. You are going to be covering your bird while it cooks. That is what I do! Tenting your turkey inside the roasting pan will help to not overcook the breast meat. It also holds in moisture when needed. Don’t tightly secure the foil but simply tent it loosely. And you will need to baste your turkey every 30 minutes. Basting is a must in my house! Just spread the juices from the bottom of the pan over the top of the turkey all over, then continue to cook. Don’t leave the oven open for too long as you want that heat to stay in there! And if the liquid on the bottom of the pan looks low, then add more. You can add water but I usually use more chicken stock.
Ok, so the Countdown To A Gluten-Free Thanksgiving is really going strong! I have alot of notes below in this roast turkey recipe for you. This recipe is actually simple so don’t be afraid! I wanted to give you as much detail as possible. I was so afraid when I cooked my first turkey and I will always remember how easy it actually was! And it tasted phenomenal.
Keep in mind that when you are done cooking your turkey, be sure to make homemade gravy from the pan drippings. It’s the best! And it’s so easy! Just scrape the pan and loosen all the drippings while you’re turkey rests after cooking. Pour all the goodness into a smaller pan on the stovetop and heat up. Then add a bit of flour, like a tablespoon or two, and whisk it vigorously! After that you are simply adding chicken stock and stirring until the desired taste and consistency happens. That’s it! Be sure to add salt and pepper as well, and some people enjoy adding cream too.
This roast turkey is so awesome! It’s especially fantastic with this stuffing recipe and my mom’s green bean casserole recipe. You can use any gluten-free stuffing you like! Aleisa is a company that makes wonderful gluten-free stuffing.
I’ve got lots more notes in the recipe portion of this post so be sure to read through it. It was so much fun making a roast turkey before Thanksgiving. I can’t wait to make another one soon! The next one will literally be twice as big! It’s crazy! Can’t wait until the big day. I’m already getting so freaking excited! Are you!?!?
- one 12 pound whole turkey gluten-free
- kosher salt for seasoning
- ground peppercorn for seasoning
- turkey stuffing see recipe link for stuffing below
- chicken stock for bottom of pan and basting, homemade is best
- 1 stick butter
- fresh sage leaves
- poultry seasoning for seasoning
- canola spray for top of turkey to help golden
- heavy duty aluminum foil for tenting turkey and pan placement
- instant read thermometer for checking turkey temp
- large roasting pan
- paper towels to blot turkey dry
- trussing needle and twine for sewing up cavities
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Clean your turkey by removing innards (don't throw them away! Use them for homemade chicken stock! See notes below...), draining the liquid and blood inside the cavities, and running cool water all over the bird. Rinse out the cavities as well. Semi-dry the turkey inside the cavities and outside by gently patting with paper towels. Then let turkey sit out on a platter and let it rest for a few hours before cooking, so that it reaches room temperate.
Once turkey reaches room temperature, pat it dry one more time with clean paper towels. Season turkey with kosher salt and ground peppercorn by sprinkling all over the turkey and inside the cavities. Don't overdo it, just pinches all over.
Have your stuffing ready in a large bowl. You MUST stuff your turkey RIGHT BEFORE COOKING! Do NOT stuff ahead of time as this is what brings on bad bacteria.
Stuff your turkey by first filling the cavity end that is the neck area. You will be turning your turkey over to do this. Once stuffed, truss the cavity with a trussing needle and twine. You can also secure it shut with turkey lacers. You need to secure it shut if you are going to stuff your turkey, as simply folding it under will cause the stuffing to fall out during the cooking process.
Once trussed, sprinkle some salt and pepper all over the bottom of the turkey then turn it over. Tuck the wings under, unfasten the leg bones from the skin flap, then stuff the rear cavity full. Once stuffed, secure the leg bones back into the skin flap so that the ends criss-cross. The skin has a layer of yellow fat underneath. You can pull this off. But LEAVE the circular fat like bone part in place that is right below. This will seal the stuffing inside the cavity. If desired, secure the crisscrossed legs with twine as well.
Sprinkle salt and pepper all over the turkey again. Now you will season your turkey. Mix the room temperature butter stick with the sage. Chop up the sage leaves and simply mix in and fold with the butter, along with some salt and pepper, until thoroughly mixed. You can do this with a fork or your hands. Use as much chopped sage as you wish. I use a few tablespoons full.
With your hands, gently place fingers first between the skin and meat of the breast, and separate the skin from the meat. Do this slowly and gently, so as not to rip the skin. You will be separating all the skin along most of the breast area so your hands will slide deep in between the skin and meat.
Slowly take chunks of butter and insert into the space you have created between the skin and meat. Push it all in, then slowly spread it throughout the entire top of the turkey breast. Even the back edges. If you run out of butter, you can use more!! Your hands will be messy with butter and sage when you're done. Don't wash your hands yet! Spread that final mess all over the outer part of the skin as well! 🙂
After this, you are going to sprinkle a generous amount of salt and pepper all over the top of your turkey one last time. Salt is needed for a turkey as it is bland like chicken. Also sprinkle a good amount of poultry seasoning all over the turkey, including the thighs and drumsticks. Be generous! Poultry seasoning is fantastic on a turkey during Thanksgiving. Spicely is guten-free and absolutely fantastic.
Finally, take a can of canola cooking spray and gently spray the entire top of your turkey all around and all over. Not a ton, but a nice layer to secure the spices on top as well as assist the browning of the skin while cooking.
Place turkey in a large roasting pan with crumbled foil snakes at the bottom. Your bird will sit on these like on a plank. Pour a couple of cups or more of chicken broth in the bottom of the pan to keep bird moist while cooking. During the cooking process, you will be using this to baste. Place turkey in oven and roast for approximately 3 1/2 to 3 3/4 hours, depending on the size of your turkey. This is the allotted time for a 12 pound turkey in my oven.
Every 30 minutes or so, baste your turkey with the juices/pan drippings. I use a traditional turkey baster to baste the top and let it trickle down the bird. *But get a good one! The cheaper basters actually don't work at all and the drippings don't even hold inside the baster. If the liquid at the bottom of the pan looks low, add more broth. You want liquid, a good amount, to keep the turkey moist. Tent turkey loosely with foil tightly again, and after each basting.
BEGIN WATCHING THE TURKEY AT THE 3 HOUR MARK BY CHECKING THE INTERNAL TEMPERATURE. If your turkey skin is not brown enough for you, take off the foil completely. It will brown quickly, I promise. But be careful because you DO NOT want to overcook that white meat!! Have a meat thermometer handy! Baste the turkey one last time or if you already basted recently, spray cooking spray over the top of the breast. This will help quickly brown the skin. The center of the stuffing and cavity will need to read at approximate 160 degrees. This is when you know it is done! I do not use 165 degrees as the determining done factor. I use 160 degrees because when you take the turkey out and keep it covered to rest, the temperature will continue to rise. You will have reached your 165 degree mark after resting. The thigh should read about 170 degrees when removing and should reach 175 during rest time. Once the turkey is done, remove it from the oven and keep it tightly foiled and let rest for approximately 20 to 25 minutes.
Once rested, it is best to cut apart the turkey quickly before serving. In this video, Bobby Flay shows you the perfect way to carve a turkey! Note: He mentions to 'let the turkey rest for about an hour.' However, this is not necessary in my opinion.
SEE NOTES BELOW:
All cooking temps and times vary from oven to oven, so get to know yours!
- Be mindful that the cooking times on store bought turkeys usually are not quite accurate. Always begin using your thermometer to check temperatures around the bird well before the allotted stated times, as those times usually overcook the turkey.
FRESH IS BEST! Using a fresh turkey will yield a much juicier, better tasting bird. It's really the way you should go for Thanksgiving. You can buy them fresh at stores, purchase from local farmers, or order them ahead of time. However you do it, a fresh turkey is just overall better and won't dry out like a frozen one will.
BE SURE YOUR BIRD IS ROOM TEMPERATURE BEFORE ROASTING! This is VERY important. It will result in a more evenly cooked bird.
USE FOIL ON THE BREAST! I cannot stress this enough. The breast will cook faster than the rest of the bird, so it needs to be protected earlier. I usually spray the top skin of the turkey with canola cooking spray right before putting my turkey in the oven and loosely tenting it with a large piece of heavy duty foil. My turkey always still browns this way. You do not need to tightly secure your bird, but simply loosely tent it in place. If you feel the skin is not browned enough, spray cooking oil all over the top of the bird near the end of the cooking time, and remove the foil. Basting also helps to brown the skin. Just be mindful not to overcook the breast!
USE AN INSTANT READ MEAT THERMOMETER! Be sure you have a good instant read meat thermometer on hand. THIS is what will determine when you're turkey is done. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT! Again, center of the stuffing temperature should be around 160, and the inner part of the thigh should read about 170 before pulling it out of the oven. Note that the white meat in the breast will reach the 165 degree mark well before the rest of the bird!
BASTE BASTE BASTE! I always baste my turkey, every half hour. It keeps juices flowing on top which is just needed to keep the bird moist. A turkey is different from a duck. A duck has thick, hard to penetrate skin. Which is why it's necessary to score the skin before cooking to let the fat render all over the meat. A turkey does not have thick skin so it needs to be basted. There is not alot of fat in turkey skin so helping render the meat on top is needed through basting. You will not ruin the darkened skin on top of the breast meat. It will be fine. Plus, I would much rather have skin that isn't browned enough than overcooked white meat!
SAVE THE BONES! Once you've cut up your turkey and or eating, save those bones and use them with the turkey innards to make a fantastic, homemade chicken stock. Here is my recipe for a gluten-free chicken stock! You can freeze and store to use for Christmas!!!! Yippie!!
Make your stuffing by using my stuffing recipe!
***PLEASE NOTE: when making stuffing recipe, keep in mind it is for a casserole stuffing. So, you will have a bit left over after stuffing your bird! Be sure to also OMIT the mushrooms, and REDUCE the liquid amount by half!
If you do NOT want to stuff your turkey, do everything the same but insert an onion and lots of herbs inside the cavities, then lessen the cooking time by at least a half an hour.