I have roasted lots of turkeys. I first started off cooking a turkey the way my mom did it. Then one night, I just knew I was ready for a change. Viola, overnight roasted turkey and a lot less stress for holiday meals was the answer.
How to Roast a Turkey Overnight
It was 1 AM and I had baked all the pies and got everything ready for Thanksgiving day and was exhausted.
The thought of getting up early to put the turkey into the oven was not exciting.
I decided to slow-roast the turkey overnight at a lower temperature than I normally would so that I would not have to tend to it.
It turned out PERFECT!!!
OMG, my mind was blown, why hadn’t I thought of that before, all those early mornings I woke up just to put the turkey in and then by the time I served dinner I was exhausted. I slow roasted my turkey’s anyway, but this made it the PERFECT way to roast a turkey!
The meat was juicy and I had plenty of time to let it rest,
and have my oven free for other things! *BONUS!
I have had turkey dinners at other people’s homes and while it was nice, I could never help think to myself how do people think that taking the turkey out of the oven 10 minutes before serving it was a good idea, the turkey needs to rest, the juices settle into the meat and make it irresistible!
Slow roasting is the way to go! Especially if you like to sleep.
Holidays are stressful enough and if you’re doing the cooking, TRUST me you need to start roasting your turkey overnight!
I often get messages asking what my favorite items are to use so I’ve added a few below and HERE is the full list of my favorites.
This is most similar to the turkey roasting pan I use. I’ve had it for years and love it.
These turkey lifters work great, they really help lift heavy turkeys easily.
This is my favorite thermometer, it may seem pricey, but it’s so fast and no more burning fingers when cooking, baking, or grilling! I’ve bought many for gifts and everyone says it’s the BEST Gift EVER!
If you cook, you need the right tools to make your job, easier, more efficient so your meals will be less stressful!
Now if you still want to roast your turkey by getting up at a crack of dawn you’ll need to see this! And it works great whenever you want to be sure you don’t oversleep.
Slow roasted cooking takes time and if you follow the suggestions on the package of the turkey I do NOT feel that is enough time at all to have a delicious turkey.
That is the way to have a turkey cooked but in my opinion, not the best tasting turkey.
The meat will not be tender. It won’t come off the bone easily either.
The best part of the slow-roasting turkey is the delicious juicy results.
I made a 20-pound turkey this week, just to share with you how exactly I do it.
I always make at least a 20-pound turkey, I figure why not have extra turkey. I’m already making it, why not make more. It’s really no more work to cook a 20 lb turkey than it is a 10 or 15 lb turkey.
(for every 2 lbs of turkey more or less than 20 lbs add or subtract an hour to the time of 9 hours)
You can always leave the turkey in longer, I’ve had my turkey in for an extra 3 hours and it was falling off the bone, really it was delicious. Juicy turkey, easy to remove the bones but it didn’t look quite as pretty) but I don’t carve at the table.
I love having the turkey to put in all sorts of meals. And I don’t want to have to “cook” the whole weekend after a Holiday meal and I know I’m not alone.
I use a large roasting pan with a rack. I have also just placed the turkey in the bottom of the pan over top of some scrunched up aluminum foil.
I prefer the rack, it’s sturdier and the turkey itself does not sit on top of the liquid.
Cover the turkey with aluminum foil before placing the turkey into the oven.
I took the turkey out of the oven to show you how it’s going, it has about another hour to go.
- Be sure to check the temperature of the turkey with a thermometer.
- Don’t guess, undercooked turkey is not something you want to serve, the juice of a turkey should run CLEAR, not pink. Carving turkey that is not fully cooked it tough to slice, it’s resistant, that is another clue that the turkey needs more time.
- The fail-proof way to roast a turkey is to use a thermometer.
- The breast should be at 165 degrees and the thighs should be at 170 degrees.
- Remove the turkey from the oven, and now it’s time for the turkey to take a rest.
- It’s difficult to carve a hot turkey and it doesn’t carve as well as it does when it’s cooler either.
I do not set a big turkey on the table and begin carving (I think that is something you only see on TV)
You also see people putting a big turkey in the oven frozen or somehow it thaws out in a couple of hours, again only on TV does that seem to work.
The truth is it takes days to thaw a 20 lb. turkey!
2-3 days in cold water (I thaw my turkey in a cooler) this is my preferred method. We have a large cooler, I clean it and then fill it with water. Place the turkey inside still wrapped in its original plastic wrapping)and cover it and let it thaw. If I remove it from the freezer midday say that’s day 1 I am ready to roast it late on day 3.
or 3-4 days in the fridge. I take it out of the freezer on say day 1 it’s ready to go into the oven the evening of day 4.
If it’s still frozen, fill a clean sink with cold water and let the turkey set it inside, until it’s completely thawed.
Make sure your oven rack is low enough to fit your turkey with equal airspace around the whole turkey, this will ensure even cooking.
This time guide is a guide, be sure your oven is at the temperature for roasting and that you use an oven thermometer to test your turkey. Be sure your turkey is thawed before putting it into the oven.
It is no uncommon for the internal temperature of a well-cooked turkey to be above the recommended temperature while still producing a delicious and juicy turkey, as long as it’s slow-roasted the meat will not dry out.
I have LOTS of recipes on my website and hope you’ll have a minute to take a look around. There is a “recipes” tab on the top toolbar of my site to help you locate all the recipes.
and if you are into baking I just LAUNCHED my new COOKIE GUIDE, it’s FREE
Great GRAVY recipe, you can even make this gravy a day ahead to save time on the last-minute rush of getting the food on the table.
Potato Recipes can be found here:
- Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes
- Spinach Artichoke Mashed Potatoes
- Sour Cream and Onion Mashed Potatoes
- Roasted Holiday Potatoes
- Easy Cheesy Potato Casserole (made with frozen hash browns)
- The BEST Potato Salad– yes you can serve a dinner on holidays that is cold, you can choose turkey sandwiches if you’d like too, there are NO RULES!
TIME and OVEN TEMPERATURE in the instructions below.
Be sure your oven holds a lower temperature well. If it fluctuates greatly you’ll need to bring the temperature up 50 degrees to be sure the turkey will be done on schedule. When I message people who have had differing results they often say they think it’s their oven. Roasting the turkey at 300 will produce good results. Be sure you cook the turkey long enough and that you have plenty of time to have the turkey rest so the juices absorb into the meat as it cools.
When cooking any items that take a while, having a plan is best.
Be sure to allow enough time, to prep, cook, rest, and slice the turkey. Do not try and RUSH a SLOW ROASTED TURKEY, it’s pointless, and you won’t like the results.
- 20-pound turkey
- 2 tablespoon butter
- salt (I prefer coarse Kosher Salt, the meat and drippings don't taste over-salted)
- black pepper
- 4 cups water
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Rinse turkey, remove giblets and neck.
- remove turkey legs from the plastic holder if needed, rinse out the inside of the turkey really well both ends, the cavity, and the neck.
- Then drain the water out of the turkey.
- Place the legs back into the plastic holder.
- Place thawed turkey on a rack in roasting pan, breast side down (this will ensure juicy turkey breast and not dry meat, the juices run down to the breast)
- most turkeys nowadays have a plastic piece securing the legs, you bake the turkey with that in.
- Alternatively, you can tie the legs together with baking string, or simply tuck them under the bird.
- Pat dry with a paper towel.
- Rub room temperature butter over the top of the turkey
- add salt and pepper.
- Place 4 cups of water into the bottom of the roasting pan
- wrap in aluminum foil
- Place the turkey in the oven,
- Roast the turkey for one hour at 400 degrees
- then turn the oven to 200° (or 250° if your oven doesn't hold a steady lower temperature) and roast 8-9 hours
- otherwise, turn the temperature to 250 degrees
- Roast turkey overnight for 9-10 hours
- *be sure your oven holds a solid temperature at 200 for hours and does not drop below that with an additional thermometer you put in the bottom of your oven. If your oven doesn't hold at 200 try 250. Most people don't have their ovens on for 8+ hours at a low temperature, and I've found they don't check them, so you could roast it at 250°.
- Just before you think it's done, you can turn the oven temperature to 350° to brown the skin uncovered if it's not brown yet. This usually takes 20 minutes.
- LONGER is better for slow roasting, having the turkey fall off the bone is far better than undercooked tough meat.
- ALLOW PLENTY OF TIME, if your turkey needs an extra hour plan ahead for that.
- Turkey will stay hot for at least an hour or TWO before carving.
- The temperature of the breast should be at least 165 degrees and the thigh should be at 170 degrees. (but I really prefer when the meat is closer to 180°-185°, as long as it's slow-roasted it will not be dry, the liquid in the pan will help keep it moist, and with the breast down it won't dry out.
- If your oven runs cool, it will need more time to cook.
- If your oven runs hot, it may be done sooner.
You can leave the turkey in the oven longer than the suggested time at 200° the turkey is SLOW roasted so longer is not a bad thing. I've had my turkey in the oven 2 hours longer with no problems, the turkey bones will start to break down and bit and may fall apart, the meat will really fall off the bone this way.
Be sure to pick up a copy of my ebook of over 50 HOLIDAY RECIPES
Be sure to look through my recipe index for more recipes as well. The recipe index tab is at the top of the page.
TO REHEAT the TURKEY: I allow the turkey to rest for an hour. Then I slice it and place it all on a platter and cover it with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge. Then about an hour before serving I take it out of the fridge and place it on the counter and unwrap it for about a half hour, then I put it in a heated oven 300-350° and heat it up, avoid overheating and drying it out by covering it with foil, spritz it with water (or chicken broth) if you feel it’s necessary. The turkey is the first thing to cool off on a large meal, if your gravy is HOT, everyone will love it. As long as the turkey is not ice cold, it will be enjoyed!
Find more HOLIDAY RECIPES HERE