How to Roast a Turkey Overnight
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
for the BEST turkey ever, slow roast it and use more tips for juicy white meat, sleeping late on holidays and so much more. My perfected method is undeniable and produces a delicious turkey everyone can enjoy easily with these tips, times, and oven temperatures. And other recipes for a delicious holiday meal.
Recipe type: Main Dish, Protein
Cuisine: American
Serves: 20+ servings
  • 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 (32 oz)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Rinse turkey, remove giblets, and neck.
  3. remove turkey legs from the plastic holder if needed, rinse out the inside of the turkey really well on both ends, the cavity, and the neck.
  4. Then drain the water out of the turkey.
  5. Place the legs back into the plastic holder.
  6. 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)
  7. most turkeys nowadays have a plastic piece securing the legs, you bake the turkey with that in.
  8. Alternatively, you can tie the legs together with baking string, or simply tuck them under the bird.
  9. Pat dry with a paper towel.
  10. Rub room temperature butter over the top of the turkey
  11. add salt and pepper.
  12. Place 4 cups of water into the bottom of the roasting pan
  13. wrap in aluminum foil
  14. Place the turkey in the oven,
  15. Roast the turkey for one hour at 400 degrees
  16. then turn the oven to 200° (or 250° if your oven doesn't hold a steady lower temperature) and roast 8-9 hours
  17. otherwise, turn the temperature to 250 degrees
  18. Roast turkey overnight for 9-10 hours
  19. *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°- 250°F. 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°.
  20. 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.
  21. LONGER is better for slow roasting, having the turkey fall off the bone is far better than undercooked tough meat.
  22. ALLOW PLENTY OF TIME, if your turkey needs an extra hour plan ahead for that.
  23. Turkey will stay hot for at least an hour or TWO before carving.
  24. 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.
  25. If your oven runs cool, it will need more time to cook.
  26. If your oven runs hot, it may be done sooner.
I prefer my turkey just lightly seasoned with salt and pepper. If you prefer rosemary, go ahead and add some, Place a few sprigs into the cavity and on top. If you prefer a citrus flavor slice up a lemon and orange and place those into the cavity. If you love garlic, rub the outside with crushed garlic. All are good. I've done them all. I still prefer it with just salt and pepper.

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 without any 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.
I start the oven at 400° then turn it down after the first hour to 200°
If you don’t start it at 400° the turkey will need an extra hour.
If your oven doesn’t hold a low temp of ° well roast it at 250° and subtract an hour from the roasting schedule in the post for the weight you’ll be roasting.
Here is the full post if you need to refer to it
Recipe by Created by Diane at