How to Roast a Turkey Overnight

Need a great slow roasted turkey recipe you’ll use for years to come, all the information is in this post. You can roast your turkey overnight or begin it in the morning if you choose. if you start the turkey at night, you’ll get to sleep late and have this no fuss turkey beautifully roasted and ready when you are.   

roasting turkey overnight all you need to know to make every holiday dinner great and stress free

How to Roast a Turkey Overnight


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. This slow-roasted turkey is just the perfect main dish to holiday meals and I have lots of tips on cooking and serving this delicious bird too.

Traditions! There’s nothing more comforting than a holiday tradition, especially after the year 2020 dished up to us, whew! But sometimes you want a new twist on an old favorite. Which is why I decided a few years ago to switch up tradition and opt for an over-night roasted turkey recipe!

After all, with the hubbub in the house and the many side dishes a holiday requires – your oven is going to be busy. Why pull your hair out the morning of trying to balance it all when you can wake up to the smell of crisp, golden-brown turkey ready for your holiday get-together?

And the best part of any holiday meal is the leftovers. I have some excellent ideas for this succulent and juicy turkey you’ll be making – that is if there’s any left once your guests head home. I offer new twists and old tried and true favorites; Instead of plain jane turkey sandwiches, I have Cornbread Waffle Sandwiches with Cranberry Aioli. And getting creative and trying new ways to enjoy leftovers encouraged me to create this one à Left Over Pizza with Turkey and Roasted Cranberries. I have many more to explore!

Now, let’s talk turkey:

A common question I receive about roasting turkey overnight is, “Won’t the turkey get cold waiting for everything else to finish?”

Well, it can BUT hang with me – here’s how it all comes together! (it’ll depend on when you’re serving)

 I allow the turkey to rest for at least an hour and then slice it, (do not slice a hot turkey, all the juices run out and leave the meat dry, just like a great steak… rest is key)

So if you’re planning an early mealtime great or I place it all on a platter and cover it with plastic wrap. I store it in the fridge until about an hour before serving. When I’m ready, I allow the turkey to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes (don’t skip this step!), then I put it in an oven that has been pre-heated to 300-350°.

It doesn’t take long to re-heat the turkey so keep an eye on it to avoid overheating and drying it out. You can also cover it in foil or spritz it with water (or chicken broth) if you want to be extra careful. Regardless the turkey is the first thing to cool off in a large meal, so keep your gravy HOT and everyone will love it. As long as the turkey is not ice cold, it will be enjoyed and enjoyed again the next day!

Below I walk you through how to make this hassle-free turkey, so without further ado – let’s get to it! Gobble Gobble!

This is how this method was all developed

… 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.

At all!

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. I knew at a lower temperature it would take longer, but knowing what I do about cookie slow roasted meats are always delicious, so I slept late and the next morning opened my oven…

and the turkey turned out PERFECT!!!

I just knew this method of cooking a turkey would interest anyone who cooks for holiday meals.

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,

carve it,

make gravy,

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!


How to roast a turkey upside down and overnight @createdbydiane

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.

how to slow roast a turkey


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.

It’s EASY!

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.

Having the turkey cooked makes for easy meals, just add the turkey to these meals to replace the chicken. Chicken Pot Pie, Green Chicken Chili, Thanksgiving casserole.


preparing to roast a turkey



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.



roasting a turkey



Cover the turkey with aluminum foil before placing the turkey into the oven.


slow roasted 20 pound turkey


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. (I do prefer when the turkey is at a slightly higher temperature, as long as you are slow roasting the turkey it won’t be dry even with the higher temperature)
  • 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 time to thaw a 20 lb. turkey!

Plan ahead.

Thaw your turkey in cold water or in the refrigerator.

2 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. (I have thawed a 15 lb turkey in water and it took 4 hours)

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.

turkey breast sliced after SLOW ROASTING IT OVERNIGHT


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. 

Turkey                slow roasting time        resting times

25-26 lb              11-12 hours                  2 hours

23-24 lb               9-10 hours                   1.5-2 hours

21-22 lb                8-9 hours                     1-2 hours

18-20 lb                7-8 hours                      1 hour

16-18 lb                 6-7 hours                     1 hour

14-16 lb                 5-6 hours                     1 hour

Use the longer time if roasting at 200° and use the shorter time if roasting at 250°

Start the turkey at 400° F for the first hour. If you don’t extend the roasting time by an hour.

I have roasted all sizes of turkeys and used this schedule. I will mention I always estimate  I may need an extra hour to cook the turkey, 

Example: a 20 lb turkey will take about 10 hours start to finish.

400° for 1 hour

200° for 8 hours, then take the foil off turkey (brown skin at 350° for 15 minutes)

1 hour of resting time

Let’s suppose you are getting close to the time you think the turkey will be done,

And it doesn’t quite have an internal temperature of 165°.
What should you do?

Use an oven thermometer to be sure your oven is holding the temperature you set it to.

Turn the temperature of your oven up 50°. This will increase the heat, but you will still be roasting it at a low temperature of 350-300° which will ensure your turkey will be moist and juicy.


If you want to print this click here 

Truthfully, I always make sure I have at least an hour cushion in case I need to cook my turkey longer, remember cooking it at a low temperatures it will not be dry even if you roast it longer. 

I have roasted turkeys 2 hours longer than the schedule above without any problems, the bones start to soften a little more and the meat almost begins to fall off the bone, which makes it easier to carve as a bonus.

I always figure it’ll take at least 10 hours to slow roast my turkeys, keep that in mind!

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:

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overnight turkey recipe, method, great results every single time you make a turkey

TIME and  OVEN TEMPERATURES are in the instructions below. (on the printable recipe card for easy reference)

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.

Can I cook the turkey right side up?

Absolutely, you can roast the turkey right side up or upside down, I’ve done it both ways many times with great results, slow roasting a turkey is the foolproof way of ensuring a juicy turkey.

Can I roast my turkey longer without it drying out?

Yes, I have roasted my turkey for an additional 2 hours and it was delicious, that is the bonus of slow roasting.

No matter the size, I typically plan on a 10 hour roasting time myself, the guide above is more specific to turkeys I’ve roasted at the minimum internal temperature, but as I mentioned I like the turkey to be cooked a little longer, the bones weaken, the turkey is easier to pull apart to carve, the meat begins to fall off the bone, the turkey is moist and juicy when you slow roast.

What do I do if my turkey doesn’t seem to be done in the time stated?

As with any recipe, your oven may vary in temperature, allow extra time when you plan on cooking something to ensure you have enough time and your turkey is done exactly when you need it to be done. Allow an extra hour, maybe you’ll need to turn the temperature up for the last hour to get it to the desired doneness, and crisp up the skin the last 15 minutes or so. And you do not want to rush the RESTING time, this allows the turkey o absorb the juices and remain moist. Then you’ll carve it. 

Is it really safe to roast a turkey and have your oven on all night?

Yes, it is safe, the temperature is low, and the turkey is covered to reduce any risk of splattering. It’ll hold a temperature without anyone opening the oven door and letting the heat out. Even my mom, someone who swore she’d never try my method, did and likes it so much that she calls to tell me every time she uses this great overnight roasting method.

How long does it take to cook a turkey overnight?

With an average time of 9-10 hours, it’ll depend on the size of the turkey. It’ll slow roast and it’s easy to adjust your cooking schedule if you want to extend it a couple of hours or speed it up the last hour, just bring the heat up a bit and uncover it to crisp the skin.

Can I cook my turkey for 8 hours at 250 instead of a lower temperature?

Yes, just estimate that the turkey will be done an hour or two easier than the schedule I listed above. 

How do I make sure my turkey is moist?

Slow roasting ensures it will be moist, turkey the breast down is another great tip for moist white meat.

Where can I find more info on cooking turkeys?

Check out THIS comprehensive post on turkeys, how much you’ll need, how to cook it, different methods, seasoning, air fryer turkey, deep-fried turkey, electric roaster, brining, and other great tips you won’t want to miss.

Be sure to check out my post on turkey thawing for tips, timings, and methods.

Those are even more reasons roasting a turkey overnight is one of the best ideas ever!


How to roast a turkey upside down and overnight @createdbydiane
Print Recipe
5 from 3 votes

How to Roast a Turkey Overnight

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.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time10 hours
Total Time10 hours 10 minutes
Course: Main Dish, Protein
Cuisine: American
Servings: 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


  • 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 on 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 a 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°- 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°.
  • 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.


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

I read every comment, but on Holidays you can imagine I’m busy in the kitchen as well, some years I’m available for an immediate response, while other years I’m not as easy to get ahold of, but there are so many questions I’ve answered in the comment area and updated this post to be full of the information everyone has wanted overtime, take a look first, then feel free to message me and I hope to get back to you promptly.

how to defrost roast, fry, oven bag, spatchcock your perfect turkey

Be sure to see my post on Cooking, Methods, Times, Temperatures, and so much more information on TURKEY’S HERE.


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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!






    1. I’m still trying to convince my mom to do it this way. I think she’s done it once 🙂 I love having the oven free and turkey all day long!

    2. I put the 20 pound bird in the oven at midnight on 200. Checked on it an hour ago and it’s anemic looking and not too hot. I am beginning to doubt the process. I did cook for one hour initially at 400 prior to lowering the oven temp. It’s on a rack, covered with foil. I am tempted to turn oven up! HELP! Or at least calm me down…is this usual?

    3. Looking at the time this posted, I am definitely in another “zone”, it’s 7:10 a.m. now so it looks like I’m 2 hours ahead of you Diana. I didn’t want you to think I only had the bird in the oven for a few hours.

    4. I’m on the west coast. Cook your turkey until it reaches 165 is the key and yes in the last hour if you need to quicken it up you can turn the temperature up to 250, 300, or 350 if needed. A turkey roasted low and slow will creep up at the end and be cooked fine. I’ve cooked plenty of turkeys this way. You just need to check for the proper temperature before removing from oven and you’ll be fine.

    5. the first thing I do on Thanksgiving morning it tend to the two turkeys I have in my oven, so I’m just seeing this now at 9am. Hope the temp increase worked and that you have a lovely Thanksgiving.

    6. Sound’s like you may not have had a good enough seal with your foil lid, thus all of your steam escaped during cooking. This is only a guess of course. Try marinating your bird @ least 12 hrs & add some soy sauce, oyster sauce, tamarind or something dark & fermented to add some color to your bird. Cheer’s!

    7. A friend did it once overnight at 200 and it was the best turkey I’ve ever had. I’m doing one tonight and my dog and I will enjoy it for the next week.

    8. I allow the turkey to rest for at least 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!

    9. Hello, hee hee, its that time of year again already, you ought to be inundated with turkey questions starting about now. When you pull it out of the oven to rest for one hour, do you leave the foil on or remove at this point while it rests for the hour?

    10. So my turkey came out amazing, moist and tender wise. i pulled out the breastbone and the meat fell off,… seriously! However, it had basically no browning look at all compared to the pictures of yours. It was a 23 pounder i went ahead and did 11 hrs @ 200, was 175 in thighs and breast , it was covered with foil throughout cooking. Any idea why i don’t get the roast look? Did you do a higher temp at the end uncovered to get the browning?thx
      Happy Thanksgiving

    11. I’m happy to hear your turkey came out well. If it’s not as brown as you’d like, yes raise the temp and brown the skin until it’s at the crispiness you like. Sometimes it depends on the pan, some pans I’ve used produce a really brown skin others don’t and need a higher temp. My roasting pan is non-stick inside and somehow produces a crispy skin. I know people who have used aluminum foil pans (the throwaway type say it doesn’t brown) so you have to do what will work for you and your pan. I do also think it depends on how large your oven is, how close the bird is to the heat source etc.

    12. A variant of the method described in this recipe is to cook the turkey uncovered at 475 for 20 minutes, and then 20 minutes a pound at 250. Comes out PERFECT, beautiful color and very tender. No need for basting!. If you want to do this overnight, then you can still start with 475 for 20 minutes but you will need to lower the temperature to use up the overnight time. I have tried 200 degrees for a 20 # turkey. My calculations are about 8 1/2 hours at 200 for a 20# turkey, AFTER you start it off for 20 minutes at 475. Try it out on your family first, that is what I did.

    13. This is how I cook mine also! Upside down and I actually turn my over half way so it’s brown and where’s it been turned it’s still soooo juicy!!

    14. Any research I did on this says It’s not recommended to stuff the turkey since it cooks slower, (personally I like it cooked separate, I cook my stuffing in a casserole dish. But as long as the temperature of the stuffing reaches 165 degrees it will be fully cooked as the turkey juices will get to the stuffing abs you’ll want to be sure it’s all fully to temperature if you do stuff it 😉
      Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. I don’t stuff the turkey. Stuffing the turkey and cooking them is not recommended as the turkey takes quite some time to cook generally and the juice of it gets into the stuffing. Plus it takes longer to cook when it’s stuffed. I cook my stuffing on the side. That said. I’m not a huge rule follower and I’m sure if you were to stuff it, it would be fine.

    2. If you are concerned with bacterial growth around the stuffing in the cavity of the bird, try this: take several metal skewers and push them into the stuffing into the cavity of the bird until you feel them penetrate the interior cavity of the bird. Do this with the rest of the skewers so that they are evenly spaced. The metal skewer will catch the heat from the oven’s air and transmit the heat to the cavity of the bird where it will cook a little faster raising the local temperature above the danger zone. Also, always use pipping hot stuffing to put in the bird and then get the bird right in the oven after stuffing. There are many ways to deal with the possibility of bacteria. Also washing the bird with heavily salted warm water before you do anything with it will also help to disinfect the internal cavities of the bird. Think about what you have learned in Science class and apply it to cooking.

    3. I remember my mother cooked her stuffed turkey overnight in the oven. The fantastic smell would wake us up in the morning. Everything would be done to perfection. She would then make the gravy and mashed potatoes. As a 72 year old, I still think of all that glorious food she made. My parents would go to a farm to purchase the biggest turkey that they could find. What a fantastic life that was then.

  1. 5 stars
    A few years ago, it occurred to me to roast the turkey upside down. Then the juices traveled down into the turkey. It really makes a huge difference. I have gotten up at 5 in the morning just to put the turkey in the oven, so I could have the oven free to bake the rest of the things to have Thanksgiving lunch at 12. About 30 minutes before lunch, I totally cut all the turkey off the bones (except the legs), put enough turkey for lunch on a platter, and the rest of it straight into the frig/freezer.

    I have a Yorkie who gets totally hyper when he smells food cooking. I don’t think I would get any sleep if I had a turkey roasting throughout the night!

  2. This is brilliant! Excellent points about cooking and roasting a turkey Diane – and you are so right… what is this with carving a turkey without letting it rest?? The poor thing is exhausted after all that time in a hot oven :-).

    1. I’m so glad you like this recipe. I’m looking forward to another great turkey this year using this too!

  3. I think I missed something. Would you then, serve the turkey cold? I am just curious, if you have all of this time to use your oven for other things, won’t the turkey get cold?

    1. If we are not going to eat it within an hour or so, I put it in the fridge. I take it out about an hour before serving and it comes to room temperature, and serve with hot gravy. If I want it hotter I put it in the oven for 10 minutes with a pie plate of water under it so there is moisture in the oven and it doesn’t dry out when reheating. By the time a turkey is carved and served it is rarely hot, it’s more of a warm temperature so 10 minutes on a platter usually does the trick. I do serve all the other items hot. I have even heated the platter for serving the room temperature turkey and that works well too.

    2. Take a shallow sided cookie sheet, lay a cooling grill or two in pan. lay turkey slices on top. Next pour turkey or chicken broth over top and into cookie tray. reheat in a 250* oven for about 15/20 minutes.

    3. I always por some drippings on the Turkey after its sliced, and then just put in oven for a short time to reheat!

  4. My mother always cooked her turkey like this, and my husband and I have continued to do it this way. We always stuff ours with an herbed bread stuffing–my husband is stuffing the turkey right now! Neither one of us could remember if we usually roast it breast side up or down, which is how we found your site. Thanks for sharing–I thought my family was the only one who roasted overnight.

    1. If you roast a bag …do you set temp at 200 degrees? the turkey is 15 lbs. plan on roasting at 2 am. Dinner is between 1 & 2 pm

    2. I haven’t roasted a turkey in a bag, but I’m sure it will just hold in the juices so yes I think the temp will be the same.

    3. Cooking the turkey in a sealed bag will hold in the steam, which will change the cooking time. The cooking time will shorten. Another note, is that the turkey may need some time at a high temperature out of the bag to crisp up the skin. I recommend not using a bag mainly because plastic is bad for the environment and it does not really help with keeping juices in the meat. The one thing that really effects the moisture content of the meat is the temperature of the meat. The hotter the meat, the more juice that is forced out. So, low and slow should be your motto.

    4. Happy Thanksgiving! Can you tell me after you have your turkey cooked, it needs to rest for 1-2 hours, is the on the counter not in the fridge?Bernasdette

    5. Yes, rest in on the counter. The turkey will be piping hot for at the very least 1 hour. (depending on the size of the turkey) as it rests the juices will absorb into the meat, if you slice it when it’s too hot, the juices will run out leaving you with dryer meat as it cools, just like it would for any meat. So then you’ll carve the meat and place it on a platter, and depending on what time you’ll serve… decide if it’s ok at room temperature, or keep in warm in a very low temp oven with some chicken broth covered, or put it in the fridge and reheat it. Happy Thanksgiving

    6. I usually cook my turkey in a plastic cooking bag also. The turkey cooks faster this way so you might want to check the instructions on the bag and adjust down your cooking time. Now when I cook it over night I eliminate the cooking bag and cover my pan instead. Happy Thanksgiving! …….Sue J. WA

  5. I roasted my turkey overnight on 200 degrees but i was wondering how long it would take to get done. I do not want it to dry out on me that would horrible. I put it in the roaster oven I have so i could have the oven free for other things.

    1. It will depend on how many pounds your turkey is. At 20 lbs, it will be about 10 hours at the temp I believe. Test it with a meat thermometer to be sure it’s done. Cooking it at 200 will not dry it out, low and slow is better than a high temperature, that is what dries out a turkey. Check the temperature of the turkey after 8 hours, then check every half hour to hour. Then be sure to write it down for next time 🙂

    2. I don’t have a rack for my pan. If I put water in the bottom of my roaster I don’t want the turkey sitting in that do I ?

    3. You should make three or four large roughly scrunched up balls of aluminum to elevate the turkey. That does the trick.

    4. Happy Thanksgiving to u, n your family…. I cook my turkey in a cooker, i never cooked it at night… My question is, what tempture to cook on , gor it to juicy yummy turkey?

    5. your question is not very specific, do you want to know what temperature to cook it in a “cooker” which I’m guessing is an electric roaster oven? that answer is typically 325 for conventional roasting of a turkey, but it will work just as an oven, if you want to roast the turkey low and slow, start it off at a high heat for 30 minute to an hour then turn the temp down low, about 200-250 for the remaining time. Breast down for a juicy turkey!
      Happy Thanksgiving

  6. I have done my turkey the overnight way for 40 years. You get so much broth. I don’t use a rack so just stuff and put the turkey in the pan. I cook it all night on 225 degrees. Put it in before I go to bed and turn the oven off when I get up. I always use at least a 20 pound. If it’s smaller it is just too long cooking. The turkey is so tender it falls apart but that doesn’t bother me either. I never put the whole turkey on the table to serve it. I always put a platter of cut up turkey out.

  7. Ok, every year my dad insists on doing the turkey, this same way, except for he DOES NOT thaw the turkey first, crazy and unthinkable I know, but IT WORKS!!!

    1. Interesting, I’ve always thawed it. But I’m sure it would work frozen now that you mention it. I’ll have to give it a try sometime!

    2. How big of a turkey does your dad usually roast? I don’t think I bought a big enough one & I’m going to try & roast one 2 nights before & then have a turkey roasting the night of but I am having my Thanksgiving Tuesday so I’m running out of time!

  8. 5 stars
    Thank you! This was the best turkey I have ever made! Loved having crispy skin by not using the foil though. It was fall off the bone tender!

  9. Thank you!! I was searching for a good “low & slow” cooking instructions. Yours are perfect, I’m using the same size turkey…so i”m giving this a shot tonight.
    Thanks again.

  10. I pray you’re right about cooking a frozen bird! I’m going to give it a try tomorrow!
    I took our original frozen turkey out of the freezer and put it in the fridge in the garage three days ago. At that time, I turned down the temp a bit because the beer kept getting frozen. Yesterday I found all of the ice cream thawed in the freezer and nothing in the fridge very cool. The bird thawed over the last three days for sure, but so much so that I’m afraid that the temp in fridge may have not been cool enough! Out of fear of bacteria, I’m now faced with cooking a frozen turkey tomorrow (14 pounds). I will follow your directions explicitly! Thank you for the information! I want everyone to be thankful that it’s safe to eat!

    1. When do you take the foil off the turkey? And does the breast get a golden roasted color? What about making gravy, is there any liquid left in the pan? Thanks. Getting the bird ready for the oven NOW! Happy Thanksgiving

    2. You can remove the foil the last 1/2 hour of cooking. By checking the temperature of the turkey when it reaches 150 degrees or so would be suggested. The breast is down and will not get golden, but as you can see the turkey will be golden, but I don’t flip the bird to get the breast golden. You can certainly try to turn it. Yes there is plenty of liquid to make gravy.

    1. I typically take off the wings and legs first, so the weight of the bird is less and then remove the bones to expose the breast and carve it. I have flipped it as well. But just deconstructing it the way it comes out of the oven works fine too. Whatever is easiest for you will work.

  11. I’ve done this the last few years. It turns out so moist. Thanksgiving turkey always seemed so dry before I started doing this.
    One year it wasn’t quite thawed when I put it in the oven. I was nervous about it getting done, but it turned out perfect. Plus, because I couldn’t get the giblets out (they were frozen in), they cooked right along with the turkey. I just chopped them up for the gravy. Simple and delicious!

    1. Hi, can I brine the turkey first? I found an apple cider brine i want to try. The hubby wants some kind of sweet Turkey.

  12. I plan to try your overnight method. I already bought a 15 lb turkey. So, hoping it won’t be overcooked. Planning to eat right a noon on Turkey day. Would you suggest possibly NOT pre cooking the bird at the high temp – maybe just start it out at 225? Or does it need to come up to temp fast for safety. Or maybe I will set an alarm for 2 a.m. I am a worry wort.

    I am also planning to use a roaster oven which I have done for several years. I will just use a lower temp and hope for the best. Should I cover it with foil inside the roaster oven? I do not plan to stuff – I always do the dressing separately.

    Thanks for these tips.

    1. if your turkey is done before you thought, simply remove it from the oven. Carve it and reheat before serving. Heat it on a tray in the oven with about 2 cups of water next to it or below it in an oven safe dish. It will only take 10-15 minutes to quickly heat the meat before serving. I would start the temp higher and lower it as in my instructions.

    2. Thank you.

      I will follow your suggestions/directions. I may just stay up until midnight though and start it then :0) I am usually doing last minute prep until then anyway.

      I will cook the turkey overnight and cool/carve and prep it for reheating in the morning. Looking forward to trying this method. :0) I make my dressing and sweet potatoes ahead and will pop those into the oven after I am finished carving the turkey and putting it on the platters for reheating.

      I usually make the pies the evening before – I will just time them to be done about the time the turkey needs to go in. Thinking about using the oven – but may still go with the roaster oven.

    3. my estimation is that a 14 lb turkey will cook in about 7 hours with this method, check with a thermometer at 6 or 7 hours to see how it’s progressing.

    1. Or if you know a way to sweeten it? Like a glaze or somethin’? I was planning on stuffing it with leftover veggie from my sides to give the meat the same flavoring. But hubby wants a sweet Turkey. Im guessing like a brwn sugar.

    2. I think rubbing the turkey with apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, and some orange juice would be a good sweet glaze for the turkey. I recall someone telling me those ingredients a while ago for a glaze.

    3. Hello

      Question I have a baby bird 12 1/2 lbs due to COVID plan on stuffing what do you recommend time wise?

      Thank you!

    4. I think it’ll take about 6 hours, could be longer, use a thermometer to be sure the center of the stuffing reaches 165 degrees. When you take the turkey out of the oven, making sure all meat reaches a minimum of 165, cover it, let it rest at least an hour before carving.

  13. My Husband got me a 32 pound turkey! The biggest one I have ever done is 22 pounds, I’m not going to stuff it, do I put it in oven, breast side down 400 for 1 hour then turn down too 200? We will be eatin 12:30, so how long should I cook my turkey?

    1. that is a big turkey! Yes put it in the first hour at 400 degrees, yes roast it breast side down, and for the timing, I would figure on 15 hours, you can make the time shorter by raising the temperature to 250 if you need to speed it up at any time. during the cooking process.
      Happy Thanksgiving

  14. I have had my 24 pound turkey in the oven for almost 8 hours, on 200 degrees from the start, just looked at it and it is white. I’m afraid that when it’s suppose to be done in about 4 hours, it’s going to look the same. Help!

    1. It will brown up in 4 hours, remove foil and brown it up the last hour, increase the oven temp if you need to, to 300 or 350 and it will brown quick enough.

  15. Help!! I put my pasture-raised, fully thawed, unstuffed 17 lb bird in 450o oven for 1 hr. Then covered turkey with foil and Turned temp to 170o (based on Sppendid Table recipe). I checked bird this morning at 630 am and found my oven display said 170, but the thermometer on my oven rack read 150. Total panic set in. I turned oven up to 225 and all is now holding fine at 225. Dinner is in eleven hours. Is this bird okay to serve??

    1. It should be, but I do not recommend cooking it at 170, I recommend cooking a turkey at the low temp of 200 degrees, low lower, so I’m not sure about the temperature of cooking at 170 since I have not done it and don’t know what sppendid table is at all. I would think as long as you cook it fully you should be ok, when the turkey reaches the proper internal temperatures 165 breast, 170 thigh then remove turkey from oven, make your gravy, carve you turkey and put it in the fridge is you still have 10 hours to go and it’s fully cooked, do not leave turkey out on the counter after cooking for that many hours. Then simply have turkey on a platter sliced ehead with a little chicken broth or foil covering it for 15 mintues or so before serving.

    2. Diane, thank you for your response! I’ll go ahead and cook it to the proper temperatures as you describe and trust it will be okay. Have a wonderful holiday!

  16. Thank you for taking the time to share your recipe and answer all these questions on a holiday. It really worked wonderfully for me. I’m taking a bath and no stress on the turkey! Happy Holidays from Texas!

  17. I’d like to suggest brining the turkey. Besides adding flavor and juiciness to the bird, if your thawing isn’t going as fast as you hoped a cup of kosher salt per gallon of water will lower the freezing point to about 26F, This means that the big block of ice in the middle of your turkey will start melting at 26 degrees instead of of 32, they use salt to melt ice on roads and the brine does the same thing for your turkey. Just a thought

  18. I’m afraid I messed up my Turkey 🙁 It’s not browned like the pic you showed? My turkey was 15.77 lbs, and I didn’t realize the difference in your 20 lbs vs my 15.77 but it has temp of 165 in breast but the outside of skin looks light color and not brown. This doesnt look like the skin I love to eat on. Should I had uncovered toward the end?

    1. yes, if it’s not browned enough to your liking, remove foil and brown the last 1/2 hour. Different pans will brown a turkey differently. Foil throw away pans will not brown as a hard metal pan would I have found. Pop the turkey back in the oven for 20 minutes at 350 if you need to quickly brown it.

  19. Hi! Today I tried this method for the first time. I am very, very pleased with the results. I read several articles, sites etc, various arguments back and forth pro/con for this method and several suggestions and recipes. I decided to try yours since it sounded more reasonable than a few others I had read. I had a 15lb bird, and we decided to stuff it. The stuffing was WAY OVER COOKED, so I won’t be stuffing the next bird. I got up at 5:30am, preheated the oven and set the bird on the counter for 30 minutes while the oven heated. At 6, the bird went in and I went back to bed. At 7, I got up and turned the temp down to 210 and went back to bed. I slept in, and checked on it about 10:30. It looked good. I basted, back in it went. I think I waited too long to take it’s temp, because at 2:45 the thermometer read 187. I was afraid I hadn’t tested right, since this was less than 8 hours at the lower temp, so I stuck it back in and checked again 30 minutes later. It crept up to close to 190 again. I turned the oven down to 175 to keep it warm since I was not planning to eat for over 2 more hours. 45 minutes prior to carving, I took the bird out to rest on the counter. It was the best bird I have ever made! The white meat was moist and tender!! My Mom went crazy with how juicy the dark meat was. The flavor seemed deeper and fuller as well. I will be doing it this way from now on and will tweek what I need to for even better results.
    2 questions:
    Do you let your bird rest uncovered on the counter and does that matter?
    How long can you let it rest before you have to worry about safety or drying out? (I’ve let one sit covered for 1.5 hours before)
    THANK YOU for this article!! It’s what made me decide to try it and I’m glad I did.

  20. This recipe looks amazing! How long can you let the turkey rest for? If I put it in over night, and have it out by 7 or 8 AM. Can I re-heat it somehow if we want to eat later that afternoon? Should I carve and then re-heat? Should I keep it under foil on the counter? Where should it be stored until ready to re-heat? Thanks!

    1. 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!

  21. Hello! I am definitely going to try your method this year, but I have 2 questions. First I have a 23.5 lb turkey, if I choose not to put it in for an hour at 400 and only want to put it in for 200 degrees roughly how long. I know check my temp at 165 but just checking to see how long you think that might be, also I always stuff my cavity with stuff which I wont do this year, so how long does a person usually cook stuffing on the side??

    1. It will take 9-10 hours if starting at 200, but I would suggest preheating oven to 400 then when you put the turkey in drop the temp to 200. It’s best to start with a hot oven when cooking a large cold item. (the instructions #16 is for just what you are asking)
      As far as stuffing and cooking time, it will depend on how much you’re making but 20-30 minutes if you mix with hot liquid to prepare it since there is no raw meat involved in cooking “dressing” you’re essentially heating up broth and bread until hot. Cook it covered so it doesn’t dry out.

  22. Hi, I am cooking a 28lb turkey this Saturday, today is Thursday. Can I defrost the turkey in cool water all day tomorrow (Fri) and leave in the fridge overnight to cook in my electric roaster on Saturday? This will be the first time I’m using a roaster. I have it in the fridge since Tuesday but it still seems to be frozen solid. How long will it take to defrost tomorrow. Is it really important to turn the turkey in the water bath?

    1. Since your turkey has been in the fridge for a couple days it may be thawed by using a one-day water bath, but you could put it in the water today or tonight (that is what I would suggest since it still seems frozen) to be sure it’s completely thawed as it’s a large bird. Once it’s thawed, just place it in the fridge, it’s better to have it thawed a little ahead of time that not thawed enough. You don’t need to turn the turkey in the water bath, as there is water all around the turkey.

  23. Hi. I’m planning to try my turkey this way this year. I would really like to flip the turkey back over toward the end to brown the breast side a little. Will this ruin the breast side or will it fall apart? Suggestions?

    1. You can certainly flip the turkey to brown the breast if you’d like, you may want to turn up the temperature and give it a faster brown maybe 20 minutes at 400. Place 2 large pronged turkey “spatulas” (if you have them they are great I’ve used them with great success) they look like giant metal combs. Regular spatulas are often slippery and the turkey will be hard to turn with them. I used to turn the turkey and brown it, but since I never carve the turkey at the table, I forgo the mess at this point. But if you’re carving at the table it’s always nice to have a nicely browned skin, my family is used to not seeing breast up 😉

  24. Hi Diane, I have an 18.65 pound turkey that I plan to slow cook in my new roaster oven. All the suggestions I’ve seen for cooking times have been for much larger turkeys than mine. What is a good rule of thumb to calculate cooking times? I do not stuff my turkey, but I do put in some cut up onion, celery and carrots along with some garlic and herbs for flavoring. Also, will the skin be browned in a roasting oven or would I need to place it in the over for a bit to brown up the skin?

    1. I haven’t used a roaster oven, as far as timing goes if all other suggestions are for 20-22 lb turkeys and yours is about 19 it will most likely be done an hour or so ahead. I’m assuming the roaster will allow it to brown. If it doesn’t yes, place in oven to brown, it will not take but maybe 20 minutes at 350, go hotter if you want it done a little quicker.

  25. I have a friend who always cooks her turkey this way. I believe she uses a bag but foil would work as well. When the turkey is done in the morning she removes it from the oven. She seals the pan in foil and then wraps it in a heavy towel or blanket and it remains warm for hours. No need to reheat. She is set for several hours until ready to carve and eat. I do not know if she removes the juice and plastic bag before sealing but imagine that she would do this quickly to prepare it for serving and then wrap it in foil and towels to enclose the heat.

    1. I estimate a 14lb turkey will take about 7 hours at 200° Use a meat thermometer and the other way to tell that is not only at the temperature you need 165+ is that when you tug on the turkey leg it’s loose, and the meat will come off the bone easily. You can always leave it in longer, it won’t hurt 😉

  26. Stupid question …is it safe to have the Oven on all night? Do you need to watch or keep checking? Live in an apartment & and wouldn’t want anything to happen. I know it’s dumb ….but I just had to ask anyway. So go ahead and laugh 😂….Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

    1. As they say, there is no stupid question, only the one not asked. I’ve cooked many, many turkeys this way for many years without any issue. I’m completely comfortable doing it this way.Everyone has to make decisions for themselves that they are comfortable with. I share my experiences and recipes as far as what to do and what not to do those decisions are left up to the individual.
      Have a happy thanksgiving!
      If you’d like to see another post I have on cooking a turkey, maybe you’d like to spatchcock it, here is my post on that method.

  27. I have a 29 pound turkey. How long will it take to cook at this method, I was wanting to put it in at noon the day before ndnhave it ready but 1pm next day. Is this possible or should I put the temp at 190? Thanks

    1. I would not drop the temperature lower than 200, you want the oven to do more than keep it warm you’re slow cooking it and want the temperature to be at a safe temperature the entire time you’re cooking. I’d estimate a 29 lb turkey will take 12 hours, so if you put it in at Midnight it would be done at Noon, not 1pm as that would be done at 1am.If you want it done by 1pm I would put it in at 11pm, then the next day at 11am check it, you can leave it in longer if needed, or take it out and allow it to rest before carving a large bird will stay hot for a while. I would let it rest an hour then carve.

    2. Hi Diane, Thank you. On my oven do I put I on bake or roast, I am not sure what the roast feature does since I have never used it. Does it make a difference since it will have tin foil ove it?

    3. I’m not sure what the “roast” setting would be, I think that is a convection type of oven which I don’t know anything about. For this slow roasted method, I’d just the regular oven at (bake) 200°

    1. This is just an estimate. A 35lb bird would be about 15 hours, a 45lb bird would be about 20 hours based on my experience, If you give me a little more info I think I could possibly help you more. a 10 lb range is large. If you want it done in less time, I would spatchcock it and remove the backbone to lay the turkey flatter. Here is my post on this method, you can still slow roast it at the lower temperature.

  28. Hi, and thank you so much for this recipe! My father, the cook of the family (surprising since he was a steelworker and Air Force jet crew chief) used this overnight slow roasting technique for decades which he learned from his mother back in the 1950’s. He passed away seven years ago and I had forgotten most of the method and temps, so I really appreciate this! I don’t cook turkeys often (we had Ham for Christmas) but had decided to get a turkey while it was on sale during the holidays and couldn’t remember exactly how he did it. Your post reminded me very well and taught me a few extra little tricks along the way. I have now taught my teenage son, as well, so you’ve helped carry on a family tradition! We’ll use the slow-roasting method from now on. The only difference is that we serve it right after its resting period, no need for reheating. It turned out so well that my family is asking for turkey much more often now. Thanks so much again, and Happy Holidays!

    1. I’m happy you found this helpful. I love a good turkey and this sure works well. It’s great that your dad does the cooking.
      and yes depending on timing, sometimes we serve right away too, sometimes it needs reheating, so instructions are there any way you prefer to serve.

    2. Wanted to let you know we’ve already made another turkey with your instructions yesterday. This time, I oversaw my 13-year-old son while teaching him how to prepare the turkey. It turned out just as wonderfully as when I first followed your instructions this past December 27th! He watched me prepare it then, but now HE handled ALMOST ALL of the prep HIMSELF! We followed your directions for serving later, reheating, this time, too. It was incredible!!! I wanted to thank you again for this. My son really enjoyed preparing it and thanks you, too.

      My father cooked our holiday turkey using this technique his entire life, as did his mother before him. But since my Dad passed away seven years ago, I had forgotten how Dad taught me to do it. Thanks to you, I’ve been able to re-learn, plus pick up some extra tips, and teach my young son, as well. Without your directions, a family tradition would have been lost!

      Now, my family is requesting turkey much more often than holidays since it turns out so well. We’ll always think of you during our turkey dinners from now on!

    3. I couldn’t be happier to hear that you’ll be making more turkeys and that your family traditions will continue. It’s so great that your 13-year-old is so interested in following along with family tradition. I love this method and sure wishes someone showed me all the years I had to set an alarm and get up at 5 am to put the turkey in the oven. I always dreaded that part, but love turkey and am happy more people are finding this all so helpful!

  29. Wow Diane.
    I have been using a bag for years and have not been very happy with the results. You low-cook-slow-cook method worked great. Thank you very much – can’t wait to try it again (upside down?)

    1. Hello, yes I do roast it upside down, breast down. It ensures the white meat will not dry out. Give it a try, it may just be your new favorite way to roast a turkey!

  30. Diane, I am so disappointed. I checked my 14 pound turkey @ 5 1/2 hrs. (supposed to cook in 6 hours) and the juices ran pink and there is NO browning taking place like your photo shows. I went over the instructions again and I did everything as you instructed. I have raised the temp to 350 and will continue to bake it until it reaches 165 degrees. Have you any idea why the juices would still be pink after 5 hours of baking?

    1. There are many reasons why a turkey won’t be cooked, was is fully thawed, does your oven temperature accurately run at temperature, I keep an extra oven thermometer in my oven to be sure it runs at the proper temperature. If the roasting pan you are using is small and the turkey is stuffed in it, it will take longer to cook. Juice can be pink up until 30 minutes before it’s done cooking, but typically not when slow roasting. If or when this happens no matter the reason, yes, bump up the temp and continue cooking, it only takes about 10 minutes to brown a turkey so an hour might just be what it needed. I do find most people who message me with questions on timing and oven temp and find later their oven does not run at the proper temperature all over the oven, a hot spot or cold side is often the cause, if that is the case, don’t drop the temperature so low when slow roasting and extra time will help as well.

    1. My wife would like to stuff the turkey. Can I use this method for a 20 pound thawed turkey? If so, how long do you think it would take for a 20 pound stuffed turkey?
      Thank you.

    2. Even with it stuffed I’d use the same timing, it’s slow-roasted and should not take much longer since, but if you think it’ll be close, in your head you can add an hour if it’s necessary just leave it in the oven an extra hour. Use a thermometer to test the internal temperature. So many variables, ovens don’t all run the same, some run hot, some run cold… so a thermometer is essential to ensure the proper internal temperature of the stuffing as well as the meat and when slow roasting it’s ok if the temperature of the meat is higher than the minimum, most often mine will read 180+ and the meat will be fully cooked without being dry and will easily pull away from the bones. Happy Thanksgiving!

    3. I’ve been cooking turkeys for my family for 40 years and have never cooked one upside down, until finding your website and decided to try it. OMG!! My husband said it was the best turkey dinner he ever ate!! I put butter, spices, olive oil all over the turkey inside and out and under skin, added onions to the cavity, put in frig. uncovered overnight to air dry upside down in the roasting pan. I took it out of frig. and set on counter for 1/2 hour. I covered in foil really tight and put it in oven on 400 for 20 mins. then turned oven down to 200 cooking for 7 hours. It was an 18 lb. turkey and thermometer read done at 7 hrs. No carving necessary as meat fell right off the bone. It rested for 1 1/2 hours and was still hot. So easy to debone. Gem of a recipe!! Thanks Diane

    4. I’m so happy to hear you tried it and how much you liked it. My mom is still surprised by how delicious the turkey is this way! Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. I don’t stuff my turkeys, I’m sure you could though, I just prefer my turkey’s unstuffed and the stuffing cooked separately.

    1. I haven’t used a roasting bag overnight (I don’t think it’s necessary at all) but I don’t see anything wrong with using one if you want to.

  31. Hello Diane, like many of the comments , my mother cooked her turkey , upside down and overnight. I always have. too, but in the morning , I’d turn it up to the normal 325 for the remainder of cooking (always covered in foil until the last 30 minutes or so) It was fun to read all the comments from what some remember their moms and dads doing in the 1950’s) My question is that I always stuff my bird so want to do it again. My turkey is 26 lbs and I want to be sure everything cooks completely using the low, slow method. I’ve read that a 26+ pound turkey is most likely a TOM and will be older and less tender. Is that your experience with this size bird? This method seems to cover all sizes. Please advise on time for cooking 26 pound , stuffed bird. This year we are celebrating early for family reasons and eating at about 6 pm for the working family members so it’s a little different. I’d prefer letting it rest one hour or so and then serve….so it probably means getting up at 4 or 5 am, right? Will it dry out if I do my usualy with overnight and then bring it up to 325 for the remainder? thank you for a wonderful website and blog. I’ve never responded to a blog before. hope it works. Sandi

    1. Hi Sandi, I’ve most often roasted low and slow and haven’t experienced a “tough” turkey no matter what size I’ve had. I do not stuff my birds, but you’re welcome to, I’d add an hour to the timing at least if you are stuffing it and if by chance the turkey isn’t looking like it’s cooking quickly enough for you, boost up the temp for the last couple hours covered,(like you mentioned) You asked if it will dry out if you bring the oven to 325 in the morning, I wouldn’t if you put it in at 4 am, but you’ll have to see how it’s coming along at that point. it won’t dry out especially upside down. You could put it in at say 11 pm, then when it’s done the next day let it rest, make gravy, carve it and cover and simply reheat the turkey in the oven for 20 minutes.I’ve done that and there is no rushing at the end and since it’s such a large turkey it will not cool down as quickly as say a 14lb turkey. As we all know the turkey is the first item to cool off, you can do many things to ensure the turkey is warm-hot when serving, steam it in oven on a rack for 10 minutes before serving if you fear it will dry out, pour a small amount of gravy over it before heating, heat your dinner plates if they are oven safe to keep all food warm- like restaurants do, as long as the gravy and the mashed potatoes are hot most people won’t notice that the turkey isn’t “hot”.Have a great Thanksgiving 🙂 let me know if I can help you with anything else.

    2. Hello again Diane and thank you for your quick response. Since we will want the turkey displayed on the table before carving, I’ll opt for the 4am (uuug) start and go the extra hour for a stuff bird making it 5 pm for the low and slow cook 🙂 Question is: Should I cook one hour at 400 at first or just preheat the over at 400 and put it in the preheated over ( 26lb turkey) … thanks! Sandi

    3. Yes, I would cook for the first hour at 400 degrees, it’s a big bird and that helps seal in the juices. Happy Thanksgiving!

  32. With a 10.5 pound turkey- would you cook it 400 degrees for 30 minutes, then 4.5 hours at 200?
    Would this work with stuffing IN the bird?

    1. Yes, I think that timing and temp with work well with a 10.5 lb turkey. Yes, you can stuff the turkey if you prefer. Wiggle the leg before you take it out of the oven, it shouuld be a little loose, that is a good tell if the temp of the turkey is at least 165 and you’re ready to take it out. The bones start to break down and loosen, hence the term fallin off the bone. The meat will be easy to remove from the bone as well.

    2. Thanks much for that input.
      My mother just told me about the “wiggle the leg” check which she uses, too.

  33. Cooked this way for years,I don’t use a rack I put celery and carrots on bottom of pan then put turkey on top of veggies at the end I mashed it up and put in my gravy…. DELISH

  34. After my turkey is thawed I use a Sweet Basil Rub all over it – inside & out and put the turkey in the refrig. for up to 24 hours. Recipe is for chicken so double it for turkey. 1T salt, 2t sugar, 1/4 t garlic powder, 1/4t onion powder, 1/4t paprika, 1/2T lemon juice, 1/2t pepper, 1T crushed basil, 2T olive oil (can be mixed ahead of time). I’ve been slow cooking my turkeys in a conventional oven for 10 years and they turn out well. I never thought of turning them breast side down. The basil rub makes a delicious gravy. This year I’m going to try something – I have an electric roaster and when my turkey is done and out of the oven, I will remove the large bones (the meat does fall off) and put the meat with some of the juice in the roaster at a setting of about 170. It should all fit in the roaster – it is 14#. Then use the oven for all other dishes. I have 3 warmer trays (when microwaves came to be – I still kept my warmer trays) so can keep a lot of things warm and everything will be ready at the same time.

  35. Okay, we celebrated Thanksgiving today.

    I cooked an 11# turkey, stuffed, in a covered roaster at 400 (preheated) for 30 minutes, then turned down heat to 200 for 4 hours. It was nowhere near done and the skin was not crispy.

    I was able to pull the cover and cook for 1 hour, 15 minutes more at 375 and it was almost done, still had to flash heat it another 10 minutes.

    I think this might work 400 degrees for 30 minutes, then 200 degrees for 7 hours, but not sure.

    1. You should have roasted it at 400 for an hour, then turned the temperature down, if you want it really crispy at the end raise the temp to 400 again and uncover it. Be sure your oven is running at the correct temp with an additional thermometer. 7 hours for an 11lb turkey is quite long, if you start by roasting it for the first hour at 400 it will be done by 5 hours. If your oven is not holding a solid 200 temp and drops below that it will take longer.

    2. I may try that next time, an extra 30 minutes at 400.

      What was surprising was after 30 minutes total at 400 covered and then 4 hours at 200 covered, the skin was not even slightly crispy. I thought the covered roaster would crisp the skin.

      I also turned the turkey over (from breast down to breast up) for the 1 hour, 15 minutes and then let it set another 30 minutes breast up, uncovered outside the oven. Even after while the breast had some crisp on it, the back had zero, it was almost soggy.

      I’m wondering if an extra 30 minutes at 400 initially will cure all that.

  36. Diane,

    great recipe first impressions!! This is my first time trying it and i think it’s a brilliant idea. We’ve been toying with ideas for thanksgiving turkey the past 4 or 5 years and have tried some things that worked… i’ll admit the best one was to cater the turkey! HAH. I’m good with a BBQ and a smoker but this time of year has me missing summer and the sunny poolside so I just want to get the Turkey thing over with. This year… i’m hoping for a win on convenience and quality!

    Same as you, I’m not much of a rule follower so we did some things on our own, except select the lucky bird which happened to be selected by my cater company employee for a mother in-law (WHICH HAPPENS TO BE A 31 POUNDER!!!) We didn’t have a pan big enough, and neither did my relatives in the area so my mother in-law got us a aluminum foil cater pan double stacked (for sturdiness). The turkey was free…. so i object to purchasing a pan to accommodate at the cost of a turkey (could be just me).

    Things we did:

    Stuffed it with apples, celery, fresh spices, onions and coated the skin with butter, sea salt, pepper and garlic. We covered the bird with foil and shoved it in the oven. We took your advice and preheated at 400 and reduced to 200 at the time we put turkey in.

    Now, I don’t hold anyone accountable for our actions, and i actually love the idea of turning it upside down so the breast meat has a chance at staying moist, counter to the dry paste like sensation you get with a traditionally roasted bird. We also placed some celery, onion and a few apples that didn’t fit in the cavity in the base with the 4 cups of water in hopes of making some delicious gravy out of the drippings. So far i’m confident with it, and as I sit here at 11:30PM on 21 NOV 2018 drinking a Coors Light, am satisfied with our performance.

    Tomorrow, if, when I check this bird it’s not meeting my heat time-frames, color and any other rule-breaking sixth sense, i’ll take some corrective actions as you’ve mentioned. Not cooking fast enough? Jack the temp up steadily to increase cook times… not brown enough? remove foil and let brown up a bit! And if this big bird cooks too fast, i’ll take it out, carve and stow on a platter in the fridge with an intention to reheat in the oven with a spritz of stock or water.

    Bravo! Thanks for reinforcing my willy nilly approach to cooking and with your guided outline, I think we’re going to eat something that resembles turkey tomorrow. If not, KFC here we come (I think granny is bringing a ham and we have some Turkey lunch meat too). To be honest, I’m hoping for a huge win here… and I smell it already.

    So, to all the stressed out Thanksgiving hosters/cooks out there… *cheers* Mimosas in the morning, coors light in the afternoon and brandy eggnog in the evening. If everything else fails, at least you can say it’s one to never forget. I mean… XMAS is coming along with another opportunity to make some adjustments to cooking Turkey Bird. Afterall, it is what we get for only cooking it 1 or two times a year.

    Cheers again Merica!~

    1. 31 pounder turned out perfect! Cook time was just at 15 hours with the Pre-heat to 400 and drop to 200 degree when you put turkey in method. Breast meat was moist on delicious, dark meat was as good as ever. I actually recommend the bigger turkey for an overnight cook (especially if you’re going to eat around 3-4pm) because cook and rest time is perfect for eating fresh off the carving board on-time.

      We did open the oven twice at about 8 hours cooktime to look at it (couldn’t help it), and another at 10 hours to insert thermometer for duration of cook time. Also, we did broiil for about 5-10 minutes to get browning affect.

      *Cheers* Diane… thanks for the recipe! Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

  37. I have been slo roasting since Hector was a pup. I have alsways had the easiest tastiest time of it on Thanksgiving! I love your write up!!!!!!!!!!! 50 years of doing Thanksgiving!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  38. Just did this for Thanksgiving. I am a convert! I had a full night sleep and all my dishes were done before guests came in the door. That is a lot of time freed up! Thank you!

  39. I’m guessing reading the part about 4 cups of water in the bottom and making a tight seal with the foil was important? I started cooking our 12 pound turkey at 9am and it is now 5:30pm and it is still not done even after finally turning the oven up higher. We got tired of not getting to eat. Thought 12 lbs meant 5 hours.

    1. Slow roasting is not fast, it’s “slow”. Yes, you’ll need water in the pan, and a good seal on the foil is important. If your turkey wasn’t done after the correct time, I’d suggest getting a thermometer and checking your ovens temp at different temperatures to be sure it holds at the low temps, or next time raise it 50 degrees if your oven holds a better temp there, (check the temp every 1/2 hour to see that it is really at the right temp. Ovens are funny that way and don’t all work well at all temperatures and need to adjust your cooking accordingly). The other questions to ask yourself is when you put it in was your oven preheated well at 400 did you leave it in at 400 for the first hour?

    2. I preheated at 400, then when we put the bird in we turned it down to 200. I think it was the lack of water and seal maybe. I didn’t see the part about 4 cups of water until after 4 hours and couldn’t figure out why my bird was still looking pretty raw. After a few more hours I turned it up 50 degrees at a time. Finally turned it up to 400 and cooked it for an hour at the end. It is now resting and we are now putting in the other food to cook. I figured not to sleep while 12 pound bird cooked for 4-5 hours, so started it at 9am. We will be eating dinner at 7pm, 10 hours later.

      Surprised how no water really threw it off. It must need to steam. Totally my fault. I didn’t see the recipe at the very bottom so I didn’t see the water part and somehow missed it up above in the article.

    1. I haven’t tried roasting a turkey using wine. I myself would stick to water or chicken stock and pour myself a glass of wine and maybe put some in the gravy instead. If you do try it, let me know how it turns out.

    2. Moscato has a lot of sugar as it is a dessert wine, so it may burn due to the length of time needed to roast the turkey. It’s best left to drinking or perhaps poaching pears or when making cranberry relish! 😋

  40. Oh my God! I can’t believe this, I’m definitely going to make my turkey next week using this. GENIUS! Thanks so much, Diane, I love all your recipes.

    1. Yes, I cook the turkey covered in tin foil. Depending on the pan you use, and sometimes the oven, the turkey will brown nicely. Mine does every time. If you want the turkey browner, the last 20 minutes, just turn up the temperature of the oven to 400 and it will brown. The pan I use is nonstick and it tends to brown the turkey nicely while slow roasting.

  41. Thanks for posting this. I bought a 23.5 lb bird and was beginning to have an anxiety attack. All other instructions are for birds roughly half the size of mine. I was fearful the bird would be dry because it’s so large and needs longer cooking time. I’m feeling more confident now!

    1. Mine turned out beautifully (at 3:15 am HST)!
      I did end up putting the turkey back in the oven on convection at 425 for 20 min to brown the best. there with was too much water in the pan or the foil sealed too well. All good though. Can’t wait to try it!

    1. Yes, you can use a turkey roasting bag with the same instructions. It may be done sooner since the heat will trap in the bag check it an hour before is my best guess.And, yes breast side down is good.

  42. Well, didn’t work very well for me. 12.5 lb turkey, in the oven at 9am, 225 degree oven. 8 hours later, even though thermometer gave the temp in the thigh as 165, breast was not nearly done.

  43. Thanks for explaining how the best way to roast a turkey is. My husband and I are alone for thanksgiving for the first time and want to do a turkey ourselves. When we do, we’ll have to make sure to slow roast it in order to keep in all the juices.

  44. Can this recipe be followed using a speccklwd granite covered roasting pan instead ou using the foil or would the roasting times change due to that?

  45. This is the worst formatted recipe site I have ever visited. It is so chock-full of ads that it’s all too evident the recipe has been created to get the absolute biggest bang for the buck from sponsor ad space.

    If you’re going to provide a recipe, just do it. Don’t insult the intelligence of visitors to the site by providing one sentence followed by ads, then another sentence followed by ads. You didn’t even bother to proofread your own content. That’s how much you’re really interested in sharing a recipe vs. making a buck.

    It was an absolute waste of time and the very reason that there are no reviews. Get offline and learn some respect for others and you’ll be far better off.

    1. it always amazes me people leave such rude comments on my website after receiving all the free information and recipes I provide. If you don’t like how my website is, too many ads or whatever. Don’t visit my website. I offer this information at my own expense, and it’s a full-time job, and earnings from ads is my choice!
      And my recipes have no reviews because that has come and gone in popularity over the 11 years I’ve been blogging. If you read the comments you’ll see this method and my post get rave reviews.

    2. Wow – that was incredibly rude.
      My bet is he was looking for an App that does it all for him in an instant. I might suggest Uber Eats instead of trying to learn great new techniques from someone who has obviously poured over the details of her craft for years.
      Diane, thank you for all of the work you put into this (I see that you update it from time to time, like the comment about 2020 🙂 ). I’m giving your techniques a try this year, but I only have a 13 pound bird, so putting it in at bedtime would have me eating it for breakfast – LOL, so I’m going to pop it in the oven at 6am instead and let it slow cook until about 2pm, then eat at 3pm (I don’t have other things that need the oven). I’m a big-time believer in Low And Slow, as I cook a lot of my meat Sous-Vide style. I’ve often done turkey rolls or breast that way, but this year I really wanted a full bird so I could have lots of variety and leftovers.
      If I remember, I’ll report back here to thank you again.

    3. Sounds like you’re going to have a great Thanksgiving Turkey this year Terry! And thanks for the comment, I really appreciate it.

  46. Diane, I am cooking a 13 lb fresh butterball turkey in a granite speckled roasting pan instead of using foil. How long will it take do you think to do 13 pounds? Also, if I don’t start at 400 and just do it at 200 the whole time I saw that you said to add an extra hour but will that be safe? Thanks so much and have a Happy Thanksgiving.

    1. I’d plan on 7 hours if you’re roasting it low the whole time. Is it safe… I’ve roasted many turkeys without the 400 degree start, they take a little longer but have always turned out great. As with any recipe do what you’re comfortable with.

    1. Yes, you’ll need to cook it longer. I’d figure on an hour longer, a stuffed turkey will take longer, be sure the stuffing measures 165°.

  47. I thought my boyfriend was crazy and going to kill us all with this recipe. Thankfully I was wrong. This is the easiest method to get a perfect juicy turkey. This is the only way I cook a turkey now. I never tried to heat it to 350 at the beginning or end. The turkey always browns like magic at 250.

  48. I made this recipe today for the first time ever and I will never ever cook a turkey any other way. Turkey was so moist, delicious and tender. My family raved about my turkey this year Thank! Thank you so much! I had an over 16 lb turkey and cooked it for 10 hours. I would recommend this recipe to everyone making a turkey. I cooked it breast side up, but am going to try it breast side down next time.

    1. I’m so happy to hear everyone liked it! The success of a turkey is a big deal, thanks for commenting, I really appreciate your thoughtfulness.

  49. Ever since finding this method years ago it’s been my preferred method. I do roast breast side up due to wing preference and use a covered roasting pan for consistent coverage results. I enjoy a nice brine with n the turkey which I do with the turkey upside down in. I cannot tell you the joy it was when my son had his first off the bone turkey leg experience. He requests turkey every couple of months since then & I can make turkey slices for sandwiches pretty well now. 😁

    1. So happy you both enjoy the turkey. I make many turkeys a year, everyone just loves it! it’s nice to have a fool proof method 🙂

  50. Trying this for the 1st time this year. We are usually a turkey in a bag kind of family, but a friend of my wife’s suggested this so I’m always up for trying new things. First off, I don’t think I’ve ever had a turkey come out of the fridge completely thawed. I pulled this thing out of the freezer like 5 days ago and it still had ice in the cavity and it’s only 16lbs. In to the sink it goes which really messes up our time for when we were hoping to eat, oh well. I buttered the breast and then did some salt, pepper, and garlic salt. Felt a little weird putting it in the roasting pan upside down, but I want to follow the recipe as close as possible. I guess at this point the only questions I have are: Should I have buttered and seasoned the bottom of the turkey and when should I turn this bad boy over so that I can get a crisper skin?

    1. Thawing a turkey always takes time, in water is my best bet takes about 24 hours for a 20 lb turkey. If your turkey isn’t thawed as you’d like in the time you set aside, place it in a cooler,fill with water, change water every HOUR, it’ll that quicker that way.
      You can choose to flip your bird if you want to crisp it, since I don’t carve at the table, I don’t often turn it, and don’t butter it either. Hope you’re turkey was delicious.

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