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Grandma’s Roasted Turkey

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Grandma’s Roasted Turkey is my family’s traditional thanksgiving turkey recipe.
Dry brined overnight, then stuffed with sage and lemons. Roasted until golden brown perfection!

grandma's roasted turkey

Grandma’s Roasted Turkey is one of my favorite things to eat, but we only eat it twice a year!

My dad makes it according to his mother’s recipe, and it’s slightly untraditional.

I’ve been experimenting with the recipe for the last couple of years with Friendsgiving and I’ve changed a few items.

Dry Brined Roasted Turkey

Grandma’s turkey is pretty straightforward, slather it in poultry seasoning, put it in the roasting pan breast side down, and cover it until golden brown. There is nothing fancy about her recipe – just a super simple recipe that turns out every single time.

Plus, it’s baked breast side down, which means no basting! The juices run down, and right into the breast meat. Which creates such a delicious Thanksgiving day dinner!

Grandma's Baked Thanksgiving Turkey

First, how is my recipe different from Grandma’s recipe?

I slather salt all over the bird the day before and put it in the fridge for 24 hours, uncovered.

This is called dry-brining, and you could use any mix of spices. The salt draws the moisture out of the skin, leaving you with a super crispy skin while it bakes.

Dry Salt Brined Turkey

What is Dry Brine?

Dry brining is where you cover a bird in salt and/or sugar-spice mixture and allow it to permeate the skin for 24 hours or so. You can use all kinds of combinations.

Here are a few to try:

  • Salt
  • Salt + Poultry Seasoning
  • Salt + Poultry Seasoning + Citrus Zest

Next, what is the difference between a dry brine and a wet brine?

A dry brine is only dry ingredients, as opposed to a wet brine the dry ingredients are dissolved in water or some type of liquid.

Both are great – but to me, dry brining is so much easier! No mess, no big bucket. Just put your bird in the roasting rack you’re going to use, and cover it in salt and spices.

You can rinse it if you’d like after 24 hours, but it’s not necessary.

Dry Brined Turkey in the fridge

Once you’ve dry brined your bird overnight, you’ll notice the skin is super dry and translucent. That’s a good thing! There will be some residual juices in the bottom of the roasting pan, just leave them there!

Add a little roasting rack like this one, to get the bird off the bottom of the pan.

Melt a stick of butter on the stovetop, and brush it all over the bird.

Top that buttered bird with poultry seasoning, stuff it with one cut-up lemon, half a cut-up onion, and some fresh sage leaves.

Pour in a couple of cups of turkey stock and if you have any lying around cut up carrots, onions, and/or celery.

Cover tightly with foil and roast for 15 minutes per pound at 350 degrees.

You’ll want to use an instant-read thermometer and make it cooked to 160 degrees.

When you remove it from the oven to let it rest, the bird will continue cooking and reach 165 degrees.

How do you know when your bird is cooked through?

You’ll want to make sure the juices run clear between the breast and leg.

You can use an instant-read thermometer like this one to check if the internal temperature is at 160 degrees.

How to Roast the perfect Turkey

Here’s a tip for you!

Do you know the silicone basting brushes? Or silicone utensils? The silicone parts pop off the wooden handles!

Pop the silicone top part off, place it in the dishwasher, and just hand wash the wooden handle. Wooden anything should never go into the dishwasher.

how to use a basting brush

The major key to any bird or cooked meat is to let it rest well before slicing.

Roast Turkey Breast on a plate with side dishes

Need some Thanksgiving Side Dish Recipes or Tips?

Side Dish Recipe Ideas:

A few FREE Printables:

Grandma’s Roasted Turkey makes amazing leftover turkey sandwiches, too!

You’ll definitely want to hang around for Ross’s Thanksgiving Sandwich. It is so so good!

Seasoned Roast Turkey

Finally, let’s chat about basting Grandma’s Roasted Turkey

If you bake it according to her recipe, you’ll bake the bird breast side down, which bastes itself.

I like to have super crispy skin, so I bake it breast side UP, and baste it the last half hour, with the foil removed using this tool.

If and when I baste, I set a timer for 7 minutes, and then baste every 7 minutes. If I see I need more liquid, I’ll toss a stick of butter in and let it melt.

It’s all about the butter, right?!

In conclusion, Grandma’s Roasted Turkey is just the best! It’s a simple, straightforward recipe, that is almost foolproof.

Like most recipes, simple is best, and when you have the basics, you can make an unforgettable meal!

With your delicious leftovers, make this Creamy Turkey and Rice Soup!

If you’ve ever heard of Williamsburg Turkey Soup, this is that recipe just not in a slow cooker.

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grandma's roasted turkey

Grandma’s Roasted Turkey

5 from 9 reviews
  • Author: Sweetpea
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 4
  • Total Time: 19 minutes
  • Category: thanksgiving main dish
  • Method: baking
  • Cuisine: american


  • 1 Thawed Turkey, 15-18 pounds
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1 lemon, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 medium onion, cut into pieces
  • 1 small bunch fresh sage
  • 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
  • 1 stick butter



Place thawed bird in roasting pan, and dry with paper towels. Be sure to dry every nook and cranny. Liberally salt the inside and outside of the turkey. Place in a fridge, uncovered, on the lowest shelf overnight. 24 hours minimum. 

Remove the bird from the fridge an hour before you want to bake it. There is no need to rinse the bird, and leave the juices in the bottom of the roasting pan. Pick the bird up, and place on a small roasting rack to pickup off the bottom of the pan. Stuff the bird with lemon, onion, and sage. Tie the legs together, and brush melted butter all over the bird. Sprinkle the tablespoon of poultry seasoning over it, and rub liberally to spread around. Cover the bird on the roasting pan tightly with foil, and bake at 350 degrees until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. 15 minutes per pound. Right at almost 4 hours. The last half hour, you’ll want to remove the foil and let the skin brown. You can baste the bird, if you would like during this half hour. 

Once the turkey has reached 160 degrees, remove from the oven and cover tightly with foil to let it reest for 15-20 minutes before slicing.

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  1. Dry-brining makes all the difference in a juicy bird! It’s so worth the extra step and prep. The skin on this comes out so crisp and tasty and the inside is just as good.

  2. What a beautifully done Turkey! You have done such an amazing job of explaining it so well. I will definitely try this recipe this Thanksgiving. Thanks

  3. Grandma always knows best, and this turkey looks like perfection! Definitely trying it for Thanksgiving this year!

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