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Thanksgiving Turkey and Gravy

  • Author: Stacey
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 4 hours, 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 4 hours, 40 minutes
  • Yield: 8-10 servings 1x


This is a simple, beginner-level recipe for cooking a whole turkey. Don’t overthink it. The turkey will shine by doing very little to it.


Units Scale

For the turkey:

  • 1 19 1/2 pound turkey (18-20 pound range is fine)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 can of cranberry sauce (any size you want)

For the gravy (makes 4 cups – double the recipe if you need more)

  • 2 cups of turkey juices/fat from the baking pan
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (more if you like)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup AP flour (for slurry)
  • 1/4 cup water (for slurry)
  • 1-2 tablespoons of stuffing

NOTE: It will be helpful to have kitchen twine (string) to tie the turkey legs together.


For the turkey: 

  1. Don’t forget to watch the video with step-by-step instructions. 
  2. Melt butter in a small bowl or ramekin. 
  3. Foil a large baking dish to put the turkey in. Mine was 18”x15” and held a 19 ½ pound turkey very well. 
  4. Remove gizzards from inside turkey and discard. That is, unless you do something with them. I don’t so I discard them. 
  5. Place the turkey in the foiled pan. Using a pastry brush, spread the melted butter all over the turkey. 
  6. Sprinkle the salt on the turkey covering all areas. I didn’t lift it up to salt the bottom. 
  7. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine. Wrap the string around the legs and tie it in a knot. My video shows this well. 
  8. Cover the turkey in foil and cook in a preheated oven at 325 degrees. COOKING TIME WILL VARY: The size turkey you have will determine how long you should cook it. Read the instructions on the turkey wrapper. There are different cook times for different turkey sizes and temperature. My turkey cooked in about 4 ½ hours at 325 degrees. You should remove the foil from the turkey for that last hour of cooking it so the skin will brown. 
  9. While the turkey is cooking you should chop the fresh thyme that will be needed to make the gravy. 
  10. When there is one hour left of cooking, remove the foil from the turkey. At this time, I did wrap only the wings in foil because they tend to brown easily and I didn’t want them to get any more cooked. I removed some of the juices for the gravy. You can remove more after the turkey cooks the final hour. You can also baste the turkey with the turkey juice if you’d like. If you don’t have a baster just use a large spoon. 
  11. Keep watch on the red popper thermometer in the last hour of cooking. When it pops out the turkey is done. I usually check the internal temperature anyway just to be safe. Internal temp should be 165 degrees before consuming. 
  12. Let the turkey rest – UNCOVERED – for 30-45 minutes. Chef tip: this is the best time to stick your stuffing in the oven and get ready to prepare the mashed potatoes. Mashed potatoes are the very last thing I make right before everything goes on the table Thanksgiving Day. 
  13. Slice your turkey with a sharp knife or electric knife and arrange on a platter. Enjoy! 
  14. Oh, and don't forget to put out your cranberry sauce! YUM!

For the gravy: (see extra notes below) 

  1. Remove turkey juices from the baking pan and put them in a pot on low-to-medium heat. 
  2. Add the chicken broth to the pot as well. 
  3. Add the salt, pepper and fresh thyme and stir well. Heat until it’s almost at a boil. 
  4. In a small bowl, mix the flour and water together to make a slurry. This is a thickening agent for the gravy. Add this to the gravy and stir well. Turn heat down and let gravy thicken. If you want your gravy a little thicker, make a little more slurry and add it in. It’s equal parts flour to water. 
  5. Add a couple tablespoons of stuffing to the gravy and mix well.
  6. Taste the gravy and if you think it needs more salt or pepper you can add it here.


  1. Always keep a couple of instant gravy packets as a back-up or to enhance the flavor of the gravy. My mom will sometimes add a gravy packet to the gravy as well. I didn’t do that, but you can if you like. 
  2. Your turkey may come with a packet of already-made gravy inside the turkey. Go ahead and use that too! 
  3. My gravy recipe made 4 cups of gravy, but if you think you need more just double the recipe. It did feel like I needed just a little more gravy and it’s always better to have too much gravy than not enough.