Roast Stuffed Turkey

serves 10 to 12

This recipe is from COOKS’S ILLUSTRATED The Best Recipe. A 12-to-15-pound turkey will accommodate approximately half of the stuffing, which is so sad, but the remainder can be baked in a casserole dish while the turkey rests before carving. I am still working on perfecting how to get the stuffing not cooked IN the turkey to be as good as the real deal.

note: you should start the turkey prep the night before since it needs to brine for at least 4 to 6 hours, and then it needs to air-dry overnight, or for 8 hours. I joke that the turkey has a spa night and is getting a salt bath treatment.


  • 4 cups Kosher or 2 cups table salt
  • 1 turkey (12 to 15 pounds gross weight), rinsed thoroughly; giblets, neck, and tailpiece removed and reserved to make gravy – note: I don’t make the giblet gravy, just regular gravy like when making roasted chicken.
  • 2 medium onions, chopped course
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped course
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped course
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • 12 cups prepared stuffing
  • 3 TBL unsalted butter, plus extra to grease casserole dish and foil
  • ¼ cup turkey or chicken stock or low-sodium canned broth


  • The night before….
    • Dissolve salt in 2 gallons of cold water in large stockpot or clean bucket
    • Add turkey and refrigerate or set in very cool (40 degrees or less) spot for 4 to 6 hours
    • Remove turkey from salt water and rinse skin and both cavities under cool water for several minutes until all traces of salt are gone
    • Pat dry inside and out with paper towels; set aside
    • Place turkey on meat rack set over rimmed sheet pan
    • Place turkey in refrigerator, uncovered, and air-dry for at least 8 hours or overnight
  • The day of…
    • Adjust oven rack to the lowest position and heat the oven to 400 degrees
    • Scatter onions, carrot, celery, and thyme over shallow roasting pan ← this makes for yummy gravy
    • Pour 1 cup water over vegetables
    • Set V-rack in pan
    • Place half of stuffing in buttered medium casserole dish, dot surface with 1 TBL butter, cover with buttered foil, and refrigerate until ready to use – I wait until after I’ve stuffed the bird so that only what is left over has to cook this way
    • Microwave remaining stuffing on full power, stirring two or three times, until very hot (120 to 130 degrees), 6 to 8 minutes (if you can handle stuffing with hands, it is not note enough) – this is to deal with any bacteria that might be in the raw eggs
    • Spoon 4 to 5 cups of stuffing into the turkey cavity until very loosely packed – hmm I really stuff it in there….
    • Secure skin flap over the cavity opening with turkey lacers or skewers ← you can find turkey lacers in any grocery store with kitchen gadgets, or you can order these from Amazon. I don’t bother with the string; I just use 3 or 4 of the lacers to close up the bird.
    • Melt remaining 2 TBL butter.
    • Tuck wings behind back, brush entire breast side with half of melted butter, then place turkey breast side down.
    • Fill neck cavity with remaining heated stuffing and secure skin flap over opening.
    • Place on V-rack and brush with remaining butter
    • Roast for 1 hour, then reduce temperature to 250 degrees and roast 2 hours longer, adding additional water if pan becomes dry
    • Remove pan from oven (close oven door) and with a wad of paper toweling in each hand, turn bird breast side up and baste (temperature of breast should be 145 to 150 degrees) ←or get these turkey lifters from Amazon, they’re great for handling a hot bird
    • Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees; continue roasting until breast registers about 165 degrees, thigh registers 170 to 175 degrees – approximately 1 to 1½ hours longer
    • Remove turkey from oven and let rest until read to carve
    • Add ¼ cup stock to dish of reserved stuffing, replace foil, and bake until hot throughout, about 20 minutes
    • Remove foil; continue to bake until stuffing forms golden brown crust, about 15 minutes longer
    • Carve turkey; serve with stuffing and gravy
    • note: easier to follow turkey cooking timeline
      • preheat to 400
      • bake breast side down for 1 hour
      • turn temperature down to 250
      • bake for 2 hours
      • flip bird
      • turn temperature up to 400
      • bake for another 1 to 1½ hours


In small pot, prepare 2 cups of chicken or turkey stock. I use Better Than Bouillon, Roasted Chicken Base. I pour the stock from the roasted turkey pan into the pot with the bouillon. Bring to boil, then reduce heat. Whisk in flour to suite your style of gravy. I don’t like it too thick, but also don’t like it too thin. Start by adding flour in small amounts (1 to 2 tsp at a time) and whisk in between to keep lumps from forming. All said, I probably use between 1-to-2 TBL flour. If you like it really thick, use more flour.

%d bloggers like this: