How to Roast a 12 Pound Turkey

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Things You'll Need

  • Flat rack

  • Shallow roasting pan

  • Basting brush

  • Cooking oil

  • Meat thermometer

  • Aluminum foil

Roast turkey is a healthy main dish.

Whether it's for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or just because, a roast turkey provides the basis of a delicious, satisfying meal. A 12-lb turkey is a mid-sized turkey that won't be hard to handle and doesn't require many hours to roast. Depending on the size of your guests' appetites, a 12-lb. turkey should feet approximately 12 people. Don't be concerned about leftovers, as leftover turkey almost never goes to waste. Even small pieces can be used to make soup or sandwiches.


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Step 1

Thaw a frozen turkey using a safe method. The turkey, including the packaging, can be thawed on a tray in the refrigerator. Although thawing the turkey in the refrigerator is safest, a turkey can also be thawed in a sink or basin filled with cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes. If the original packaging isn't airtight, place the bag in a plastic bag. A 12-lb. turkey will require about 3 days to thaw in the refrigerator and approximately 6 hours in cold water. Turkeys can also be thawed in a microwave oven. Refer to your microwave oven manual for information about thawing your turkey in the microwave.


Step 2

Remove the thawed turkey from the packaging, then pull the giblets out of the neck cavity.

Step 3

Place the turkey in a flat rack in a sturdy roasting pan. The pan should be about 2 1/2 inches deep. Brush the turkey with cooking oil to keep the skin moist and golden brown.

Step 4

Poke a meat thermometer into the meatiest part of the thigh, but avoid placing the thermometer against a bone.


Step 5

Place the roasting pan in an oven preheated to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Cooking the turkey at lower temperatures is unsafe, as the temperature won't be hot enough to kill bacteria.

Step 6

Cover the turkey breast loosely with a piece of aluminum foil when the skin begins to turn golden. Foil will prevent the breast from overcooking.

Step 7

Cook the turkey until the meat thermometer registers at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit in the meaty part of the thigh. A 12-lb. turkey should cook in 3 to 3 1/2 hours.

Step 8

Remove the roasted turkey from the oven. Allow the turkey to cool for 15 to 20 minutes before carving the meat.


If you are stuffing your turkey, the turkey should be stuffed immediately before cooking. Cook the turkey until the turkey, and the stuffing inside, reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.


Sanitize everything that comes in contact with the juice of the raw turkey. Wash your sink, counter top and utensils with hot soapy water, then follow up with a mixture of 1 tbsp. of bleach to a gallon of warm water. Soak any dishes or utensils in the bleach solution. Wipe your counter tops with the solution, then allow the surface to air dry.