Over the years, we’ve cooked turkey every which of way, roasted and basted, and basted, and basted with all kinds of combinations of ingredients, roasted in a bag, fried (of course), we’ve brined and have gone brine-less. Honestly, I’m no expert, but I will say this, less is best in my book. Less messing. Less stuff. Less time.
This recipe I’m sharing with you today for a Mayonnaise Roasted Turkey definitely calls for less. It’s pretty straightforward. And no, it doesn’t taste like mayonnaise. This is just one of the methods we use, but after great results each time, moist turkey, that tastes like turkey, hand-down, it’s our preferred way so far.
Before I get to the mayo method, let’s talk turkey.
Tips for Cooking Turkey:
- Bigger isn’t always better. A large turkey doesn’t equal large taste. So if you have a big group to feed, I’d recommend getting two smaller turkeys. Smaller turkeys (I’d say 12-13 lbs) are harder to come by, but look for them. Hunt them down.
- No additional “stuff.” You may need to call around to find a turkey without all the junkity-junk, but it’s worth it. You may pay more per pound, but you won’t be paying for all that extra plumping or whatever it is. A good rule of thumb someone once told me is no more than 4 ingredients on the packaging. Remember, less is best.
- Use a meat thermometer and cook for proper time. Turkey doesn’t need to take 4 hours to cook. I promise. Make sure you have a good meat thermometer that stays in the turkey and can be monitored from outside the oven. We like to insert the meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh (without touching bone) for monitoring while cooking, but you’ll also want to check the thickest part of the breast before removing from oven, so an external meat thermometer is handy. Whatever meat thermometer(s) you use, just be sure to test them ahead of the big day.
- Cook temperature and time for roasting a turkey is basic and simple. Roast high for a short time, then turn down until internal temperature of the internal temperature reaches 160°F. See recipe below for temperatures, etcetera. You’ll be surprised how quickly it reaches the proper internal temperature, depending on size, 2 hours or less!
- Let it rest. That turkey has been working and it’s hot man. Let it rest, covered, for at least 20-30 minutes (depending on size) before carving. It will help retain the juices and all the goodness.
- To brine or not to brine? If you like to brine and you’ve got the time, brine away…brine until you dine, in the sunshine, it’ll be fine. We’ve brined and we’ve gone brine-less. Honestly, I tend to be bad at planning, so I usually forget until it’s past the prime time to brine. Plus, I think when you invest in a good turkey, as mentioned before, with no additives and plumped up with extras, not too large, and roasted correctly, you might find that brining may not be all that necessary.
- And finally, practice. Cook turkey more than just during the holidays. Try out different techniques. Brine, don’t brine. Test different basting combos. Feeling confident about cooking your turkey, will help make the day of celebrating more enjoyable for you. And tasty too!
Okay, now for this mayonnaise turkey deal. I know, it sounds weird, but like I said before, it does deliver a moist and tasty bird. And, it’s simple. I’ll show ya. Mix herbs (fresh or dried) with mayonnaise. I used herbs I had on hand. Feel free to experiment with different herb and seasoning combinations.
Chopped celery, and onion, salt, pepper, and a stick of butter for good measure, round out the ingredients needed, other than the bird.
Prep your turkey in a roasting pan. Make sure it’s thawed y’all, I’ve made that mistake before. Rub the mayo/herb mixture all over and inside of the turkey. Season with salt and pepper, add the celery, onion, inside and out, and tuck the butter in the cavity.
Roast in 450°F oven for 30 minutes. Turn the oven down to 350°F, and insert the meat thermometer at this point in the thickest part of the thigh. Be careful to not touch bone. (Some say insert it into the thickest part of the breast, we’ve done that too, but now use the thigh as the measure and check the breast before removing from oven.) Continue roasting, uncovered, until thermometer reaches 160°F. If you’re concerned with the legs getting dried out, cover them partway through cooking with foil. Sometimes I do, this time I didn’t. Keep an eye on it during cooking to see if it’s needed.
Let it rest and carve.
Now enjoy with your favorite side dishes and of course gravy!
Speaking of gravy, save those drippings in the roasting pan. You’ll need those for the gravy. Check out the gravy recipe.
- 12-14 lb. whole turkey, (totally thawed, tee-totally thawed)
- 6-7 fresh sage leaves, rough chopped
- 5-6 fresh thyme stems
- 2-3 springs of rosemary
- 2-3 springs of oregano
- 1½ cups of mayonnaise
- 1-2 tablespoons coarse salt
- 1-2 tablespoons pepper
- 3 stalks celery, rough chopped
- 1 large onion, rough chopped
- ½ cup (1 stick) butter, salted
- (adjusts all seasonings & mayonnaise as needed for size of bird)
- Preheat oven to 450°F.
- Lay turkey in a roasting pan.
- Remove leaves from herbs stems. Add sage, thyme, rosemary, and oregano to mayonnaise; combine well. Rub mayonnaise/herb mixture all over outside and interior of bird.
- Liberally salt, and pepper turkey. Add the celery, and onion, inside and out, and tuck the butter in the cavity.
- Roast turkey in 450°F oven for 30 minutes. Then turn the oven down to 350°F, and insert the meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, being careful not to touch bone. Continue roasting, uncovered, until internal thermometer reaches 160°F. Cover legs with foil partway through roasting if desired. Depending on size of turkey, total cook time will be around 1½-2 hours. Once the thermometer reaches 160°F in the thigh, check the internal temperature of the thickest part of the breast to make sure it reads 160°F as well.
- Remove from oven. Cover with foil and let rest for at least 20-30 minutes (depending on size) before carving.
- Remember to reserve turkey drippings and juices for gravy.