How to Cook a Moist Fall-off-the-Bone Thanksgiving Turkey

4.61 / 5 ( 46 Reviews )
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How to make a beautiful and moist Thanksgiving Turkey!

The Best Thanksgiving Turkey that is Actually Moist

Are you making a turkey for Thanksgiving this year and feeling a bit overwhelmed? We will have a some extended family over, unlike last year.  So even though I’m not doing Thanksgiving on my own, I’m still making the turkey. If this is your first turkey cooking experience, then keep reading, my friend! (note: plan on 1.25 pounds of turkey per person at your table)

This moist turkey recipe is crazy easy and PERFECT for an impressive first turkey for any novice cook! It’s so simple, it will provide some extra time for you to any of these amazing Thanksgiving side dishes or Thanksgiving Desserts!

It’s perfectly flavorful and will be falling off the bone (as you can see in the pics). Plus your house will smell AMAZING! Your family will oooh & ahhh over this colorful presentation!

It’s so much more interesting and festive than a boring brown turkey. So purchase an extra orange or onion for garnish, if you wish! And you might enjoy some leftover turkey in this Turkey Broccoli Casserole!

How to Make a Moist Thanksgiving Turkey

Start out by cutting 2 medium oranges and 2 medium onions into quarters or eighths. These will totally flavor the turkey meat from the inside, and it adds such a great touch!

How to Stuff  a Turkey

tips for a moist thanksgiving turkey

First you’ll need your turkey fully thawed. Just follow the packaging directions. Next remove the neck and giblets from inside the turkey.

Then stuff the turkey with the orange and onion pieces (I just use my hands). It really is that simple!

Then place your turkey in the roaster pan and pour 4 cups of water into the roaster all around the turkey.

Note, if your roaster doesn’t have a lid, or if you’re not using an electric roaster, you’ll definitely want to place the turkey inside an oven bag or use some nice heavy duty foil for a solid foil tent to go over the turkey. Having the turkey covered is KEY if you want a moist turkey!

Next pour melted butter over the entire turkey. I usually rub the turkey down to make sure everything is coated.

The last step is just to season it! Keep it simple here, my friend. You can just purchase some Mrs Dash original seasoning and liberally sprinkle it evenly over the entire turkey.

YES, it’s that simple!

Bake your turkey at 320˚ and the length of time will depend on the size of your turkey…

How Long to Cook a Turkey?

The general rule of thumb is that it takes one hour for every 3 pounds of turkey you have. So in my case, I had a 17 pound turkey and by 6 hours it was falling off the bone!

I also recommend using an instant read meat thermometer to ensure the turkey is done. The turkey should be cooked to an internal temp of 165˚F/73.8˚C. Just make sure you get the reading from the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the turkey breast.

If you have an electric roaster, the cook time should be about the same. An electric roaster is nice because it frees up your oven for other things AND you don’t even have to baste the turkey!

I just used foil and tented it over the turkey. I basted the turkey hourly to keep it moist. If you’re using an electric roaster or an oven bag for your turkey, you won’t need to baste your turkey at all! The moisture is retained inside the electric roaster (or the oven bag) and the turkey “self-bastes”.

The butter was key to achieve that beautiful roasted turkey look we all admire.

EASY and Moist Thanksgiving Turkey that will be falling off the bone!

Final Thoughts

You will be amazed with how moist the entire turkey will be through out! And the fact that you can pull it together with just FOUR ingredients is so awesome!

More Turkey Tips

Ready to get more advanced with your turkey making skills? Be sure to check out our tutorial on how to smoke a turkey!

Feeding a smaller crowd? Check out how to cook turkey breast in the air fryer!

How to Cook a Moist Fall-off-the-Bone Thanksgiving Turkey

Are you over whelmed about cooking your turkey this year? I just throw mine in the roaster & leave it! Here's how to make a moist turkey with little effort!
4.61 / 5 ( 46 Reviews )
Print Rate
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours
Total Time: 6 hours 15 minutes
Serves: 8
Adjust Servings: 8


  • Roasting pan


  • Turkey about 1.25 pounds per person
  • 2 Medium oranges
  • 2 medium onions
  • 1 ½ cups butter 3 sticks
  • Seasoning Mrs. Dash, if preferred
  • 4 cups water


  • Cut oranges and onions into quarters or eighths
  • Remove neck & giblets
  • If your roasting pan has no lid, then place turkey in an oven bag or prepare a tinfoil tent to retain moisture throughout baking time
  • Stuff with orange and onion pieces
  • Pour 4 cups water into bottom of roast pan
  • Melt & pour butter over entire turkey
  • Using hand, rub the butter evenly over entire turkey
  • Sprinkle turkey with seasoning of choice (Mrs. Dash original)
  • Bake @320 degrees for 1 hour for every 3 pounds of turkey (see note)
  • Baste hourly if using a tin foil tent.
  • If desired, use some pan drippings to create gravy by whisking in flour until desired consistency.

Recipe Notes

It is recommended to cook turkey for 1 hour for every 3 pounds of meat.
Use an instant read meat thermometer to ensure the turkey is done. It should read 165˚ in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the turkey breast.


Calories: 332kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 35g | Sodium: 311mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g


Ingredients: Turkey
Meal Type: Main Dish, Thanksgiving
Categories: Meat and Poultry, Oven

Comments & Reviews

  • What if I do not have a roaster … can you still use this recipe in the oven? If so, what temp. and how long? Thank you …

    • Yes you can still cook it in your oven! Same temp same amount of time. Just watch the racks on your oven to make sure that you don’t hit the top. In the case of putting it in your oven the changes I would make is to put the turkey in a turkey bag before placing in the pan. Unless you have a roaster with a lid that goes in your oven. The purpose of the bag would be to keep it ‘covered’ while it’s cooking You can dump the 1/2 the amount of water in the bag to keep it moist but the bag on it’s own will help. You also could cover your pan with tin foil really good if you don’t have turkey bags. Hope that helps, let me know if you have any more questions. My husband has been so excited that I cooked a turkey early this year (to blog about it) he’s been eating turkey sandwiches non stop!

      • I have a question. I have a Roaster that says if the turkey is 19-24lbs I should cook it for 2-3 hours. You say to cook it for 8. If I leave it in there for 8 is that going to burn the turkey?

        • Put the water in there (this will make it not dry out) make sure your turkey isn’t touching the edges (it will make it really dark if it does). You can cook the turkey for 8 hours and not burn it. After about 4 hours you can check it if for some reason you think it’s getting to dark turn it down to 275 degrees. I have cooked 10 turkies at once in different roasters (church dinner) every roaster cooks just a little different, one I even had to add a little more water to. Though every single one I cooked for 8 hours and had no problems with any one burning. The turkey really just falls off the bone by cooking it this long. I do it year after year and love it! I will check my emails tomorrow throughout the day so if you have any questions post them & I will get back to you as fast as I can. (though be aware I am a black friday shopper so after about 6pm I will be shopping! hehehe)

  • Hey I am cooking my first turkey this Thanksgiving. I am only cooking for a few people so I’m planning on getting a small turkey (10-12 lbs). Would you suggest changing the cooking time since the bird is smaller?

  • Hi,
    Thanks for the recipe! I was just curious…my roaster has two small holes in the lid for steam escape (I guess). Does your roaster have these holes too? Really want to cook my bird in the roaster to free up oven this year:) Thanks for reading!!!

4.61 from 46 votes (46 ratings without comment)

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