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Uncle Bill’s Method for Cooking Turkey


  • 1(16 lb) whole turkey
  • salt
  • pepper
  • granulated garlic powder
  • water
  • 1⁄2cup extra virgin olive oil, if required (or more)


  • Turkey must be thoroughly thawed before preparing for the oven unless you are using a fresh turkey.
  • Remove turkey parts from cavities and use as you desire.
  • Wash cavities well with cold water.
  • Boil a kettle of hot water (scalding hot.).
  • Place turkey in a clean sink or a large roasting pan.
  • Pour hot water over the entire turkey including in the cavities.
  • The skin will shrink tightly to the turkey.
  • "This will help hold the natural juices in the turkey while it is cooking. Do not peel skin back to layer herbs under the skin. This will destroy the process for a moist turkey.
  • "Pat dry both inside and outside of turkey.
  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Sprinkle cavities with salt and black pepper and granulated garlic powder.
  • If you are stuffing the bird, then line inside of cavity with cheesecloth, then stuff with your favorite dressing,"stuff loosely",.
  • Tie legs and wings with a good meat wrapping twine and leave a lifting loop to remove the turkey from the pan when cooked.
  • Place a wire rack in the bottom of roasting pan.
  • Place the turkey on the wire rack, breast side up.
  • Pour 2 cups of water or 2 cups of chicken broth into the pan.
  • Pour about 1/2 cup or more if required of extra virgin olive oil over the exterior of the turkey.
  • Cover the turkey with heavy aluminum foil, but do not let the foil touch the turkey as it will stick to the turkey while cooking.
  • Pinch foil tight to the sides of the pan.
  • Place turkey on lower rack in oven and cook for 1 hour.
  • Reduce heat to 325 F and cook for 2 1/2 hours.
  • Now turn heat up to 350 F and cook for another 1/2 hour.
  • Remove foil from turkey. At this time test for doneness by inserting an instant read thermometer into the breast to see how the cooking temperature is. We are cooking towards a reading of 175°F.
  • Baste,the turkey and continue cooking, uncovered, for an additional 1 hour at 350 F, basting about every 15 minutes so that the turkey turns a nice brown color.
  • When the time for cooking is finished, test for doneness. Insert the instant read thermometer into the thickest portion of the turkey breast, reading should be 175 F and no more. .
  • Remove from oven, lift turkey out the roasting pan using the string loops.
  • Cover with foil and let the turkey rest for about 1/2 hour before carving.
  • Total time for cooking a 16 pound stuffed turkey is 5 hours.
  • There is no need to baste the turkey until the last 1 hour of cooking, this saves you a lot of time as you do not have to remove the foil tent during the first 4 hours.
  • For a crispy browner skin, you may wish to consider rubbing butter over the entire bird after pouring olive oil. This works very nicely.
  • COOKING TIMES: Left Side -Stuffed—- Right Side – Unstuffed.
  • *12-14lbs.
  • 4 – 4 1/2 hours– 3 1/2 – 3 3/4 hours.
  • *14-16lbs.
  • 4 1/2 – 5 hours– 3 3/4 – 4 hours.
  • *16-18lbs.
  • 5- 5 1/2 hours– 3 3/4 – 4 1/4 hours.
  • *18-20lbs.
  • 5 1/2 – 6 hours– 4 1/4 – 4 1/2 hours.
  • *20-22lbs.
  • 6 – 6 1/4 hours– 4 1/2 – 5 hours.
  • *22-24lbs.
  • 6 1/4- 6 1/2 hours– 5 – 5 1/4 hours.
  • NOTE: Test for doneness by inserting a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the breast, reading should be 175 F and in the thickest part of the leg or thigh, reading should be 180°F.


  • evol

    I’ve had burnt or dry turkey the whole time I was growing up… Thank you for posting an easy recipe for those who still need the basics!

  • MFuhri

    Yummy Turkey Bill. Even though you said not to, I rubbed down my turkey under the skin and marinated overnight. Before roasting, I poured the scalding hot water over my bird. I used a bag too. My baby was so moist that when I moved her out of the pan her legs fell right off–wings came off with a gentle tug. She was a juicy beauty! I brined my turkey last year–THIS WAS BETTER. Brining was a giant pain in the butt and this tasted better.

  • ColtonKyliesMum

    Used this recipe a couple of Thanksgivings ago and our turkey turned out perfectly. The next year I couldn’t remember where I had placed this recipe and ultimately had to go back to our first method of Turkey roasting which does not create the near perfect results as Uncle Bill’s method.

    I will never lose this recipe again, I will never lose this recipe again, I will never lose this recipe again… Thank you!!

  • Cindy G

    I tried this at Thanksgiving. It was well worth the extra time getting the bird in the oven. Everything was moist, even the breast meat! I will use this method always from now on!

  • Erin R.

    Oh my goodness, this is wonderful. I roasted a turkey breast for New Years Eve dinner, my very first try at making a turkey. The shrink wrapping effect of the skin is truly a sight to see, and the breast meat was positively bursting with juice. An onion and a stalk of celery underneath the turkey made for some excellent, nearly fat-free drippings for my gravy, and the whole thing went really well with some horseradish mashed potatoes and roasted veg. Thank you, Uncle Bill, for helping me past my turkey hang up. It’s not scary anymore! Yay! We’ll be doing this regularly now, I have the feeling.

  • Kathy :-(

    December 24, 2006: My husband doesn’t like me to use a brine when making a turkey, so I was interested in trying your method. When I poured the hot water over the turkey, the skin really tightened up, which surprised me. My roasting pan was rather large, so I poured more water than called for into the pan so that the bottom of the pan was covered with water. I had some herb-flavored olive oil on hand and used that instead of plain olive oil. I think that was a good option. We followed your directions as written, and DH said this was absolutely the best, most incredibly moist roast turkey he’s ever had! UPDATE 11/29/09: Again, another perfect, moist turkey! Used this recipe again for Thanksgiving. This time our turkey was 16 pounds. The directions list only total time for this weight. The cooking time broke down as follows for a 16 pound turkey: 400F 45 minutes; 325F 2 hours; 350F 25 minutes; 350F 45 minutes

  • Happy Harry #2

    Hi Uncle Bill! Well, I tried this method of scalding last year and could see no difference, so this time round, I bought a smaller turkey (141/2 instead of 24lbs). I put my huge stockpot up to boil and dunked it in for a few minutes. The rest is (or should say..WAS) an amazing star of the dinner show. Hope your T-day was as tasty as mine. Thanks Loads

  • T c.

    This recipe was delicious. I added seasoning salt, garlic powder, paprika, and cayenne pepper to the recipe by putting the dry mixture underneath the skin as well as on top. I let it marinate for approx. 3 hrs. Going forward, this will be how I bake chicken. Thank so much for the posting.

  • kbcountrymom

    I used a 13lb turkey and cooked it an hour on 400, an hour and 45 mins on 325, a half hour on 350, took the foil off and started basting and within 45 mins my popper popped and the turkey was perfect!!! Soooo easy! Plus it made 5 cups of drippings for the gravy. I used the gravy Mean Chef’s Turkey Gravy. It was awesome!

  • Misses Wilson



    I had never cooked a turkey before and my DH detests turkey at all times but with this recipe I even got rave reviews from him!! I loved that it didn’t have tons of salt or anything else complicated happening with it and yet was still the most moist turkey I’ve ever eaten!

    Before I poured the boiling water over this giant bird I gently separated the skin from the meat with my hands and lukewarm water running over it to make it easier, then I rubbed down the meat with a compound butter I had made the night before that had everything from raw hazelnuts and walnuts to fresh sage and rosemary in it for a dramatic touch. It was simply amazing! I was fascinated by how the skin just sealed up against every nook and cranny. My little old auntie accused me of having done a practice turkey before this one and honestly I had never done this before!! You should’ve seen me smack talking that 25lb bird @ 3am! I didn’t even have the proper tools to tie up the legs I used a brand new greased up shoe string!!!!

    If this is your first turkey and you go any other way than this recipe your just plain silly!! Just remember your working with something that is going to be eaten not bronzed and put on display for the rest of your life! Tin foil the breasts if they get brown too soon or (I know it sounds crazy) cook the bird breasts down for the first half of the bake time!

    Will never be able to thank you enough for this method Uncle Bill, you have made me a legendary cook in my family @ just 22years old I have all the little old ladies jealous of my prowess in the kitchen!!