Succulent, juicy and unbelievably tasty, this wonderful slow roasted turkey is perfect for Sunday lunch or your festive feast. It’s all so easy and the results are truly spectacular.
If you've never tried slow roasting a turkey, you’re in for a treat! The preparation is simple – it’s just a case of adding the right ingredients to the roasting pan, so that the turkey is infused with delicious flavors and wonderful fragrances.
Then it’s over to the oven to do its job. Slow roasting for over four hours allows the turkey to take on some incredible flavors. Once you’ve cooked turkey slow roast style, you’ll never go back. Whether it’s a Christmas or Thanksgiving turkey, or just a special Sunday lunch, this is the only slow cooked turkey recipe you’ll ever need!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- When you slow cook a turkey, the taste and texture are incredible
- It’s easy to roast a turkey using the slow cook method – preparation is minimal and the oven does all the work
- This slow roast recipe is perfect for the holiday season, or just for a special Sunday lunch
- There’ll be lots of leftovers… and I’ve got some amazing leftover turkey recipes at the end of this recipe!
Equipment Needed To Make This Recipe
Let’s take a look at some of the key pieces of kitchen equipment that you’ll need to make this delicious slow roasted turkey recipe:
- Roasting pan – invest in a high quality large roasting pan… it’s the best way to cook a turkey, especially a large one. Also, you’ll need a good pan to catch all the drippings and in which to cook the gravy while the turkey is resting.
- Turkey baster – a brilliant little kitchen item that makes a big impact on the juiciness of your turkey. Lots of people make the mistake of not basting their turkey properly, but it’s so worth going to the effort.
- Meat thermometer – a good quality meat thermometer is an essential piece of kit for cooking the perfect turkey. First of all, in terms of food safety, making sure your turkey is cooked to a safe temperature. Also, a meat thermometer helps you hit that sweet spot and prevents overcooking the meat, avoiding an overcooked, dry turkey.
- Turkey lifters – lifting a huge turkey out of a hot roasting pan can be dangerous… there’s lots of hot fat in the pan and the turkey is big and heavy. These big forks are a great help when it comes to transferring your turkey out of the pan in order to rest.
What to Serve with Slow Roasted Turkey
The classic side for a slow roast turkey would be roast potatoes or mashed potatoes. Here are few of my favorite potato recipes, to give you a little inspiration:
- Roasted garlic mashed potatoes – these mashed potatoes are creamy, rich and delicious, perfect for serving up alongside a big comforting slow roast turkey
- Confit potatoes – a classic French method of cooking potatoes, you won’t believe how tasty these are! A really special side that tastes so good it could be a main. If you want to serve up an extra special treat for your festive feast, this could be the side to go for.
- Boulangere potatoes – another incredible French potato recipe, this one is creamy, rich and tastes like a dream. A decadent side dish that works well with any kind of roasted dish.
- Mousseline potatoes – the fabulous French recipes just keep on coming. These creamy, dreamy mash potatoes are off the scale tasty, baked in the oven for real depth of flavor.
- Rosemary roast potatoes – these classic roast potatoes are simple and delicious and, when paired with slow roasted turkey, are a match made in heaven
- Parmentier potatoes – an alternative to the classic roast potato, these are smaller. The small size gives them that extra crispiness and, when cooked to perfection, they have that wonderful combination of crispy on the outside, and fluffy on the inside.
- Marmite roast potatoes – on a different level to your standard spud, these Marmite roasties are incredible!
- Dried cranberry sauce – the perfect accompaniment to your festive turkey, this recipe is so easy and yet so effective
You could also go for some greens or other side dishes. Here are some of my favorites:
- Roasted green beans with garlic – such a wonderfully simple yet delicious recipe, these roasted green beans have a fresh, vibrant taste that makes them an ideal side dish for roast recipes.
- Tobacco onions – crispy, smokey and full of incredible flavor, tobacco onions are typically paired with burgers, but also make for a great side dish for slow cooked roast recipes.
- Caramelized brussels sprouts – if you’re a sprout hater, you’ll want to skip this one, but if you’re a big brussels sprouts fan you’re going to absolutely love these! Simple sprouts are a great side for roast turkey, but these are next level delicious!
- Honey roast parsnips – a festive favorite, parsnips are an essential side dish come the holiday season. These are honey roasted for an extra special flavor.
- Slow cooked red cabbage – an exquisite side dish that’s perfect for Sunday lunch or for that special holiday feast.
Give the turkey at least 30 minutes to rest once it’s cooked. This will allow all the juices to be absorbed, giving you perfectly succulent turkey meat.
A slow roasted turkey is special and, therefore, demands a special wine to accompany it.
Variations To This Recipe
This recipe is very straightforward, with just three ingredients that bring a nice harmony of flavor to the turkey. However, it’s very adaptable and can be tweaked to your tastes.
Here are a few variation ideas for this slow roast turkey recipe:
Although this recipe is stuffing free – aside from the standard onion and citrus fruit – you can add any type of stuffing if you wish. When it comes to stuffing, feel free to play with various different ingredients. You can even make your own stuffing, using bread, sausage meat, herbs and vegetables.
If you do decide to make your own stuffing, try my delicious apricot stuffing. It will infuse your roast turkey with a beautiful fruity flavor and makes a great alternative to standard types of stuffing.
Garlic butter under the skin
Another interesting variation that adds a lot of flavor and tenderness to your turkey, particularly the breast meat, is to add garlic butter underneath the skin of the turkey breast. This involves making a simple garlic and herb butter, with a few squeezes of lemon juice, and carefully working it underneath the skin.
Bacon layered over turkey breasts
Another great trick to keep the meat tender and delicious is to drape some bacon rashers over the turkey breasts. As the meat cooks, the fat from the bacon spreads over the turkey, basting it and helping it stay deliciously tender and juicy.
- There are lots of different herbs you can use with roast turkey. I’ve gone for rosemary, although thyme and oregano work just as well. You can also use marjoram, tarragon or chives. If you can’t find fresh herbs, ground herbs work just fine.
- You can replace the orange with a lemon to bring a nice citrus fragrance to the turkey.
- Sprinkle kosher salt and black pepper, then rub melted butter onto the skin of the turkey, for an extra tasty, crispy skin.
- Use an oven thermometer to make sure your oven is calibrated correctly.
- Use a meat thermometer to ensure you end up with turkey cooked to perfection.
- Don’t waste the pan juices! You can create an amazing turkey broth, better than any turkey or chicken broth you’ve ever tasted! Here’s my turkey stock recipe.
- Bring the turkey to room temperature before you cook it. You should aim to remove it from the fridge about 30 minutes before cooking. This will ensure you get an evenly cooked and perfectly textured meat.
- It might be tempting to leave the turkey alone for the whole cooking period, relaxed with a glass of bubbly while it does its thing. However, remember to baste the turkey every hour or so. They will help to keep the bird perfectly juicy and wonderfully tender.
Why is slow roasting a turkey a good idea?
As with any meat, slow cooking turkey is the best way to achieve tender and delicious meat. The slow temperature and longer cooking time allow the meat to take on incredible flavor, while also ensuring that the turkey doesn’t dry out.
How do you defrost a turkey?
Many people buy turkeys frozen, so getting the defrosting stage right is crucial. In order to properly defrost your turkey so that it’s ready for Thanksgiving or Christmas Day it’s best to leave it to thaw in the refrigerator.
Defrosting turkey this way will ensure the whole turkey thaws evenly, from the leg and thigh meat to the breast meat, which will give you an even cooking temperature.
Unfortunately, you can’t defrost a turkey overnight. Thawing turkey in the refrigerator will take some time and, depending on the size of your turkey, could even take a few days. Allow a day for every 5 pounds of weight.
Another way to defrost turkey that has been done traditionally for many years is to leave the turkey outside. This only works in colder climates, where the temperature doesn’t reach more than 10°C/50°F. This method allows you to free up space in your refrigerator.
Leave your turkey in a sealable larger container and place it in a garage or garden shed. This method also takes a few days.
Can you cook a frozen turkey?
Yes. You can actually cook a partially thawed turkey, although personally I wouldn’t recommend it. Cooking turkey when it hasn’t been properly defrosted means you won’t get that wonderful flavor and texture that comes with slow cooking a fresh turkey.
However, there are times when you might need to cook a partially frozen turkey to save Thanksgiving or Christmas.
If this is the case, you’ll need to allow a lot longer to cook the turkey. For example, a 20lbs turkey will require at least seven hours to cook to a safe temperature.
Can you roast a turkey overnight?
Yes, you can cook a turkey overnight. Turkey cooked overnight will produce spectacular results! Even though you won’t be able to baste the turkey every hour, the slow cooking process ensures the meat stays wonderfully juicy and full of flavor.
For instance, you can cook the turkey on a very low temperature – 135°C/275°F for example. This would take around 20-23 minutes per pound, or 22-25 minutes if stuffed. For a 20 pound turkey, this means 6 ½ to 7 ½ hours of cooking time.
What can I do with turkey leftovers?
Let’s be honest, we normally buy a turkey that’s way too big to eat in one sitting. One of the themes of Thanksgiving or Christmas is the piles and piles of leftovers. Don’t waste any of it! Especially this wonderful slow roasted turkey… throwing away any of this turkey is a culinary crime!
Make sure you strip the turkey carcass of any good meat that can be used for festive leftovers. This includes the turkey breast or any dark meat. Turkey leftovers generally keep for around 2-3 days when stored in an airtight container in the fridge, so you’ve got a bit of time to use them.
Here are a few recipe suggestions when it comes to turkey leftovers:
Leftover turkey chowder – a wonderfully tasty winter warmer, with beautifully subtle spices
Leftover turkey soup – soothing winter soups don’t get much nicer than this… and all with leftovers too!
Leftover turkey tacos – a Mexican-inspired recipe that will bring a little bit of spice to your post Christmas celebrations
Leftover turkey stroganoff – deep, rich and delicious, this intensely flavored stroganoff is the perfect leftover meal when you’re craving some comfort food
Leftover turkey curry – one of the best leftover turkey recipes out there! There’s something about leftover turkey that just works wonders when made into a spicy curry
Leftover turkey lasagna – one for fans of Italian cuisine! A lovely little twist on a traditional lasagna, it’s oh so satisfying the day after the main feast
Leftover turkey casserole – another big epic comfort food classic, this turkey casserole is to die for!
How do you know when turkey is cooked properly?
The internal temperature of turkey should reach 74C/165F. The best way to ensure your turkey is fully cooked to a safe temperature is to use a meat thermometer.
Insert the meat thermometer skewer into the thickest part of the turkey thigh. Give it a few seconds for an accurate reading. If the temperature falls a bit short, place the turkey back in the oven and continue to cook. Then repeat the process until you’ve reached the correct temperature.
More turkey recipes
Need a little more inspiration for cooking your turkey during the festive period? Check out these great recipes:
- Whole smoked turkey – this recipe takes turkeys to a whole new dimension. There’s something extra special about smoked meat and this recipe is out of this world
- Whole roast turkey – a slight variation on this roast turkey recipe, my whole roast turkey is a more standard recipe with a quicker cooking time
- Apple cider turkey brine – bringing turkey makes the meat even more tender and delicious. This apple brine recipe infuses the meat with a wonderful flavor and, when slow roasted, will produce the best turkey you’ve ever tasted in your life!