I’ve tried a bunch of turkey recipes in my lifetime. First, was my family’s traditional turkey. Then I started to try a bunch of food networks thanksgiving turkeys. I think last year I tried the pioneer woman’s turkey, which started with a liquid brine. It was extremely good! This year I tried the Neely’s turkey, with of course a few little changes that I think made it that much better. This turkey turned out with such a great flavor. The spice rub really did make it so much more flavorful than just your average turkey. Tons of smoked paprika, some herbs and garlic powder. Oh! And some cayenne. Don’t get scared though, the cayenne does not make your turkey spicy at all. It simply adds flavor.

Once you wash and pay dry the turkey, you’ll put the spice rub on it and into the fridge it goes. The longer it sits, the more it’ll marinate and the spices will marry together. I recommend 24-48 hours. You’ll want to prep your turkey at least a day, if not two days, ahead of thanksgiving. The prep time is only 5 minutes so it won’t take you long at all. This is very important to allow it to sit with the spices for this amount of time. It will help you to create a juicer more tender turkey in the end.

I used a 10 lb turkey, but feel free to use whatever size you’d like. Adjust ingredients to the specific weight of the turkey.

Tip #1: Every turkey recipe always states to take the turkey out when the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees. I like to take mine out at 160. The turkey will continue cooking as it rests under foil… so I like to take mine out before it reaches that 165 degree temp. I find the turkey is more moist (not dry) if I take it out at 160. This way it’ll rest and come up to the proper (cooked) temperature. Just a tip I’ve realized over the years so I hope this can help everyone! Because no one like a dry turkey, right?

Tip #2: I like to place a couple cups of water in the bottom of the roasting pan. This helps to keep the turkey moist as the steam will rise into the cavity of the chicken and hit all that glorious meat. Most of the water will evaporate and you’ll be left with those wonderful juices to make gravy!

Tip #3: Do not rely on an exact time to take your turkey out. Continuously check the temperature with a thermometer to see if it’s done or not. A recipe will say 3 hours but it might take your turkey 3.5. Every turkey is a different size and every oven cooks differently. Take this into account so that you can serve a perfectly cooked turkey!

Tip #4: The turkey will stay warm for quite some time once out of the oven (it’s a big bird!). So don’t feel like you need to time it out perfectly. It can sit for an hour and still be warm! The last thing you want to do is keep everyone waiting for too long until the turkey is done. It’s thanksgiving after all… everyone is saving their appetite for this one big meal!

Tip #4: Not a professional turkey carver? Me neither. It’s a daunting task for some! But I bet you anything that one of your guests is good at it. Ask them to help you out on the carving! (Men love to carve the turkey for some reason. I guess to show off their knife skills? lol) If no one can help, don’t sweat it. Everyone will still enjoy it even if it’s not sliced perfectly!

Tip #5: Whatever you do, don’t wing it. If you’re using a new turkey recipe, test it out before thanksgiving. New recipes can be hit or miss. The last thing you want is a failed turkey and everyone is starving. Test your recipes beforehand!

Tip #6: Allow your turkey to rest after cooking. Do not carve your turkey right away or the juices will escape from the meat and make your turkey dry. It might be hard to wait as it sits…but trust me it’s absolutely necessary!

That’s all the tips I can think of right now, but I’ll be sure to add more if I think of any! I’ll also be putting together a thanksgiving post with more tips and recipes, so that everything is all in one place for you guys!


Prep time: 24-48 hours

Cook time: 2 hours (for a 10 pound turkey)

Total time: 2 days

Serves: 8-10


  • 10 lb butterball turkey (or whatever size you’d like – adjust ingredient measurements as needed)
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1.5 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1.5 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon, cut in half
  • 1 onion, cut in half
  • 1 bunch rosemary
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 3-4 cups turkey stock


For the turkey:

  1. Rinse your turkey with cold water. Pat dry with paper towels. Set turkey on a baking sheet.
  2. Mix together all the spices in a small bowl.
  3. Liberally season the cavity of the turkey. Then take the spices and rub underneath the skin of the turkey breasts (careful not to puncture the skin while doing so). Use the rest of the spices to fully cover the outside of the turkey.
  4. Cover the turkey with plastic wrap on top of the baking sheet. Place in the fridge for 24-48 hours.
  5. Remove from the fridge 1-2 hours before cooking so that the turkey can come down to room temperature.
  6. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  7. Transfer the turkey to a roasting pan. Cover the entire turkey with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Then place 2 cups of water in the bottom of the roasting pan. Stuff the cavity of the bird with lemon, onion, rosemary and thyme.
  8. Place in the oven and brush with the melted butter every 30 minutes. Cook until the thickest part of the thigh reaches 160 degrees F. Mine took about 2 hours.
  9. Once cooked, remove from the oven and transfer to a platter. Cover all sides of the turkey loosely with foil. Let sit for at least 30 minutes before carving.

For the gravy:

  1. Transfer the turkey juices/drippings to large pan. Put over medium heat and add in 2 tbsp all purpose flour. Whisk together and let cook for 1 minute to remove any flour taste.
  2. Add in 3-4 cups turkey stock (or water) until it reaches your desired thickness.
  3. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
  4. Transfer to a gravy boat and serve hot.

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