Cooking a Turkey – Easy Recipe for Beginners

Whether or not you’re a learning to cook a turkey for the first time or a seasoned holiday cook, this Italian seasoning based oven roasted turkey recipe is definitely one you’ll want to try! With carrots and potatoes included, this all in one meal is simple and flavorful.

Italian Roasted Turkey

This is the easiest turkey recipe to make and a crowd pleaser since everyone loves Italian seasonings.

Yield: One 14-15 lb turkey (3.75 to 4 hours cooking time)


  • One 14 to 15 lb turkey, frozen or fresh
  • Olive oil, 1 tablespoon
  • Lemon, cut into quarters
  • Salt – use hickory flavored salt for the best flavor
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Italian seasoning – ¼ cup
  • Fresh curly parsley – ¼ cup, chopped finely
  • Dried savory herb – 1 tablespoon
  • (optional) fresh dill, chopped finely
  • (optional) 1 tablespoon crushed whole red peppers
  • 8-12 baby red potatoes
  • 4-8 carrots, cut into two inch chunks


  1. Thaw the frozen turkey. When thawed, place turkey in large roasting pan.
  2. Squeeze each quartered lemon over the turkey to allow a little meat tenderizing to begin from the lemon juice, plus to bring some added flavor.
  3. Then rub the olive oil into the skin of the turkey.
  4. In a small bowl, mix salt (1 tablespoon), pepper to taste (about ½ teaspoon), Italian seasoning, savory and crushed whole red peppers. Mix. Then sprinkle the herb mixture except for one teaspoon of the mix, on the turkey. It should stick onto the turkey.
  5. Add the potatoes and carrots to the roasting pan. Use the remaining herbs to sprinkle on top these vegetables.
  6. Finally, add the chopped parsley and dill to the turkey and vegetables. Cover the turkey with foil or a roasting pan cover.
  7. Cook at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for up to 4 hours, basting at least once an hour, and checking the turkey internal temperature at the 3 hour mark to determine how much more cooking time you need.
  8. Remove bird from oven when internal temperature is 180 degrees in the thigh meat. Let sit in the pan for one hour.
  9. Carve turkey and serve with the roasted vegetables.

4 Frequently Asked Questions When Cooking a Turkey for the First Time

  1. What temperature to cook a turkey? Do you cook a turkey at 325 or 350?
    The best temperature is 325 degrees Fahrenheit because the hotter the temperature, the faster some parts of the turkey will cook, and then dry out.

  2. How long to cook a turkey in the oven? How long to cook a turkey per pound?
    The safest way to cook a turkey is to cook it so that the meat thermometer in the thigh meat registers 180-185 degrees and the breast meat is 170 degrees. Generally speaking, it’s about 15 to 20 minutes cooking time per pound. A 20-lb turkey cooks in the oven for 4-5 hours; add another 15 minutes if it’s stuffed.

  3. Should you wash your turkey?
    Some recent studies clearly indicate that you shouldn’t wash poultry in your sink due to the bacteria easily being spread throughout the kitchen.

  4. What is basting and should you do it?
    Basting is simply the coating of meat during the cooking process with its own juice, sauce, or marinade to add flavor and ensure moistness. Basting is simple and only requires either a bulb turkey baster or a basting brush.

    Although we’ve included it in our recipe up above, basting is somewhat of controversial topic as some believe that pouring liquid over the surface of meat does not affect the moistness of that meat.

    We will leave it up to you to decide to baste or not to baste, either way the best way to ensure a moist turkey is to avoid over cooking it.