Easy Stuffed Roast Turkey With Giblet Gravy Recipe (2024)

Why It Works

  • Placing the roasting pan on a preheated baking stone or baking steel helps the legs and thighs cook fast enough to catch up with the breast before it gets a chance to overcook.
  • Lining the turkey cavity with cheesecloth to form a stuffing pouch makes it easier to transfer the stuffing in and out of the bird.
  • Heating the pouch of stuffing separately to 180F degrees before returning it to the turkey cavity ensures that both the finished bird and stuffing will be moist and cooked to the perfect temperature.
  • Cut off the end of the cheese cloth pouch for the last hour of baking to crisp up the stuffing.

Easy Stuffed Roast Turkey With Giblet Gravy Recipe (1)

We've all heard it before: you can't make a good roast turkey if you stuff it. Alton Brown's said it, and as far as recommendations go, that's pretty much the final word for me. Heck, even I've said it in the past.

See, here's the problem: turkey is a very fickle type of meat. Overcook pork, beef, or even chicken by a little bit and you aren't in deep trouble yet. They've all got enough fat in 'em to keep things relatively lubricated and moist. White meat turkey, on the other hand, is the absolute leanest of all meats. What this means for you is that there's no hiding an overcooked turkey breast. An entire boatload of gravy can't save it (though there's no reason to ever turn down extra gravy).

For turkey, the ideal temperature for perfectly moist breast meat is around 145°F or so. A bit higher and you're starting to enter drysville. Get it all the way up to 165°F as the USDA recommends in its utterly silly-for-the-average-intelligent-human-being safety recommendations*, and you might as well be chowing down on the roasted contents of your paper recycling bin.

*Check out the explanation here for more on cooking meat safely.

The Conundrum: Safely-Cooked Stuffing vs. Moist Roast Bird

OK, fine, you're saying. So don't overcook my turkey. I get it. How does stuffing change that? Well, the thing is, when you fill the internal cavity of a turkey with porous, bready stuffing, the turkey's juices drip down into it as it's roasting. This is a good thing for your stuffing, which picks up the incomparable flavor of turkey drippings and comes out extra moist on tasty. On the other hand, it means that not only does the turkey need to be cooked to 145°F, but your raw-turkey-juice-infused stuffing must also be cooked to this temperature and rested in order to be safe for consumption.

Easy Stuffed Roast Turkey With Giblet Gravy Recipe (2)

See the problem yet? That's right. By the time the stuffing in the very center of the bird reaches 145°F, the breast meat will be hopelessly overcooked (remember, foods cook from the outside in, right?). Compounding this problem is the fact that legs and thighs, with all their connective tissue, need to be cooked to a much higher temperature—around 165°F at least—in order to be palatable.

This latter problem can be solved with a baking stone: placing the bird in a roasting pan on top of a preheated baking stone in a 500°F oven and immediately dropping the temperature down to 300°F ensures that the legs and thighs cook faster from the radiative heat given off by the stone while the breast cooks slower in the upper oven, but the stuffing problem is tougher.

I tried cooking a stuffed turkey using my standard easy herb-rubbed turkey method and baked it until the stuffing reached the requisite 145°F before pulling the whole thing out and allowing it to rest. By this stage, the breast meat of the turkey was at around 155°F near its center, and all the way up at 180°F on its exterior layers. Needless to say, it was dry as a bone.

So what's the solution?

The Solution: Preheat the Turkey Stuffing

It's actually quite simple, and even Alton himself has gone back and recommended a similar method since his earlier disdain for stuffing: Just heat the stuffing before you put it in the turkey.

By preheating the stuffing, you give it a jumpstart on the cooking process. That way, as long as it never cools down to a dangerous temperature range during the cooking process, you're completely in the clear.

To stuff a bird with hot stuffing is not an easy task. Believe me, I have the burnt fingertips to prove it. Much easier is to line the turkey with cheesecloth, place the cooled stuffing into the cheesecloth, tie it up into a pouch, then pull out that whole pouch to par-cook.

You can, if you'd like, roast it in the oven, but the microwave is much faster and actually delivers a better end product—less time spent heating up means less time for excess moisture loss. Unless you're a pacemaker or a suburban frog, you really have no reason to fear microwaves.

I tried par-cooking the stuffing bag to various internal temperatures ranging from 140°F up to 200°F, monitoring them inside their respective turkeys as they roasted. Here's what I found:

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Turns out that every bag loses a great deal of heat during the first couple hours of roasting because it's surrounded by fridge-cold turkey. Eventually, around the 2 to 2 1/2 hour mark (depending on the starting temperature), it begins to climb back up again.

In order to be safe, we want to make sure that even if the stuffing dips down into dangerous territory, that it climbs back up into the safer 140°F+ range and stays there long enough to kill off any harmful bacteria (about half an hour is plenty of time). Clearly, a 140°F start is too low—the stuffing barely comes back up above 130° by the time the turkey is done roasted. 160°F is the way to go, delivering perfectly cooked breasts, legs, and stuffing, all in one pretty darn presentable package, if I do say so myself.

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The Crispy Bits

What's that you say? You really like the crispy bits of stuffing that form on the surface?

Simple: just cut off the end of the cheese cloth pouch for the last hour of baking. Your stuffing will crisp up just fine. Of course, it doesn't hurt to have an entire tray of stuffing (or dressing, if you will) baked off on the side. If your family is anything like mine, you're going to need it.

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Actually, if your family is anything like mine, you're going to have one tray of delicious sausage stuffing, one tray of stuffing-hold-the-salt-add-dried-cranberries-and-chestnuts for your mom, one tray of all-sausage-hold-the-bread stuffing for your carb-free dad, one tray of nothing for your I-don't-eat-stuffing-little-sister, and one tray of crusty-bread-with-weird-fruits-whole-grains-and-probably-a-handful-of-quinoa-and-squash-shoved-in-for-good-measure stuffing for your hippie older sister.*

*In case you deny your hippie-hood, remember that you live in the woods, listen to the Dead and eat whole grains, sis.

Recipe Details

Easy Stuffed Roast Turkey With Giblet Gravy Recipe

Active90 mins

Total6 hrs

Serves10to 12 servings


  • 1 whole turkey, neck and giblets reserved, about 10 to 12 pounds (4.5 to 5.4kg)

  • 1 recipe classic sage and sausage stuffing or your favorite stuffing recipe, unbaked

  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) butter, divided

  • 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh thyme leaves (or 2 teaspoons dried thyme)

  • 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh sage leaves

  • 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh rosemary leaves

  • 2 medium garlic, minced or grated on microplane (about 2 teaspoons)

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped

  • 1 large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped

  • 3 stalks celery, roughly chopped

  • 1 1/2 quarts homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce

  • 1/4 teaspoon Marmite

  • 1/4 cup flour


  1. Set oven rack to lowest position and place a baking stone or Baking Steel on it. Preheat oven to 500°F. Allow to preheat for at least 45 minutes before adding turkey. Meanwhile, rinse turkey and carefully pat dry with paper towels. Set a V-rack into a rimmed baking sheet.

  2. Cut a double layered piece of cheesecloth into a rectangle about 4 feet long and 2 feet wide. Line the interior cavity of the turkey with cheesecloth, leaving the ends hanging out the sides. Fill the cheesecloth-lined cavity until it is tightly packed and slightly overflowing with stuffing. Gather up ends of the cheesecloth and tie tightly with butcher's twine to seal.

    Easy Stuffed Roast Turkey With Giblet Gravy Recipe (7)

  3. Carefully remove pouch of stuffing. Place on a microwave-safe plate and microwave on high power until the center reaches at least 180°F, about 10 minutes, checking every 2 to 3 minutes.

  4. Meanwhile, heat 8 tablespoons butter in small skillet or microwave until just melted (it should bubble). Transfer to a medium bowl. Whisk in parsley, thyme, sage, rosemary, garlic, and a generous amount of salt and pepper. Rub mixture evenly all over skin of bird (it should harden and clump a bit as it hits the cold bird).

  5. Using rubber gloves, clean kitchen towels or tongs, carefully return the hot bag of stuffing to the interior of the turkey. Cross the turkey's legs and tie tightly to seal. Stuff the cavity on the large side of the breasts underneath the flap of skin with more stuffing. Transfer any remaining stuffing to an appropriately sized baking dish (you should have a couple quarts left). Refrigerate extra dish of stuffing until ready to roast after turkey is cooked.

  6. Place turkey on a V-rack set in a rimmed baking sheet and transfer to baking stone. Reduce oven temperature to 300°F. Roast until golden brown and deepest part of breast registers 150°F on an instant-read thermometer, stuffing registers at least 140°F, and legs register at least 165°F, 3 to 4 hours total, basting occasionally with browned butter from bottom of roasting pan.

  7. While turkey is roasting, chop neck into 1-inch chunks with cleaver. Heat oil in medium saucepan over high heat until smoking. Add turkey neck, onions, carrots, and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned, about 10 minutes total. Add stock, bay leaves, soy sauce, and marmite. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 1 hour then strain through fine mesh strainer. You should have a little over a quart of strained stock. If not, add water to equal 1 quart. Discard solids and set stock aside.

  8. After turkey is cooked, transfer V-rack back to clean rimmed baking sheet. Pour hot melted butter from bottom of pan over turkey. Tent with foil and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes before carving. Increase oven heat to 350°F and set a rack in the middle. Roast extra tray of stuffing while turkey rests. Meanwhile, set roasting pan over burner and add reserved stock. Scrape up browned bits with wooden spoon. Pour stock through fine mesh strainer set in 1 quart glass measure.

  9. Finely chop turkey gizzard and liver (if desired). Melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter in medium saucepan. Add chopped giblest and cook, stirring frequently, until just cooked through, about 1 minute. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Whisking constantly, add broth in thin steady stream. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until thickened and reduced to about 3 cups. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  10. Remove stuffing bag from turkey and untie. Carve turkey and serve with all of the stuffing and gravy.

Special Equipment

Baking stone or baking steel


For best results, dry-brine your turkey by following the instructions here. If dry-brining, omit any additional salt in herb butter.

Easy Stuffed Roast Turkey With Giblet Gravy Recipe (2024)


Do you cook a stuffed turkey at 325 or 350? ›

A stuffed turkey takes longer to cook than an unstuffed turkey. Roast a stuffed turkey for 15 minutes per pound at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). It is important to check the temperature of the stuffing; it should be 165 degrees F (75 degrees C) when you insert the thermometer into the center of the stuffing.

Do you cook the stuffing before you stuff the turkey? ›

Give stuffing a head start by heating it up before placing inside the turkey. Like the turkey, stuffing needs to reach the 165 degree mark. If the bird is done before the stuffing, remove stuffing from the cavities and continue to cook in a baking dish.

How long to cook a stuffed turkey calculator? ›

How do you calculate turkey cooking time?
6 to 8 pounds (breast)2½ to 3½ hours1½ to 3¼ hours
8 to 12 pounds3 to 3½ hours2¾ to 3 hours
12 to 14 pounds3½ to 4 hours3 to 3¾ hours
14 to 18 pounds4 to 4¼ hours3¾ to 4¼ hours
3 more rows

Is stock or broth better for turkey gravy? ›

You can use either stock or broth for keeping dressing moist or as a basis for gravy, but a strong flavor will give you better results.

How long to cook a 14lb stuffed turkey at 325? ›

Using a 325°F oven, here's a rough per pound guide from the pros at foodsafety.gov. These stuffed turkey cooking times have been tested and proven to work well by our Test Kitchen team: For 10- to 12-pound turkey, roast 3¼ hours to 3½ hours. For 12- to 14-pound turkey, roast 3½ to 4 hours.

How long do you cook a stuffed turkey per pound at 325 degrees? ›

If you're determined to stuff the turkey, you'll want to leave it in the oven at 325°F for 20-25 minutes per pound.

What should I put in the cavity of my turkey? ›

Onion, celery and carrot: These chopped vegetables are placed inside the cavity. These help to add flavor and also keep the turkey moist as they steam. Other vegetables you can use are squashes or peppers. Seasonings & Herbs: Salt, pepper, fresh rosemary and sage.

At what point do you put the stuffing in the turkey? ›

Place the prepared stuffing in the whole turkey just before roasting. Stuffing the night before could cause food-borne illness. Stuff both the neck and body cavities of a completely thawed turkey, allowing ½ to ¾ cup of stuffing per pound. Don't pack stuffing too tightly, as it may cause uneven cooking.

Does cooking stuffing in turkey dry it out? ›

Cooking Stuffing in a Turkey

White meat dries out faster than dark meat, so taking it off ensures that you can cook your stuffing safely without drying out the meat.

How long does it take to cook a 14 lb stuffed turkey at 350 degrees? ›

10. Calculate turkey cooking time and temperature. The simplest way to figure out turkey roasting times is to calculate 13 minutes per pound at 350°F for an unstuffed turkey (that's about 3 hours for a 12- to 14-lb. turkey), or 15 minutes per pound for a stuffed turkey.

How to season a turkey? ›

Stick with salt and pepper, put herbs like rosemary, thyme, and sage to work, or take spicy Cajun seasoning for a spin for some kick. Whatever blend you choose, spread it all over the turkey—on top, underneath, between the body and wings and legs, under the skin, and even in the cavity of the bird.

How long should a turkey rest before carving? ›

First, allow your cooked turkey to sit for about 20 minutes before starting to carve. Beginning halfway up the breast, slice straight down with an even stroke. When the knife reaches the cut above the wing joint, the slice should fall free on its own.

What can I add to turkey gravy to make it taste better? ›

7 Ways to Make a Jar of Turkey Gravy Taste Homemade
  1. Add in some white wine. Add a dash of white wine (nothing too fruity; we recommend a dry Chardonnay) to boost the richness of the turkey gravy. ...
  2. Thicken it with a cornstarch slurry. ...
  3. Stir in pan drippings. ...
  4. Simmer with fresh herbs. ...
  5. Sauté some vegetables.

What sauce is good on turkey? ›

Here are my top picks for the best sauces to take your turkey sandwich to the next level:
  • Cranberry sauce: Cranberry sauce is a classic choice for pairing with turkey, especially around the holidays. ...
  • Mustard: Mustard is a tangy and slightly spicy option that pairs well with turkey.
Jun 6, 2017

What is the best thickener for turkey gravy? ›

If your gravy is on the skimpy side, you can thicken it quickly with flour or cornstarch. But don't add your thickener directly to the gravy, which will create lumps. Instead, try stirring in three or four tablespoons of flour or cornstarch into a small amount of cold water until you have a smooth paste.

What is the best temperature to cook a stuffed turkey? ›

Save this answer. Per Food Network, plan on 20 minutes per pound at 350F (177C), up to 30 minutes more for a stuffed turkey. Whatever you do, don't count on that silly pop-up thermometer thing, use a real thermometer. The thickest part of the thigh and the stuffing should register 165F (74C).

How long to cook a stuffed turkey in the oven at 350? ›

A stuffed turkey cooks at a rate of 15 minutes per pound in a 350ºF oven. At this rate, a 6-pound turkey will take 90 minutes (or 1 1/2 hours). A 15-pound turkey will take 225 minutes (or 3 hours and 45 minutes).

How long to cook an 18lb stuffed turkey at 350? ›

How long to cook a turkey at 350°:
  1. 8–12 lb. turkey: 1¾–3 hours.
  2. 12–14 lb. turkey: 3–3¼ hours.
  3. 15–16 lb. turkey: 3½–3¾ hours.
  4. 18–20 lb. turkey: 4–4¼ hours.
  5. 21–22 lb. turkey: 4½–4¾ hours.
Oct 25, 2023

Is it better to cook a turkey covered or uncovered? ›

To achieve a perfectly golden, juicy turkey, let the bird spend time both covered and uncovered in the oven. We recommend covering your bird for most of the cooking time to prevent it from drying out; then, during the last 30 minutes or so of cooking, remove the cover so the skin crisps in the hot oven.

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