Sheet Pan Turkey is what everyone is talking about! This is how to cook a moist turkey in just 1 hour and have it taste amazing with crispy skin you love.
I will start my explanation of how I made this quick sheet pan turkey with the fact that I have NEVER cooked a turkey in my life before. I know, crazy right….especially since I am a food blogger and all. I guess my excuse/reason is that I’ve always had a parent or in laws who have hosted Thanksgiving or Christmas so it wasn’t my job. Now that we live away from family I guess we’re kinda’ on our own so I thought I’d attempt one today, in a different way of course because that is just me, and I was so proud of myself!!
Kinda’ makes me feel like I’m officially an adult or something…..at 42. 😉
I guess cooking a turkey is a bit intimidating, at least for me it was.
Do I use a bag like my mom used to back in the day? How long do I cook it? What temperature does it need to be to ensure it is cooked through? My husband knew the temperature part, and I just decided to treat it like a whole chicken which I’ve cooked a million times before.
Thus the sheet pan turkey was created!
Ok so not everyone is talking about it like the picture says above, but they will when they try it this year….I promise!!
This is officially the best way to cook a turkey in our opinions since it just took 1 hour to cook to perfection!
Details are that this was a 10 lb turkey (said young turkey on the package) bought frozen, and defrosted in our refrigerator for a couple of days.
Steps to take when cooking the perfect turkey
- Take out a sheet pan – large enough to fit the whole bird cut up, this size cookie sheet fit our 10 lb. turkey perfectly
- Cut the wings off – best method is to use kitchen scissors, you can see ours in the first 2 pics (the knife he used momentarily broke while cutting legs off)
- Cut the thighs off so the leg and thigh remain attached, seen on bottom right of photo below
- Next you will want to remove the lower portion of the chest cavity, look at photo above (the middle photo)
- Cut cavity in half with 2 breasts on top which you will keep
- Discard bottom half, there is no meat here
- When you have the 2 breasts you will want to flatten them as much as possible so it lays flat on your sheet pan (photo above)
- Flip it over and put the palm of your hand in between the 2 turkey breasts, push down so the bone between them breaks so it will lay flat
- Arrange pieces of your turkey in a way where they don’t overlap as seen below
To season or not to season your turkey skin
- This is up to you but this is what we preferred to do
- We rubbed olive oil on the skin side of the turkey in order to brown and crisp the skins
- We only added a pinch of salt and pepper on top of the skin & olive oil we rubbed on but by all means add any and all seasonings you’d normally put on your whole turkey
- Additional ideas to add to your sheet pan turkey
- Slice an onion and sprinkle it around your pieces of turkey
- Add baby carrots around the turkey
- I’d suggest using a pan with a large lip if you are going to add several other items
- Note – remember your turkey will cook for about an hour (depending on size) so make sure your veggies are okay to be in that long and don’t disintegrate
- I’d suggest using a pan with a large lip if you are going to add several other items
What temperature to cook a turkey you might ask
Sheet pan turkey takes about 60 minutes
- We set the oven to 400 for half the time, and then dropped it down to 350 to finish cooking
- Most times when cooking a whole turkey in the oven you keep it at a steady temperature but we thought it would work better to start higher to really get crispy turkey skin and then lower it to ensure the internal temperature hit 165 degrees and this worked perfectly to get our desired result.
- 8-12 pounds = 1 hour turkey
- Traditional method 10 pound turkey = 3 hours
Here is a printable showing you how long to thaw and cook a turkey to keep on hand
This is the only turkey we’ve baked this way so I don’t have info. on larger sizes but if you use our method below in the recipe card you could adjust it easily by adding 15 minutes at a time during the second 350 degree step until it reaches 165 degrees.
They key of how to cook a moist turkey
- Slow and steady is key
- Give it plenty of time to defrost – here’s how to defrost a turkey and how long it will take
- Do not overcook your turkey
- Adding 15 or so minutes at a time and then checking the internal temperature of your turkey until it reaches 165 degrees when your turkey thermometer is inserted into the thigh (we put it into the middle of the breast too to double check the whole bird) is the best way to make sure it doesn’t get overdone, thus dry.
- Baste it once, midway through the baking process if you can
- This will keep the turkey as moist as possible and make the skin perfectly crispy but not super dried out
- Allow it to rest once you take it out of the oven
- 30 minutes is a good guideline for leaving it alone before touching / carving a turkey
- Only slice what you are going to eat during that meal
- If you leave the meat on the bone it will stay moist longer when stored in the fridge and used for leftovers later
Here’s our sheet pan turkey breast once it was done cooking and hit about 165 or so when we took it out. We allowed it to rest as is for 25 minutes and then sliced just what we were going to eat.
I basted it again just a bit before slicing with the juices left on the pan you see here. There wasn’t a bunch of juices since it was a small young turkey we bought and I must say was quite lean (which I love).
Why would you choose to make a sheet pan turkey vs. the traditional way – 6 reasons
- It’s a great way to make a 1 hour turkey – that time is for an 8-12 pound turkey, ours was a 10 lb. turkey, if you have an Instant Pot you can cook a pressure cooker turkey in this amount of time too
- It’s how to cook a moist turkey where each piece is as tender as possible
- You get the best crispy turkey skin – laying each piece down like this allows every nook and cranny to brown and crisp up
- Sheet pan turkey is a lot easier to carve – just like a cut up chicken you can easily remove the meat off the bone and slice the breasts nicely, remove the thigh and let your kids have an entire turkey leg (they’ll love that)
- You can use a cookie sheet out of your cupboard and not have to worry about it not fitting, or feeling the need to buy an expensive roasting pan
- Cooking turkey on a sheet pan allows you to bake more side dishes in your oven all at the same time – no need to move the racks way up to fit the whole bird doing it this way
Now that I’ve convinced you this one hour turkey is the way to go, here are the directions!
As well as some killer holiday side dishes you will love to pair with this:
- Our cream corn casserole recipe is a Christmas side dish must as well as every other holiday of the year
- Twice baked potatoes always make everyone smile and can be stuffed to the max with yumminess
- If you’ve never tried our Pickford stuffing it is the best you’ll ever have
Sheet Pan Turkey
- 10 lb turkey defrosted
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 tsp salt or seasoned salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- Unwrap your turkey, remove bag and neck from inside and discard those (unless you want to save them and use them for gravy etc. separately).
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Put your turkey on a cutting board and take out your kitchen scissors.
- Cut the wings off where the bones attach so they come off clean and in one piece. Lay them on your sheet pan.
- Leave the leg/thigh together and cut off those 2 pieces, lay them on your sheet pan making sure to not overlap any pcs.
- Use your kitchen scissors to remove the bottom half of the chest cavity leaving the top half with the 2 breasts in tact.
- With the 2 turkey breasts facing up put the palm of your hand in between the two and press down breaking down the bone between the two so it lays as flat as possible.
- Lay this piece on your cookie sheet, arrange so there is no overlapping.
- Use olive oil to rub all over the top skin of each piece, then sprinkle with salt and pepper and/or any turkey seasonings you'd normally use when cooking it whole.
- Put your sheet pan turkey in the oven, on the middle rack at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.
- Then decrease the temperature to 350 degrees and use a spoon or baster to baste your turkey pieces using the juices collected at the bottom of your sheet pan.
- Bake for an additional 25-30 minutes or until skin is as brown/crispy as you desire and when taken out and thermometer is pushed into the middle of a thigh, and then the middle of a breast it is at at least 165 degrees. (for a 10 pound turkey - if your bird is larger then check it every 15 minutes and take out when skin is crispy and internal temp reaches 165 degrees)
- Allow to rest on the sheet pan for at least 25 minutes before carving to stay as moist as possible. Carve and enjoy!
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