Bethenny’s Signature Roast Turkey

Making a turkey isn’t exactly easy. It’s time-consuming, but the result is so impressive that you might decide the effort is worth it, at least once a year. I’m not going to lie to you—roasting a turkey takes some work. The bottom line is that you are not going to leave the house while that turkey is in the oven. Name your turkey Howard or Larry or whatever, because you are going to be in a relationship with him, and that relationship is going to take some time.

Everybody has a different opinion about what to put on or in a turkey. In general, you are going to lube him up, salt and pepper him, and then baste him until you can’t stand to baste him anymore. You need to watch that turkey, because if he gets too brown, you need to cover him with a foil blanket. If he isn’t crispy enough, you need to uncover him and baste him some more. Start basting even before the turkey has released any juice into the pan. This is why I include putting some chicken broth on the stove while the turkey is roasting. Use that to baste (better than basting with oil), and then when the turkey gets going, baste with the turkey’s own juices. Frequent basting—even every 15 minutes or so—makes a big difference in the result.

When the relationship is over, if you did your part, he’ll reward you with a fabulous holiday meal. If you are commitment-phobic, just buy and roast a turkey breast. It’s much faster.


– 1 turkey, approximately 16 to 18 pounds, or 1 turkey breast if you prefer to serve white meat only (note shorter cooking time)
– 1 cup white wine
– 1 onion, cut into fourths, for giblet broth
– 1 carrot, cut into large pieces, for giblet broth
– 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
– 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
– 1 bay leaf
– 1 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
– 1 teaspoon pepper plus more to taste
– 2 onions and 2 celery stalks cut in half for turkey cavities
– 1 tablespoon butter, softened to room temperature
– 1 or 2 cups chicken broth for basting
– ½ cup whole-wheat pastry flour
– 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

(Serves 12)


1. Remove the oven racks except for the bottom one so that you can put the turkey on the bottom rack. Preheat the oven to 375°.

2. Remove any giblet packages and the neck bone from the turkey cavities.

3. Rinse the turkey in cold water, including the cavities and all the skin. Pat it dry with paper towels. Put it in a large roasting pan and lightly sprinkle inside the cavities with salt and pepper. If you have a roasting pan with a rack, use the rack so that the juices and fat drip into the pan and the turkey isn’t sitting in them.

4. Turn the turkey over so that the breast is down. Put 1 onion and 1 celery stalk into the smaller cavity. Pull the skin over the cavity and secure it with metal or wooden skewers. Turn the turkey over and fold the wings underneath it. Put 1 onion and 1 celery stalk into the larger cavity.

5. Tie the drumsticks together with kitchen twine, or use the metal clamp that came with the turkey to keep the legs together. Rub the butter all over the skin with your hands. If you have a meat thermometer that isn’t the instant-read kind, put it into the thickest part of the thigh, but be sure it isn’t touching a bone.

6. Roast the turkey for 3 to 4 hours, depending on its size (a turkey breast may take just 1 or 2 hours). Baste with chicken broth until the turkey releases fat into the roasting pan. Then baste with the fat, every 15 to 30 minutes.

7. Start checking the meat thermometer after 2 hours. The turkey is done when the thermometer says 180℉ and the juice runs clear when you poke the thigh. (Don’t poke the breast, to keep all the juices in the white meat.) If the turkey is turning brown too quickly, cover it with foil while it is roasting. Keep an eye on it.

8. When the turkey is done, remove it carefully to a platter and cover it with a tent of foil. Let it sit for about 30 minutes before carving. This is when you can put all your other dishes into the oven for last-minute reheating.

9. If you want to make gravy, put the roasting pan on the stove over two burners and turn them on medium. Skim off any obvious fat with a spoon. Add broth (or water) to the roasting pan. Whisk the broth and pan drippings together with a wire whisk. Slowly add the flour and continue to whisk until the gravy reduces and thickens slightly. Season with salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. Serve in a gravy boat or in a bowl with a small ladle.