Easier Roast Turkey and Gravy
We've gotten a lot of questions about this recipe over the past year. Here are answers to some of the more common ones. We hope this is helpful, and happy cooking!
Do I need a pizza stone? Yes. The stone is necessary to deliver heat to the legs of the turkey, which need to cook at a higher temperature than the breast.
Can I used an inverted baking sheet, instead of a pizza stone? Unfortunately, no. A baking sheet does not hold enough heat over the course of cooking to properly cook the legs.
Can I use a pizza steel? We tested this recipe using pizza stones and steels and found that both stones and steels work the same.
Does it matter what color my roasting pan is? No. We tried both dark roasting pans or light ones--they will both work fine. What does make a difference is the material. A heavy duty pan is preferred. Lightweight cookware, like a disposable aluminum pan, will not do the job.
Can I use this recipe for any size turkey? We prefer a range of 10 to 16 pound. Larger turkeys are difficult to maneuver into and out of the hot roasting pan. If you're preparing a larger turkey, we recommend our Roasted Brined Turkey recipe: https://www.cooksillustrated.com/recipes/1713-roasted-brined-turkey
Can I brine the turkey? Yes. This recipe will work with both brined and salted birds.
Why This Recipe Works
We loosen the skin of the turkey and apply a mixture of salt and sugar to the meat to season it and help it retain more juices as it cooks. A baking powder rub ensures thorough browning and crispy skin. We preheat both a baking stone and a roasting pan in the oven before placing the turkey in the pan. The stone absorbs heat and delivers it through the pan to the turkey’s legs and thighs, which need to cook to a higher temperature than the delicate breast meat (which we protect with a foil shield). After the leg quarters have gotten a jump start on cooking, we reduce the oven temperature from 425 to 325 degrees and remove the shield to allow the breast to brown while the bird finishes cooking. The boost of heat provided by the stone also helps the juices brown and reduce into concentrated drippings that can be turned into a flavorful gravy in the time that the turkey rests.