How to Roast the Perfect Turkey, Make Gravy and Dressing

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Join Extension Agent Margie Mansure and Caldwell Community College Culinary Instructor Chef Robert Back for this 55-minute video to learn how to cook the perfect turkey, dressing, and gravy. Definitely worth the time investment!

Roasted Turkey


  • Turkey
  • Sage leaves
  • Butter, softened
  • 1 – 2 oranges
  • 1 – 2 lemons
  • 6 stalks celery
  • 2 sweet onions, cut into quarters


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Take the organ meat and neck out of the cavity. Place in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a simmer for one hour.
  3. Lift up the skin of the turkey and run your hand over the top of the meat to break the connective tissue, leaving the skin intact. Then take softened butter and generously coat the meat under the skin. Top the butter coating with whole fresh sage leaves.
  4. Quarter the orange and lemons, using 1 each for small turkey and 2 for a large. Lightly squeeze them into the cavity, then place them inside.
  5. In a large baking pan, make a rack with celery stalks and onion quarters. Place the turkey breast side up on the rack. Keep turkey legs together by securing them in extra skin, or tie with butcher string.
  6. Place turkey in preheated oven and set the timer for 30 minutes.
  7. After 30 minutes, turn the heat down to 300°. Bake 15 minutes for every pound, checking the temperature 30 minutes before your calculated time. Check by placing thermometer in most dense part of the turkey muscle. Should read 165°.
  8. Remove from oven and let it rest for 20 minutes before carving. Carve meat against the grain.

To Make Gravy


  • 2 tablespoons AP flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • pan drippings from turkey
  • broth from neck and organ meats
  • salt
  • white pepper


  1. Strain out the neck and organ meat from the broth.
  2. Over medium, heat 1-ounce butter in a saucepan. Add AP four, whisking continuously to form a brown roux.
  3. Add 1 cup total of the pan drippings and home-made broth from the turkey and continue to stir.
  4. Evaluate thickness of gravy. Add some of your home-made broth, stirring until desired consistency.
  5. Season with salt and white pepper to taste.
    *Please note that Chef Robert Back has a large commercial sink to wash his turkey. However, food our NC State Extension Food Safety specialist recommends not washing turkey in a home kitchen. Although people often wash their turkey in hopes that the water will get rid of bacteria on the skin, this practice is actually dangerous. Bacteria, such as salmonella, cannot be rinsed off with water and will transfer onto your kitchen sink and splash to other surfaces.