Dairy Free Roasted Turkey is perfect for Thanksgiving! This bird is incredibly juicy and flavorful with perfectly crisp skin – not to mention easy to make.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and I’m always trying to find ways to make it better and the prep simpler.
Fort he perfect Thanksgiving dinner having the perfect roasted turkey is a must and I finally did it!
The secret ingredient is mayonnaise! Mayo bastes the turkey during the roasting process, keeping the meat juicy and tender. Don’t worry, this turkey does not taste anything like mayo!
Mayo is my secrete weapon in the kitchen and at the grill, it’s even the key ingredient in my perfect creamy mashed potatoes, but I never thought to put it on a turkey until I saw a video from Food and Wine.
You may have heard chefs raving about using it to make grilled cheese sandwiches, but mayo is also amazing for grilling fish, roasting potatoes, making cake, and more.
However, when it comes to turkey, it makes incredibly juicy and tender bird with perfect crispy skin!
Best of all, it is so easy!
You don’t have to deal brine or dry-brine for juicy tender meat or any of the tricks for crispy skin. You don’t even need to baste it!
If you’re anything like me you want top results with minimum effort – and when making Thanksgiving dinner isn’t there enough to worry about?
Another perk of this recipe is that it leaves a lot of room for personal preference.
You can make it plain or with lemon, garlic, and thyme for extra flavor – I love it both ways.
You can also use the basic recipe as a base and tweak it to include what flavors you love. Rosemary, sage, onions, apples, and so much more work perfectly with this turkey.
Also, I don’t think I’ve ever tasted a gravy better than the one I make from the drippings at the bottom of this pan.
Truly, this dairy free roasted turkey will be a major hit at your dinner table. It sure is at mine!
What Size Turkey to Use
That depends on how many people you intend to feed and how much you like leftovers.
Generally speaking, 1 to 1 1/2 pounds turkey for each guest should be a good size.
My family tends to have 8 people, so a 12 pound turkey works well for us.
Defrosting the Turkey
Be sure to let your turkey completely thaw before cooking. The best way is to loosen the wrapping and place the turkey on a baking sheet and thaw in the refrigerator.
The turkey will need about 5 hours of defrosting time for every pound of turkey.
So, a 15 pound turkey should take about 75 hours, or 3 days, to defrost in the refrigerator. A 20 pound turkey will take about 100 hours, or 4 days, to defrost.
For quicker thawing, place the turkey in a cold water bath and change the water every 30 minutes until it’s thawed. This method takes about 30 minutes per pound of turkey.
However, if your turkey isn’t completely thawed yet you can roast your frozen turkey. It will take longer to cook but will turn out just fine.
How Long to Cook Your Turkey
Here’s a quick way to estimate how long it takes to cook the turkey.
Though, take into consideration the actual cooking time will vary depending on how cold your turkey is to start and your individual oven.
If your turkey is not close to room temperature when it goes in the oven, it will take longer to cook. If it is at room temp, it may take less time to cook.
So, make sure to check the turkey at least an hour you estimate it to be done.
An empty turkey needs to cook for about 13 minutes per pound of weight.
- 10 pound turkey would take about 2 hours 10 minutes
- 12 pound turkey would take 2 hours 36 minutes
- 14 pound turkey would take 3 hours 2 minutes
- 16 pound turkey would take 3 hours 28 minutes
- 18 pound turkey would take 3 hours 54 minutes
- 20 pound turkey would take 4 hours 20 minutes
A turkey filled with stuffing needs to cook for about 15 minutes per pound of weight.
- 10 pound turkey would take about 2 hours 30 minutes
- 12 pound turkey would take about 3 hours
- 14 pound turkey would take 3 hours 3 minutes
- 16 pound turkey would take 4 hours
- 18 pound turkey would take 4 hours 30 minutes
- 20 pound turkey would take 5 hours
How Dry Brine a Turkey
Dry brining is not necessary but has become popular in recent years because it results in a moist, well seasoned white and dark meat.
Brining is when you means soaking a piece of meat in salty water to add moisture to it. However, this could potentially give this turkey a soggy texture by drawing in so much liquid.
A dry brine, also called pre-salting, involves rubbing the salt directly onto the meat and skin, and then letting the meat rest in the refrigerator for a period of time before cooking.
During this time the salt draws out the meat juices through osmosis. Then, the salt dissolves into the juices, essentially turning into a “natural” brine even though there isn’t any added liquid. Finally, this brine is reabsorbed into the meat and starts breaking down tough muscle proteins, resulting in juicy, tender, seasoned meat.
Unlike traditional brining, you do not need a big barrel of water to dry brine. It also results in crispy skin because the skin tries out while the turkey sits uncovered in the fridge.
If you’re worried that space in your fridge will be tight and other foods might bump up against the turkey, you can cover it loosely with plastic wrap or foil and just pat the skin dry right before you cook it.
To do this, pat a 14 to 16 pound thawed whole turkey dry with a paper towel and rub 3 tablespoons of salt on inside and out.
Then, place the turkey breast-side up in a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan and refrigerate uncovered for at least 1 day but ideally 3 days.
For extra crispy skin combine 1 tablespoon of baking powder with the salt before spreading it on the turkey.
Why Use Mayonnaise
It may sound unusual, but when you cover your turkey with mayonnaise, it bastes it during the roasting process, keeping the meat moist and tender.
Will The Turkey Taste like Mayonnaise?
No, it doesn’t make the turkey taste like mayonnaise.
How to Tell if The Turkey is Done?
FDA recommended internal temperature for cooked turkey should be 165°F.
The turkey will continue to cook for several minutes after you take it out of the oven, so take it out before the meat reaches those target temperatures.
For best results, take the the turkey out when the breast reaches 155°F to 160°F and the thighs 155°F to 165°F.
White breast meat can easily dry out if its temperature gets too high, thigh meat can handle a higher internal temperature without drying out.
How Long Should You Let The Turkey Rest
Ideally, your turkey should rest 30 to 45 minutes to let the juices redistribute.
If you skip this step the juices will dribble out when you slice and the meat will be dry.
Don’t tent the turkey with foil to keep it warm while it’s resting. It’s unnecessary and will make the skin soggy. As long as the turkey is intact, it will cool quite slowly.
This is the perfect time to make the turkey gravy.