Placing aluminum foil on a turkey when roasting can be helpful. Use aluminum foil in one of two ways: enclose the turkey in the foil before roasting it in a hot oven; or, use the foil as a tent to control the level of browning.
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When deciding whether to cover your turkey or not, consider that enclosing the turkey makes it cook faster. However, the turkey skin, though golden, isn't crispy. The tent method yields perfectly crispy skin and a slow-roasted flavor, but it takes more time.
If you are using the enclosed method, don't stuff your turkey. The faster cooking times don't allow the stuffing to heat quickly enough to kill foodborne bacteria in the stuffing. If you are tenting the turkey, you can stuff it.
How to Cook a Turkey Covered (Not Sealed) in Aluminum Foil
Step 1: Set the Oven Temperature
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, as recommended by the University of Illinois Extension.
Read more: How to Cook a 25-Pound Turkey
Step 2: Prep the Pan
Tear off a piece of 18-inch-wide, heavy-duty aluminum foil that is three times longer than the length of the turkey. Lay it over a large roasting pan, centered lengthwise.
Step 3: Brush the Turkey
Lay the turkey on the aluminum foil breast-side up. Brush the turkey with melted butter or vegetable oil.
Step 4: Wrap the Turkey in Aluminum Foil
Bring the sides of the aluminum foil up along the sides of the turkey. Bring the ends of the foil up over the top of the turkey. Overlap the ends of the foil so that they will stay in place, but don't seal them so they are airtight.
Step 5: Check the Temperature
Put the turkey in the oven. Roast the turkey until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reads a minimum of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the University of Illinois Extension.
Foil wrapped turkey breast cooking time will vary based on the weight of your bird. According to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, an 8- to 12-pound turkey will need 2.75 to 3 hours to cook through at 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Roasting at a higher temperature reduces this cooking time.
Read more: 13 Healthy Baking Tips That Will Transform Your Food
Foil Tent Turkey Cooking Method
Step 1: Heat the Oven
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Step 2: Place in Dish
Place the turkey in the roasting pan breast-side up.
Step 3: Grease the Turkey
Brush the turkey with melted butter. As an alternative, use olive oil, which is lower in saturated fats — the "bad" ones that can increase risk of heart disease, according to the American Heart Association.
Step 4: Pitch a Tent
Make a tent from the foil by creasing a piece of foil in the center. Prop it up over the turkey. The ends will be in the roasting pan. Stand the center up 1 inch over the turkey breast to allow for air flow.
Step 5: Roast and Serve
Put the turkey in the oven. Roast it until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reads 180 to 185 degrees Fahrenheit. Let the turkey stand for 20 minutes, as recommended by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, to improve ease of carving.
Try an Alternative Cooking Method
Another way of making a foil tent turkey involves roasting it without the aluminum foil for the first two-thirds of the time. At the two-thirds point, lay a piece of foil loosely over the turkey to keep the breast from browning further while the thigh meat continues to heat to the desired temperature.
Turkey won't brown well if it is covered with aluminum foil. If your turkey is looking a little pale for your taste, remove or fold back the foil for the last 30 minutes of roasting. To season your turkey, place fresh herbs, onions, garlic or peppers in the cavity before roasting it.
- University of Illinois Extension: "Turkey for the Holidays - Foil Wrapped Method"
- University of Illinois Extension: "Traditional Roast Turkey (Unstuffed)"
- American Heart Association: "Saturated Fats"
- USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service: "Let's Talk Turkey - A Consumer Guide to Safely Roasting a Turkey"