How to Bake a Pasture Raised Turkey

I hope that this eases your woes about cooking a pasture raised turkey!  Have a Happy Holidays a blessed New Year! Leah Hill

Baking a Pasture Raised Turkey

Are you baking a pasture raised turkey for Thanksgiving or Christmas this year?  I sure hope so! Pasture raised turkeys have been found to have a much higher Omega-3 content than conventionally raised turkeys. At Harvest Hills Ranch our turkeys are not pumped full of salt, water, preservatives, or artificial flavors, or fed arsenic laden
feed, which are all common practices among conventional turkeys, to ensure we offer the best quality meat to our customers.  You will see crystallization on the inside of the bag, we do not allow our birds to be dipped in chlorine bleach solution We dip them in organic hydergine peroxide and an organic vinegar mix.

So, is baking a pasture raised turkey any different than baking a conventional one?
The answer is a little “yes” and a little “no”.  But, don’t worry! Baking a pasture raised
turkey is actually EASIER than a conventionally raised one.  Yes, that’s right, EASEIR!


  • Let’s get started.  First things first, thaw your turkey!  The USDA recommends thawing your bird in the
    refrigerator³ for the safest method. You will need to allow 24 hours for every
    4-5 pounds of bird.  So, if you have a 15pound turkey, the bird will need to be in the refrigerator for about 3 days to be totally thawed.  After it’s thawed, your turkey can safely hang out in your refrigerator for 1-2 more days.Next, is brining! Now, this is a totally optional step, BUT if you want wonderfully crispy skin that holds all of your moisture in AND intense flavor for minimal effort, try a brine.  Dry brining, instead of a wet brine, is preferred following the brining recipe below.

    • Kosher salt
    • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
    • Grated zest of 1 lemon
    • 1 (12- to 14-pound) fresh turkey
    • 1 large yellow onion, unpeeled and cut in eighths
    • 1 lemon, quartered
    • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
    • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
    • Freshly ground black pepper

    Essentially, thaw your turkey and smother it in kosher salt and herbs for 2-3 days before you plan to roast it. Wrap it tightly with plastic wrap. Then, let it all mingle and get to know each other in the refrigerator while it imparts deep, delicious flavor.  The day before you plan on roasting your bird, take the plastic wrap off in order to allow the skin to dry out further.  This will allow it to crisp up beautifully!  If this doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, please feel free to explore other brines or even skip it!  There are no set rules here!

  • Now, on to baking preparations! Before putting the turkey into the oven, stuff the cavity with onions, lemons, herbs, peppercorns, or any vegetables that you please (celery and carrots are very traditional here).  After that, paint a nice butter and herb mixture all over the turkey and liberally sprinkle salt and freshly ground pepper.  Finally, tie up your legs nice and tight to hold in moisture.
  • Roasting time! To roast the turkey, place it breast side up in a roasting pan, place it into an oven preheated to 350˚F and leave it UNDISTURBED until it is done.  I find that our pastured turkeys take around 13-15 minutes per pound to reach 165˚F, the recommended doneness for a turkey, on the innermost part of the thigh and the thickest part of the breast. So, if your turkey weighs 15 pounds it will take approximately 3hours 45minutes.
    *Please start checking your turkey’s temperature around 30 minutes before you think it will be done.  This will ensure that you don’t overcook your lovely bird since they vary in cooking times!