Should You Roast Turkey Covered Or Uncovered?

Cooking a turkey, like its culinary counterpart roasting a chicken, is a true art form. It requires patience, precision, and accumulated kitchen knowledge in order to turn out a perfectly browned, but still juicy bird. As The Kitchn notes, there are a lot of variables you have to take into account when deciding exactly how to roast your turkey. You need to consider time, temperature, the size of the turkey itself, and resting — not to mention all the things you can do to prep it beforehand, like spatchcocking it or stuffing it. No wonder it is often seen as an intimidating task best handled by the most experienced home cooks.

Of course, anything as delicate and involved as roasting turkey is also going to have its share of tips to make things easier on you. Brining, either wet or dry, is a fantastic way to get the best flavor from your roast, while also making the job more forgiving by keeping the meat tender and moist. You will also see a world of improvement if you ignore that cheap old pop-up timer in your turkey and opt for a meat thermometer instead. Then we come to one of the last decisions you are going to make before the turkey goes in the oven and the countdown to either a succulent dinner or dry disappointment begins. Will cooking your turkey covered or uncovered make a difference?

Break out the foil when roasting a turkey

Turns out covered or uncovered is kind of a trick question, because the best answer is: both. The first job of turkey cooking is to not dry it out, and that is where your foil is going to help. Food Network says tenting a turkey will leave you with a much juicer result than going without, as the foil will trap steam and moisture. This means that starting out covered is the way to go. You also have the option to just cover the breast with foil, as the white meat cuts of turkey are less fatty to begin with and heat up faster than the wings and thighs. Because of that, they're more at risk of drying out. Just make sure to keep track of the temperature so the whole thing cooks evenly.

Of course, any turkey lover will tell you the best part of a well-cooked turkey is the crispy skin. That is why Epicurious recommends removing the foil halfway through cooking. You'll get the direct heat exposure needed for the perfectly browned turkey of your dreams, without drying it out too much. If it looks like your skin is starting to burn towards the end, you can always re-cover those sections with foil. Covering and uncovering is a simple trick — but it is one of the best ways to make a turkey that impresses the entire table as it's carved up at your next big dinner.