Roast Turkey On A Sheet Pan So The Bottom Actually Cooks

A golden brown, evenly roasted turkey is the pinnacle of all dining table centerpieces. With its tantalizing copper hue and greenery-adorned plating, a roasted turkey is synonymous with a delicious feast prepared by someone with care (and lots of patience), and you may find special occasions for such a laborious meal year-round. While cooking a whole bird is no small feat, perfecting the art of roasting a turkey doesn't have to be reserved for holiday pros. If you've ever stepped up to the task, you're probably familiar with one major problem that often arises with turkey: different parts of the bird cook at different rates. But you might not realize that your cooking vessel could be part of the problem. 

It's no secret that turkey, given its size and shape, is difficult to cook evenly in the oven; to give certain sections time to cook fully, other areas might become overly browned and dry. So what can you do? In fact, cooking your turkey in a roasting pan may be the exact thing preventing your turkey from being the star of the show. Roasting your turkey on a rimmed baking sheet pan instead will result in an evenly browned turkey that is perfectly cooked on the bottom without drying out the coveted breast meat of the bird.

How to use a sheet pan to roast your turkey

Contrary to popular belief, a roasting pan is not necessarily the best way to roast a turkey. A roasting pan, with its cavernous U-shape, prevents heat from the oven from reaching the lower parts of the bird (i.e. the wings and thighs), resulting in an undercooked underside or longer cooking times, which risks drying out the breast meat. A roasting pan's depth also shields the heat from crisping the skin on all sides of the bird, making this part of the turkey more difficult to carve and less appetizing on your plate.

But a rimmed sheet pan, with its lower side walls and shallower depth, allows the oven's heat to circulate on all sides of the bird. A half-sheet pan measuring 18-by-13 inches with 1-inch side walls should allow enough room for the turkey to cook to perfection in the oven. For more even heat distribution, place the turkey on a cooling rack or roasting rack on top of the sheet pan. Cooking the turkey this way also makes it easy to collect the juices from the bird and reuse them as a baste. Rather than chasing each bite of dried-out meat with gulps of water, use a sheet pan and ensure the perfect roasted turkey every time!