Turkey In A Hurry (aka Desperation Turkey)

With this recipe — which is amazing enough to make it a staple — you can roast a 12-14 pound (thawed) turkey in 2 hours. Two hours!

What to do if you ruin your turkey? Or decide at the (almost) last minute that you have to have one?

With this recipe — which is amazing enough to make it a staple — you can roast a 12-14 pound (thawed) turkey in 2 hours. Two hours!


  • 1 turkey, 12-14 pounds, thawed
  • 1/2 – 3/4 c softened butter [or softened duck fat]
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 or 5 sprigs of rosemary or 2 Tbsp dried rosemary
  • 6-8 c of chicken broth (buy extra – grocery stores are closed on Thanksgiving in most places – be sure the 1st ingredient is chicken, not water)
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  (Yes, you read that right.)

  • Remove giblets and the neck from inside the turkey. [USDA no longer suggests washing the turkey with cold water.]
  • Butter a piece of aluminum foil and line the roasting pan.
  • Place the turkey, breast side up, on the foil and rub the turkey all over with the softened butter or the duck fat.
  • Place onion, carrot, celery and rosemary inside turkey; this is not stuffing, this is for flavor. Tie the legs.
  • Pour chicken stock in pan to a depth of about 2 inches. (Err on the side of more, not less, broth. Truly desperate? Use water.)
  • Place turkey breast side down in the pan, so juices from turkey and stock will keep it moist. (If it doesn’t want to stay put, then roast breast side up. You will need to tent the turkey to keep the breast from drying out.)
  • Roast for 45-50 minutes. There will be a lot of steam and some of it will escape from the oven. Avoid opening the oven.
  • Carefully remove turkey from oven, closing door to prevent loss of steam.
  • If the stock has boiled down below 1 inch (probable), add enough broth to bring back to 2 inches.
  • Turn turkey breast side up. Cap wing tips (or entire wings) and leg tips with aluminum foil.
  • Return to oven. After oven has again reached 500 degrees, reduce to 400 degrees and roast for up to one more hour.
    • Check for doneness sooner for a 12 pound turkey than for a 14 pound one. (A 12 pound turkey may need only another half-hour in the oven.)
    • Your meat thermometer should show a temperature of 170º (remember not to touch the bone) or check doneness by piercing to see if juices run clear.

Remove the vegetables and discard.

Let the turkey sit 30 minutes before carving. This gives you time to cook the dressing and keeps the bird juicy and tender.

Gravy: You should have some wonderful pan juices to make gravy. If the juices seem fatty, skim with paper towel. Add chicken stock to the pan. Place pan over high heat and bring to boil, stirring constantly. Taste. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce until rich and flavorful; a bit of cornstarch can help thicken.

Updated 24 November 2022

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