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Make-Ahead Turkey and Gravy Recipe

Make-Ahead Turkey and Gravy Recipe

Ease the holiday time crunch with a make-ahead turkey recipe that's ready to serve when you are. It's a great choice for potlucks, too. —Marie Parker, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 4-1/4 hours + freezing Bake: 50 min. YIELD:16 servings


  • 1 turkey (14 to 16 pounds)
  • 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour


  • 1. Preheat oven to 325°. Place turkey on a rack in a roasting pan, breast side up. Sprinkle with poultry seasoning and pepper. Tuck wings under turkey; tie drumsticks together.
  • 2. Roast, uncovered, 30 minutes. In a 4-cup measuring cup, mix broth, herbs, lemon peel and juice, and garlic; pour over turkey. Roast, uncovered, until a thermometer inserted in thickest part of thigh reads 170°-175°, 3 to 3-1/2 hours, basting occasionally with broth mixture. Cover loosely with foil if turkey browns too quickly.
  • 3. Remove turkey from pan; let stand at least 20 minutes before carving. Skim fat from cooking juices.
  • 4. To freeze: Carve turkey and place in shallow freezer containers. Pour cooking juices over turkey; cool slightly, about 1 hour. Cover and freeze up to 3 months.
  • 5. To serve: Partially thaw turkey in refrigerator overnight. Preheat oven to 350°. Transfer turkey and cooking juices to a large baking dish. Pour 1-1/2 cups broth over top. Bake, covered, until a thermometer inserted in turkey reads 165°, 50-60 minutes.
  • 6. To prepare gravy: Remove turkey to a platter, reserving broth mixture; keep warm. In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat; stir in flour until smooth. Gradually whisk in broth mixture; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook and stir until thickened, about 2 minutes. Serve with turkey. Yield: 16 servings (2-1/2 cups gravy).

Nutritional Facts

8 ounces cooked turkey with about 2-1/2 tablespoons gravy: 480 calories, 22g fat (7g saturated fat), 218mg cholesterol, 434mg sodium, 2g carbohydrate (1g sugars, 0 fiber), 64g protein.

Reviews for Make-Ahead Turkey and Gravy

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RobinRL User ID: 8639998 238283
Reviewed Nov. 28, 2015

"I used this recipe to make my Thanksgiving Day turkey this year, without the make-ahead option. Without a doubt, it was the juiciest, tenderest, tastiest turkey I have ever pulled out of my own oven! We had just a small family gathering, so I used a turkey breast and basted it every thirty minutes--totally delicious! I liked it so much, I decided to use it in the future to buy turkeys on sale and freeze them so we can have delicious turkey and gravy during other times of the year as well."

Tristym68 User ID: 7953067 120810
Reviewed Dec. 1, 2014

"I tried this for the first time . It was delicious . Saved time and mess in the kitchen on Thanksgiving day . I would definitely use this recipe again !"

flojim User ID: 364810 137311
Reviewed Nov. 9, 2014

"I also have made my turkey ahead for the past 2 years. I make it one day ahead, slice it and put it in a foil roaster pan. Thanksgiving Day there is no carcus or mess of carving that day. I also make my mashed potatoes (5#) a week ahead and freeze in a Tupperware container. I mash them with the milk and butter as usual. Take them out in the morning to thaw. They will seem watery as they are being warmed up but that soon evaporates and they are as good as the day I made them. You may need to add a little more milk. Everything is delicious and no one believes it. After 50 years of cooking I finally got smart."

Joene1 User ID: 7421543 119433
Reviewed Nov. 9, 2014

"I have done this for YEARS! I cook turkey day before Thanksgiving and layer meat with slices of butter and refrig. Thanksgiving I put in oven 300 degrees and heat through. Very moist and oven is free for other foods."

GlennaG User ID: 4010087 195721
Reviewed Jan. 15, 2014

"My family and guests loved the moistness and flavor. Time was used enjoying my dinner and guests. 5 stars!!"

Angel182009 User ID: 6228642 151382
Reviewed Jan. 8, 2014

"My family absolutely loved this!! I was afraid by freezing it it wouldn't stay tender and would be dry but it was so moist and had such great flavor! I didn't have poultry seasoning so I just seasoned it with a little bit of salt and pepper then with the rest of the ingredients listed. I will definitely be doing this again!!! Such a great way to make Thanksgiving fast and stress free."

havingfunwithmyfamily User ID: 7043692 114768
Reviewed Nov. 30, 2013

"This was an absolutely delicious recipe! The only problem I had was a somewhat dry roasting pan from basting so often. I added 2 cups of water to the bottom of the pan, and stirred to deglaze the brown bits of cooked juices, and meat. I made that mixture into a gravy. I transferred the liquid to a saucepan, and added a mixture of flour, and water to make a gravy! Thank you for sharing!"

MrsPie User ID: 1433395 196360
Reviewed Nov. 24, 2013

"I tested this recipe a few weeks ago in preparation for Thanksgiving. It turned out great! Moist and flavorful - maybe too flavorful, my husband asked me to tone it down next time. I'll go lighter on the thyme, rosemary and parsley when I bake it again today.

I covered the turkey with plastic wrap before freezing, pressing the plastic wrap against the turkey and broth and up the sides to prevent any drying out. After defrosting, I was able to scoop some broth out of the pan before baking to make the gravy (and there was still plenty of broth around the turkey).
The biggest advantage on Thanksgiving day will be not having my husband in the kitchen carving the turkey and making a mess while we're trying to finish everything else. And the turkey carving mess will be cleaned up days ahead of time.
For small families (or empty nesters like us), this would be a great freezer meal - freeze the turkey and broth in 3-4 smaller pans and use it over time."

stephcook User ID: 6216666 198161
Reviewed Nov. 6, 2013


please reread the recipe in step 4 it states to pour OVER turkey and freeze."

nancelode User ID: 1338999 137298
Reviewed Nov. 6, 2013

"I don't have a review, I have a question about the recipe! After I Carve the turkey and place it in shallow freezer container, I pour the juices over the turkey and freeze? or do I store them both separately and freeze?"

cz8k041a User ID: 7472195 186765
Reviewed Nov. 5, 2013

"This was very moist and tender. My family loved it."

Grammajo7 User ID: 2102241 180553
Reviewed Oct. 19, 2013

"I do the same a before, I roast the turkey, and bake dressing in a separate pan. I slice the cooled turkey and place on top of the dressing. I thin drizzle some of the juice over the stacked turkey. Then cover very tightly with heavy foil...refrigerate overnight...bake about an hour or so before dinner, till it is hot. easy BREEZY!!! So much easier that getting up so early to cook that bird on Thanksgiving morning!!!"

benmom User ID: 4587568 212925
Reviewed Oct. 15, 2013

"I have done this for years with one exception: I cook the day before Thanksgiving and refrigerate until about 30 minutes prior to serving. Heat and enjoy!"

organlady2 User ID: 101672 212924
Reviewed Nov. 13, 2012

"Ladies, please reread the recipe. You are reheating frozen, sliced turkey that has already been roasted 3 - 3-1/2hrs. or longer. A marvelous time saver on Thanksgiving Day!"

rosalieb1 User ID: 5160172 195680
Reviewed Nov. 12, 2012

"It takes 1 day for every four pounds of frozen turkey to thaw. Overnight? and cook for an hour?? Don't know what they're talking about!!"

mailladyrr7 User ID: 105790 196359
Reviewed Nov. 12, 2012

"This is a great way to cook the turkey. Moist and delicious and you are able to enjoy your company with no fuss on Thanksgiving. I will always use it from now on. But, now that I am here, I would like to address two issues. If you have not TRIED the recipe, do not sign on and rate it! We don't care if you PLAN to try it, we want to know the results AFTER you tried it.

Next, for the woman who stated that the recipe was bad and would KILL her family, duh! Use common sense and re-read the recipe several times if it takes that long to get it! No one submits recipes that would kill anyones family! Plain and simply stupid!"

frostfire User ID: 644957 120795
Reviewed Nov. 12, 2012

"This isn't a review; it's a query. Short of paying big bucks for an "organic" turkey, how do I find one that doesn't have the pernicious injected pre-basting junk?"

ctmom05 User ID: 981118 137296
Reviewed Nov. 12, 2012

"I cant honestly rate this recipe - havent made it .. .. .. but it looks deelish.

Im curious to know what the crumb covered round shaped side dish is?"

ctmom05 User ID: 981118 137268
Reviewed Nov. 12, 2012

"I cant honestly rate this recipe - havent made it. Im curious to know what the crumb covered round shaped side dish is?"

jr1849 User ID: 2353762 182446
Reviewed Nov. 2, 2012

"B Fischer, you clearly misunderstood the directions! The frozen turkey referred to in the recipe is the turkey you cooked ahead and froze in bags. You are only reheating the pre-cooked turkey for 50-60 minutes which I assure you will not kill your guests."

Rockamama User ID: 1263362 119432
Reviewed Nov. 2, 2012

"When I was a little girl over fifty years ago, my mother would always use cornstarch to thicken her gravy. Nowadays I use flour, but I remember how her clear, delicious gravy speckled with black pepper was the definition of holiday time!"

B Fisher User ID: 5156047 114766
Reviewed Nov. 2, 2012

"To use frozen turkey: 14-16 lbs. bake for 50-60 minutes - hope no "new" cook uses this method. It could kill all your guests!"

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