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An upside-down turkey may seem to go against normal conventions of roasting breast-side up, but this method lets all the juices drip down into the breast meat, keeping it moist and tender. With only butter inside the cavity and under the skin to enhance its natural flavor, this holiday turkey without stuffing is so easy!

Recipe Summary

20 mins
3 hrs
3 hrs 20 mins

Never cooked an upside-down turkey? This is your year! Cooking the turkey with the breast side down ensures a wonderfully moist bird every time. 

Why Cook a Turkey Upside Down? 

Cooking a turkey upside down allows the juices to trickle down during the roasting process for extra moist and juicy breast meat. Plus, since the dark meat is closer to the heat source, it cooks faster than it does with the traditional method. It's a win-win!

Upside Down Turkey Ingredients

This recipe keeps things simple with just three ingredients. Here's what you'll need to cook an upside-down turkey: 

· Turkey: This recipe calls for a 12-pound turkey. If your bird is larger or smaller, you'll need to adjust the ratios and cooking time. 
· Butter: Butter, rubbed over and under the skin, keeps the turkey moist and enhances its natural flavors.
· Water: Water keeps the turkey from drying out. For more flavor, some reviewers recommend substituting chicken broth or apple juice. 

Want to spice things up a bit? Try experimenting with your favorite seasonings like salt, pepper, garlic powder, dried rosemary, or dried thyme. 

How to Cook a Turkey Upside Down

You'll find the full, step-by-step recipe below — but here's a brief overview of what you can expect when you make this upside-down turkey: 

1. Prep the turkey: Place the clean, dry turkey in a roasting pan with the breast facing up. Butter the inside and outside of the turkey. Pour the water into the pan and cover with foil. 
2. Roast the turkey: Cook at 350 degrees F until the internal temperature of the thighs reaches 180 degrees F.

More Turkey FAQs

Here at Allrecipes, we know a thing or two about cooking the perfect Thanksgiving feast — that's why we've made it our mission to answer your most burning turkey questions. Check out some of our best turkey tips, tricks, and guides from over the years: 

Explore our entire collection of Thanksgiving Tips and Tricks

Allrecipes Community Tips and Praise

"I substituted the water with apple juice and it was the best turkey I've ever made," says KIMMERSTWO. "Everyone at the table commented after their first bite. It just melted in our mouths! I will never cook a turkey right-side-up again!"

"It was wonderful," raves Lidia Fernandez Jones. "We will never cook turkey any other way again. The only change I made: I made up some herb butter. I mixed chopped fresh sage, rosemary, thyme, and garlic with melted butter the night before."

"This is the only way to make exceptionally moist turkey," according to MeganPC. "Besides cooking breast side down, I also brine my turkey overnight for about 12 hours and use a turkey bag when cooking." 

Editorial contributions by Corey Williams


Original recipe yields 8 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

  • Remove and discard giblets. Rinse turkey and pat dry. Place turkey upside-down (with breast facing down) in a roasting pan.

  • Place 1/2 of the butter in the cavity of the turkey. Cut remaining butter into pieces and rub over the outside of the skin. Pour water into the pan and cover with foil.

  • Cook in the preheated oven until the internal temperature of the thighs has reached 180 degrees F (80 degrees C), 3 to 3 1/2 hours.


When the turkey is done, you can use the pan juices to prepare a gravy. Just add cornstarch 1 tablespoon at a time until the liquid begins to thicken.