Herb Roasted Turkey

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It's time. Thanksgiving is upon us. Lemme break it down... we've got 17 days until Thanksgiving. That means every day from here on out is going to be Thanksgiving related. We're talking main event today - my succulent Herb Roasted Turkey Recipe. It's perfectly moist and has the crispiest skin... you'll make annually from here on out.

A shot of a Thanksgiving dinner table from top, with a carved herb roasted turkey in a white plate in the center, with gravy, red wine, cranberry sauce, brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes, green beans and stuffing around it, and a carving fork and knife next to the turkey plate.

Why I Love This Recipe

There's a ton of planning to do before the big day! Good thing I've been working away to create the most epic Thanksgiving spread for you over the past few months. Whoever thinks being a food blogger is glamorous should have seen what it looks like to test a 16 pound Herb Roasted Turkey Recipe in August. It wasn't pretty.

A dinner table for Thanksgiving with plates, wine glasses, a whole roasted turkey platter and a big bowl of salad in a blurry foreground with a clear background of a woman (Gaby) in a maroon sweater seated at the head of the table, raising a wine glass.

But it's all worth it now because the whole thing is coming to WGC! You're getting the ultimate Herb Roasted Turkey Recipe that will give you a perfectly cooked bird, the best mashed potatoes to EVER grace your table, and a stuffing to end all stuffings, Tons of side dishes (crispy lemon brussels sprouts anyone?) that you'll want to devour plus a few fun desserts that no one will be expecting! I've taken all the guess work out of Thanksgiving this year! So whether you're hosting the family, or if you just need a side dish or dessert to bring over to someones house... you're covered! Nothing is super complicated or time consuming - just 100% delicious!

Let's dig in...

A dinner table with wine glases, plates, and a white plate with whole roasted turkey in it, with a blurry background of a woman pouring red wine into a wine glass.

Ingredients & Substitutions

Mise-en-place of all the ingredients required to make herb roasted turkey.
  • Turkey thawed if frozen
  • Unsalted Butter
  • Lemon Zest
  • Flat-leaf Parsley
  • Fresh Thyme
  • Fresh Sage
  • Coarse Salt
  • Black Pepper freshly ground
  • Lemons cut into halves

*For a full list of ingredients and instructions please see recipe card below.

How to Make Herb Roasted Turkey

A roasting pan with a wire rack on top with a whole turkey placed on top of the rack.

Step 1: When you're ready to roast the bird, remove the turkey from the brine / refrigerator, remove the giblets from inside, and pat dry with paper towels. Let it rest on a baking sheet for 2 hours until it comes to room temperature. If you used my dry brine mixture, remove any excess brine that fell off the bird from the bottom of the roasting pan.

A food processor with butter and a mix of herbs to make compound butter.

Step 2: In a food processor, combine the butter, lemon zest, 1 handful of parsley, 1 handful of thyme and 1 handful of sage leaves and pulse for 1-2 minutes until everything is evenly incorporated.

A food processor with compound butter.

Step 3: Add 1 teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper and pulse for a few seconds more. Remove the compound butter from the food processor and set aside.

A roasting pan with a wire rack and a whole turkey placed on top, yet to be cooked.

Step 4: Once the turkey is prepped, place it in a large roasting pan, breast side up on a metal rack.

A roasting pan with a wire rack and a whole turkey placed on top, smeared with compound butter, ready to put in the oven for roasting.

Step 5: Using your hands, smear the butter all over the turkey. Liberally season the bird with salt and pepper and use your hands to pat everything down onto the skin. Fill the inside of the bird with the remaining handfuls of herbs and the halved lemons, making sure everything is stuffed inside the bird. Tie the legs together with a bit of kitchen twine and place the bird into the oven and roast for 30 minutes at 450 degrees F.

A roasting pan with a wire rack and a whole turkey placed on top, just taken out of the oven after roasting.

Step 6: After 2.5 hours of cooking time, use a meat thermometer and check the thickest part of the turkey so make sure the internal temperature is 165 degrees. The turkey should be golden brown at this point. If the turkey is not done, continue to cook it until the thermometer registers at 165 degrees F. It will continue to go up to about 170 after you remove it from the oven and it rests.

How to cook a turkey:

As you'll see in the steps above, I love slathering a turkey with a compound butter. A compound butter is basically room temperature butter that's been mixed with herbs, salt and pepper. That butter then gets slathered on the bird and helps create the most delicious crispy skin. The drippings from the compound butter also help make a SUPER delicious gravy.

You'll need a large roasting pan too. I like one that's fitted with a metal rack so it's easy to place the turkey on/off the rack and access the drippings when the time comes to make gravy!

What temperature to cook a turkey:

For this turkey recipe I like to start my oven at 450 degrees F to crisp up the skin and then reduce the heat to 350 degrees to continue cooking the bird until done.

If you need to crisp up the skin a bit at the end, you can crank up the heat to 450 again for the last 10-15 minutes to get it a bit more crispy.

Turkeys need about 15-18 minutes of cooking time per pound. Once the bird is cooked, thighs should register at 165°F (74°C) and the breasts should register at 160°F (71°C). As soon as the bird hits these temperatures, take it out and let it rest for at least 30 minutes before carving.

How to Store Herb Roasted Turkey

You can carve the turkey meat off the bone and store it in an airtight container for 3-4 days. Make sure to re-heat the leftovers in the oven or microwave evenly till the safe temperature is reached.

How to Freeze Herb Roasted Turkey

You can also freeze cooked turkey in the fridge for a month. Again, with re-heating make sure safe temperature is reached. If the meat becomes too dry, use chicken stock or gravy.

Dinner table with a whole roasted turkey plate in the center, wine glasses and plates, a baking dish with stuffing in the back and a bottle of wine.

Tips & Tricks

A meat thermometer is helpful so you know exactly when the turkey is done. In fact, for a turkey I love the really cheap ones that you get from the super market that you leave in the bird the entire cooking process and pop out when it's done. Simple!

Turkey holds pretty well so you can time it to be done an hour or so before dinner time. That way you have time to let it rest, carve it and plate it. Trying to save some time - make the compound butter a few days ahead of time and keep it stored in the refrigerator until it's time to use

If you're looking for a show-stopping dish to make for Thanksgiving this year, look no further than this herb roasted turkey recipe. This recipe is simple enough that even the most inexperienced cook can make it, but impressive enough that your guests will be asking for seconds. So what are you waiting for? Get in the kitchen and start roasting!

FAQs

Should I use a brine for this turkey recipe?

Yes, 100% absolutely. It really does make a difference in how the bird cooks. Since turkeys are generally a lean type of meat, the brine really ensures that the meat won't dry out which makes for a juicy bird. It also allows some flavors to infuse into the bird before roasting. If you've never brined a bird before, here's everything you'll ever need to know about brining a bird!  This is also a helpful process if you're using a frozen turkey!
Also make sure to pull out the giblets and neck before brining so you don't forget them inside the bird before roasting.

Can I brine a frozen turkey?

You sure can! In fact, that's a great way to start thawing a bird. It's about 5 hours of defrosting time per pound of turkey - so plan accordingly.

Should I stuff my Herb Roasted Turkey?

This is just a personal preference. For this turkey recipe I prefer to stuff with citrus and herbs rather than stuffing. I just find that both my mushroom stuffing and cornbread stuffing is better outside the bird, and I like the citrus and herbs inside the bird to lend extra flavor and infuse the bird from the inside out.

Check out the full  What’s Gaby Cooking Thanksgiving menu here along with the master prep schedule to keep things organized and on track!
And if you need more Thanksgiving Ideas check out this roundup of 80+ Thanksgiving Recipes and Ideas.

Similar Recipes

If you tried this recipe, please leave a 🌟 star rating and let me know how it goes in the 📝 comments below. Thanks for visiting today!

Herb Roasted Turkey

Author: Gaby Dalkin
5 from 30 votes
Looking for the perfect moist and delicious turkey recipe, look no further! This herb roasted bird is incredible and will leave you with the best drippings for gravy!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 10 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 12 people

Ingredients
  

For the Herb Roasted Turkey

  • 1 14-16 pound turkey thawed if frozen
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 handfuls of fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 handfuls of fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 handfuls of fresh sage leaves
  • 3 teaspoons coarse salt plus more for seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper plus more for seasoning
  • 2 lemons each cut into halves

For the Homemade Gravy

  • 1 recipe Turkey Gravy

Instructions
 

For the Herb Roasted Turkey

  • If you are using a frozen turkey, remove the turkey from the freezer a few days before Thanksgiving and let it thaw out in the refrigerator. (If you are brining the turkey - see the link above on steps)
  • When you're ready to roast the bird, remove the turkey from the brine / refrigerator, remove the giblets from inside, and pat dry with paper towels. Let it rest on a baking sheet for 2 hours until it comes to room temperature. If you used my dry brine mixture, remove any excess brine that fell off the bird from the bottom of the roasting pan.
  • In a food processor, combine the butter, lemon zest, 1 handful of parsley, 1 handful of thyme and 1 handful of sage leaves and pulse for 1-2 minutes until everything is evenly incorporated. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper and pulse for a few seconds more. Remove the compound butter from the food processor and set aside.
  • Once the turkey is prepped, place it in a large roasting pan, breast side up on a metal rack.
  • Using your hands, smear the butter all over the turkey. Liberally season the bird with salt and pepper and use your hands to pat everything down onto the skin.
  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees F, with rack on lowest level.
  • Fill the inside of the bird with the remaining handfuls of herbs and the halved lemons, making sure everything is stuffed inside the bird. Tie the legs together with a bit of kitchen twine and place the bird into the oven and roast for 30 minutes at 450 degrees F.
  • After 30 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees, and continue to cook for about 2 more hours, basting turkey with drippings from the bottom and rotating the pan every 30-45 minutes.
  • After 2.5 hours of cooking time, use a meat thermometer and check the thickest part of the turkey so make sure the internal temperature is 165 degrees. The turkey should be golden brown at this point. If the turkey is not done, continue to cook it until the thermometer registers at 165 degrees F. It will continue to go up to about 170 after you remove it from the oven and it rests.
  • If the turkey is done but isn't quite golden brown yet, crank the heat up to 450 degrees and blast it for 15 minutes to crisp up the skin.

Notes

Trying to save some time - make the compound butter a few days ahead of time and keep it stored in the refrigerator until it's time to use

Nutrition Information

Calories: 666kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 120g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 375mg | Sodium: 1207mg | Potassium: 1277mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 420IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 68mg | Iron: 5mg
Tried this Recipe? Tag me Today!Mention @WhatsGabyCookin or tag #whatsgabycooking!

Photo by Matt Armendariz / Food Styling by Adam Pearson / Prop Styling by Stephanie Hanes // Recipe by What’s Gaby Cooking

210 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I've been making turkeys for years. This is the first time that everyone raved about the amazing flavor and how moist the turkey was! I brined the turkey for 24 hours before (using Gaby's dry brine recipe).
    Thank you for making our Thanksgiving delicious!

  2. 5 stars
    Literally THE best turkey recipe I've ever tried. I did your dry brine before doing this recipe. The turkey was tender and incredibly flavorful. Everyone in my family raved over it. This will be my go-to every Thanksgiving. Thank you for the perfect recipe!

  3. Omg.

    This is the best turkey I’ve ever made. Thank you so much for the brine and herb recipe.

    Gravy came out awesome too.

  4. Hi Gaby! I have a 19 lb turkey currently in the fridge with your dry brine! How long would you say to roast it for? I’ve never made a turkey this size before! Thanks so much!!

  5. 5 stars
    Just made THREE of these turkeys. Followed Gaby's ingredients and directions Exactly AND IT WORKED perfectly. Use the dry brine.! This is the best turkey you will ever have in your life. Thank you so much Gaby! Making your mushroom stuffing. It's to die for!!! so thankful for you. I know this is a lot of work for you to answer everyone's questions, and I just want you to know that all of your comments have helped me a lot.

  6. 5 stars
    Just made THREE of these turkeys. Followed Gaby's ingredients and directions Exactly AND IT WORKED perfectly. Use the dry brine.! This is the best turkey you will ever have in your life. Thank you so much Gaby! Making your mushroom stuffing. It's to die for!!! so thankful for you. I know this is a lot of work for you to answer everyone's questions, and I just want you to know that all of your comments have helped me a lot.

  7. Hi Gabby - I used your dry brine yesterday and want to clarify the rest time. This recipe says "remove the turkey from the brine / refrigerator, remove the giblets from inside, and pat dry with paper towels. Let it rest on a baking sheet for 2 hours until it comes to room temperature" but the brine recipe says to let it rest 4 hours in the fridge with the brine wiped off. So is it 4 hours in the fridge and then 2 hours on the counter for a total of 6 hours before putting in the oven?

  8. I just finished the dry brine and want to clarify ... do you brush off the brine and put back in the fridge for 4 hours and then put it on the counter for 2 hours to rest - so a total of 6 hours?

    Also, do you use the kosher salt again when you put the compound butter on? Thanks!!

    1. correct - brush off and let it dry out in the fridge. Then let it come to room temp before putting into the oven. Kosher salt - yes

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