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.

Herb Roasted Turkey from www.whatsgabycooking.com (@whatsgabycookin)

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.

Herb Roasted Turkey from www.whatsgabycooking.com (@whatsgabycookin)

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 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!

Herb Roasted Turkey from www.whatsgabycooking.com (@whatsgabycookin)

Let’s dig in…

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 the 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.

Herb Roasted Turkey from www.whatsgabycooking.com (@whatsgabycookin)
The Perfect Herb Roasted Turkey Recipe

How to cook a turkey:

As you’ll see in the Herb Roasted Turkey Recipe below, I love slathering a turkey with a compound butter. A compound butter is basically room temperature butter that’s been mixed with garlic, 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.

A couple things you want to keep in mind:

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.

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!

Did you love this Herb Roasted Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe?

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

Herb Roasted Turkey

5 from 19 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 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs
Total Time 3 hrs 10 mins
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 1/2 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

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

216 Comments

  1. Is it necessary to have the Turkey sit on a wire rack in your roasting pan? I have a roasting pan but no wire rack.

    1. yes you need a rack so it doesnt sit in its juices. you could raise it up a bit by rolling up some tin foil and creating a make-shift rack

    2. No, Your turkey will cook well without a rack but the bottom skin will not crisp up like it will on the rack as the turkey bottom sits in the juices. But I also like that I get more juice as the juice doesn’t evaporate from cooking on the hot bottom of the pan.

    1. I like to cut the breast first after it’s been resting. Then cut into sections. Then plate on serving platter.

  2. When it calls for 2 “handfuls” of the herbs, is that the same as bunches? When they’re sold already separated into bunches twist-tied together, 2 feels like a lot but maybe not?

  3. 5 stars
    Made this for a small group of friends and it was a HIT! This was our first time ever making a turkey so we were nervous but it turned out perfect! The herb butter makes it SO flavorful it was out of this world!

  4. I’m nervous about making sure my turkey is done but not dry. I’m confused about the finished temperature. Is it done at 175 degrees, or 160 for breast and 165 for thighs?

  5. When you say coarse salt do you mean Diamond Crystal or coarser like Morton’s or something entirely different than those two?
    Thank you!

  6. Gaby, so excited to make this turkey this week!! Do you have any recommendations for adjusting the time/temps for an 8-9 lb bird?

  7. Hi Gabby,
    I always brine my turkey but I just read this post and you recommend using a plain turkey. Normally I just buy the store brand or a Norbest. Costco had Butterball turkeys for $.99 lb and I happened to read this after I purchased the turkey. Can I brine a Butterball turkey or will that be too much?

  8. What do I do if my turkey isn’t producing juice to baste with? It’s just sitting in the pan, but no juices gathering at the bottom.

  9. 5 stars
    The turkey was amazing, so moist and delicious.
    I did have a problem with the compound butter not able to massage it into the skin. I did get some under the skin, however., but the majority just lay in clumps on the bird.
    I used fresh herbs from the grocery, sold in small bunches, as a previous cook wrote in about.
    The butter mixture was at room temp.
    Again, it was delicious but looked strange and the clumps seem to just stay throughout the roasting process.
    Anyone else have this problem?

  10. 5 stars
    This was a phenomal bird and got a lot of compliments on how flavorful the turkey was. My turkey was prebrined so I did the dry rub omitting the salt. Used a countertop roaster and it turned out perfect. I also made the mushroom stuffing (awesome!) and the gravy also omitting the salt in those as well. Perfect blend of fall spices. Thanks for the guidance I am a total amateur but served a professional turkey dinner!

  11. 5 stars
    This is has become my go to thanksgiving turkey recipe. So moist and flavorful! So long dry and full thanksgiving turkey

    1. Hello Gabby, I can’t find any fresh herbs for your recipe (went to 3 stores and all sold out) can I use dry herbs and how much dry herbs should I use for the compound butter and inside the bird.

  12. 5 stars
    Gaby, thanks so much for being my bible for Christmas dinner this year! Everything I made was from your Thanksgiving menu, and it all came out great! The turkey was especially moist and flavorful, even the breast, which I was sure would be dry-ish. I’ve never cooked the whole meal before and it was so fun! I’m so glad I depended on you this year so cheers and happy boxing day!

  13. I can’t wait to try your recipe – last year my turkey was moist but not much flavor.
    When you use a dry brine, do you put the brine under the skin or over? Also when you put the butter on the turkey, do you put that over or under the skin or both? Thank you so much for your help. We just love all of your recipes. This will be a “What’s Gaby Cooking” Thanksgiving!

  14. Cooking a 23 and a half pound turkey. Any tips other than just cooking longer? Also what do you say to cooking the turkey at 250 starting at around 2Am? Always way my mom did it and love waking up to the smell of Turkey.

  15. If I am making this using the linked dry brine, do I keep the amount of salt the same or decrease it at all?

    Thank you!

  16. Will this recipe work using a counter roaster? Amateur and trying to keep over space free for sides! If oven roaster is ok, do you recommend a roaster bag or just on rack? Everything you makes looks incredible

    1. never done it in a counter roasted. I would do it in the oven since it’s the biggest item and use the counter top oven for the sides. i dont use a roasting bag ever! no need if you follow this recipe! xx

  17. I apologize, I sent a question in asking about cooking the turkey in the roaster oven. What I meant to ask was, can I cook the brine turkey in the roaster oven? I’m not sure if it would produce too much moister in the roaster.

  18. I’m excited to try this recipe.

    Does anyone know if the cooking time needs to be adjusted for a convection oven? We recently switched to a convection oven, so I’m unsure.

    Thank you!

  19. Hi Gaby, I am cooking a full turkey and 1 turkey breast, How should I adjust my schedule, what should I cook first?

  20. 5 stars
    I made this turkey two years ago and it was deemed “the best turkey I’ve ever had” by everyone at the table. First and only recipe I think I’ll ever use! Def do the brine, compound butter, and gravy combo!

    Gaby I can’t remember… do I take the thyme leaves off the sprigs for the butter or just put the whole thing in there? Thanks!

  21. 5 stars
    Made this last year, followed recipe and cook time as written. My first turkey ever. It was THE BOMB. Thank you!!!
    This year’s bird is bigger and I’m a little nervous about the cook time adjustment. I read the minutes per pound in the text of the recipe, but those minutes don’t quite match up to the 2.5 hours in the instructions. 2.5 hours was just perfect for my 13 pounder. How would you adjust for a 19 lb bird?

  22. 5 stars
    The best! Have used both your dry brine and wet for years now (we do 2 turkeys) and both are fabulous with this! Love all that compound butter:))

  23. Wow! First time preparing turkey for thanksgiving. I’m filipino so we usually do filipino food. But got free turkey this time and came across your page grateful for your recipes!! I followed your brine, herb turkey, cranberry sauce and homemade gravy recipes. Super very impressed!! They all turned out very yummy and delicious. The turkey is very moist and tasty. Only brined it for 12 hours and still very delicious! Thank you! Thank you!

  24. This year I hosted Thanksgiving for the first time. I’d never made a turkey before and was so nervous. But I dry brined my bird using your easy turkey brine recipe and then roasted it using this recipe. It was the *best* turkey I’ve ever had–it was so moist and everyone said it tasted incredible. Absolute perfection. Thank you so much for sharing all these wonderful tips and giving me the confidence to do it myself. We’ll definitely be making our turkey this way from now on!

  25. 5 stars
    Hi Gaby
    I have been making Turkey for years…
    This is the first time we brined and
    Everyone said the flavor was delicious!
    We made a 23 lb Turkey and I followed
    your time and it was perfect….(mins per lb)
    450 for 30 mins then 350
    Happy Thanksgiving

  26. 5 stars
    I got more compliments on this turkey from my family than anything else!! It was so flavorful and delicious!! Great recipe!

  27. 5 stars
    I made this 2 years ago using the dry brine and it came out PERFECTLY! It was my first attempt at a turkey and I was so pleased. We have a smoker now and I’m curious if I can use the same dry brine and herbed butter methods in a Green Mountain Grill smoker? I’d adjust the temperature settings per the smoker directions but do you think that the herbed butter would still turn out okay? My husband usually uses the smoker and I’m more comfortable with the oven but it would be nice to free up oven space. Thanks so much for all the work you put into your Thanksgiving guide!!!

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