Herb Roasted Turkey

It’s time. Thanksgiving is upon up. Lemme break it down for you. We’ve got 17 days until Thanksgiving. That means every day from here on out is going to be Thanksgiving related. We’re kicking it off with the star of the show – my Herb Roasted Turkey. It’s so good, 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 the past few months. Whoever thinks being a food blogger is glamorous should have seen what it looks like to recipe test a 16 pound Herb Roasted Turkey in August. It wasn’t pretty.

But it’s all worth it now because the whole thing is coming to WGC! You’re getting a perfectly cooked turkey, 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 dessert that no one will be expecting! I’ve taken all the guess work out of Thanksgiving this year! So whether you’re hosting the entire thing yourself, 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)

If you ask my husband the most important part of Thanksgiving, he’d tell you it’s the bird. So that’s what we’re starting with today! It’s stuffed with citrus and herbs and coated with a compound butter that’s a real game changer. And if you’re a brine kinda person like me… here’s pretty much everything you’ll ever need to know about brining a bird! It’s a KEY component to a juicy bird

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

PS – are you thinking of putting this on your Thanksgiving menu? Check out the full What’s Gaby Cooking menu here along with the master prep schedule to keep things organized and on track!

Herb Roasted Turkey

Yield: serves 12-14

Herb Roasted Turkey


    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


    For the Herb Roasted Turkey
  1. 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 bringing the turkey - see the link above on steps)
  2. When you're ready to roast the bird, remove the turkey from the refrigerator, remove the giblets from inside, rinse turkey with cool water, and pat dry with paper towels. Let it rest on a baking sheet for 2 hours until it comes to room temperature.
  3. 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.
  4. Once the turkey is prepped, place it in a large roasting pan, breast side up on a metal rack.
  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.
  6. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F, with rack on lowest level.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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 175 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 175 degrees F.
  10. 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.


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 Gena Sigala // Recipe by What’s Gaby Cooking

Don't know what to make,
or how to make it?
I've got you covered! Check out all my recipes here
recipe index


  1. Such a pretty spread!! I’m definitely more of a sides man though. I could fill up my plate with sides alone. Last year, however, Jorge made an amaaaaazing smoked turkey. So juicy with a pleasant smokiness. Perfect with cranberry sauce! Perhaps we’ll switch up the flavorings this year for lemon and herbs. The combination above sounds so good!

  2. Good instructions! Your Thanksgiving table looks beautiful! The compound butter seems to be the solution I need to cover the whole bird with herbs. Thanks.

  3. Everything looks so yummy. Very similar “recipe” to what I usually do and this year was utterly amazing. So my family said!!
    I am up here in Canada so we have already had our Thanksgiving and have to wait until Christmas for more yummy turkey.
    Nice to have a recipe to look at instead of my just eye balling everything.

  4. Can’t wait to see all the recipes 🙂 Love how you incorporated lemon and herbs in the turkey! (I always brine too – makes such a difference!)

  5. WOW, what a spread you’ve got there!! The turkey sounds absolutely incredible, I have been using a Martha Stewart no-fail recipe for years but THIS might just have to make its way to my table this year. Thanks so much for sharing!

  6. That’s gorgeous! I am italian and this year i would like to organize an italian thanksgiving at my maison. I will definetly try your turkey recepie. Thank you Gaby!!! 🙂

  7. Holy cow! That turkey looks amazing. I’m kind of well known in my family for botching the Thanksgiving turkey (so humiliating as a food blogger, I know), so I’m thrilled to have your recipe this year. I can’t imagine how much work went into putting together that whole Thanksgiving spread (and getting it all in one shot!). I just finished my Easter projects and have been living off of ham for the past week. #foodbloggerproblems

  8. Hi Gaby, Regarding the dry brining–the instructions say to refrigerate 24 hours for the dry brine but, it also says if you prefer to brine overnight to reduce the salt by half. Just want to check–if you are only dry brining for 24 hours (which will cover my overnight) you would use the full amount of salt? Also, in you’re opinion is the dry brine as good as the liquid brine? This will be my first time trying the dry brine and wanted to see what you think about the comparison. Thank you so much! Mary Beth

    1. Hi!!

      Yes – dry brine is just as good as the liquid brine 🙂 Easier too since it doesn’t require a giant vat of liquid sitting in your fridge.

      I usually go with 1 tablespoon of salt per 5lbs… so if you have a 15 lb bird, use 3 tablespoons of salt for the brine along with the spices! Hope this helps!!

  9. Beautiful bird! I cannot do any citrus – so sad! Do you think eliminating the lemon that it would make a huge difference? Any thoughts to a substitution?

    1. you could totally skip the lemon if you needed to! The herbs will still make it totally delish 🙂

  10. Hi Gaby! I’m a longtime reader/lurker of your site. Tonight I made this turkey (no brine) and it was amazing! This was my first time making a turkey (and I’m 35!) and it turned out amazing! Also, I am a big fan of your banana chocolate chip bread. I’ve made it so much that I no longer have to read the recipe. Everyone I bake it for absolutely loves it. Thank you for such great recipes!

    1. Yay!!! So glad you loved it!! It’s seriously my fav turkey 🙂 xx

      Oh and that Banana Bread – obsessed!!

  11. OK. I have decided to go with this recipe for my turkey for Thanksgiving. Narrowed down from 8 candidates of wet brines, dry brines, etc. This is the first year that I get to have Thanksgiving since the mid-2000’s. If I want a quick trial run on a chicken, do I just scale the ingredients based on weight, i.e. 14-16 lb turkey to 4 lb chicken means that I use one fourth of the amount of ingredients. Right? Then cook chicken like normal.

  12. this recipe looks great. just a question…every year I rub my turkey with compound butter. but it ALWAYS sticks to my hands and I can’t get it to stick to the turkey! What am I doing wrong? Is my turkey too cold? too wet? is the butter too cold? should I oil my hands?? This drives me insane!!

    1. same thing happens to me!! I spray my hands with cooking spray so it doesn’t stick – and I blot the turkey with paper towel so it’s not too wet!

  13. I totally practiced my turkey recipe this weekend but you were way ahead of me doing it in August! Way to go lady. I am so impressed with your planning ahead! How lucky are your guests?!

  14. Need to make this dairy-free!! For the compound butter, can I substitute with Earth Balance, or is there a better alternative that gives a similar taste?

  15. Hi Gaby! This looks delish! I am hosting a Friendsgiving this Friday night but since I work Friday’s I wont have time to cook a whole turkey 🙁 I was going to get those huge turkey breast pieces from Costco but I was wondering if I can still use this recipe with some modifications to cook to breast pieces. But I’m not sure how to navigate that, please help! lol

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *