Herb Roasted Turkey


Total Time:

3 hours 10 minutes



It’s time. Thanksgiving is upon us. Lemme break it… we’ve got 14 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 succulent Herb Roasted Turkey. 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 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.

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 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 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 brine my turkey?

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 turkey?

This is just a personal preference. I prefer to stuff my turkey 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)

How to cook a turkey:

As you’ll see in the 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:

I 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.

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

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!
5 from 10 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs
Total Time 3 hrs 10 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 12 people


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

  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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 Stephanie Hanes // Recipe by What’s Gaby Cooking

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Recipe Rating


  1. Kate

    Hi! This looks great and I’m excited to try it next week ! If I’m doing the dry brine will I still want to wet the turkey before applying the butter mixture? Or just wipe off the brine and then add the butter spread? Thanks 🙂

    • Gaby

      wipe off the brine and then slap it with some buttery spread!! 🙂 xx

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  3. Heidi Lucille

    Hey Gaby,
    What recipe did you use to dry brine?! Was it the same as the recipe to the link you posted? I thought you mentioned other herbs from the dry brine (in your fb live gravy video for friendsgiving).
    Thanks Much!!!

    • Gaby

      same as the link!! I think I referred to the herbs from the butter spread that I put all over the bird!

    • Heidi Lucille

      I thought the same thing shortly after I posted that! Happy Thanksgiving!!!

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  5. Bremda Wilson

    If I were to use dry herbs how much would I use if each ? for your turkey herb butter spread .
    I looks very favor full.

  6. Cristina

    hi gaby – did you do wet or dry brining? also if you’re feeding 10-12 ppl, what size turkey should i buy?

    • Cristina

      never mind – just read that you prefer dry brining – duhhhh – sorry – lol!!!

  7. Linda

    I want to do a test run of his turkey recipe and gravy before thanksgiving. Is there anyway i can save the gravy I make now for thanksgiving (over a month away)? Can I freeze it? Would it thaw and reheat well?

    Also, you used the dry brine recipe from the whole foods video within the link you provided, right? The recipe with the brown sugar?


    • Gaby

      yes that’s the brine I used!!

      and I haven’t tried saving the gravy for that long but I dont see what it would be an issue. You’ll just need to re-heat before serving and probably give it a good whisk so everything is evenly incorporated once heated

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  9. Amanda

    I’ve been making my turkey with herb compound butter for several years 🙂 I always put some of the butter UNDER the skin… SO GOOD!!!!!!!!

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  12. Grace

    Hey Gaby,

    You’re busy crushing this Thanksgiving season; I want to make all of these recipes. Without tenting the turkey, does the meat get dry or is that not an issue? I feel like I have perpetually dry turkey each year, but have been told that tenting makes it more juicy?

    • Gaby

      I don’t tent it unless it starts to get too brown on top! But this one stays juicy because you stuff it with lemon and herbs and the herb butter keeps it moist

  13. Nicole

    Silly question, but will it turn out any differently if I rub the compound butter under the skin,or will flavors be too intense?

  14. Cindy

    Will the turkey and gravy be too salty if you wet brine and apply the compound butter for the herb roasted turkey?

  15. mary

    If you dry brine overnight, do you take the giblets out and everything beforehand? Assuming yes?

    • mary

      Thank you… Not sure I did it correctly ahhhh! I followed the video from Whole Foods, but my turkey maybe wasn’t dry enough? The brine made it feel wet again. We shall see 😀

  16. Vanessa

    Hi Gaby,

    Does the 2.5 hour cooking time apply to conventional ovens rather than convection ovens? This is my first time cooking a turkey and I’ve read that you should cook the turkey at 350F for about 15 minutes per pound. Is that right or does the higher temps in your recipe account for the shorter cooking time?

    • Gaby

      that sounds about right – the higher temp time is get start getting it brown. BUT – best bet is to use a meat thermometer so you know exactly when your turkey is done!

  17. Kelsey

    If I don’t have a food processor – what else can I use to make the herb butter?

  18. CentralCoastGal

    You say test the temp in the thickest part of the turkey. Where would that be exactly?

  19. Linda

    I made this turkey and the gravy for thanksgiving yesterday (I dry brined using a very basic dry brine recipe of just salt, brown sugar, and pepper). It came out so good! Best turkey I’ve ever had! Mine did get pretty brown early on so I did tent with foil. I rotated the pan every half hour and basted it every hour or so. AMAZING! Thank you!

  20. Karen Hiller

    Can the Herb butter be made with something other than butter (but the same consistency) such as coconut oil or Nucoa? I have an allergy to all milk products including butter, but I love the idea of an herb flavor infusion and a way to keep the Turkey moister!

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  23. Dorothy

    Are you saying you dry brine your turkey before you coat it with the herbs and butter? What is the link to your dry brine?

  24. Dorothy

    Oops never mind. I saw the link after I asked the question. Can’t wait to try this!

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  26. Kyle Ann Markwell

    Hi Gaby! I’d love to do this on turkey breasts. How would I adjust the cooking time? Thanks!

    • Gaby

      turkey breasts take WAY less time to cook!! The turkey is done when it reaches 165°F in the thickest part of the breast meat. Start checking after 1 hour of roasting and continue checking every 10 to 15 minutes until the breast is cooked through

  27. Shannon

    Hi Gaby,

    Shopping for a fresh turkey and finding it overwhelming! Antibiotic free, organic, hen, tom, diestel, diestel heirloom – what do you recommend?

    Also – for the dry brine if you enjoy an extra crispy skin do you think a butter infused olive oil could be used in your recipe to substitute the butter?


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  29. Courtney

    Hi Gaby!
    I used this recipe with the dry brine last year and the turkey came out PERFECT! I got so many compliments on it! Prepping for this year and I’ve always had this issue- the drippings will burn on the bottom of my pan and smoke up my whole house! Any suggestions???
    Thanks for being a part of my Thanksgiving!

    • Gaby

      I buy an organic unbrined turkey and brine it myself – there’s a link within this post on my brining technique! But you can totally buy a brined turkey if you want!!

  30. Melanie

    Help! (If you can!) I’ve been so excited to make this recipe (and your mashed potatoes)… I have a 12lb turkey and realized this morning that I should have moved it from the freezer to fridge to thaw a day ago… So, it went in at 6am this morning. Planning to serve around 1:30 tomorrow. It will only be partially thawed by the time I need to start cooking.

    Would you recommend using the cold water method to quickly thaw the rest of the way first thing tomorrow morning, or just adjusting the cooking time to cook longer tomorrow?

    Thinking if it’s not completely thawed I may have to cook for a bit and then when it’s thawed enough put the remaining butter/herbs/lemon halves inside and finish cooking.

    What would you do? Thanks in advance if you are able to answer!

    • Gaby

      if it were me, I’d just take the turkey out of the fridge and let it rest on the counter for a few hours to thaw. I know that’s not PC but I’ve done it before and it’s always okay.

  31. Jen

    5 stars
    This is my go-to thanksgiving turkey recipe I’ve been making it for years!

  32. Kymberly

    Can I do this recipe but with a turkey breast? I don’t like the other parts of the turkey.

    • Gaby

      you sure can but you’d need to adjust the baking time!

  33. Scott R Nair

    I am doing this recipe with a 5.5 lb turkey breast. What temp and how long?

  34. Francie

    Gaby do you suggest using convection or just bake setting for cooking turkey?

    • Gaby

      yes!! basically will be making a pesto – will be incredible

  35. Janet Sebade

    Hi Gaby,
    I’m all set to make your turkey and gravy this tear. Excited to try it. My daughter asked if I could use ghee instead of butter so she can enjoyit too. Do you think this would work?
    Thank you,

  36. Janet Sebade

    One more question…What your rule of thumb for cooking time on turkeys?. I think mine will be closer to 13 lbs
    Thank you

  37. Lauren S.

    Hi there! Last year I made your citrus turkey and forgot to save the recipe! Couldn’t seem to find the 2018 version of this post and just wanted to confirm that this is the same recipe!

  38. Janet Sebade

    Hi Gaby,

    How much ghee would I use in place of the 8 tablespoons of unsalted butter?
    Thank you

  39. Janet Sebade

    Hi Gaby

    How much ghee would I use in place of the butter to make the compound butter for the turkey.So excited to try your recipe this year. I’m doing the wet brine too:)

  40. Courtney Meza

    5 stars
    This is my go to recipe for my turkey, especially with a dry brine, the skin is perfection! The one problem that I keep getting thought is that the drippings burn on the bottom of the pan. Any suggestions?

    • Gaby

      you could baste the bird with extra butter that would then pool into the bottom and help anything from burning. Or put a little stock at the bottom of the roasting pan before you pop it into the oven just to give it extra liquid

  41. Paola

    I just want to thank Gaby for this amazing recipe, my first thanksgiving turkey ever and it was success!!! I am not afraid anymore of that gigantic bird in the oven. Did I brine the turkey? YESSSS, Did I buy a 27lb turkey not realizing the recipe is for a 16-18lb one? Yes I did! Did I added additional seasoning using my very well calibrated eye?? Yaaaassss!!! The only downsize is that it came out so juicy and flavorful that I am afraid that from now on I am going to be the one in charge of the turkey for thanksgiving, well let’s hope that this will calibrate my karma! ;p

  42. Christine Robertson

    5 stars
    I’ve being making this recipe for the last three or four years, since I first saw it here. This is alredy a classic on my Christmas table.Thank you so much Gaby!