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Turn any day into a holiday with this Lemon Herb Buttered Roasted Turkey. With only a few simple ingredients, your guests will be enjoying a juicy, flavorful, and tender turkey.
Does anyone else realize that it's almost time for Thanksgiving to be here again? I am not quite sure how the year has gone so fast. I will admit, I am not mad at it though because the holidays are always so much fun and I look forward to them every year.
There is just something that makes my heart happy cooking for friends and family and enjoying spending time together. No matter who you are celebrating with this year, I guarantee this turkey will be the star of the show!
You need to make this lemon herb butter roasted turkey!
The holidays can be stressful. Between all the holiday shopping, prepping the house for guests, traveling, and even getting the holiday meal on the table if you're the one hosting. Let me take some of that stress away.
This recipe can help!
- It uses simple, easy ingredients.
- It doesn't require hours of added prep.
- It yields a juicy, flavorful turkey with the perfect golden crust.
How much turkey do you really need?
This is totally up to you, but a good rule I like to follow is at least one pound of turkey per person. Of course, I tend to send leftovers with friends and family while still leaving some for us, so I tend to do closer to two pounds per person.
- Whole Turkey or Chicken - fully defrosted and cleaned out.
- Salt and Pepper
Prepping the Bird
Most turkeys on the market these days are already pre-brined, which means you don't want to brine them anymore. This makes prepping the bird easy. You want to be careful as not all brands are gluten-free, so make sure you check the ingredients and any brining is gluten-free.
The best way to defrost your turkey is in the fridge, but this does take a while. The average turkey takes about twenty-four hours in the refrigerator for approximately every five pounds of turkey. Make sure you know how much your turkey weighs so you can give it plenty of time to defrost.
Most turkeys will have the giblets and the neck stuffed inside the turkey. Make sure you remove these. The most common areas are in the main cavity and inside the neck. Remove and set these aside. I like to add mine to some stock to simmer all day while the turkey roasts for added flavor for making gravy.
This might seem like a step you could skip but don't. Ensuring the turkey is dry helps to remove excess liquids that could steam inside the turkey. To much steam, and you will end up with rubbery meat and soggy skin, and no one wants any of that.
Make the lemon herb butter
- Make sure the butter is at room temperature.
- Mince the garlic and finely chop the fresh herbs.
- Zest the lemon and then quarter it and the onion.
- Add the garlic, herbs, lemon zest, salt, and pepper to the butter and mix well.
- Rub the herb butter over the bird and up under the skin before placing it in a roasting pan.
Do you have to use fresh herbs?
For this recipe, I recommend using fresh herbs over dried herbs. The reason is dry herbs are already dehydrated, and when you roast the turkey, it can have a tendency to burn the spices. Starting with fresh herbs helps keep that from happening while still infusing the turkey with flavor.
To stuff the turkey or not?
Stuffing a turkey is a personal preference. For this recipe, I put lemon and onion inside the bird with some salt and pepper. However, if my turkey is really big, I tend to spatchcock it and then lay the bird over the lemon and onions. If you've never done that before, it's really simple to do, but it helps the turkey (or chicken) cook more evenly in a shorter amount of time, which helps keep the turkey from drying out being in the oven for so long.
Roasting the turkey
Roast your turkey at 350 degrees for about 12-13 minutes per pound. You want the breast meat to read about 160 degrees while the thigh should be closer to 170 degrees. If you wait to pull your bird till it reaches 165, your meat will likely dry because the meat continues to cook while it rests outside of the love.
More tips and tricks!
Truss the legs loosely or not at all - Tying the legs too tight and close to the bird's body can prevent the thigh meat from cooking thoroughly. If you tie them, you want to make sure that there is still a gap between the legs to allow proper airflow over the turkey.
Use a good pan - There are a thousand different types of roasting pans on the market. Some have racks, and some don't. If you don't have a rack, it's ok. Just chop up some onions and lemons to place the turkey on top of. You want there to be airflow all around it while it cooks.
The color of the pan matters as the darker pans can make things burn easier as the turkey cooks. For this reason, stainless steel is preferred, or my favorite is cast iron.
Add liquid to the pan - Adding about a quart of chicken stock or even water to the bottom of the roasting pan will help keep the turkey moist.
Watch how your bird is in the oven - The back of the range is the hottest. Depending on the size of the roasting pan, I make sure the legs face the back of the oven with the breasts towards the front. This allows the darker meat to be closer to the heat, keeping the breasts from drying out. If this isn't possible, I rotate the to ensure one side doesn't cook faster than the other.
Let it rest - I know it's been a long day prepping all the food, and everyone is hungry, but I promise you to want to let the turkey rest for 20-30 minutes before carving it. It will allow the juices in the turkey to redistribute throughout the meat, so you don't end up with all the liquid on the cutting board, leaving you with a dried-out turkey.
The best side dishes
Lemon Herb Butter Roasted Turkey
- 1 12-14 lb Whole Turkey Defrosted and cleaned out
- 1 C Butter At room temperature
- 1-2 Whole Lemons Zested and quartered
- ½ White or Yellow Onions Quartered
- 6 Cloves Garlic minced
- 4 Tablespoons Fresh Sage Finely Chopped
- 3 Tablespoons Fresh Oregano Finely Chopped
- 3 Tablespoons Fresh Thyme Finely Chopped
- 2 Tablespoons Fresh Rosemary Finely Chopped
- 1 ½ Tablespoons Salt
- 1 Tablespoon Pepper
- 1 Quart Chicken Stock Water or even apple cider
- Allow the turkey to fully defrost in the fridge.1 12-14 lb Whole Turkey
- Finely chop the herbs, mince the garlic, and zest the lemon.1-2 Whole Lemons, 6 Cloves Garlic, 4 Tablespoons Fresh Sage, 3 Tablespoons Fresh Oregano, 3 Tablespoons Fresh Thyme, 2 Tablespoons Fresh Rosemary
- Add the garlic, herbs and lemon zest to the softened butter along with the salt and pepper.1 C Butter, 1 ½ Tablespoons Salt, 1 Tablespoon Pepper
- Roughly quarter the zested lemon and the onion and set them aside.1-2 Whole Lemons, ½ White or Yellow Onions
- If you are stuffing the turkey with lemon and onions, do that now, along with a bit more salt and pepper inside the bird, and lightly truss the legs.
- Place the remaining lemons and onion in a roasting pan along with the chicken stock.1-2 Whole Lemons, ½ White or Yellow Onions, 1 Quart Chicken Stock
- Place the bird in the roasting pan on top of the lemons and onions.
- Carefully rub the herb butter over the turkey and up under the skin.
- Let the turkey rest at room temp while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Roast the turkey for about 13 minutes per pound or until the internal temperatire reaches about 160 degrees when the thermoter is inserted into the breast meat.
- Allow the turkey to rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes before carving.
We used this recipe and it turned out so good! This was our 1st time baking a turkey. Thank you for writing it so well.
Sara Vaughn says
I am so glad you enjoyed it!