Turn any day into a festive occasion with the delightful Herb Butter Roasted Turkey. You can treat your guests to a succulent, tasty, and tender turkey using just a handful of easy-to-find ingredients.
Easy Herb Butter Roasted Turkey Recipe
Can you believe Thanksgiving is almost here again? Time has flown by, but honestly, I'm not complaining. I love the holidays—they're so much fun, and I eagerly await them every year. Cooking for friends and family, sharing moments—something about it warms my heart. Whether you're celebrating with loved ones or friends this year, I promise this turkey will steal the spotlight!
This Herb Butter Roasted Turkey recipe is simple to make and delivers incredible flavor that will leave everyone wanting more. Combining the easy-to-find ingredients and the succulent, tender meat will make this Thanksgiving feast memorable.
- Easy Herb Butter Roasted Turkey Recipe
- Why You'll Love This Recipe?
- How much Turkey do you Need?
- Ingredients for Herb Butter Roasted Turkey
- Prepping the Bird
- Make the Herb Butter for Turkey
- How to Apply Herb Butter to Turkey?
- Do you have to Use Fresh Herbs?
- To Stuff the Turkey or Not?
- What Temperature for Roasting the Turkey?
- Tips and Tricks For Moist and Flavorful Roasted Turkey
- What to Serve With Turkey for Thanksgiving?
- More Side Dishes Recipes
- 📖 Recipe
Why You'll Love This Recipe?
Holidays can get hectic with shopping, prepping the house, and all the travel. If you're hosting and feeling overwhelmed, let me help ease the stress.
This recipe is a lifesaver!
- It's made with simple, everyday ingredients.
- No need for lengthy prep—it's hassle-free.
- And the result? A juicy, flavorful turkey with that perfect golden crust.
How much Turkey do you Need?
Although it's entirely up to you, serving at least one to 1 ½ pounds of turkey per person is a good idea. Naturally, I usually leave some for us and send the leftovers to friends and family, so I'm more like two pounds per person.
Ingredients for Herb Butter Roasted Turkey
- Whole Turkey or Chicken: Use a fresh or frozen turkey. If using frozen, ensure it is fully defrosted and cleaned out. See details below for how to defrost and prepare the bird.
- Garlic: It gives a flavorful kick.
- Onion: Adds depth and richness to the taste.
- Lemon: Brings a zesty and citrusy kick.
- Butter: Adds a luscious texture and enhances tenderness
- Spices and herbs: You'll need sage, thyme, oregano, rosemary, salt and pepper.
Prepping the Bird
Most turkeys available now are pre-brined, saving you the need for additional brining. This simplifies the preparation process. However, be cautious, as not all brands are gluten-free. Check the ingredients to ensure the turkey and any included brining are gluten-free.
Thoroughly defrost the Turkey.
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. Make sure you know how much your turkey weighs so you can give it plenty of time to defrost. For example, you want to plan at least 3 days in advance for a 15 pound turkey. But I would suggest to be cautious and plan for 4 days.
Clean out the Inside
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.
Drain and pat the Turkey Dry.
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. Too much steam and you will end up with rubbery meat and soggy skin, and no one wants any of that.
Make the Herb Butter for Turkey
You are going to love this herb butter. It makes the final roasted turkey amazingly moist and flavorful while getting crispy and golden brown skin. Of course, you can use this herb butter as a spread too!
Let's see how to make easy herb butter:
- Make sure the butter is soft and at room temperature. This ensures that it mixes easily with the other ingredients, creating a smooth and flavorful herb butter.
- Mince the garlic and finely chop the fresh herbs.
- Zest the lemon and then quarter both the lemon and the onion.
- Mix the butter thoroughly with the minced garlic, chopped herbs, lemon zest, salt, and pepper with the butter.
How to Apply Herb Butter to Turkey?
Rub the herb-infused butter over and under the turkey's skin and place it in a roasting pan.
If you have never applied herb butter on turkey before. Don't worry, it is not that hard. You want to start by applying the butter under the skin first. Loosen the skin by sliding your fingers under the skin from the neck side and then from the large cavity end. Ensure all the skin under the breast is loosened, and apply the herb butter while making sure not to tear the skin.
Stuff the turkey if you plan to do it. Then, tuck the wings under the turkey and tie the legs using cotton kitchen twine. This helps ensure the bird retains its shape while cooking and the stuffing stays intact.
Spread the butter all over the turkey, including breasts, drumsticks, and wings. Move and flip the turkey as needed to apply the herb butter thoroughly.
Do you have to Use Fresh Herbs?
For the best results in this recipe, go for fresh herbs instead of dried ones. Here's why: dried herbs can dry out even more during turkey roasting and might burn, affecting the taste. Fresh spices help prevent this and let the turkey soak up the flavors without the worry of burning, ensuring a tasty and well-balanced dish.
To Stuff the Turkey or Not?
Stuffing a turkey comes down to personal preference. In this recipe, I place lemon and onion inside the bird with salt and pepper. Then, spread some of the onions and lemons in the baking dish. You can place the turkey on a roasting rack if you have one or on top of the veggies.
However, I often opt for spatchcocking when dealing with a larger turkey. This involves removing the backbone and laying the bird flat over the lemon and onions.
If you haven't tried this method, it's simple but incredibly effective. It ensures the turkey (or chicken) cooks evenly and in less time, reducing the risk of drying out during the extended oven duration.
What Temperature for Roasting the Turkey?
This is the easy, hands-off part of making turkey.
Roast your turkey at 350 degrees for approximately 12-13 minutes per pound. For example, a 12-pound turkey will need about 3 hours to roast.
Aim for the breast meat to reach around 160 degrees Fahrenheit and the thigh closer to 170 degrees. It's crucial not to wait until the entire bird hits 165 degrees because the meat keeps cooking as it rests outside the oven. Pulling it out earlier helps prevent the meat from drying out during rest.
Don't forget to baste the turkey every 30 minutes with the drippings and juices in the baking dish.
Tips and Tricks For Moist and Flavorful Roasted Turkey
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 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 makes the darker meat closer to the heat, keeping the breasts from drying out. If this isn't possible, I rotate the dish to ensure one side doesn't cook faster than the other. You can also tent with a foil if the turkey browns too quickly.
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.
What to Serve With Turkey for Thanksgiving?
It is hectic to cook a full Thanksgiving meal. However, if you plan well and know what needs to be cooked ahead and on the day, it gets easier.
Some popular dishes to serve with turkey for Thanksgiving:
- Mashed potatoes
- Green bean casserole
- Cranberry orange sauce,
- Sweet potato casserole
- Pumpkin Pie
And if you have leftovers the next day, make this Leftover Thanksgiving Casserole.
Herb Butter Roasted Turkey
- 1 12-14 lb Whole Turkey Defrosted and cleaned out
- 1 White or Yellow Onion Quartered
- 1 Quart Chicken Stock Water or even apple cider
- Salt and Pepper
For the Herb Butter
- 1 C Butter At room temperature
- 1-2 Whole Lemons Zested and quartered
- 6 Cloves Garlic minced
- 2 Tablespoons Fresh Sage Finely Chopped
- 1 ½ Tablespoons Fresh Thyme Finely Chopped
- 1 ½ Tablespoons Fresh Oregano Finely Chopped
- 1 ½ Tablespoons Fresh Rosemary Finely Chopped
- 1 ½ Teaspoon Salt
- 1 Teaspoon Pepper
- Allow the turkey to fully defrost in the fridge.1 12-14 lb Whole Turkey
Make the Herb Butter
- Finely chop the herbs, mince the garlic, and zest the lemon.1-2 Whole Lemons, 6 Cloves Garlic, 2 Tablespoons Fresh Sage, 1 ½ Tablespoons Fresh Oregano, 1 ½ Tablespoons Fresh Thyme, 1 ½ 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 Teaspoon Salt, 1 Teaspoon Pepper
- Roughly quarter the zested lemon and the onion and set them aside.1-2 Whole Lemons, 1 White or Yellow Onion
Prep the Turkey
- Remove the giblets and the neck stuffed inside the turkey and set aside. You can add these to the baking dish when roasting the turkey.
- Drain and pat the turkey dry. This helps to remove excess liquids that could steam inside the turkey.
- Rub the herb-infused butter under the turkey's skin. Loosen the skin by sliding your fingers under the skin from the neck side and then from the large cavity end. Ensure all the skin under the breast is loosened, and apply the herb butter while making sure not to tear the skin.
- 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. Then, tuck the wings under the turkey and tie the legs using cotton kitchen twine. This helps ensure the bird retains its shape while cooking and the stuffing stays intact.
- Place the remaining lemons and onion in a roasting pan along with the chicken stock.1-2 Whole Lemons, 1 White or Yellow Onion, 1 Quart Chicken Stock
- Place the bird in the roasting pan on top of the lemons and onions. If you have a rack, place the turkey on it. You want there to be airflow all around it while it cooks.
- Carefully rub the herb butter over the turkey now. Spread the butter all over the turkey, including breasts, drumsticks, and wings. Move and flip the turkey as needed to apply the herb butter thoroughly.
Roast the Turkey
- Let the turkey rest at room temp while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Roast the turkey for about 13 minutes per pound or until the internal temperature reaches about 160 degrees when the thermometer is inserted into the breast meat. It's crucial not to wait until the entire bird hits 165 degrees because the meat keeps cooking as it rests outside the oven. Pulling it out earlier helps prevent the meat from drying out during rest.
- Baste the turkey every 30 minutes with the drippings and juices in the baking dish.
- Allow the turkey to rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes before carving.