This Easy Herb Butter Roasted Turkey is moist and full of flavor. A special step makes the turkey extra juicy. Your Thanksgiving dinner will be the best ever!
Happy Thanksgiving! Well, almost. Did you know Thanksgiving is in 13 days!?! Ahhh! OK, nobody panic, we got this. If this is your first time in charge of the turkey, or you just want a refresher course, check out my Turkey Tips Post – it has a video showing you how to truss your turkey which is a little step to help your bird cook more evenly and look prettier when coming out of the oven.
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The extra step with this Herb Butter Roasted Turkey is using a cheesecloth soaked in butter to baste the turkey while cooking. I learned that little tidbit from Martha Stewart and it makes the most beautiful, golden and juicy turkey. I also made an herb butter mixture and rubbed it all over the turkey, under the skin. Getting under the turkey skin might make you a little squeamish – I know it freaked me out the first time I did it. The key is to be very gentle so that you don’t rip the skin. I also used a thin wooden spoon to get between the meat and the skin, and that makes it easier (and a little less gross).
I really went all out with garnishing this turkey. I wanted to capture the celebration of a bountiful harvest. I looked for beautiful fall fruit, such as pomegranates, persimmon, clementines, blood oranges and grapes. I also used sage and fresh bay leaves as greenery. The turkey will still be delicious without all the garnishes, but they do make it a feast for the eyes.
Be sure to check out my other Thanksgiving recipes – my Easy Cranberry Sauce only takes about 10 minutes to make ( I usually make it a day or two ahead of time), my family recipe for Sweet Potato and Apple Casserole is a twist on the classic sweet potato casserole (no marshmallows!), and Cranberry Brie Tarts make an easy appetizer. And I have a delicious Apple Cranberry Stuffing Recipe coming Monday!
Herb Butter Roasted Turkey
Yield 1 Turkey
1 Turkey, thawed
8 tablespoons butter, softened
3 celerey stalks
1 bunch fresh rosemary (1 tablespoon chopped, leave the rest whole)
1 bunch fresh sage (1 tablespoon chopped, leave the rest whole)
1 bunch fresh thyme (1 tablespoon chopped, leave the rest whole)
fresh bay leaves
- Remove turkey from fridge. Remove neck and giblets from cavity, if making pan gravy you can put them in the roasting pan. Set the turkey on a rack in the roasting pan. Pat the turkey dry, salt and pepper the inside of the the turkey cavity. Allow to sit out for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 450 and move rack to lowest position.
- In a small bowl, add 4 tablespoons of butter with 1 tablespoon each chopped rosemary, sage and thyme, along with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Mix until combined.
- Roughly chop the onions, carrots and celery. Place a few pieces of each in the turkey cavity. Tuck the remaining rosemary, sage and thyme into the turkey cavity as well. Put the remaining celery, onion and carrots in the bottom of the roasting pan.
- Using your hand or a wooden spoon, gently loosen the turkey skin from the meat. Rub the herb butter under the skin all over the turkey breast and thighs. Rub the excess butter all over the outside of the skin (if you don't have any excess butter, use an additional tablespoon of butter to rub all over the outside of the turkey). Liberally season the outside of the turkey with salt and pepper.
- Tuck the wings under the turkey. Use kitchen twine to truss the turkey. Cut a long piece of twine, start at the top of the turkey and over the wings, under the breast and tie the legs together (see my video tutorial HERE).
- Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan. Cut the cheesecloth so that a double layer will fit over the turkey. Soak the cheesecloth in the butter, squeeze out excess. Reserve extra melted butter for basting. Lay the butter soaked cheesecloth over the turkey. If using a programmable meat thermometer, insert into the turkey thigh, being careful not to hit bone. The USDA recommends cooking a turkey to 165 degrees.
- Pour 1 cup of water into the bottom of the roasting pan. Roast turkey in oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, reduce oven to 350 and baste the the turkey over the cheesecloth with remaining melted butter. Roast for another 30 minutes, then baste again. Continue to roast and baste every 30 minutes. In the last 30 minutes of cooking, remove the cheesecloth and baste again (use pan juices when you run out of butter). Turkey should take approximately 15 minutes per pound.
- Allow to rest 20-30 minutes before carving
How to figure out how long your turkey will take to cook: Multiply the number of pounds that your turkey weighs by 15 (minutes). So if you have a 12 pound turkey that would be 12 x 15 = 180 minutes or 3 hours. This is a good guideline to get an idea of how long your turkey will take, but to really know when it is done you should use a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh. The USDA recommends cooking a turkey to 165 degrees.