If like me you prefer a simple herb roasted turkey in the oven to a fully fledged stuffed turkey, this recipe is for you. I simply rub it with some herbs butter and stuff it with onions, garlic, herbs, lemons and oranges.
The first time I hosted a Thanksgiving, I had a turkey catastrophe. I was nervous and stressed out and overcooked my turkey.
I roast a lot of turkeys at my house. All year long. So I guess that is another reason why I do not get excited about a Thanksgiving turkey. We eat turkey all the time. I always brine my turkey. I think that it adds moisture and flavor that you cannot get any other way. It is worth the extra step and I encourage you to do it.
When I make a whole turkey, I do not stuff it. I prefer the shorter cooking time, and not worrying about the stuffing temperature. I like to stuff it with onions, garlic, herbs, lemons, and oranges. I make an herb butter that I slather all over the outside of my bird.
Herb Roasted Turkey Ingredients //
- One whole turkey (I prefer a fresh, organic turkey)
For the herb butter:
- 1 stick of room temperature butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 2 Tablespoons fresh herbs (I used sage, rosemary, and thyme)
- zest of one lemon
- kitchen twine
How to Make // Steps
Wash your turkey really well. I rub mine with salt and rinse it really, really well. The water needs to run clear. Dry your bird well.
Make sure you check the turkey’s neck and behind and make sure that you leave nothing left inside. This is what you are looking for. Some people save these “treats” to make gravy. I do not, so I toss them. I know that some grandmothers just died inside by me typing that. I know that mine would.
Mix together the butter, herbs, salt, pepper, and lemon zest.
Quarter a few lemons, oranges, and onions. The amount that you will need depends on how large your bird is. This is a pretty small turkey. I am using a ridiculously large roasting pan with a rack. I love this pan and the rack really makes this job a whole lot easier.
Stuff the inside with the citrus and onions. You want to pack it full, but not so full that air cannot circulate around the inside. I put some herbs in there because it looks pretty. If I can make uncooked poultry look pretty, I will try my hardest.
Criss-cross the turkey’s legs and tie it with some cooking twine.
See this little wing sticking out? We need to tuck that underneath. Just stick it underneath the bum and cover the loose skin around the neck.
Slather the bird with butter. Season with salt and pepper.
Cook the turkey in a preheated 325-degree oven. When the turkey is about 2/3 of the way done, cover it in tin foil. This will help your turkey from getting too brown. The turkey is done when a thermometer inserted into the thigh (not touching the bone) reaches 180 degrees. The juices will run clear. And your house will smell amazing and like Thanksgiving.
Let stand for 15 to 20 minutes before you carve. And there you have the gem of Thanksgiving.
How Long to Roast Your Turkey //
- Roasting a turkey is not hard, but like most things, it works better when you have a plan.
- Decide when you want to serve it and work backward. I made an 11 pound turkey that I wanted to serve at 5 pm. I knew that it would take 3 to 3 1/2 hours to cook and need another 20 minutes or so to rest, so I put it in the oven at 1:30.
- I like Butterball’s calculator for all of my temperatures and times.
What Herbs to Use for a Roasted Turkey?
I like using sage, rosemary, and thyme to season my turkey. I also sometimes add fresh parsley to give it a bitter kick. I have experienced quite a bit and this is the mix I like the most. Other herbs that you can try include marjoram, oregano, and basil.
Can I use Dried Herbs?
You surely can use dried herbs but I think fresh herbs will always give more fragrance to your poultry. If you decide to use dried herbs, you can buy a turkey rub mix in a store, it will have all the above herbs and it does a decent job.
How do you keep a turkey moist when roasting?
There are several things that you can do to help keep a turkey moist when roasting.
- One of the most effective methods is to brine the turkey before cooking it. I have a detailed post explaining how you can brine turkey but in short you need to soak the turkey in a mixture of water and salt for several hours before cooking which helps keep it moist while it cooks.
- You can also baste the turkey periodically while it cooks. Just spoon the juices from the bottom of the roasting pan over the turkey.
- Finally, you can cook the turkey at a lower temperature for a longer period of time (the low and slow method).