If you’re hosting Thanksgiving, this year, you’ve got to check out this classic Herb Roasted Turkey recipe! It’s perfectly flavorful, juicy, and makes the best leftovers!
This easy Herb Roasted Turkey recipe is perfect for Thanksgiving! Check out all of my tips on the best herbs for cooking turkey.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and I have a whole slew of Thanksgiving recipes for you! Starting with the star of the day, of course: the turkey!
First up, let’s talk about size. You should factor in about 1 lb per person, or 2 lbs per person if you’d like to send everyone home with leftovers. I made a 15 pound turkey for 6 people and it was a good size with plenty for leftovers. This is also somewhat dependent on your side dish situation as well. Thanksgiving is one of the only dinners in the year where the sides MIGHT be more important than the main protein. If you have a ton of sides, you have a little more wiggle room on your turkey size.
Also, my holidays are now creeping towards 25 people. The max size turkey that I do is about 28 pounds. The larger ones 1. take longer to cook; 2. are significantly harder to wrangle; 3. don’t cook as evenly and 4. can create an oven size problem. If you’re having a ton of people, either do two smaller turkeys simultaneously, or a large turkey and another turkey breast, or add another main protein (like my Brown Sugar Glazed Ham), or up your sides.
Next, let’s talk about thawing. Give yourself plenty of time to let it defrost if you buy a frozen one. Mine took a good 3 days to thaw in the fridge. If you’re brining (we’ll talk about that later, and YOU SHOULD), that will mean you need to be thawed by Wednesday evening. You CAN let your turkey finish thawing in your brine, but its not the best practice.
Speaking of frozen turkeys, I have done the “order a heritage fresh turkey from the butcher” thing. It was good, but not that much better than a store-brand frozen turkey. I’m sure that’s such an anti-foodie thing to say, but going to the store and picking one up majorly beats fighting a massive crowd at a butcher a day or two before the holiday, not to mention it was about 8x the cost.
You have better things to do than waiting in line. If you brine it and prepare it well, your turkey is going to turn out fantastic- it’s the painter, not paintbrush!
And yes- you can brine a turkey that already has sodium solution injected. It won’t be too salty- promise! The recipe below gives instructions on how to brine. The only thing that will make your turkey and resulting gravy too salty is if you don’t rinse the bird well enough before you prep it for the oven.
After brining, you’re ready to start roasting the turkey. Start by rinsing the turkey and drying well with paper towels. Dry it well, or you’ll have an even harder time spreading the butter on it. Set the turkey aside while you make the herb butter.
Mix together the butter, garlic, rosemary, sage, parsley, thyme and oregano. Rub the mixture all over the outside of turkey, then use your hand to create a pocket between the skin and the meat. Rub the butter under skin, too. It will baste the turkey as its roasting and keep the meat incredibly flavorful and juicy.
Preheat the oven to 325 F. You will have a cooking time of about 15 minutes per pound. When an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast registers 165 degrees, you’ll know it’s done. Do NOT rely on a pop up thermometer. If your turkey has one, pitch it. It’s a great way to overcook your turkey. Instead, get yourself a bluetooth digital thermometer. I use this ThermPro Digital Bluetooth Thermometer and it has always served me well.
To keep your turkey moist, you should baste every 1/2 hour to 45 minutes or so, and cover with foil if it becomes too brown. You want the outside of the turkey to have a nice golden brown color when finished.
Now onto the gravy! If you’ve never made gravy with meat drippings before, it’s super simple! All you need is just a fat separator for kitchen use. Start by pouring all of the pan drippings into a gravy separator.
Pour 1 cup of the turkey fat back into the roasting pan and set over medium heat on the stove. Whisk in the flour and cook for about 2-3 minutes. Slowly whisk in the turkey juices and chicken stock until no lumps remain.
You can let it simmer until it reaches your desired consistency, and there you have it! The perfect Thanksgiving turkey with its own homemade gravy!
Let’s talk gear. Here are a few things that I think are essential for this Herb Roasted Turkey:
- Large Roasting Pan– this is a nice narrow, nonstick pan, allowing for easy cleanup without
taking up too much of your oven space, and allowing the use of a secondary rack.
- Three Tiered Rack– especially if you have a single oven, a borderline necessity.
- Gravy Separator– this thing is a revelation for gravy making!
- Turkey Lifters– you don’t want to drop that bird you put so much work into!
- Stuffing Cage– it makes stuffing a turkey SO much easier.
- Digital Probe Meat Thermometer– let it keep track of the temp and tell you when it’ll
- Electric Knife– this makes carving the turkey a total breeze! You can have it done in half the time.
If you liked this recipe, check out these other great Thanksgiving recipes:
Herb Roasted Turkey with Gravy
- Brine:1 cup kosher salt
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 2 oven roasting bags
- Turkey:15 pound turkey
- 1 cup butter room temperature
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1/3 cup chopped parsley
- 2 tablespoons sage
- 2 tablespoons oregano
- 2 tablespoons thyme
- 1 tablespoon rosemary
- Gravy:1 cup fat from roasted turkey
- 1 cup flour
- 6 cups turkey drippings and
- chicken stock
- 1. In a saucepan, bring the salt, sugar and 4 cups water to a boil. Stir
- until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Remove from heat and set
- aside to room temperature.
- 2. Double layer the oven bags. Place cleaned turkey inside the bag,
- then pour in brine and 12 cups ice water. Place in cooler or
- roasting pan in fridge for 18-24 hours.
- 3. Rinse the turkey well and dry with paper towels. Mix the butter,
- garlic, herbs and salt together. Rub all over outside of turkey, then
- use your hand to create a pocket between the skin and the meat.
- Rub butter under skin.
- 4. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Roast for about 15 minutes per pound,
- or until a meat thermometer reads 165 in the breast or 180 in the
- thigh. Baste every 45 minutes or so, and cover with foil if it
- becomes too brown.
- 5. Remove from the oven and move to a carving board to rest for 15
- minutes while you make gravy.
- 6. Pour all the drippings from the pan into a gravy separator. Pour 1
- cup of turkey fat back into the roasting pan and set over medium
- heat on the stove. Whisk in the flour and cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Slowly whisk in the turkey juices and chicken stock until no lumps
- remain. Simmer until desired thickness is reached.