Garlic Herb Butter Roast Turkey recipe is succulent and tender on the inside with a golden, buttery skin and so much flavour!
How to cook a perfect Roast Turkey without brining this holiday season! Dried out breasts and meat are a thing of the past with our perfect Turkey Recipe. Slathered with a garlic herb butter then oven roasted to get the most perfect, juicy meat and golden brown skin.
Thanksgiving made easy!
One of our most loved and favoured holiday dinner is a juicy roast turkey. With each Thanksgiving through the years, my mother learned the art of roasting turkey and became well-known for her succulent roasts.
Many people brine their turkey for hours, sometimes days, or cook their turkey on roasting racks. We generally don’t do any of that, preferring to roast it belly down right at the beginning to keep those important juices recirculating through the meat.
We create our own ‘roasting rack’ with garlic heads halved horizontally, so some of the flavoured pan juices cook right into the breast from the outside keeping it moist. The white meat roasts away from the heating element, preventing your turkey from drying out.
After the success of our Garlic Herb Butter Roast Chicken, it was high time to share with you all our perfect roast turkey recipe.
HOW TO PREPARE A TURKEY
First, if you have a frozen turkey, you will need defrost it COMPLETELY in the refrigerator with the plastic packaging or bag intact. Place it in a large, deep roasting pan to prevent leaks running through your refrigerator shelves while it defrosts. Allow 24 hours for every 3–4 pounds (or 1.5-2 kg).
In short, your turkey will need 2-3 days to completely defrost depending on the size of your bird.
A quicker method for defrosting is to submerge the turkey in cold water (30 minutes per pound or 500g). Make sure your turkey is in a leak proof bag to submerge it in and change the water occasionally to keep it cool.
It can take up to three hours to get the chill out of the turkey (depending on the size of the bird). Allow it to come close to room temperature before cooking so it roasts evenly.
Once it has defrosted, pull out the neck and giblets (discard them or use them in soups or stews). Rinse the turkey inside and out and pluck out any stray feathers.
Pat dry with paper towel before roasting.
HOW TO COOK A TURKEY
- Use a pan without the roasting rack (the garlic head halves create the ‘rack’).
- Line your pan with parchment paper or foil to avoid the skin from sticking.
- Stuff the cavity with halved garlic heads, lemon slice (optional) and sprigs of herbs to infuse flavour into turkey from the inside with the heat of the oven.
- Tie the legs together and tuck the wings under its back to prevent the legs and wings from spreading out.
- You can wrap the wings tips in foil for the first half of roasting if the heating element in your oven is at the top, or you have a small oven, or to prevent them from charring.
- Before roasting, slather it with garlic herb butter all over AND under the skin to help retain all of the juices. I find melted butter works better to get all of those flavours evenly over the bird.
- Place turkey, breast-side down, over garlic, lemon and herbs. The aromatics will continuously cook through the meat — from the inside and outside.
- Slather it with the garlic herb butter during the cooking process. This creates an incredible golden skin.
- Take your time. Don’t speed up the cooking process while roasting as it may cook unevenly.
- A meat thermometer is crucial to help you know exactly when your turkey is cooked through.
If you love stuffing, cook it separately instead of stuffing it in the cavity to prevent the juices from absorbing into the stuffing instead of the meat. Stuffing generally adds more cooking time to your turkey which can also dry out the meat.
You can also pour any remaining pan juices over the stuffing to get those flavours in that way.
WHAT TEMPERATURE TO COOK A TURKEY
Roast the turkey, breast-side down, uncovered, at 390°F (200°C) for fan forced ovens, or 425°F (220°C for standard ovens for 30 minutes. (For a turkey over 15 pounds, you will need 45 minutes.)
Turn turkey over (breast-side up) with a pair of tongs, a clean tea towel or oven mits (heat-proof gloves) and baste with pan juices.
Slather with half of the butter and season with salt and pepper.
Reduce heat to 325°F |165°C (for standard ovens), or 300°F | 150°C (fan-forced). Roast for a further hour, uncovered.
Brush turkey again with remaining butter and roast for 30 minutes.
Baste again, then continue roasting for a further 30 minutes or so, depending on the size of your bird.
*Tent loosely with foil if starting to brown too fast.*
(For an extra large turkey, you may need to roast your turkey for an additional half hour to an hour.)
Use a meat thermometer inserted between the breast and leg. It should read 165°F | 75°C. This is the USDA recommended internal cooked temperature of turkey.
For extra crispy skin, broil in the last 5-10 minutes of cook time, keeping your eye on it so it doesn’t burn.
HOW LONG TO COOK A TURKEY
Cooking time varies depending on a few things:
- Turkey size. Generally, a turkey needs to cook for about 13-15 minutes per pound.
- Temperature of your turkey before roasting: If your turkey is cold and not close to room temperature when it goes into the oven, it will take longer to roast. If it is at room temp temperature, it may take less time.
- Your oven.
- 10 pound | 5kg: 2 hrs 15 min
- 12 pound | 6 kg: 2 hrs 35-45 minutes
- 14 pound | 7 kg: 3 hrs
- 16 pound | 8 kg: 3 hrs 15-20 min
- 18 pound | 9 kg: 3 hrs 45-55 min
- 20 pound | 10 kg: 4 hrs 15-20 min
Remember: this is just an estimate. Check the temperature early on to ensure you’re not over or under cooking. Insert your meat thermometer between the breast and leg. It should read 165°F | 75°C (breast should read 160°F (70°C). The turkey will continue to cook for several minutes after you remove it from the oven, so it’s best to take it out about 5 minutes before it reaches the suggested temperature.
If you don’t have a meat thermometer, pierce the breast meat with a knife. The turkey juices should run clear, not pink.
ALLOW IT TO REST
Once your turkey is cooked through, transfer it to a marble cutting board or serving plate. Tent with foil to keep it warm, and allow it to rest for 15-30 minutes, depending on the size of the turkey (the bigger it is, the longer it will need to rest).
MAKING TURKEY GRAVY
Nothing beats a classic, good old-fashioned turkey gravy with your Thanksgiving dinner. You can prepare it fresh before setting all the food on the table, OR make it slightly ahead and warm it up when dinner is ready!
Strain pan drippings. Use a metal spatula to scrape any bits of meat stuck to the bottom of the roasting pan.
Melt butter in a small pot.
Add in flour to make a roux.
Slowly pour in your pan drippings. If you don’t have enough, you can top it up with chicken stock.
Season with salt and pepper (only if needed)
Add in Worcestershire sauce, herbs or other seasonings to suit your taste.
We love making our turkey gravy just before we eat, but you can make it ahead. Just warm it up right before dinner, adding a little extra stock if needed.
What sides go with turkey?
Honey Garlic Roasted Carrots
Creamy Mashed Potatoes
Sweet potato Casserole
Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Looking for more Turkey RECIPES? Try these!
Crispy Skin Slow Cooker Turkey
One Pan Juicy Herb Roasted Turkey & Potatoes With Gravy
Crispy Beer Roast Turkey Legs
How To Make Roast Turkey: Watch the Video
Garlic Herb Butter Roast Turkey
- 12 pound (6 kg) whole turkey, skin on (fully defrosted, washed, giblets and neck removed)
- 3 heads garlic cut in half horizontally divided
- 3 slices lemon divided
- 6 sprigs thyme divided
- 6 sprigs rosemary divided
- 1/2 cup olive oil divided
- 4 ounces (125 g) unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 4 teaspoons minced garlic
- Cracked Pepper
- Preheat oven to 425°F | 220°C for standard ovens, or 390°F | 200°C for fan forced. Lower oven shelf to the lowest part of your oven.
- Combine the Herb Butter ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Reserve half of the herb butter in the refrigerator for later.
- Line a large roasting pan with foil or parchment paper. Arrange the 4 halves of garlic cut-side down on the bottom of the pan with 4 sprigs each of thyme and rosemary, half of the olive oil and 1 slice of lemon.
- Thoroughly pat turkey dry with paper towels. Stuff with the remaining heads garlic halves, lemon slice, a squeeze of lemon from remaining slice, herbs and a drizzle of olive oil.
- Melt the butter and rub all over the turkey, including under the skin. Season generously all over with salt and pepper. Place turkey on top of the garlic and herbs in the pan BREAST-SIDE DOWN. Drizzle with the remaining oil.
- Roast uncovered for 30 minutes for a small turkey under 13 pounds (6 1/2 kg), or 45 minutes for a larger turkey over 14 pounds (7 kg plus).
- Turn turkey over (breast-side up) with a pair of tongs, a clean tea towel or oven mits (heat-proof gloves) and baste with pan juices.
- Spread half of the reserved herb butter over the top of your turkey with a spoon or brush (be careful, the turkey will be hot and the butter will melt nicely over the skin). Pour any remaining juices over your turkey.
- Reduce heat to 325°F |165°C (for standard ovens), or 300°F | 150°C (fan-forced). Roast, uncovered, for an hour.
- Slather turkey generously with remaining butter and roast for 30 minutes. Baste again, then continue roasting for a further 30 minutes or so, depending on the size of your bird. *Tent loosely with foil if starting to brown too fast.*(For an extra large turkey, you may need an additional half hour to an hour.)
- For extra crispy skin, broil (or grill) in the last 5-10 minutes, keeping your eye on it so it doesn't burn, until the skin is crispy and golden browned all over.
- Tent turkey with foil and allow it to rest for 20-30 minutes before carving and serving.
- Remove 2 1/2 cups of the liquid from the pan juices (top up with stock if you need too), strain and reserve for your gravy.
Issany Anaya says
JUST WOW! I made my first turkey ever! 13.5 lbs Turkey! I was so proud of how it turned out!! So juicy! so perfect! I spent two weeks reading this recipe making sure it would come out just as good as everyone’s comments lol! IT WAS A SUCCESS. THANK GOD I stumbled upon this recipe!
Brandy Taylor says
Wonderful! I added more lemon and a quartered onion to the cavity. Will skip lining the pan next time, as I could have many the gravy straight in my roasting pan. skin didn’t touch as I used your garlic trick, so happy to learn that one as the rack is always tricky to clean! Great recipe.. .thank you for sharing with us! Beautiful blog!
Karen G. says
This was my first Thanksgiving cooking and my very first turkey and it turned out just PERFECT! I was really nervous that I would mess it up, but this recipe was so easy. I even managed the flip without any disasters. Anytime, I need to roast a turkey this will be my go-to recipe hands down! Thank you so much for sharing.
Jean M Hanner says
Delicious! I added a few sage leaves on the baking dish, the flavor was wonderful, the turkey very juicy! Thanks!
I made this for Thanksgiving today and it turned out great! This is the first time I didn’t use a turkey bag, but totally worth it! YUM!!!! The only thing different I did was use stuffing instead of the filling you had here. But I’m sure that would have been good too.
Melissa Koger says
This was my first year making the turkey and I was nervous!! I followed this recipe almost exactly, except added a ton of halved lemins and limes in the roasting pan. It made the best turkey I’ve ever had! I continued to baste the meat as it was being carved and by the time we served it, the meat was laying in a layer of the juices and it was SO moist and juicy. This will be my go to and I will pass it along to my friends. Thank you!!
S Friend says
A wonderfully tender and flavorful turkey recipe. It provides a strong fragrance to the kitchen but it doesn’t overwhelm the flavor of the turkey… Probably the most juicy turkey I’ve ever made. Thank you!
Happy turkey day! Thank you for the delicious recipe.
T bell says
Used this recipe this year (2020) and it had my house smelling so good. Hopefully it’s as good as it smells. Thanks again
Hello! This is my first year making a turkey, I’ve previously celebrated with friends, whose parents know how to make a turkey…or settled for a rotisserie chicken. I’ve been doing some research, and I was wondering if I could use your recipe timing and everything with spatchcocking a turkey? Thanks in advance!
This recipe is amazing! I made it last year and it was a hit. I am making it again this year butI have a question. Has anyone ever tried to make it in an electric toaster? If so, any tips or would you not recommend?
Margaret Joiner says
Can a turkey breast be used instead of the whole turkey.
Pam Fleming says
Slamming turkey!!! Garlic rules! I am trying to post the photo, but it won’t. Enjoy, Folks! This is a great easy way to cool turkey!
Honestly the best way to do a turkey. I have tried a different recipe every year, from cook bags to coverings and brine. This was fairly effortless and just worked. Breast meat was moist and delicious, dark meat the same. Not much drippings for gravy due to the roasting, but that was quickly remedied.
I would think this great for amateur cooks too as its easy to follow and execute.
I hosted Thanksgiving for the first time this year, first time making a turkey and everyone said it was the best turkey they had ever had. Better than brined, better than deep fried. I agree, it was the best turkey I ever tasted!Juicy and Full of flavor, yum! Saving this recipe for the future! Thank you!
Jeff Barrett says
I’ve hosted for many years with a hit and miss ratio depending on recipe and method. This is my go to from now on, easy to execute and simple. Never had any issues with under seasoning or under cooking. The resting part is the best advice for any bird/roast and gives you time to finish stuffing, yams etc. Don’t tell anyone, but this is Grandpa’s recipe now!
Honestly, I wish I could rate this 10 stars. I did it without the tin foil and cooked it for less time than recommended. Also used lemon as a roasting rack. Turkey was succulent and my mom said it it was probably the best she’s had. Thank you so much. The recipe is bookmarked and will be revisited a hundred times over.
Lucy Sanayoa says
Can it be done with olive Pio ínstese of butter?
My husband received a 24 lb turkey from work for the two of us so we will have lots of turkey dishes in the future ?. It turned out so good. I forgot fresh herbs when shopping, thankfully I have tons of dry spices. Great tasting turkey!!!
Renee B says
We used a large fork and tongs while someone held the pan. No pretty, but did the trick!
Christie Gaines says
Hello and Happy Thanksgiving!!
There’s just the 2 of us for the holiday, so the turkey will be small.
Do you think this would cook well in a cast iron skillet?
It looks so good I have to make it!
Thanks in advance!
This was fantastic. We usually host thanksgiving every year and I was looking to simplify the whole process. We usually stuff the turkey, because I want that flavor, but then I also want to be safe so I pull the stuffing out when the turkey is done, put it in a casserole dish and cook it more. Its April and I scored a deal on a turkey, so I thought I would try some new things before Thanksgiving rolls around. I followed this recipe exactly, including the gravy, and found a recipe for slow cooker dressing. Needless to say, I’m so impressed with the whole meal. I’m writing the review while sitting at the table because I don’t yet have the oompf to do dishes. The combo I had today will make for a great Thanksgiving with more time spent visiting. Thanks!
Is it necessary to wrap the turkey with foil?
Is it possible to demonstrate how to slice the turkey.
I like to wrap it in foil to keep the moisture in the turkey and conceal all the flavors. Without the foil, it tends to lose the tender turkey and makes it dry. In my video I do a little bit of cutting but yes, I will make a video soon on how to cut up a turkey! Thank you so much for following along with me! XO
Joan Choice says
I understand the garlic butter, but what goes into the garlic herb butter?
Btw, love most of your recipes. I like how you break it down.
The Herb Butter is bolded and has the:
Of ALL the Turkey How-to ‘s out there, yours has got to be the most informative out there! Thanks again and I will Be using this on Thanksgiving!
Happy Holidays ?
Julie Brock says
I usually cook a turkey buffe, which is just the breast here in Australia. Do you have any thoughts of how this recipe would work. Thanks
MMM! You are right! That is a great turkey! You would do it all the same as this turkey! For the stuffing I would tuck it under the turkey when cooking. It will taste so good! Let me know how it turns out for you! XO
Tylena Campbell says
I would love to try your garlic herb roast turkey recipe for thanksgiving this year. Would I be able to use a turkey roaster instead of an oven? If so, would you be able to give me some pointers on cooking temps and times using one. Would it be the same as an oven? (I’ve never used a roaster before)
Yes, of course! You would use it like an oven. Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy! XO
Yahajaira Beaton says
Should I season the turkey the day before?