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 to keep those important juices circulating 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.
The turkey will need 2-3 days to completely defrost depending on the size of your bird (about 5 hours of defrosting time per pound of turkey).
It can take up to three hours the day of roasting 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.
(A quicker method for defrosting is to submerge the turkey in cold water, changing the water occasionally to keep it cool.)
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.
- Slather it once more during the cooking process — after rotating the turkey onto its back. This creates an incredible golden skin.
- Place turkey, breast-side down, over garlic, lemon and herbs. The aromatics will continuously cook through the meat — from the inside and outside.
- 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, covered with foil at 400°F (200°C) for two hours. (For a turkey over 15 pounds, you will need four hours.)
Uncover, baste with pan juices and continue roasting for about 30 minutes until golden browned.
Turn turkey over to be breast-side up and slather with remaining butter.
Reduce heat to 300°F (150°C) and continue roasting while basting every 15 minutes, until cooked through. Depending on size, it will take anywhere from half an hour to an hour. For an extra large turkey, you may need an additional hour. I recommend using a meat thermometer to read the internal temperature and make your life easier!
For extra crispy skin, broil for a further 10-15 minutes, keeping your eye on it so it doesn’t burn.
HOW LONG TO COOK A TURKEY
Cooking time will vary depending on three things:
- Turkey size.
- Temperature before cooking.
- Your oven.
Generally, turkey needs to cook 15-18 minutes per pound. Insert your meat thermometer into the deepest or thickest part of the meat you are wanting to read, about half an hour before the turkey is done.
Thighs should read 165°F (74°C) and breast should read 160°F (71°C).
If you don’t have a meat thermometer, pierce the breast meat with a knife. The turkey juices should run clear, not pink.
(Note that the turkey will continue cooking once it’s been taken out of the oven from the heat inside the bird.)
Continue roasting until your thermometer reads 165°F (74°) for breast and 170°F (77°C) for dark meat.
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?
Looking for more Turkey RECIPES? Try these!
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 400°F (200°C). 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 remaining butter. Rub butter all over the turkey and under the skin. Season generously all over with salt and pepper. Place turkey on top of the garlic and herbs in the pan. Drizzle with the remaining oil.
- Cover and roast 2 hours for a small turkey under 10 pounds (5 kg), 3 hours for a 10-14 pound turkey (5-7 kg), or 4 hours for large turkey over 14 pounds (7 kg plus).
- Uncover, baste with pan juices and continue roasting for 20 - 30 minutes until the skin is golden browned.
- Turn turkey over to be breast-side up. Using the reserved herb butter, use a spoon to spread it over the top of your turkey for extra flavour (the turkey will be hot and the butter will melt nicely over the skin). Pour any remaining juices over your turkey.
- Reduce heat to 300°F (150°C) and continue roasting while basting every 15 minutes, until completely cooked through (*see notes).
- For extra crispy skin, broil for a further 10-15 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 15-30 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.
12-16 pound (6-8 kg) turkey for 10-12 people
16-18 pound (8-9 kg) turkey for 14-16 people
18-22 pound (9-11 kg) turkey for 20-22 people