Herb Roasted Turkey

Updated on November 17, 2017
DixieMockingbird profile image

Jan has been cooking and writing about food for over twenty years and has cooked on multiple television stations, including Food Network.

Herb Roasted Turkey

Simple, no fuss and with perfect results, this herb roasted turkey recipe is a winner. A simple herb butter is all it takes to get crispy skin, and juicy meat.
Simple, no fuss and with perfect results, this herb roasted turkey recipe is a winner. A simple herb butter is all it takes to get crispy skin, and juicy meat.

A Prize Bird

We love turkey. We don't wait until Thanksgiving or Christmas for one. I'll often load up on them during the holidays when they're on sale, and as a result, I've learned a few tricks to make sure they always turn out to be juicy, flavorful, and with gloriously crispy skin.

Using fresh herbs and butter is one of my favorite ways to flavor a turkey, and it's one of the simplest and easiest ways to get the perfect result we want. You can certainly use your favorite herbs, but I love the combination of oregano, thyme, sage, and rosemary.

Paired with roasted garlic, the fresh herbs flavor the turkey from the inside out, and results are spectacular. It's a rather no-fuss way to get the picture perfect bird everyone wants, and with flavor everyone can't wait to eat!

If you don't have roasted garlic—no big deal. Simply substitute with a few minced cloves of fresh garlic and you'll have just as much success.

The best part of this recipe is that it just isn't much work. If you're making this for a holiday, it will help set you free from the kitchen, so you can make other dishes more easily, or actually spend time with your guests.

Also, don't skip the resting. It's more important than many realize. While the turkey roasts, the juices all rush to the exterior of the bird. Letting it rest means the juices will redistribute and the meat will be much more flavorful and tender.

Ingredients

  • 3-4 sprigs fresh oregano
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh sage
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 cup roasted garlic
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 1 12-14 pound turkey

Directions

  1. Place the defrosted turkey onto a rack on top of a baking sheet, or on a rack in a turkey roaster. Make sure you remove the packet with the giblets and the neck from the cavity if needed. Preheat oven to 350F°.
  2. Remove the leaves of the herbs from the stems, and mince the herbs finely. Mash the roasted garlic with a fork into a paste.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, place the butter, salt, pepper, roasted garlic and minced herbs. Beat until the butter is light and fluffy and the herbs and garlic are fully incorporated or about two minutes.
  4. Loosen the skin of the turkey all over, including over the legs, working carefully so as not to tear the skin. Work about half of the butter under the skin, pressing to smooth it out as far as possible. This will serve to baste the turkey from the inside as it roasts, so try to get it under every bit of skin possible.
  5. Place about two tablespoons of the butter into the cavity of the bird, and rub down the outside of the skin with a bit more. The remaining butter will be used to baste the bird as it roasts.
  6. Insert an oven thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. Set the temperature to 165F°. Place bird in the oven.
  7. Check the bird about every half hour, basting with the remaining butter about that often. If the skin over the breast is getting too dark too quickly, use a piece of foil as a tent.
  8. Roast until the temperature reaches 165F°. Remove the turkey from the oven, and allow it to rest for at least 30 minutes. That's all there is to it - it's ready to carve and serve!

Start with Fresh Herbs

Fresh herbs bring incredible flavor to the party. Use 3-4 sprigs each of oregano, thyme, rosemary and sage. Mince them finely for the herb butter.
Fresh herbs bring incredible flavor to the party. Use 3-4 sprigs each of oregano, thyme, rosemary and sage. Mince them finely for the herb butter.

Mash the Roasted Garlic

To ensure you get a nice, even distribution of the gorgeous nutty flavor of the roasted garlic, mash it into paste with the tines of a fork. You can use fresh if you'd like, just finely minced 3-4 cloves very finely.
To ensure you get a nice, even distribution of the gorgeous nutty flavor of the roasted garlic, mash it into paste with the tines of a fork. You can use fresh if you'd like, just finely minced 3-4 cloves very finely.

Make the Herb Butter

Nothing could be simpler than making herb butter. Just throw everything in a bowl and whip it all together.
Nothing could be simpler than making herb butter. Just throw everything in a bowl and whip it all together.

Loosen the Turkey Skin

Loosen the skin of the turkey. Try to get as far down the turkey as possible, and over the tops of the legs. This lets the herb butter reach every last bit - and that's where the gorgeous flavor comes from.
Loosen the skin of the turkey. Try to get as far down the turkey as possible, and over the tops of the legs. This lets the herb butter reach every last bit - and that's where the gorgeous flavor comes from.

Work the Herb Butter Under the Skin

Work the butter under as much of the skin as possible. It helps to press on the top of the skin to spread it out.
Work the butter under as much of the skin as possible. It helps to press on the top of the skin to spread it out.

Rub Down the Outside of the Turkey

Ready for the Oven! Rub some of the herb butter over the exterior of the turkey. This helps get the skin crispy and beautifully golden brown.
Ready for the Oven! Rub some of the herb butter over the exterior of the turkey. This helps get the skin crispy and beautifully golden brown.

Insert a Meat Thermometer Into the Thigh

Place the thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, behind the leg. Set the temperature for 165F. This ensures the thigh will be perfectly cooked without over cooking the breast.
Place the thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, behind the leg. Set the temperature for 165F. This ensures the thigh will be perfectly cooked without over cooking the breast.

After An Hour....

Baste the bird about every half hour with the remaining herb butter. This picture shows what it looks like after an hour of roasting. If the bird looks like it's getting too dark, just tent it loosely with a little foil.
Baste the bird about every half hour with the remaining herb butter. This picture shows what it looks like after an hour of roasting. If the bird looks like it's getting too dark, just tent it loosely with a little foil.

All Done - Ready to Let it Rest

Once the temperature has reached 165F, remove the bird from the oven and allow it to rest for half an hour. Resting is important - so don't rush it. The juices will redistribute throughout the bird, and you'll have a juicier bird.
Once the temperature has reached 165F, remove the bird from the oven and allow it to rest for half an hour. Resting is important - so don't rush it. The juices will redistribute throughout the bird, and you'll have a juicier bird.

Beautiful, Delicious, Juicy Herb Roasted Turkey

Ready to carve and serve! You'll love the results of this easy recipe!
Ready to carve and serve! You'll love the results of this easy recipe!

Need to Defrost a Turkey Quickly?

How to Roast Garlic

Questions & Answers

    © 2017 Jan Charles

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      • DixieMockingbird profile image
        Author

        Jan Charles 5 months ago from East Tennessee

        That's perfect Don! If you have an entire bush - have you ever tried using fresh rosemary as skewers for the grill?

      • Don Bobbitt profile image

        Don Bobbitt 5 months ago from Ruskin Florida

        This is the way I do it every year. And, seeing as we have a Rosemary bush growing on the side of our house, some of it seems to creep into my mixture. Have a great Holiday! DON

      • DixieMockingbird profile image
        Author

        Jan Charles 5 months ago from East Tennessee

        Aww - thank you! Happy Holidays to you and yours as well!

      • Carb Diva profile image

        Linda Lum 5 months ago from Washington State, USA

        I can almost smell the wonderful aromas coming out of your kitchen. This looks so good; it's only 7am and you are making me hungry for a drumstick right now.

        LOL we used to have a little girl kitty who would sit in front of the oven watching the turkey roast. She is probably in front of your oven in spirit as I write this.

        I hope you have a wonderful holiday. Your family is lucky to have such a good cook!

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