Roasting a turkey is really an easy process. With a few ingredients, butcher’s twine and a handy cooking thermometer you’ll have the perfect turkey dinner.
For a lot of people the idea of cooking a turkey is intimidating. Just think of it as a big ole chicken. I think one of the biggest fears is how the turkey will look. Who cares? My turkey was photographed for this post and carved and put on a platter before anyone saw it. Carving a turkey is a messy business so I prefer to do that before guests arrive. So no one ever sees what it looks like when it came out of the oven. What matters most is how it tastes!
I had a pastured turkey this year, meaning it was raised on a local farm, running around in the pasture doing natural turkey things. This herb roasted turkey recipe will work for all turkeys.
There are a couple of points to consider if you happen to be using a pastured turkey however. Pastured birds often cook a little faster and are more flavorful. You have the option to brine your pastured bird but it is not necessary. The pastured turkey will be juicy without brining.
The first and most important step is to safely and fully thaw your turkey. This should be done in the refrigerator. Allow 24 hours for every 4 to 5 lbs of turkey.
- 1 Whole Turkey
- 1.5 Sticks Room Temperature Butter
- 2 tbs Fresh Thyme, finely diced
- 2 tbs Fresh Rosemary, finely diced
- Sprigs of Fresh Rosemary, Thyme, & Sage, for the cavity
- 1 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1/3 tsp Black Pepper
- 1/2 tsp Paprika
- 3 to 4 c Turkey Stock
On cooking day, remove the bird from the refrigerator 30 to 45 minutes ahead of time to allow it to come to room temperature. A room temperature turkey will roast more evenly.
Prepare the herb butter rub for the turkey. Add 2 tbs of freshly diced thyme and rosemary to the softened butter and mix to combine. I put my butter out the night before so it’s perfectly soft and room temperature.
Be sure to remove the neck, liver, gizzard (giblets) from the cavity of the bird if there are any.
Use paper towels to thoroughly dry the skin of the turkey.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Insert sprigs of fresh rosemary, thyme and sage (known as the poultry blend) into the cavity of the bird. Feel free to use other aromatics if you like in the cavity along with the herbs such as a cut lemon, onion, carrots, or celery.
Use a piece of butcher’s twine to truss the legs of the turkey to hold them in place while roasting.
With your hand or a small spatula, insert under the skin covering the breast and carefully work to loosen the skin from the breast meat. Work slowly to avoid tearing or puncturing the skin.
Apply some of the herb butter to the breast meat under the skin. Rub the entire outside of the turkey skin with the herb butter.
Season the bird, on top of the herb butter, with salt, pepper and paprika. The paprika helps ensure a nicely browned skin color.
Place the bird into a roasting pan on a roasting rack. Add stock to the bottom of the roasting pan.
Place the bird into the preheated oven and roast on 450 degrees for 30 minutes.
Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees and roast 10 to 15 minutes per pound or until a temperature registers 165 degrees in the thickest part of the thigh meat. My turkey was 16 pounds so it took about 3.5 hours to roast.
I turn the bird every 30 to 45 minutes to ensure even browning. You’ll notice after the first half hour on the higher temperature that the skin is already browning nicely. If you feel the skin is browning too much during roasting, make a foil tent and loosely fit over the breast area.
When the turkey is fully cooked, remove from the oven and cover with foil. Allow the bird to rest at least half an hour before carving.