Classic Herb-Roasted Turkey

Give simple roasted turkey amazing flavor with a tasty herb butter. Get juicy results every time by roasting the bird breast-side down when you start cooking it.

Prep Time:  30 minutes (to make herb butter and prep turkey)
Cook Time: 2 hours (largely unattended)
Yield: 12 servings (with leftovers)

Ingredients

Herb Butter

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup minced onion
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 3 TB minced fresh thyme
  • 3 TB minced fresh sage
  • 2 TB minced fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

Whole Roast Turkey

  • 14–16 pound turkey (preferably fresh)
  • 2 large onions, peeled and quartered
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 2 TB kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoons black pepper
  • 4 TB melted butter, for basting

Instructions

Herb Butter

Melt 2 TB butter in a small saucepan. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, for 5–10 minutes or until extremely soft. Add wine and cook until nearly evaporated.

Remove from heat, stir in herbs and salt and let cool. Combine mixture with remaining butter. Herb butter may be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in freezer for up to 3 months. If made ahead, bring herb butter to room temperature before preparing turkey for roasting. 

Whole Roast Turkey

Preheat oven to 325º F. Place a V-rack in a large heavy roasting pan. Remove giblets and neck from turkey and discard (or reserve in refrigerator for another use). Rinse turkey and pat dry.

Carefully work your fingers between skin and breast meat to loosen. Work your way around and Under skin over legs and thighs as well. Spread softened herb butter evenly under skin over breast, thigh and leg meat. Massage the outside of turkey to evenly spread herb butter under skin.

Place onions, lemon and any remaining herb butter in the cavity of the turkey. Tie legs together tightly with cooking twine for a neater presentation. Fold wings back and tuck the tips under the neck area. Place turkey breast-side down on V-rack and season bottom of turkey with 2 teaspoons salt and1/8 teaspoon pepper. Place in oven (with legs pointing to the back of the oven where it’s hotter, if possible) and roast for 1 hour undisturbed.

Remove pan from oven and use turkey lifters, two silicone hot mitts or wadded towels to carefully flip turkey to breast-side up. Baste turkey evenly with melted butter, season with remaining salt and pepper and roast for 1 hour.

Remove from oven (close the oven door to keep heat in), baste turkey with additional butter and continue to roast for approximately 30 minutes more. If the breast skin begins to over brown at any point, lightly tent the turkey with foil. Check the temperature with an instant-read thermometer in the thickest part of both thighs. The turkey is done when the thermometer reads 170–175º F and the juices run clear when the thermometer is removed.

Remove the turkey from the oven. Use turkey lifters, silicone oven mitts or wads of paper towel to tilt the turkey so juices run from the cavity into the roasting pan to use as part of pan drippings for my So Simple Turkey Gravy. Cut twine from legs, remove onion and lemon and discard. Transfer turkey to a carving board (or serving platter) and tent with foil. Let rest for at least 30 minutes before carving.