Butter And Herb Roast Turkey

By • October 6, 2011 • 38 Comments



Author Notes: Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday -- I slow-bake an 18-20 pound turkey at 325°F in my huge granite ware pan. The turkey is cooked with the steam that builds up in the pan, and then basted and finished on high heat to crisp and brown the skin. The meat is tender and juicy and very tasty. I don't load the compound butter with lots of garlic and herbs, just enough to flavor the turkey very delicately. The picture is of a chicken made following the recipe. sdebrango

Food52 Review: I've roasted no more than three or four turkeys over the last 10 years; we discovered frying them and were hooked. When I saw this recipe, however, I was intrigued, roast a turkey and not baste it? How could that be? Well, it was amazing! I took the liberty of roasting a 14-pounder, cut the roasting time a bit and used only about 3/4 of the compound butter (which is truly amazing in its self). I struggled to keep from peeking and basting, but followed sdebrango's directions and just cranked up the heat and basted with the compound butter once. What resulted was moist breast meat, succulent dark meat and somewhat crispy skin. This one's a keeper!!! - inpatskitcheninpatskitchen

Serves 10 or more

Compound butter

  • 16 tablespoons salted butter at room temperature
  • 1 crushed garlic clove
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme leaves removed
  • 3 chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  1. Crush garlic with mortar and pestle with a pinch of salt.
  2. Remove the leaves of thyme from the stalk, add thyme and sage and lemon zest and crush it all together.
  3. In small mixing bowl, add the softened butter and garlic and herb mixture mix together.
  4. If you are going to insert the turkey right away, don't refrigerate -- if not, roll in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before you add to the turkey.
  5. WARNING!! If you use a graniteware pan the turkey cooks very quickly. Depending on the size of the bird you should start checking for doneness after a couple of hours. My 19.25 lb turkey was completely done at 3.5 hours. If you use a roasting pan and foil the cooking time is a bit more. My big bird was ready to brown and crisp at 3 hours. All of this depends on individual ovens as temps vary and the size of the bird.

Turkey

  • 1 18-20 pound turkey
  • Compound butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Put turkey on work surface and make sure it's clean and dry. Insert fingers under skin to loosen the skin from the breast meat. Work slowly so you don't tear the skin.
  3. Spread a generous amount of the compound butter under the skin on both sides of the breast. (Reserve a small amount of the compound butter to baste the turkey when you brown the skin.)
  4. Using butchers twine, bind the legs together and place the turkey on a rack in your roasting pan.
  5. Rub the turkey with some olive oil and generously salt and pepper the entire turkey. (I like to do this the night before baking refrigerating overnight, if you do this let sit at room temperature for an hour before placing in the oven). Place lid on pan and put into the oven. No basting required!
  6. After 3 hours, check the internal temperature of your turkey by inserting a thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh. When it has reached an internal temperature of 150°F, remove from the oven, and brush the turkey with the remaining compound butter. Crank up the oven to 450°F. Put back in the oven without the lid and let it roast until the skin is a nice golden brown. The internal temperature should be 160°F when you remove from the oven. Total cooking time for an 18-20 pound turkey is 4-4 1/2 hours approximately. Let turkey rest for at least 30 minutes tented with foil and final temperature should be 165°F-170°F.
  7. Note: If you don't have a roaster with a lid just tent with aluminum foil, making sure its sealed well around the pan.
Jump to Comments (38)

Comments (38) Questions (2)

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9 months ago Gabbie Tanella

I made my first turkey yesterday using this recipe and it came out excellent! I made the 14 pound bird exactly as the recipe says and it took about 4 hours to cook. We all commented how juicy the bird was and how tasty the compound butter was. Thank you for such a wonderful recipe!

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9 months ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I am just thrilled you liked the turkey. I also did a 14 lb this year and it turned out well after about 4 hours. Thank you so much for giving my recipe a try and again I am so happy you like it.

Stringio

9 months ago Virginia Waters

My first turkey was from "The Joy of Cooking," and the recipe was great, easy and juicy. Gravy from the gizzards and dressing not inside the turkey but cooked in a pan for an hour, with lots of pecans. Turkey was wrapped over the breast with a thin cloth which was great. I basted it a few times and the cloth did the rest. If you can find the original JOY use that recipe.

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over 1 year ago sharij

Disaster! We followed the instructions, and after 3 hours the internal temperature of the turkey was 200 degrees! Not only that, but there were 4 cups of turkey juice sitting on the bottom of the granite ware (we made lots of gravy). We dry brined the bird for 3 days before, so maybe the combination was the cause of the disaster, but it's back to the drawing board for us!

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over 1 year ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I am so sorry it was a disaster, I have been using this method for years and never had a problem. It could have been the dry brining, how big was the turkey? I made a 19.25 lb turkey on Thanksgiving, it was done perfectly after 3.5 hours. I have to say I always used a regular roasting pan before this and had to get used to how quickly the turkey cooked in the graniteware. Again, I am very sorry it didn't work out for you. Yes, there are a ton of pan juices in the bottom of the pan always when I roast a turkey, I look at that as a plus because I have gravy that covers all the leftovers for days after the big day. I just make fresh gravy almost daily.

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over 1 year ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Your comment prompts me to put a warning on the recipe regarding using a graniteware pan and the cooking time. Thank you for letting me know and again I am so sorry your turkey was a disaster.

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almost 2 years ago TheWimpyVegetarian

Congrats on the CP!!! I'm not a huge turkey eater, but I love the simplicity of your technique. I would bet that cooking it covered keeps it more moist?? And your compound butter looks like a great one to always have around in the freezer!

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almost 2 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Thank you very much, finding a way to make turkey easy on a very busy cooking day was certainly my goal, that along with the search for a flavorful bird. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and thank you again.

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almost 2 years ago karen capehart

not regarding cooking, just that your recipes are becoming increasingly difficult to print. Many of ingredients are in lighter print and come out almost indistinguishable. What's going on? HAVE REALLY ENJOYED YOUR SIGHT OTHERWISE.

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almost 2 years ago EmilyC

Many congrats on the CP, sdebrango! I SO want to try this method with a turkey, but in the meantime, I may make the full amount of compound butter and use it on several roast chickens. Yum! Great recipe!

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almost 2 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Thanks so much Emily, I can't believe it's almost Thanksgiving I am making a couple of batches of the butter myself it's delicious on chicken also.

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almost 2 years ago Kukla

Congratulations on the CP Suzanne!! I love the low and slow and your compound butter has all my favorite flavors.

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almost 2 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Thank you so much Kukla, I am so thrilled. Yes the slow cook and the compound butter are so delicious and the turkey itself comes out juicy and very flavorful.

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almost 2 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Congrats on the CP! I've never done a turkey this way. Your recipe sounds so delicious! ;o)

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almost 2 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Thanks so much, it's the only way I ever make a turkey, it cooks in almost half the time, is tender and juicy.

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almost 2 years ago Madhuja

Oh, yum! What a simple but delicious recipe!

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almost 2 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Thank you so much, I love simple!!

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almost 2 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Yum, I love compound butter.

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almost 2 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Oh gee, just saw this drbabs, thank you. Me too!!

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almost 2 years ago inpatskitchen

Oh I loved this then and still love it and have made it a few times during the course of the year. The compound butter is amazing!

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almost 2 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Thanks so much Pat! I make this all year but using chicken, or a turkey breast.

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almost 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Congrats, sdebrango! I'll be spatchcocking my bird again this year, because we always take a long hike about an hour away on T-Day, so my oven time is severely limited (if we want to eat before 7 PM), but this year I am definitely going to make this compound butter to use under the turkey's skin. I know it's going to be perfectly delicious!! ;o)

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almost 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Thank you so much, I love spatchcocking the bird and how wonderful that you take a long hike on Thanksgiving. The compound butter really makes the turkey flavorful as well as very moist. Thank you again!

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almost 3 years ago inpatskitchen

Just a note to let you know we thought the turkey was wonderful!!! I'd love to post a link to this on my little blog with your permission..

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almost 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Yes absolutely, thank you so much and I am so happy it turned out well.

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almost 3 years ago inpatskitchen

Thank YOU so much!

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almost 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Pat you make me blush, thank you so much for the shout out on your wonderful website. I am honored!

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almost 3 years ago drbabs

Barbara is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I didn't notice till now that you had posted a turkey recipe--sounds great! I love using compound butters--they add so much to a dish.

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almost 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Thank you, I make turkey once a year on Thanksgiving and after many turkey disasters this recipe works well for me and I agree about compound butter they are so good for many purposes. Thank you again.

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almost 3 years ago WileyP

What a simple yet logical recipe, sdebrango, and I love the use of the compound butter. Why in the world have I been goin to so much work in roasting a turkey when it can be done so easily?!

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almost 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Thanks WileyP, after many years of turkey mishaps this recipe has made my life on Thanksgiving so much easier.

Buddhacat

almost 3 years ago SKK

Originally I planned on nada, no, none turkey this year. You got me sdb! Your recipe has me now seriously reconsidering. Love the idea of the granite ware roaster.

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almost 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Thank you SKK, I swear by my granite ware never had a turkey disaster since I got it.

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almost 3 years ago inpatskitchen

I really like this! We fry 2 turkeys on Thanksgiving Day and 3 or 4 the next day to freeze, but occasionally I do roast one....I'm saving this..Thanks for sharing!

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almost 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Thanks Pat, wow I you deep fry turkey's I have always wanted to learn how to do that but am a little scared I will burn something down. Thank you so much this really is an easy method and I always have good results.

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almost 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Thank you Bevi, after many failed turkey's this recipe which I have have used for many years is absolutely foolproof. Thank you so much.

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almost 3 years ago Bevi

This looks like about the easiest and most foolproof roast turkey recipe I have seen. We have put our birds on 2 Weber grills for the past 35 years because our host has a lack of oven space. If I ever roast a turkey in my own house, this will be the one!

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almost 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I highly recommend a granite ware roaster the huge rectangular one I have that holds up to a 25lb turkey is only $40 and they last forever. I have my mothers that she bought when I was a little girl. They are amazing roasting pans.