Smothered in sage-infused garlic butter, this Thanksgiving Turkey is golden-crisp on the outside, succulent and tender in the middle. It’s the ultimate holiday centerpiece.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Family and friends gathering, sharing stories of what they’re grateful for… and don’t even get me started on the FOOD! Some of my go-to’s are Cornbread Dressing (aka stuffing), Fully Loaded Mashed Potatoes and this Leftover Turkey Sandwich inspired by Ross Gellar. Gimme them all!
HOW TO PREP A THANKSGIVING TURKEY:
THAW YOUR TURKEY:
If you purchased a frozen turkey, you will need to defrost it completely in the refrigerator before roasting. Allow 24 hours for every 3 – 4 pounds. Plan ahead, as you should plan for 3 – 4 days to defrost (depending on the size of your bird).
BRING TO ROOM TEMP:
In order to roast evenly, you should allow the turkey to come to room temperature before cooking. Once defrosted, pull out the neck and giblets (discard them or use them later for gravy) and set the turkey inside a pan on the counter. To fully get the chill out, this process will take between 1 – 3 hours.
BUTTER + HERBS = GOLDEN DELICIOUSNESS:
I create a garlic butter with sage, thyme and rosemary. This herbal mixture really takes things to the next level. Using your fingers, loosen and lift the skin above the breast and smear a few tablespoons underneath. Slightly melt the remaining butter and then smother the exterior breast, legs and skin. The end results are so incredibly delicious.
OTHER TIPS AND TRICKS YOU’LL FIND HELPFUL:
DO BRINE THE BIRD, IF DESIRED: I’ve got a recipe + directions on this blog post! This step isn’t necessary, but totally welcome if you prefer a brined turkey.
DON’T WASH THE TURKEY: All this does is contaminate your sink and create more items for your to clean up. Simply remove the turkey from its packaging, dry it off with paper towels and then prep it for the oven.
DO TEST THE TURKEY WITH A THERMOMETER: To safely enjoy your turkey, you need to make sure the internal temperature has reached 165 degrees F. I typically pull it from the oven once it’s reached 160 degrees F and then tent it with foil. Don’t worry, the turkey will continue to cook as it rests.
DON’T COOK STUFFING INSIDE THE BIRD: The turkey will be overcooked by the time the stuffing reaches a safe temperature to consume. Instead, cook your stuffing in a casserole dish and stuff the bird with herbs, onion, apple and various citrus.
DO ALLOW THE TURKEY TO REST: After removing from the oven, it’s important to let the turkey rest. Simply tent with foil and set it aside. This ensures that the turkey is juicy and ready for carving.
DON’T USE DRIED, ALWAYS OPT FOR FRESH HERBS: Wake up your holiday recipes with the aromatic flavor of living organic herbs from That’s Tasty. Simply trim what is needed and keep the rest in a nicely lit area in your kitchen. When properly cared for, they last for weeks! Their herbs are a quick and healthy way to add incredible flavor to your favorite dishes.
HOW LONG TO COOK A TURKEY:
The cooking times will vary, depending on a few factors. A whole turkey needs about 15 minutes per pound, so plan accordingly.
AVERAGE COOK TIMES:
- 10 pound: approximately 2 hours, 30 minutes
- 12 pound: approximately 3 hours
- 14 pound: approximately 3 hours, 30 minutes
- 16 pound: approximately 4 hours
- 18 pound: approximately 4 hours, 30 minutes
- 20 pound: approximately 5 hours
I usually start checking the temperature of the turkey around 30 minutes before the average cook times. Depending on your oven, these will vary. Always remember to check the turkey with a thermometer to ensure the internal temperature has reached 165 degrees F. You’ll check it at the thickest part, in between the leg and the breast.
OTHER RECIPES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
- 14 lb. Whole Turkey, skin on (fully defrosted)
- 1 Lemon, quartered
- 1 Orange, quartered
- ½ Large Gala Apple, cut into slices
- 1 small White Onion, quartered
- 3 sprigs Fresh Thyme
- 2 sprigs Fresh Rosemary
- 4 tbsp. Salted Butter, softened
- 3 Garlic Cloves, minced
- 10 Sage Leaves, chopped
- 3 sprigs Fresh Thyme
- Salt + Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
- Fresh Herbs (Italian Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme)
- Orange Slices
- Thaw the frozen turkey in your refrigerator until defrosted. You'll need 24 hours for every 5 pounds.
- Remove the thawed turkey from the fridge 1 - 3 hours before roasting, to allow for it to come to room temperature. Timing will vary depending on the size of your turkey.
- Adjust the oven rack to ensure it is in the center. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
- Whip together all ingredients for the garlic herb butter and set aside.
- Unwrap the turkey from its packaging and remove the neck and giblets. They are usually stored in the cavity of the bird. Use for gravy or discard.
- Stuff the cavity with the quartered lemon, orange, apple, onion and herbs.
- Use your fingers to loosen and lift the skin above the breasts and smear a couple tablespoons of the herb butter underneath.
- Tuck the wings underneath the turkey and set the turkey on a roasting rack inside a roasting pan.
- Microwave the remaining herb butter mixture for 30 seconds spread all over the outside of the turkey, legs and wings.
- Roast at 325 degrees F for roughly 15 minutes per pound, or until internal temperature (inserted on middle of thigh and breast) reaches 160 - 165 degrees F.
- Remove the turkey from the oven and tent with foil. Allow the turkey to rest for 25 - 30 minutes before carving.
NOTES ON THIS RECIPE:
- Sage is an awesome herb for roasting. It crisps up and infuses into the meat. I highly recommend it for this recipe!
- If you prefer an extra browned exterior, feel free to broil the turkey at the end for a few minutes.
- Other side dishes you might enjoy include my Sweet ‘n Salty Roasted Carrots, Brown Sugar Roasted Brussels Sprouts, and my Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes. For dessert, try my Sheet Pan Raspberry Pie!
This post is sponsored by That’s Tasty Pure Organic Flavor. Per the usual, all opinions here are mine alone and I would never recommend an ingredient that I did not immensely enjoy myself. Thank you for supporting the brands that support SliceOfJess.com!
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