Herb Butter Turkey Recipe- with just a handful of ingredients you will have a delicious, moist, and flavorful turkey! Perfectly cooked and extra tasty!
With the holidays right around the corner it is time to think about cooking the turkey. Turkeys always seem intimidating but with my help tips and this tasty recipe you won’t think that any more.
If you just think of cooking a turkey as cooking a large chicken you will have nothing to worry about!
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A long-standing tradition for Thanksgiving is the Turkey. Another long-standing tradition is retelling all the turkey fails from over the years.
Whether it was burned, a still, undercooked, dry, too salty….the list could go on. We have all heard or experienced first hand the difficulties with turkeys.
Let me know your turkey stories in the comments below! We could all stand to hear we aren’t alone 😊.
I remember one year my parents brined a turkey but didn’t rinse the brine off and so it was soooooo salty. No one enjoyed it except my very pregnant sister who thought it was the best thing she had ever had.
Anyways, I want to share a simple and tasty recipe for an oven baked turkey that you won’t have to worry about.
Check out these tasty holiday side dishes:
Ingredients and Equipment you will need:
- For the Herb Butter: Butter, Garlic, Rosemary Seasoning, Thyme Seasoning, Sage Seasoning, Salt, and Pepper
- For the Turkey: Turkey, Onion, Lemon ,Rosemary Seasoning, Thyme Seasoning, Sage Seasoning, Salt, and Pepper
- For the Roasting Pan: Onion, Celery, Carrots
- Roasting Pan
- Roasting Rack- optional
- Thermometer- either an instant read or a probe.
- Sharp knives for carving
- Platter for serving- here is one similar to mine
What size turkey should you buy?
Typically, people suggest 1 lb of turkey for every person or 1 ½ lbs. per person if you want leftovers, and who doesn’t want leftovers!
- For 8 people you should get a 10-12 lb turkey.
- For 12 people you should get a 14-18lb turkey.
If you have a large group of people, it might be easier to get two smaller turkeys and bake t hose than one gigantic turkey.
How long does it take to thaw a turkey?
Making sure you take the turkey out of the freezer with ample time to thaw is important.
You should thaw the turkey in the refrigerator.
Allow at least 1 day for every 4 lbs. However, I have experienced when defrosting a large turkey (16lbs) that it took closer to 6 days. So, I would suggest to start defrosting your turkey 1-2 days sooner than you think.
How soon after thawing should you use turkey?
Cook the turkey within 4 days after thawing.
Do you need to rinse the turkey?
Nope. Studies have shown rinsing just spreads bacteria from the bird to other kitchen surfaces more easily. Rinse won’t help with the cooking of the bird.
Any bacteria on the turkey will get killed when you bake it.
Now that we have a thawed turkey let’s get to cooking it!
How to make herb butter?
- Allow butter to come to room temp or microwave at 30% power at 15 second intervals until soft and malleable but not melted.
- Mix in the minced garlic, rosemary, thyme, sage, salt, and pepper.
How to prep your turkey for baking?
- Remove the neck and giblets from the turkey. These will be located in the body cavity or neck cavity. Not all turkeys come with them so don’t be worried if yours aren’t there.
You can set those pieces aside for use in another recipe or just throw them away.
- Remove the trussing from the legs of the turkey. This is the tie or plastic piece that keeps the legs together during cooking.
Even though it makes the turkey look nice it actually prevents air flow and can lead to food safety issues.
- Pat the turkey dry with a paper towel. This helps the skin to crisp up nicely during baking.
- Combine the rosemary, thyme, sage, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Then take the mixture and rub it inside the cavity of the turkey.
- Then quarter the onion and lemon and stick those inside the cavity.
- Now, gently separate the skin from the breast muscle. It’s easy to peel it back and then work your fingers in-between the two to pull them apart.
- Take ⅓ of the herb butter and rub it in between the skin and muscle. Then rub the remaining butter over the entire outside of the turkey. You don’t need to worry about getting the bottom.
- Coarsely chop your other onion, celery, and carrots and place in a roasting pan. If you have a roasting rack, you can place that over the veggies and then place the turkey on that, but if you don’t have a roasting rack, you can simply place the turkey on top of the veggies.
- Tuck the wings under the turkey as best as possible (this prevents burning of the tips).
- Now it’s time to bake!
How long to bake a turkey?
- The rule of thumb for baking a turkey is 15 minutes per pound of turkey.
So, for example and 8lb turkey will need at least 2hrs to bake, a 12bl turkey at least 3 hours, and a 16lb turkey 4 hours.
- You will want to pull the turkey out of the oven when the breast reaches 160°F. The turkey will continue cooking out of the oven and will raise to the final and correct temperature of 165°F.
I recommend checking the turkey when it is ¾ of way done baking. If it’s getting too dark on top just place some foil over it.
How do you know your turkey is done?
The turkey breast should read 165°F and the thigh area (dark meat) should reach 175°F BUT you should pull the bird out of the oven when the breast is reading 160°F because it will continue cooking and raising in temperature and you won’t end up overcooking the meat.
The thigh meat’s connectivity tissue breaks down at 175°F making it nice and easy to eat.
Let it rest!
Allow the turkey to rest for 30 minutes then start carving away! This allows the turkey to continue to cook and get to the right temperature and it helps to keep the turkey meat juicy.
Frequently Asked Turkey Questions
Should I put butter under the skin of my turkey?
Yes. Putting butter under the skin helps add moisture and flavor to the meat.
How do you put butter under the skin of a turkey?
Just separate the skin from the breast, creating a pocket by gently pulling the skin up and using your fingers to separate it from the muscle. Then rub the butter in between.
Should I cover my turkey with aluminum foil?
¾ths of the way through baking your turkey check to see how it looks. If the skin is getting a little dark then put foil over it. Otherwise leave foil off so the skin will crisp nicely.
What to use leftover turkey for?
I highly recommend using it for my leftover turkey enchiladas, turkey tacos, and hot open faced turkey sandwiches.
Holiday Menu Tips
Holiday Menu Tips- when to make everything!
Trying to get all the dishes made during the Holidays can be a bit hectic. However, planning out what you will make, what ingredients you need, and when everything should be in the oven or on the stove helps a lot.
If you can make some dishes things ahead of time that is even better. Here are a few of my favorite holiday recipes that can be made a day or two or three in advance and either reheated or just set out on the table when ready to eat!
- Homemade Gravy without Drippings or Peppered Gravy- made the day before
- Make Ahead Mashed Potatoes- make up to three days before
- Deviled Eggs- make 1-2 days before (but it’s hard to not snack on them!)
- Green Bean Casserole- prepare the day before but don’t bake until the day of
- Sweet Potato Pudding- prepare the day before but don’t bake until the day of
- Cranberry Sauce or Cranberry Relish- make 1-2 days before
- Any pie or other dessert should be made a day or two before to allow them to cool/set. (I recommend my pumpkin, chocolate pumpkin, pecan, sweet potato, or french silk pies!)
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Watch how to make this recipe!
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Herb Butter Turkey Recipe
- 1 cup butter softened
- 3 tbs garlic minced
- 1 ½ tbs rosemary
- 1 ½ tbs thyme
- ½ teaspoon sage
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 Turkey 12-20 lbs*
- 1 onion
- 1 lemon
- 2 tbs rosemary
- 2 tbs thyme
- 2 tbs sage
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1 teaspoon Pepper
Roasting Pan Veggies
- 1 onion chopped
- 4 celery ribs chopped
- 4 carrots chopped
- In a medium sized bowl combine softened butter, garlic, rosemary, thyme, sage, salt, and pepper. Set aside. (1 cup butter, 3 tbs minced garlic, 1 ½ tbs rosemary, 1 ½ tbs thyme, ½ teaspoon sage, 1 ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper)
- Allow turkey to come to room temperature for an hour before baking.
- Preheat oven to 325°F
- Combine the rosemary, thyme, sage, salt, and pepper in a medium size bowl.
- Peel and cut your onion into quarters. Quarter your lemon as well.
- Remove turkey from packaging. Remove the neck and giblets, which if they are included with your turkey, will be located in the body cavity and stuffed in the next cavity. Sometimes skin will be covering the neck cavity and you just need to pull that out and the giblets will be in there.
- Pat the outside of the turkey dry and remove the trussing around the legs (usually a bit of plastic).
- Place all the seasoning mixture inside the turkey cavity, then place your quartered onion and lemon inside the cavity as well. I like to just scoop up handfuls of the mixture and then stick my hand into the cavity and spread the mixture around.
- Gently separate the skin from the breast by lifting up on the skin and then pushing your hand in between the skin and muscle.
- Rub about ⅓ of the herb butter under the skin.
- Rub the remaining butter over the outside of the turkey. Making sure to get the drumsticks and wings.
- Coarsely chop your onion, celery, and carrots and place them in your roasting pan.
- Place your turkey on top of the veggies OR on top of a roasting rack that is placed over the veggies. Tuck the wings under the body if you can (to prevent burning).
- Bake in preheated oven until the internal temperature reaches 160°F. You will want to cook the turkey for 15 minutes per pound of weight. Check the turkey frequently once it’s ¾ done baking. If the top is browning too much, cover it with aluminum foil. Stick the thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh, making sure you don’t hit any bone or go through to the cavity.
- Once the temperature reaches 160°F remove from oven and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes. It will continue to rise in temperature until it reaches 165°F, at which point it is safe to consume. Allow turkey to rest at least 30 minutes.
- Carve and enjoy!
- Rough Cooking Temperatures: 8lb turkey will need at least 2 hrs to bake, a 12bl turkey at least 3 hours, and a 16lb turkey 4 hours.
- Use turkey drippings to make my easy gravy or peppered gravy (just use in place or in addition to broth).
- Need a thermometer? Here is the one I love to use.
- Nutrition info and serving size is based off a 16 lb turkey at 3 oz per serving
Would you use salted or unsalted butter for the herb butter?
I used unsalted. If you use salted just omit the salt from the ingredients for the herb butter. 🙂
We're going to try this next week but was wondering if the herb measurements are for dried or fresh herbs, or are you using a mix of both?
I used dried herbs. If you use fresh I recommend using 2x the quantity. So for the herb butter 3 tbs rosemary, 3 tbs thyme, 1 tsp sage and then add more if you think it needs it.