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Herb-rubbed roast turkey recipe

Herb-rubbed roast turkey recipe

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  • Recipes
  • Ingredients
  • Meat and poultry
  • Poultry
  • Turkey
  • Roast turkey

Rub your turkey with a delicious and aromatic concoction of herbs and spices which will result in a highly flavourful and tender result, ideal for special occasion feasts such as Christmas.

2 people made this

IngredientsServes: 10

  • 1 (7kg) whole turkey
  • 60ml good quality oil
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • For the rub
  • 3 teaspoons garlic granules
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon salt

MethodPrep:15min ›Cook:4hr ›Extra time:12hr chilling › Ready in:16hr15min

  1. Clean turkey, discard giblets and organs then place on a rack in a large roasting tray.
  2. In a small bowl combine oil and sesame oil. Use this to rub all over the turkey, inside and out.
  3. For the rub:

  4. In a small bowl combine the garlic granules, paprika, basil, rosemary, thyme, pepper and salt then mix well. Using a teaspoon carefully sprinkle the rub over the turkey.
  5. Let the turkey rest in the fridge overnight so the flavour seeps into the meat and the salt reacts with the skin of the turkey.
  6. The next day, preheat the oven to 220 C / Gas 7. Remove the turkey from the fridge and bring up to room temperature.
  7. Roast for 1 hours at 220 C / Gas 7 then drop the oven temperature down to 160 C / Gas 2/3 and cook for a further 3 hours, or until the juices run clear and an internal temperature of 85 degrees C has been reached.
  8. Remove the turkey from oven, cover with tin foil, and allow to stand for about 30 minutes before carving.

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Fresh Herb and Salt-Rubbed Roasted Turkey

Scott Phillips

Servings: 8 to 10, with leftovers

A dry brine (an herb and salt rub applied directly to the turkey) creates satiny leg meat and juicy, perfectly seasoned breast meat. Air-drying the turkey on the last day of the 4-day process will make its skin super crisp when roasted. This recipe can be adapted to turkeys of all sizes—use 1/8 oz. of kosher salt per pound.

Recipe Summary

  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon each chopped fresh rosemary, sage, and thyme
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 whole turkey (about 12 pounds), thawed if frozen, rinsed and patted dry, neck reserved (set aside giblets for stuffing, if desired)
  • Cornbread And Sausage Stuffing
  • 4 to 6 large carrots, halved crosswise
  • 2 large onions, cut into 8 wedges
  • 2 stalks celery, halved crosswise

Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in the lowest position. Make herb butter: In a small bowl, mix together 4 tablespoons butter with chopped herbs season generously with salt and pepper.

Prepare and stuff the turkey. Loosen skin: Working from the neck end, slide fingers under skin until you reach the end of the breast, being careful not to tear the skin rub herb butter under the skin. Fill neck cavity: Place turkey breast side down. Fill neck cavity with stuffing avoid packing. Close up by folding skin over and fastening with skewers or trussing needles. Tuck wings: Turn turkey over bend wing tips underneath bird so they stay in place (you may have to break the bones). Loosely fill large cavity with stuffing. Tie legs: Using cotton kitchen twine, tie legs together securely (they will overlap) so bird retains its shape and moisture during cooking.

Cut neck into pieces mix with carrots, onions, celery, and 2 cups water in a large roasting pan. Set roasting rack over vegetables in pan.

Lift turkey onto rack rub with remaining tablespoon butter. Season generously with salt and pepper. Tent turkey loosely with foil. Roast 1 hour, then baste every 30 minutes with pan liquids, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of thigh (avoiding bone) registers 125 degrees, about 3 hours.

Remove foil raise oven heat to 400 degrees. Continue roasting, basting occasionally, until thigh reaches 180 degrees, 45 to 60 minutes more. Tent with foil if bird browns too quickly add more water if pan becomes dry. Transfer turkey to a serving platter cover loosely with foil, and let it rest at least 30 minutes before carving.

Recipe Summary

  • 1 turkey (about 12 pounds), thawed if frozen, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary, plus 3 sprigs
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 8 cloves garlic, finely chopped (3 tablespoons)
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 lemons, poked all over with a fork
  • 1 quart apple cider

Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in lowest position. Remove packet of giblets and neck from cavity. Discard liver. Rinse remaining giblets and neck refrigerate until ready to make broth.

Turn turkey on its back and bend wing tips forward and underneath neck cavity of bird so they stay in place (you may have to break the bones).

In a small bowl, combine parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme, garlic, 4 tablespoons oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Using your fingers, carefully loosen skin of breast and around thighs and rub herb mixture under skin of both.

Season cavity with salt and pepper and loosely fill with lemons and rosemary sprigs. Using cotton kitchen twine, tie legs together so bird retains its shape and moisture during cooking.

Pour cider in bottom of pan. Set roasting rack on top. Lift turkey onto rack, breast side up rub with remaining tablespoon oil season generously with salt and pepper. Tent turkey loosely with foil. Roast 1 hour. Uncover and continue to roast, basting frequently with pan juices, until an instant read thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh (avoiding bone) registers 170 degrees, 2 1/2 to 3 hours more. (Temperature will rise about 10 degrees as turkey rests.) Tent with foil if browning too quickly add water if pan becomes dry. Cover loosely with foil, and let stand 30 minutes before carving. Serve with roasted vegetables.

How To Brine a Turkey

Before we get to rubbing your garlic butter turkey, you need to brine your turkey. There are a million and one recipes for turkey brine, as well as trendy methods like dry brining.

But if you learn about how turkey brine works, you’ll know that the only absolutely critical aspect of a turkey brine is the SALT!

Salt particles are much smaller than anything else you can put into a brine, so they will more readily pass into the meat than any herbs, spices, or broth that you put into your brine. However, you can try this one, or a gluten-free brined turkey (swap the brown sugar with Besti Brown), if you still want other add-ins in your turkey brine.

Why do you need salt in turkey brine?

The reason a brine works – and the reason it’s not the same thing as just soaking in water – is the salt.

Salt performs three important functions in the brining process, all of which play a role in making your garlic herb roasted turkey more juicy:

  1. Salt dissolves the muscle proteins, so they don’t contract as much during cooking (which would squeeze out moisture).
  2. Salt water creates an imbalance between the moisture in the turkey and outside of it, causing the turkey to draw in more water through osmosis.
  3. Salt water seasons the turkey all the way through the inside, instead of just a superficial salt on the outside.

How much salt in turkey brine?

To calculate the amount of salt for a turkey brine, we need to consider the amount of water rather than the size of the turkey itself. This is because all we really care about is the concentration of salt, so that osmosis can take effect.

The right concentration of salt is about 6 percent of the water weight. For each gallon of water, that would be 1.25 cups Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt or 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp of Morton Kosher Salt, Real Salt Kosher Salt, or most brands of sea salt. But, who wants to calculate that, right?

Turkey brine salt chart:

Here is a chart showing how much salt to use:

Typically, kosher salt is recommended, but since I use sea salt so much in my recipes, I also included the equivalent amount of sea salt. It’s actually the same amount needed as some brands of kosher salt.

How long to brine turkey?

There is a sweet spot for how long to brine a turkey, which is generally 8 to 12 hours. If you do less time, the brine won’t have enough time to fully do its thing.

If you keep the turkey in brine for much longer than 12 hours, it will absorb too much salt and you risk it getting too salty.

  • 1 10- to 12-pound turkey
  • ¼ cup fresh herbs, plus 20 whole sprigs, such as thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano and/or marjoram, divided
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • Aromatics, onion, apple, lemon and/or orange, cut into 2-inch pieces (1 1/2 cups)
  • 3 cups water, plus more as needed

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven preheat to 475 degrees F.

Remove giblets and neck from turkey cavities and reserve for making gravy. Place the turkey, breast-side up, on a rack in a large roasting pan pat dry with paper towels. Mix minced herbs, oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub the herb mixture all over the turkey, under the skin and onto the breast meat. Place aromatics and 10 of the herb sprigs in the cavity. Tuck the wing tips under the turkey. Tie the legs together with kitchen string. Add 3 cups water and the remaining 10 herb sprigs to the pan.

Roast the turkey until the skin is golden brown, 45 minutes. Remove from the oven. Cover the breast with a double layer of foil, cutting as necessary to conform to the breast.

Reduce oven temperature to 350° and continue roasting until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh without touching bone registers 165°, 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 hours more. If the pan dries out, tilt the turkey to let juices run out of the cavity into the pan and add 1 cup water.

Transfer the turkey to a serving platter and cover with foil. (If you're making Herbed Pan Gravy, start here.) Let the turkey rest for 20 minutes. Remove string and carve.

Equipment: Large roasting pan, roasting rack, kitchen string, thermometer


One day aheadProcess herbs and garlic in food processor until finely minced.

Rinse turkey inside and out with cold water pat dry with paper towels.

Place turkey in large nonreactive bowl.

Starting at neck cavity, loosen skin from breast and drumsticks by gently inserting fingers between skin and meat.

Sprinkle kosher salt and pepper under and over skin.

Then spread garlic-herb rub under skin and gently press skin to adhere.

Lift wing tips up and over back tuck into turkey.

Refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.

To roastLet turkey stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.

Set oven rack at lowest position and preheat oven to 350°F.

Spread sliced onions on bottom of heavy-bottomed roasting pan and place fitted rack over top.

(Or place the turkey directly on bed of onions.

They will prevent sticking and flavor drippings.)

Brush turkey with grapeseed oil and carefully transfer to rack.

Brush one side of double-folded sheet of aluminum foil with grapeseed oil and tent, greased side down, over turkey breast.

Place turkey in oven so legs face back of oven and bird, breast side up, faces door.

Place wrapped garlic on oven rack.

Remove foil from turkey and turn pan around.

Roast until thermometer inserted in thickest part of thigh registers 170°F and juices run clear when thigh is pierced with fork (see note below), about 1 hour 15 minutes.

Transfer turkey to platter and reserve pan drippings.

Let turkey stand 20 minutes before carving.

Prepare gravy while turkey restsPour drippings into 4-cup glass measure, and skim off fat that rises to surface, reserving 1 tablespoon fat (see tip below).

Add enough broth to drippings to measure 3 cups.

Separate roasted garlic cloves.

Squeeze pulp into small bowl and mash well with fork.

In medium saucepan over medium heat, heat reserved fat.

Add garlic and flour, and cook, whisking constantly, until lightly browned, about 30 seconds.

Gradually whisk in broth mixture.

Bring to boil over high heat, whisking constantly, and remove from heat.

Carve turkey and serve with gravy.

NOTE: To gauge turkey doneness, an instant thermometer should be inserted into the thickest part of the thigh.

Department of Agriculture recommends that this meatiest part be cooked to 180°F.

Other cooking experts believe that the bird can safely be removed from the oven at 170°F, because the internal temperature will rise an additional 10 degrees as the turkey rests.

I (the author), however, follow another school of thought, which asserts that, since bacteria is killed instantly at 160°F, the turkey need only be cooked to 165°F.

At this point the juices should run clear.

To read more about cooking turkeys and food safety, check out our Thanksgiving guide or usda.

To easily separate fat from pan drippings, place zip-top plastic bag inside 4-cup glass measure.

Let drippings cool slightly, so they will not melt bag, pour in, and let stand 10 minutes (fat will rise to top).

  1. Heat oven to 500˚. Rinse turkey and pat dry with paper towels. Season turkey inside and out with salt and pepper and let come to room temperature. Meanwhile, in a 1-qt. saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and add the sage, thyme, paprika, and sugar set herb butter aside.
  2. Transfer turkey to a rack set inside a roasting pan and stuff turkey with carrots, onions, celery, and lemons. Tuck wings behind turkey and tie legs together with kitchen twine. Brush turkey all over with herb butter, reserving some for basting. Pour 2 cups water into roasting pan and roast turkey, brushing once with more of the herb butter, for 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 350˚ and continue roasting, brushing occasionally with herb butter, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into a thigh, without touching the bone, reads 165˚, 2 1 ⁄2–3 hours. Transfer turkey to a cutting board, loosely cover with foil, and let sit for 30 minutes before carving.

Pairing Note The mixed herbs in this dish call for a sauvignon blanc, one with enough richness to stand up to the butter and brown sugar. New Zealand’s 2008 Craggy Range “Te Muna Road Vineyard” ($18) from Martinborough fills the bill. — David Rosengarten

How to Make It

Remove and discard leg truss from turkey. Pull off and discard any lumps of fat. Remove giblets and neck save for Savory Gravy. Rinse turkey inside and out and pat dry.

If stuffing the turkey: Just before roasting, place turkey on work surface breast side down lightly fill neck cavity with dressing. Bring neck skin up to cover opening. With a metal skewer, fasten neck skin to back, threading skewer in and out several times through neck and back skin. Turn turkey over and loosely pack body cavity with dressing. If turkey has tail attached, tuck tail into cavity. If there's enough skin to overlap at opening, thread a metal skewer in and out several times to close. Lightly tie ends of drumsticks loosely together with cotton string to keep them from spreading apart or leave untied to allow heat to reach thigh joints more easily. Place any leftover dressing in a baking dish. When turkey is about 30 minutes from being done, bake extra dressing, covered, in a 325° or 350° oven until hot (at least 150° in center), about 40 minutes for 8 cups.

Rub turkey all over with oil. Rub spice mixture evenly over skin and inside neck and body cavities.

Place turkey, breast up, on a V-shaped rack in a 12- by 17-inch roasting pan.

Roast in a 325° regular or convection oven until a thermometer inserted through thickest part of breast to bone registers 160°, 2 to 3 hours.

Transfer cooked turkey to a platter. If bird was stuffed, insert a thermometer into the center of the dressing. It should read at least 160° to be bacteria safe. Do not allow stuffing to sit in bird. Cut string from legs. Remove skewer closing body cavity. Scoop dressing out into a bowl. Cut through skin at neck cavity, scoop out dressing and add to bowl. If temperature was below 160°, heat dressing in a microwave oven at full power (100%), mixing often to distribute heat evenly until it is 160° throughout. Cover and keep dressing warm. Keep turkey warm and let stand 15 to 30 minutes.

Carve turkey. If thighs are still slightly pink at the joint, put thighs on a microwave-safe plate in a microwave oven at full power (100%) until pink disappears, 1 to 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Chinese Five-Spice Rub: In a small bowl, mix 1 tablespoon ground ginger, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon crushed anise or fennel seed, and 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves. (Or use 2 tablespoons Chinese five-spice blend.) Makes about 2 tablespoons.

Jamaican Jerk Rub: In a small bowl, mix 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger 1 teaspoon each ground allspice, dried thyme, cayenne, and pepper and 1/2 teaspoon onion powder. (Or use 2 tablespoons Jamaican jerk blend.) Makes about 2 tablespoons.

Provençal Rub: In a small bowl, mix 2 teaspoons each crushed dried rosemary and dried thyme and 1 teaspoon each dried rubbed sage and dried lavender (or more sage). (Or use 2 tablespoons provençal herb blend.) Makes about 2 tablespoons.

Red Curry Rub: In a small bowl, mix 2 teaspoons chili powder 1 teaspoon each ground coriander, ground ginger, and cayenne 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin and 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric. (Or use 2 tablespoons red curry powder.) Makes about 2 tablespoons.

Southwest Chili Rub: In a small bowl, mix 1 tablespoon ground ancho or California chili and 1 teaspoon each ground cumin, ground chipotle chili or cayenne, and dried oregano. (Or use chili powder or a Southwest chili blend.) Makes about 2 tablespoons.

Nutritional analysis per 1/4 pound boned cooked turkey with skin, based on percentages of white and dark meat in an average bird nutritional analysis does not include gravy or dressing

Recipe Summary

  • ½ cup salted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 4 thigh, bone removeds Turkey thigh, pre-basted, meat and skin, cooked, roasted
  • 1 pound baby potatoes
  • 2 large onions, roughly chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 drizzle olive oil
  • 1 medium lemon, zested and juiced

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).

Combine room temperature butter with thyme, rosemary, parsley, garlic powder, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Set aside.

Pat turkey thighs dry with a paper towel season with salt and pepper.

Place potatoes, onions, and garlic on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Add turkey thighs and rub herb butter over the meat and under the skin. Top with lemon zest and juice.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Continue to bake, basting turkey with its own juices after 15 minutes, until no longer pink in the centers, about 30 minutes more. An instant-read thermometer inserted near the bone should read 165 degrees F (74 degrees C).