Juicy Butter Herb Turkey Recipe (Step by Step Instructions!)

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Juicy Butter Herb Turkey Recipe is a tender, buttery turkey stuffed with slices of citrus, a crisp apple and fresh herbs coated with a buttery herb mixture all baked until golden brown. Thanksgiving turkey just got easier with these step by step instructions!

Thanksgiving turkey is not complete without all the side dishes. Try this Candied Sweet Potatoes, Green Bean Casserole, Glazed Carrots or Creamy Cauliflower Au Gratin . Don’t forget Pumpkin Pie to end the night with!

Juicy butter herb turkey sliced and plated up.

Juicy Butter Herb Turkey

Thanksgiving would not be the same without a beautiful turkey on your dinner table.

This Juicy Butter Herb Turkey will not disappoint and will have everyone raving about your beautiful, golden brown turkey.

Dinner for thanksgiving does take time and needs a lot of care and preparation before baking.

I am here to help make this process a little easier and you will have the perfect turkey to serve have you be the hero this thanksgiving.

For best results it is best to start off with a completely thawed turkey.

Brining your turkey is also a great step to have to ensure a tender and juicy turkey after it is baked.

The turkey is the most important part of Thanksgiving and what everyone is looking forward to.

These step by step instructions will help make your Thanksgiving the best it has ever been!

How to prepare your turkey

It is best to start off with a completely thawed turkey.

This does take 3 to 5 days depending on how frozen and how large your turkey is.

Placing your turkey into the refrigerator in a large pan or baking sheet will help it thaw correctly and safely.

Once your turkey is thawed and your are ready to bake your turkey here are a few steps to prepare your turkey for the oven:

  • Remove your turkey from the refrigerator for about 30 minutes prior to preparing. This will help it to bake more evenly.
  • Pat turkey completely dry, soaking up any excess water with paper towels.
  • In the turkey cavity you will want to remove the neck and giblet bag.
  • With kitchen twine or string, tie the legs together.
  • Take the turkey wings and fold the end of them under your bird. This will prevent them from burning and drying out.

How to brine a turkey

A turkey can still be good without brining it but I do highly recommend brining your turkey if you have the extra time.

My Turkey Brine Recipe is one of a kind and just what you need this Thanksgiving holiday.

Brining your turkey helps keep the meat moist and adds even more flavoring to the meat.

Turkey is a lean type of meat especially the breast meat. Since it does not have a lot of fat it tends to dry out and become tough when being cooked.

If you have time to brine the bird you will see huge results compared to a turkey that is not brined.

You simply create a water bath for your turkey with a salt and water solution and add in herbs and citrus flavors.

Soaking in all the flavors from the inside, out is the perfect way to prepare a moist, rich and flavorful turkey.

All the rich flavors soak into the turkey brine leaving the turkey ready to cook and have a nice crisp outside with a tender and juicy inside.

turkey in a roasting pan taking out the giblet bag and turkey neck.

What you need to cook a butter herb turkey

Turkey is the most important part of a traditional Thanksgiving meal.

Having just the right ingredients will tenderize, add flavor and create a perfectly golden turkey for your Thanksgiving.

Stuffed with a sweet and sour citrus lemon, a crisp apple all mixed with herbs and basted with more butter and herbs only creates perfection.

This butter herb turkey is a tried and true favorite and will be made year after year knowing you are getting the best results each time.

  • Turkey: 12 to 20 pounds

Stuffing ingredients: 

Combine these stuffing ingredients for a sweet, rich and tender turkey. 

  • Onion: adds a bitter but sweet flavoring.
  • Garlic: has a mellow, sweet and spicy taste.
  • Rosemary sprigs: a lemon-pine flavoring with a peppery ending.
  • Apple: crisp and cut into quarters.
  • Lemon: sweet and sour lemon quartered for more flavoring.
  • Thyme sprigs: a powerful herb that is pungent and slightly bitter.

Herb butter:

Baste and coat your turkey with this buttery herbed mixture for a crispier outside and tender inside.

  • Butter: helps make everything tender and rich in flavor.
  • Garlic: minced and added into the mixture.
  • Thyme: fresh and finely chopped.
  • Oregano: finely chopped and adds a strong aromatic taste.
  • Rosemary: fresh and finely chopped.
  • Salt and pepper: just a pinch!

How to cook a butter herb turkey

Cooking the butter herb turkey is just the ending to the perfect turkey that you have created so far.

This is the last and final step before indulging into your golden brown, tender and juicy turkey.

Move your oven racks around so that they turkey can roast evenly. I like to remove all of them and only have the one on the bottom for best results.

Once your turkey reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit using a thermometer, take it out and let it rest for 15 minutes letting it cook and hold in all the juices.

During this time is the best time to make my Turkey Gravy.

In a matter of minutes you will have both turkey gravy and a beautifully cooked turkey ready to enjoy with your friends and family!

  • Prepare turkey: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. To prepare the turkey, remove the neck and giblets. Tuck the wings underneath the turkey.
  • Stuff your turkey: Stuff the turkey with the onion, garlic, rosemary, apple, lemon and thyme. Tie the feet together with twine.
  • Combine the herb butter mixture: In a small bowl combine the butter, garlic, thyme, oregano, rosemary and salt and pepper. Rub evenly over the turkey and underneath the skin.
  • Bake turkey in roasting pan: Place the turkey in a roasting pan and cook for 15 minutes for each pound or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees and the juices run clear. Let the turkey rest for 20 minutes before carving.
  • Make turkey gravy: Save the drippings for the turkey and make this Turkey Gravy if desired.

turkey in a roasting pan being prepared

How long do you cook turkey in the oven

Knowing how long to cook your turkey depends on how big your turkey is.

A fresh and fully thawed turkey needs to cook for 13 to 15 minutes per pound.

The best way to ensure your turkey is cooked properly, it is best to have a meat thermometer to check your turkey in the thickest spot.

Even a leave-in-oven-safe thermometer is a great way to continually check on your turkey as it is cooking without having to open the oven door towards the end.

The USDA recommends you roast your turkey for a 16 to 18 pound for an estimated time of 4 hours long.

Once the thigh reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes.

This will ensure the juices can settle and it is ready to carve.

If you plan to brine your turkey, it is known that your turkey can and may cook a bit quicker compared to a turkey that has not been brined.

Because the stuffing for this turkey on the inside is more for flavoring and creating a tender more flavorful turkey here are stuffings that are best cooked on the outside: Roasted Autumn Vegetable Stuffing or Slow Cooker Sausage Herb Stuffing.

What temperature do you cook turkey in the oven

The ideal temperature to roast turkey at is 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

If your temperature is too high you will be left with a dry turkey breast.

The pop up indicator that comes with a turkey is a great indicator but also is not something you should rely on when roasting your turkey.

It is best to have a leave in thermometer for your turkey to check the temperature on with the oven light on.

Try not to open the oven door often and just let it roast evenly. This will ensure that your oven temperature doesn’t drop while opening and closing your oven door.

You can guarantee a fully cooked, juicy and tender turkey with rich flavors roasting with this herb butter turkey recipe.

Turkey being prepared with lemon, apple and garlic herbs

Make a complete meal with your butter herb turkey

We love to start off with our Butter Herb Turkey and enjoy it with many side dishes that we all love.

If you are feeding a crowd it is always best to have a variety of different side dishes to enjoy.

You can’t go wrong having both Sweet Potatoes and Mashed Potatoes, brown butter carrots or garlic butter carrots plus Green Beans with Bacon and Green Bean Casserole.

Everyone has a preference and it is simple to add them to your thanksgiving dinner table.

Your table will be filled with color, flavor and warmth! All gathered around with friends and family that will love and appreciate your beautifully made spread.

Tips for cooking herb butter turkey

This tried and true herb butter turkey recipe is just what you need this thanksgiving dinner.

It is quick and easy to assemble and roasts your turkey to a crisp, golden brown outside and a tender, juicy meat on the inside.

You can’t go wrong with this simple to make turkey recipe that everyone will be raving about this Thanksgiving.

  • Making sure you have a big enough turkey, make sure you have a pound of turkey per person.
  • Thaw your turkey days ahead of time to make sure it is completely thawed.
  • Brining your turkey is also a great way to ensure a tender and rich turkey.
  • Don’t forget to remove the neck and turkey giblets from inside the turkey.
  • Adding 1 to 2 cups of chicken stock to the bottom of the roasting pan will keep the turkey from drying out. It also helps when making your turkey gravy at the end. If you are planning to brine your turkey then skip this tip.
  • The most important thing to do to ensure your turkey to be moist is not to overcook it.
  • Using an oven safe meat thermometer and measuring your cooking time for your turkey will help cook your turkey properly and safely.
  • If you notice your turkey is getting dark on top but your meat is not cooked through, simply add a piece of foil over top while it finishes roasting.
  • Let your turkey rest, covered, once it is completely cooked for 15 to 20 minutes. This will help lock in your juices.
  • While your turkey is resting, if you like turkey gravy, now is the time to make it.
  • Remove the fruit and vegetables with the herbs on the inside before carving it.

turkey being basted with herb butter mixture on the outside.

How to safely thaw your turkey

This herb butter turkey is best with a fully thawed turkey.

If you are short on time, try this Slow Cooker Turkey Breast.

Planning and preparing your turkey does take time but the end results are worth it.

Taking the time to thaw for a few days ahead of time is simple.

Keep in mind it takes about 24 hours for every 4 pounds of turkey to fully defrost.

  • Refrigerator: thawing in the refrigerator takes about 3 to 5 days. It is best to place it on a baking sheet or a roasting pan to catch the excess water that thaws.
  • Water bath: Completely submerge your turkey, breast side down, in a cold water bath. Changing your water every 20 to 30 minutes until it is thawed.
  • Room temperature: you cannot thaw your turkey at room temperature. This will increase your chances of salmonella and several other bacterial diseases.

juicy butter herb turkey roasted and plated before being sliced

How and when to make turkey gravy

Turkey gravy is best made with the turkey drippings.

The turkey drippings are the leftover fat and small pieces that are leftover on the roasting pan.

Once the turkey is removed you will be able to see and remove the drippings from the pan into another pan for creating a turkey gravy.

After the turkey is roasted, let it rest before carving it open. This will let the juices rest.

During this time it is best to make my famous Turkey Gravy.

It is simple to make and everyone will be loving how this flavor combination of herb butter turkey and turkey gravy pair together!

Carving the herb butter turkey

Looking at the turkey and knowing where to carve the turkey at is sometimes overwhelming.

Carving a turkey is just a large bird and will still taste delicious no matter how you slice it!

Make sure your knife is sharp and you have a fork to help hold your turkey and plate in place while carving.

  • Remove the turkey wings first.
  • Thighs will go next, cutting through the joints.
  • Slice close to the rib cage carving the breast meat into individual slices.
  • Move your knife to the flat side, carve right up against the rib bones.
  • Now that the meat is off, separate the thighs and drumsticks.
  • Plate everything all together for more option choices at the dinner table.

juicy butter herb turkey sliced and plated

Storing your turkey

There is usually always left over turkey.

This is a good thing for future meals and planning ahead for the next few days.

We love to use my Leftover Turkey Casserole to use up the rest of the Thanksgiving dinner.

  • Refrigerate: leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 3 to 5 days.
  • Freezer: in a freezer bag, place all your turkey laying flat. Then zip or suction out all the air in the bag. Keep frozen for up to 1 month in the freezer. When ready to reheat, place in the refrigerator over night to thaw.
  • Warming up: to reheat in the oven place in a baking dish at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes or until warm. When reheating in a microwave, heat 1 to 2 minutes at a time until warm. Try not to over heat. This will leave your leftover turkey dry and hard.

sliced turkey, mashed potatoes with turkey gravy, Brussel sprouts and pilaf all plated together.

Looking for the perfect pie for your thanksgiving dinner?!


Juicy Butter Herb Turkey (Step by Step Instructions)

5 from 5 votes
Juicy Butter Herb Turkey Recipe is a tender, buttery turkey stuffed with slices of citrus, a crisp apple and fresh herbs coated with a buttery herb mixture all baked until golden brown. Thanksgiving turkey just got easier with these step by step instructions!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 20 minutes
Author Alyssa Rivers
Servings: 15 people


  • 1 12-20 pound turkey thawed

Stuffing Ingredients

  • 1 onion quartered
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 apple quartered
  • 1 lemon sliced
  • 2 sprigs thyme

Herb Butter

  • 1 cup butter softened
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 Tablespoon thyme finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon oregano finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon rosemary finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper


  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. To prepare the turkey, remove the neck and giblets. Tuck the wings underneath the turkey. Stuff the turkey with the onion, garlic, rosemary, apple, lemon and thyme. Tie the feet together with twine.
  • In a small bowl combine the butter, garlic, thyme, oregano, rosemary and salt and pepper. Rub evenly over the turkey and underneath the skin.
  • Place the turkey in a roasting pan and cook for 15 minutes for each pound or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees and the juices run clear. Let the turkey rest for 20 minutes before carving.
  • Save the drippings for the turkey and make this turkey gravy if desired.


Serves: 15

Calories517kcal (26%)Carbohydrates4g (1%)Protein61g (122%)Fat28g (43%)Saturated Fat12g (60%)Cholesterol233mg (78%)Sodium577mg (24%)Potassium674mg (19%)Fiber1g (4%)Sugar2g (2%)Vitamin A579IU (12%)Vitamin C6mg (7%)Calcium50mg (5%)Iron3mg (17%)

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods and portion sizes per household.

Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American
Tried this recipe?Mention @alyssa_therecipecritic or tag #therecipecritic

Alyssa Rivers

I am Alyssa and the blogger behind The Recipe Critic. I started my blog in June of 2012 as a place to share my passion for cooking. I love trying new things and testing them out with my family.

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  1. 5 stars
    Love your recipes and clarity in how to fix foods. Even as a Grandma of 80, I’m still researching recipes and cooking!!

  2. 5 stars
    Well I had a Friendsgiving this evening and I have to say thank you so much for these amazing recipes. I also made your turkey gravy, and sausage stuffing all three were a hit everyone loved them I will definitely be making all three in years to come. Thank you so much. God bless and have a happy holiday.

  3. 5 stars
    I tried the herb butter on my turkey and I just loved it! I made it the day before so the taste would be in the butter better. It was the best and most moist turkey ever! You should try this one you won’t be disappointed. I put some carrots in the bottom of the pan and they had a great flavor also. Also when the turkey was done I flipped it over to rest on the breast which helped with the tenderness. I will be using the left over juices for soup broth.

  4. I’ve always thought turkey was “OK”. This was a game changer. Absolutely the most delicious, moist turkey I’ve ever had. I had friends over that felt the same and nobody could stop eating it! I’ve tried so many of your recipes and they have all been amazing!

    1. When you are brining, no you do not stuff the turkey. When you are about to bake the turkey it is best to stuff the turkey. This just continues to add more flavor to the turkey. Let me know how it turns out!

  5. Can’t wait to make this in a couple days!

    I was curious whether you’d recommend salted or unsalted butter? I am not brining the Turkey, but I will be adding a cup or two of, low-ish sodium (“33% less sodium”), chicken broth to the pan.

  6. Wondering if I should cover the turkey in tinfoil for the begging of the cook? It is a 22lb turkey so it will be cooking for about 5 hours. Heard this helps the skin to not burn?

  7. 5 stars
    Second time using this recipe and we love it! What we’ve found, and everyone’s oven is different, is that 325 the whole time is too high. We checked our 20lbs turkey after 3 hours and it was already 155 with 2 hours to go. Also, we had to cover it after about 1.5 hours after it was browned. We just turned the oven down to 200 to “slow roast” for the last 2 hours and will keep checking it. This happened last time too so for anyone whose oven runs hotter this could be your solution. Worked for us last year and we are excited to try it again!

  8. I just have to say I love getting all your recipes. I always cook my turkeys breast down and they are always juicy. Can I do this with the breast down.

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