Oven Baked Herb Turkey

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Oven-baked herb turkey is perfectly juicy and tender! It’s stuffed with slices of citrus, a crisp apple, and fresh herbs then baked until it’s a toasty golden brown. It’s mouthwatering and delicious!

Thanksgiving turkey is not complete without all the side dishes! Try this Sweet Potatoes, Green Bean Casserole, Carrots, or Cauliflower Au Gratin. And you must end the night with some Pumpkin Pie! 

Turkey sliced and plated up.

Oven Baked Herb Turkey

Thanksgiving would not be the same without a beautiful turkey on your dinner table. This turkey recipe is the BEST. Your guests will not be disappointed! It 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. But this recipe is super straightforward and anyone can make it! You will have the perfect turkey to serve this Thanksgiving.

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! And when you’re done with the turkey then these sides of Sweet Potatoes and Mashed Potatoes, brown butter carrots, and Green Bean Casserole go fantastic with any Thanksgiving dinner!

How to Thaw and Prep a Turkey

It is best to start off with a completely thawed turkey. This can take 3 to 7 days depending on how frozen and how large your turkey is so you definitely need to be thinking ahead. You thaw a turkey by placing it into the refrigerator in a large pan or baking sheet. And then you just leave it there until it’s no longer frozen! Once your turkey is thawed and you are ready to bake your turkey here are a few steps to prepare your turkey for the oven:

  1. Remove from fridge: Remove your turkey from the refrigerator for about 30 minutes prior to preparing. This will help it to bake more evenly.
  2. Dry: Pat turkey completely dry, soaking up any excess water with paper towels.
  3. Remove giblets: In the turkey cavity you will want to remove the neck and giblet bag.
  4. Tie it up: With kitchen twine or string, tie the legs together.
  5. Fold under the wings: Take the turkey wings and fold the end of them under your bird. This will prevent them from burning and drying out.
A picture of how to remove the giblets from a raw turkey.

Brine the Turkey First!

Brining a turkey means that you soak it in a water and salt solution (a brine). If you brine your oven-baked herb turkey then it will help to keep the meat moist and it adds even more flavoring to the meat!

  • Create a water bath for your turkey with a salt and water solution. Then, you add in herbs and citrus flavors. Use this Turkey Brine Recipe for the best results!
Turkey in a roasting pan being prepared

Ingredients for Oven Baked 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! See the recipe card below for a list of exact ingredient measurements.

  • 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!
Turkey being prepared with lemon, apple and garlic herbs

How to Make Oven Baked Herb Turkey

This oven-baked herb turkey is golden brown, tender and juicy! It’s the absolute perfect turkey recipe that will make you wish that Thanksgiving came around more often!

  • 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 being basted with herb butter mixture on the outside.

How Long to Cook Your Oven Baked Herb Turkey

The last thing that you want to do is to overcook (or undercook) a turkey! So it’s important that you know a few things about your bird first!

  • Turkey size: Know how big your turkey is. You will cook it for about 13-15 minutes per pound!
  • Leave in meat thermometer: Use a meat thermometer! A leave in oven safe meat thermometer is a great way to continually check on the turkey. Place it in the thickest part of your turkey for the most accurate temperature reading. If you use a thermometer like this then you don’t have to keep opening your oven door towards the end. This will help keep the heat in and your turkey cooking!
  • Cooking temp: Once your turkey has reached 165 degrees then take it out and let it reset. This is when you don’t cut into it and just let the juices keep smoking into your meat! This part is SO important!
  • Brined turkey: A brined turkey will cook faster so keep a close eye on your turkey.
  • Don’t eat pink: If your turkey is pink AT ALL then it isn’t done.
A finished oven baked herb turkey in a serving dish.

Tips for Cooking a Turkey

This tried and true oven-baked herb turkey recipe is just what you need for this year’s Thanksgiving dinner. It roasts your turkey to a crisp, golden brown outside and tender, juicy meat on the inside.

  • Turkey size: You don’t want to run out of turkey! A good rule of thumb is to plan for a pound of turkey per person.
  • Don’t forget to thaw it!: Thaw your turkey days ahead of time to make sure it is completely thawed.
  • Use chicken stock: 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.
  • Use foil: If you notice your turkey is getting dark on top but your meat is not cooked through then simply add a piece of foil over top while it finishes roasting.
Herb turkey roasted and plated before being sliced

How to Carve a Turkey

Looking at the turkey and knowing where to carve the turkey is sometimes overwhelming. Carving a turkey is just a large bird and will still taste delicious no matter how you slice it! Here are some tips on where to start! Make sure your knife is sharp and you have a fork to help hold your turkey and plate in place while carving.

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

How to Store Leftovers

Leftover oven-baked herb turkey makes the BEST leftovers! There are so many things that you can do with it! I love to make Leftover Turkey Casserole to use up the rest of the Thanksgiving dinner. Here is how you can store extra turkey to save for later!

  • Refrigerate: Wait until your turkey has cooled. Then, place it in an airtight container and put it in your fridge, It can last there for 3 to 5 days.
  • Freezer: After your turkey has cooled down then place it in a freezer bag. Lay your turkey flat in the bag and then zip or suction out all the air in the bag. Label your bag with the date and then you can keep it frozen for up to 1 month in the freezer. When ready to reheat, place in the refrigerator over night to thaw.
  • Reheating: To reheat in the oven then 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.

Oven Baked Herb Turkey

5 from 5 votes
Oven baked herb turkey is perfectly juicy and tender! It's stuffed with slices of citrus, a crisp apple and fresh herbs then baked until it's a toasty golden brown. It's mouthwatering and delicious! 
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 20 minutes
Author Alyssa Rivers
Servings: 15 people

Ingredients
  

  • 1 12-20 pound turkey thawed

Stuffing Ingredients

  • 1 medium onion quartered
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 large apple quartered
  • 1 medium 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

Instructions
 

  • 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 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.

Notes

Updated on November 9, 2021
Originally Posted on October 20, 2019

Nutrition

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
Keyword baked turkey, turkey
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. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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?

  4. 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.

    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. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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!!

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