Thanksgiving is just around the corner, which means, it’s time to plan a feast. This Herb Roasted Turkey is an incredibly moist and juicy bird with beautifully crispy skin. And guess what? It’s simple and easy with 10-minutes or so of prep.
If you’ve never roasted a turkey, start with this one. It’s that easy.
While I love almost all varieties of roasted turkey, (like Roast Turkey with Apple Cider and Thyme) this herb roasted turkey is a classic favorite with family and friends. A go-to turkey recipe for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the holidays.
There’s a reason the holidays are the “most wonderful time of the year!” While it takes some work to make it that way, it’s so very worth the effort!
For me, holidays begin the day after Halloween (sometimes a little before). After that… it’s full on planning, baking, and a little dreaming too. Which very often involves hoping for snow. Holidays and snow belong together as much as cake and frosting. With sprinkles…
But back to talking turkey.
While this turkey is simple, it doesn’t taste simple or easy. It is incredibly moist, tender, and delicious. Sometimes, the simplest combination of savory herbs combined with time well-spent in the oven, and a few turns with a baster, produces the most beautiful, tender turkey ever.
To help elevate flavors in your Thanksgiving turkey, let’s talk about brining. A simple method that helps make the skin crispy and the meat tender and juicy.
Brining a Turkey
The question often arises, “Should I brine my turkey this year?” The answer is 100% yes. While wet brining can get a little tricky and a whole lot messy, dry brining is the easiest method ever. And it produces a tender, juicy bird.
If you’re interested in brining the turkey before proceeding with this recipe, check out my guide on how to Dry Brine a Turkey. Which can be done even when a frozen turkey isn’t fully thawed.
With that question answered, let’s proceed with the recipe.
Herb Roasted Turkey Ingredients
In the recipe card below, you will find the exact measurements for these ingredients. This is a brief overview of what you need:
- 14-16 pound turkey, thawed if frozen
Herb Seasoning Rub
- Olive oil (or favorite cooking oil)
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Garlic powder
- Dried basil
- Ground sage
- Fresh herbs: flat-leaf parsley, fresh thyme, and sage are good choices
- Lemons cut into halves
How to Make Herb Roasted Turkey
Step-by-step instructions are in the recipe card at the bottom of this post, but here’s a quick overview of how to make this turkey recipe.
1. Make an herb blend: Combine olive oil, salt, pepper, and herbs.
2. Prepare the turkey: Pat the bird dry with paper towels and remove any excess dry brine. With a basting brush, generously coat the turkey. Tie the legs with kitchen twine.
3. Roast the turkey: Place the turkey in a roasting pan with a rack, add water to the bottom, and roast in a 450-degree preheated oven for 30 minutes. Then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and roast until the internal temperature reaches 175 degrees F. Let it rest for about 30 minutes before carving.
Herb Roasted Turkey Questions
You can absolutely dry brine a partially frozen turkey. It will take about one day for each 4 to 5 pounds of weight to defrost. I like to dry brine for about 48 hours so plan for the last 24 to 48 of thawing to brine the turkey.
I prefer to cook my stuffing separately. The USDA has a page on how to safely stuff the bird, including these tips: do not stuff the turkey with cooked stuffing, stuff the turkey loosely with just-prepared dressing, cook the turkey immediately after stuffing, and check the temperature and be sure it reaches 165°F.
Start the oven at 450°F to help brown and crisp the skin. Then drop the temperature to 350°F and continue to cook until the turkey reaches a minimum internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). Plan on roasting the turkey for 15 to 18 minutes per pound.
The USDA recommends thawing your turkey in the refrigerator as this is the safest method. This method takes some time, so allow one day for each 4 to 5 pounds of weight. If your turkey weighs 16 pounds, it will take about four days to thaw.
The easiest way to determine how long your turkey needs to roast is to plan on 13 minutes per pound for an unstuffed turkey at an oven temperature of 350°F. If your bird is stuffed, plan on 15 minutes per pound.
A good rule of thumb is to allow 1 to 1½ pounds of turkey per person. I like plan on a 14 to 16-pound turkey to serve around 12, allowing for leftovers!
Helpful Kitchen Equipment
You’ll need a large roasting fitted with a metal rack. This helps the skin crisp and makes it easy to remove the turkey from the pan.
A meat thermometer is another essential tool to have on hand removing the guesswork on whether the turkey is done.
For more ideas, see my 15 Thanksgiving Kitchen Essential Tools for more helpful tools.
Tips for Roasting a Turkey
- Begin roasting the turkey at 450 degrees F for the first 30 minutes, this helps crisp and brown the skin. You will reduce the oven temperature and continue to cook until done.
- Once the turkey reaches temperature, if you need to crisp the skin, increase oven temperature to 450 degrees again and roast for another 10 to 15 minutes.
- Let the turkey rest at least 20 minutes before carving so the juices can redistribute into the meat. Don’t let a turkey rest at room temperature for more than 2 hours or more than 1 hour if the room is 90° or more.
- Turkeys need about 15-18 minutes of cooking time per pound. Once the bird is cooked, thighs should register at 165°F (74°C) and the breasts should register at 160°F (71°C). As soon as the bird hits these temperatures, take it out and let it rest for at least 30 minutes before carving.
- 14-16 pound turkey, thawed if frozen (neck and giblets removed)
Herb Seasoning Rub
- 3/4 cup olive oil (or favorite cooking oil)
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- 1 teaspoon ground sage
- 3 teaspoons coarse salt
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
- 2 cups fresh herbs (flat-leaf parsley, fresh thyme, and sage are good choices)
- 2 lemons each cut into halves
- If your turkey is frozen, thaw it in the refrigerator for a few days before serving. Plan on 1 day per 4 to 5 pounds of weight. If you are dry brining your turkey, you can begin this process when the bird is still partially frozen.
- Once the bird is thawed, remove the turkey from the refrigerator and pat dry with paper towels, removing excess brine from the skin of the turkey as well as from the bottom of the roasting pan.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F and set the oven rack at its lowest level.
- Place the turkey in a large roasting pan, on a metal rack, with breast side up.
- Combine the olive oil, garlic powder, basil, sage, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and brush generously all over the outside of the uncooked turkey.
- Fill the cavity of the turkey with fresh herbs and lemons. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine and pour 2 cups of water into the bottom of the roasting pan.
- Roast the turkey for 30 minutes at 450 degrees F.
- Then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees, and continue to roast for 2 to 3 more hours, depending on the weight of your turkey. Plan on about 13 minutes per pound, but keep an eye on the internal temperature. I also like to baste my turkey with turkey drippings from the bottom of the roaster every hour or so.
- After about 2.5 hours of cooking time, use a meat thermometer and insert it into the thickest part of the turkey. Continue to roast until its internal temperature reaches 175 degrees.
- If the turkey has reached temperature but isn't quite golden brown, increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees F and cook for another 15 minutes or so to crisp the skin.
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