| | | |

Easy Self Basting Roast Turkey Recipe with Citrus and Herbs

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

This Roast Turkey Recipe is the easiest, self-basting, most tender, juicy, and delicious roasted turkey you will ever make. Making it the perfect Thanksgiving turkey for your feast. This self-basting method uses a herbed butter compound under the skin that bastes the turkey meat while it roasts. And delivers a juicy, crispy, beautiful skin with tender, seasoned meat.

Top horizontal view of whole roasted turkey on a white platter with fresh herbs and lemon and orange slices

Want to save this recipe?

Enter your email, and we’ll send it to your inbox. Plus, you’ll get delicious new recipes from us every Friday!

Save Recipe

This compound butter roasting method is a little like brining a turkey without any fuss or mess. It’s foolproof, regardless of the turkey’s size. Simply cook the turkey until it’s done.

Whether you’re cooking a turkey for Thanksgiving or Christmas, this easy method is one of my favorite ways to roast a turkey. And if citrus isn’t the flavor you’re looking for, the seasoned butter method will work on most recipes. In fact, you may want to apply it to my Roast Turkey Recipe with Apple Cider and Thyme or Herb Roasted Turkey

Is it delicious? It’s a slow-roasted turkey that bastes itself in juices packed with the bright flavors of citrus and herbs.

How to Make a Self Basting Roast Turkey Recipe

Roasting a holiday turkey can feel stressful; after all, it’s the centerpiece of the feast!

But truly, it’s one of the easiest parts of the meal. And this Roast Turkey Recipe with Citrus and Herbs actually bastes itself, giving you plenty of time to enjoy family and friends. Well, and get the Thanksgiving sides and beautiful salads ready!

The key to a delicious roasted turkey is to not overcook it. It’s that simple.

How Long To Cook a Turkey

Generally speaking, a turkey will take 10 to 13 minutes per pound, depending on how cold the turkey is when it goes into the oven.

How to Truss a Thanksgiving Turkey

Here is a simple way to truss a turkey. Simply tuck the turkey wings under the body of the turkey to provide stability and tie the legs together with kitchen twine.

Roasting a Turkey in a Confection Oven

The question always arises: can I cook a turkey in a convection oven? The answer is “definitely yes.” If you have access to a convection oven, it’s a delicious way to cook a turkey evenly.

As you know, a convection oven has a fan that circulates heat around the oven while the food is cooking, while a regular oven has a single heating unit that can provide inconsistent heat.

If you have a convection oven, here’s what you need to know:

What temperature should I roast my turkey in with a convection oven?

Preheat the oven to 350°F and remove shelves if necessary so the turkey will sit in the middle of the oven in the roaster or sheet pan.

How long should a turkey cook in a convection oven?

According to the National Turkey Federation, they recommend the following cooking chart below for convection cooking, depending on the size of your turkey, and to test the temperature in the thickest part of the thigh with a meat thermometer without touching the bone.

  • 12-15 pounds, 1.5-2 hours
  • 15-20 pounds, 2-2.5 hours
  • 20-25 pounds, 2.5-3 hours

Roast Turkey FAQs:

What size turkey do I need?

Plan on 1 to 1½ pounds of turkey per person. If you’re serving eight people, plan on a 12-pound turkey. If you love leftovers, consider a slightly larger turkey.

How to Thaw a Turkey

Place the frozen turkey in its original wrapper in a container to catch any juices. (I use a foil roasting pan easily found at the market). Thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours for every 5 pounds. My refrigerator tends to run cold, so I always add an extra day for thawing.

Should You Rinse a Raw Turkey?

The USDA recommends that turkeys should not be rinsed. They say rinsing a turkey can spread poultry juices and contaminate kitchen surfaces, utensils, and other foods.

How to Tell if the Roast Turkey is Done

The only accurate way to tell if the turkey is done is by using a thermometer. The turkey must reach a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees F.

Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh and breast.

See our guide of 15 Thanksgiving Kitchen Essential Tools.

Easy Roast Turkey Recipe Ingredients

Specific measurements are in the recipe card at the bottom of this post. This is a summary of the ingredients you’ll need:

  • Fresh or frozen turkey (16 to 18 pounds) and completely thawed
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • Unsalted butter at room temperature
  • Fresh herbs (like parsley, rosemary, thyme, and sage)
  • Medium onions
  • Fresh lemons and oranges for stuffing and garnishing the roasted turkey
Side view of uncooked turkey in a roasting pan ready for the oven.

How to Prepare the Turkey for Roasting

Prepare the wholly thawed turkey the day before serving. Pull out the neck and gizzards inside the turkey, trim any bits of extra skin or fat around the head and tail of the bird, and tuck the wings underneath the turkey. Dry it thoroughly, inside and out, with paper towels, and season the inside with salt and pepper.

1 DAY BEFORE (24 hours to overnight)

The following steps will prepare the turkey for roasting.

Top view of compound butter ingredients in a small glass bowl

Step 1: Make the herb butter compound

In a small bowl, combine the softened butter with 2 tablespoons of kosher salt, a bit of pepper, and 2 tablespoons of finely chopped herbs (I like a combination of parsley, rosemary, and sage, but use your favorite blend, or just one of them). Mix until thoroughly combined.

Step 2: Loosen the turkey’s skin and apply the butter compound

Using the tips of your index and middle fingers or the rounded end of a small silicone spatula, slide your finger between the skin and the meat of the breast, breaking the thin, clear membrane and separating the two. Wiggle your finger until the skin has loosened. Repeat on the other side of the breast.

Then, repeat the process on both sides of the neck opening until all 4 breast quadrants have loosened. Be careful not to tear the skin.

Step 3: Apply the compound

Lift each opening in the four breast quadrants and insert a spoonful of the compound herb butter, using the skin to release the butter from the spoon onto the meat. Repeat until all 4 areas have the compound. Use your hands to massage the butter through the skin to create a covering over the meat. Then, use the remaining butter to coat the outside of the turkey, including the legs, thighs, and wings. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the top.

Place the turkey breast side up in a roasting pan or a rimmed baking sheet. Refrigerate for 24 hours or overnight. This will help the skin crisp as it bakes.

NEXT DAY: How to Cook a Turkey

Remove the turkey from the refrigerator about 1 hour before cooking; bringing it to room temperature helps it cook evenly.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and place the oven rack so the turkey will sit in the middle of the oven. (See notes above for using a convection oven).

Quarter the lemons and onions and place them inside the turkey’s cavity. Tie the ends of the drumsticks together with kitchen twine.

Transfer the turkey to the oven and bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of each thigh reads at least 165 degrees (see USDA recommended temperatures), which will be around 10 to 13 minutes per pound, or 2½ to 3½ hours, depending on the size of the turkey.

Remove the turkey from the oven and cover loosely with foil to keep it warm. Remember that the turkey’s internal temperature will continue to rise, up to 10 degrees or more.

Rest the Turkey

Let the turkey rest for at least 30 minutes before carving for the juicy, tender meat.

How to Carve a Turkey

Remove the foil and transfer the turkey to a large cutting board with channels around the edges to help catch juices.

This video from the Culinary Institute of America will show you how to carve a turkey.

YouTube video

Garnishing a Citrus Herb Roast Turkey

Place the carved (or whole turkey) on a serving platter and tuck fresh herbs, like sage, parsley, and rosemary, around the outsides. Garnish with fresh slices of lemon and orange for color, and add fresh grapes and greens like frisee or watercress to the platter.

Side view of Citrus and Herb Roasted Turkey with fresh parsley

More Thanksgiving Recipes

SAVE THIS AND PIN IT FOR LATER!

Make sure you don’t lose track of this recipe by pinning it for later! If you are not already, you can follow me on Pinterest, as well as keep up with me on FacebookInstagram, and YouTube. If you make this recipe, I would also love it if you’d tag me in your photos and leave a star rating below!

Top view of Roast Turkey with Citrus and Herbs on a white platter with Turkey Gravey

Easy Self Basting Roast Turkey Recipe with Citrus and Herbs

This Roast Turkey Recipe is the easiest, self-basting, most tender, juicy, and delicious roasted turkey you will ever make. Making it the perfect Thanksgiving turkey for your feast. This self-basting method uses a herbed butter compound under the skin that bastes the turkey meat while it roasts. And delivers a juicy, crispy, beautiful skin with tender, seasoned meat.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Save
Prep Time: 1 day
Cook Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 day 3 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Author: Stephanie Wilson

Ingredients

  • 1 whole 16-18 pound turkey thawed
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 bunch of fresh herbs like parsley, thyme, rosemary, and sage
  • 2 lemons quartered, plus more for garnish
  • 2 yellow onions peeled and quartered

Instructions

Prepare the Turkey 1 Day Ahead

  • Prepare the wholly thawed turkey the day before serving. Pull out the neck and gizzards inside the turkey, trim any bits of extra skin or fat around the head and tail of the bird, and tuck the wings underneath the turkey. Dry it thoroughly, inside and out, with paper towels, and season the inside with salt and pepper.
  • Make the butter compound: In a small bowl, combine the softened butter with 2 tablespoons of kosher salt, a bit of pepper, and 2 tablespoons of finely chopped herbs (I like a combination of parsley, rosemary, and sage, but use your favorite blend, or just one of them). Mix until thoroughly combined.
  • Loosen the skin: Using the tips of your index and middle fingers or the rounded end of a small silicone spatula, slide your finger between the skin and the meat of the breast, breaking the thin, clear membrane and separating the two. Wiggle your finger until the skin has loosened. Repeat on the other side of the breast and on both sides of the neck opening until all 4 breast quadrants have loosened. Be careful not to tear the skin.
  • Apply Compound & Refrigerate: Lift each opening in the four breast quadrants and insert a spoonful of the compound herb butter, using the skin to release the butter from the spoon onto the meat. Repeat until all 4 areas have the compound. Use your hands to massage the butter through the skin to create a covering over the meat. Then, use the remaining butter to coat the outside of the turkey, including the legs, thighs, and wings. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the top.
    Place the turkey breast side up in a roasting pan or a rimmed baking sheet. Refrigerate for 24 hours or overnight. This will help the skin crisp as it bakes.

Day of Cooking the Turkey

  • Remove the turkey from the refrigerator about 1 hour before cooking; bringing it to room temperature helps it cook evenly. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and place the oven rack so the turkey will sit in the middle of the oven.
  • Quarter the lemons and onions and place them inside the turkey’s cavity. Tie the ends of the drumsticks together with kitchen twine.
  • Transfer the turkey to the oven and bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of each thigh reads at least 165 degrees (see USDA recommended temperatures), which will be around 10 to 13 minutes per pound, or 2½ to 3½ hours, depending on the size of the turkey.
  • Remove the turkey from the oven and cover loosely with foil to keep it warm. Remember that the turkey's internal temperature will continue to rise, up to 10 degrees or more. Reserve the dripping for gravy if desired and carve when ready to serve.

Notes

Frozen Turkeys:

Place the frozen turkey in its original wrapper in a container to catch any juices. (I use a foil roasting pan easily found at the market). Thaw in the refrigerator, 24 hours for every 5 pounds. My refrigerator tends to run cold so I always add an extra day to that time for thawing.

Essential Thanksgiving Kitchen Tools:

See our complete list of essential tools for Thanksgiving!

Nutrition

Calories: 148kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 41mg | Sodium: 1166mg | Potassium: 57mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 477IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 14mg | Iron: 0.2mg

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

Tried this recipe? Pin it Today!Follow me on Pinterest for more and use the "Pin" button at the top of the recipe card.
Course: Thanksgiving
Cuisine: American
Keyword: easy roast turkey, roast turkey, turkey recipe easy, turkey recipe for thanksgiving, turkey recipe oven, turkey recipe Thanksgiving, turkey recipes

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating