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Classic Herb Roasted Turkey

Serves: Makes 10 to 12 servings


  • 1 (12- to 14-pound) turkey, neck and giblets removed and reserved for stock
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, divided
  • 2 tablespoons each minced fresh parsley, thyme, sage, and rosemary leaves
  • 1 to 2 cups poultry stock, as needed
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 large stalks celery, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces


Fragrant with fresh herbs and nestled in vegetables, this classic preparation will be the delicious centerpiece of your holiday. Don’t forget to purchase your turkey far enough in advance to account for thawing and brining times, at least four days for a 12 pound frozen turkey.

For dry brining: Wash the turkey thoroughly in cold water and pat completely dry with paper towels. Place the turkey on a large cutting board and run your hand gently between the skin and meat to loosen the skin, being careful not to tear the skin. Loosen as much skin as possible over the breasts, legs, and thighs. Rub the meat with kosher salt to coat the meat evenly, again taking care not to rip the skin. Transfer the turkey to a baking dish large enough to hold it and place uncovered in the refrigerator for 8 to 24 hours.

To dress and roast turkey: Preheat oven to 425°F and place a rack in the lower third. Remove turkey from the refrigerator and transfer to a cutting board. Place ½ the melted butter in a small mixing bowl, add chopped herbs and stir to combine. Rub the turkey meat with the butter mixture, coating all parts equally. Gently stretch skin to cover breast meat completely. Using kitchen twine, tie the legs together at the ankles and tuck wing tips under breasts.

Place a heavy roasting rack inside a large roasting pan and lightly oil the rack. Flip turkey breast side down and place on top of rack. Place turkey in oven and roast for 60 minutes, turning the roasting pan every 30 minutes to ensure even browning. Check roasting pan to make sure pan drippings do not scorch, adding stock or water as needed.

After 60 minutes, remove roasting pan from oven and reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Using turkey lifters or clean kitchen towels, carefully lift turkey off the rack breast side up. Return turkey to rack breast side up, and baste with pan juices. Scatter onion, carrot and celery pieces across bottom of roasting pan, stirring to coat with pan juices. Return turkey to oven and continue roasting until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh registers 165°F, 2 hours or more, depending on weight. Remove turkey from oven, place roasting pan on a heatproof surface, and tent turkey loosely with aluminum foil to keep warm. Rest the turkey for at least 20 to 30 minutes before carving. Strain pan drippings, pressing on solids to remove liquid, and reserve drippings to make gravy.

To serve: Remove legs and thighs using a sharp boning knife. Slice the breasts into ¼-inch slices and place on a serving platter with legs and thighs. Serve immediately.

Try our chef’s recipe for Rich Turkey Pan Gravy: Click for instructions ยป

Recipe developed for Sur La Table’s Cooking Classes

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