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    The Juiciest Roast Turkey Recipe

    Published November 18, 2022. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

    You will be amazed at this incredibly juicy roast turkey recipe stuffed with herb butter and cooked breast side down. There is no going back after tasting this delicious turkey.

    The assortment of side dishes makes the meal no matter the holiday. If you are looking for some tasty recipes to serve up with this turkey, then try my homemade Cranberry Sauce or Cornbread Dressing.

    Roast Turkey

    Roast turkey is the simple cooking procedure in a pan in the oven until it is browned on all sides and cooked throughout. This procedure is known as the dry heat method, commonly used to render a dark brown outer crust while cooking to the desired internal temperature.

    You can make several enhancements to the turkey to make it more flavorful, such as stuffing it with vegetables or herb butter. If you have a favorite seasoning blend or stuffing, I encourage you to use it while still following the cooking procedures in this recipe.  

    Breast Side Down

    Breast-side-down turkey will render an incredibly flavorful and juicy bird. When you cook it this way, all the juices go down the turkey to the bottom, where the breasts are. Once you try this procedure, there’s no going back.

    Ingredients You’ll Need

    ingredients for a roasted turkey
    • Turkey – I always try to buy a fresh organic turkey. You can buy a frozen bird for this. Just make sure it’s completely thawed.
    • Butter – Always use unsalted butter in your cooking and baking so that you control the salt content.
    • Herbs – I use a combination of parsley, thyme, rosemary, and sage for the herb butter and parsley and bay leaves for the stuffing.
    • Seasoning – All you will need for this is sea salt and pepper.
    • Lemons – Some lemon wedges will add some amazing flavors to this.
    • Bacon – I used smoked bacon in this recipe.

    Equipment

    Butcher’s Twine – You will need some butcher’s twine to truss the turkey. If you can’t find any, ask the man or woman behind the butcher’s counter to give you a 6’ long piece.

    Rack – You will need a rack that fits in a roasting pan for this roast turkey. This is vital to your turkey is browned on all sides and is a must.

    Roasting Pan – A large roasting pan is needed and should be plenty large for a turkey.

    How to Make a Juicy Roasted Turkey

    Start by whipping unsalted butter in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment until it becomes light and fluffy, which takes about 5 to 7 minutes.

    adding butter to a stand mixer

    Add the herbs, salt, and pepper to the butter and mix on low speed until it is mixed in. Taste it to make sure it is seasoned enough. Set it aside.

    pouring herbs into a mixer with butter

    Bring out the turkey and pat it dry inside and out.

    patting dry a raw turkey

    Stuff the inside cavity with lemon wedges, parsley, and bay leaves.

    stuffing a turkey with lemons and herbs

    Using clean hands, use your fingers to pierce between the skin and the meat on the breasts to separate the two and keep the skin connected to the turkey intact. Flip the turkey over and do the same on the backside.

    pulling back the skin on a turkey

    Evenly divide the herb butter and place it under the skin on both sides of the breasts and underneath on the back. Butter may spill out a little bit, but it’s ok. See the note below on if the skin tears.

    stuffing butter under turkey skin

    Flip the turkey back onto its back and truss it using butcher’s twine.

    trussing a turkey

    Place the turkey breast side on a pan rack and roast in the oven on the bottom rack at 450° for 22 to 25 minutes or until browned on top.

    placing a turkey in a rack

    Remove the turkey and flip it over. Be careful, as the turkey is hot, and you should use gloves and towels.

    flipping a turkey over

    Wrap the top with several strips of bacon, making sure to cover it.

    covering a turkey with strips of bacon

    Place it back in the oven and roast at 350° for 90 minutes to 2 hours or until browned and cooked throughout. You should figure about 9 to 11 minutes per pound.

    a cooked turkey with crisp bacon

    After about an hour of roasting time with it wrapped in bacon, come back and remove it and return to the oven for the remaining cooking time. Sometimes the bacon won’t be completely crispy, and that’s ok. It doesn’t matter if the bacon is chewy or crispy; it’s time to brown up the back side of the turkey. Keep an eye on the bacon throughout the process, as you do not want it to burn.

    removing crisp bacon from a turkey

    Once the turkey is done cooking and has an internal temperature of 165° in the thickest part of the breast or thigh, I remove it and I let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes.

    resting a turkey on a rack

    Remove the butcher’s twine and lemon stuffing, and serve.

    removing butcher's twine from a turkey

    What if the Turkey Skin Tears?

    If the skin tears anywhere on the chicken after stuffing it with butter, you can use a toothpick to stitch it back together. Line the two pieces of skin up to one another and use the toothpick to go through one side of the skin and then pierce it through the other side. Repeat the process up the tear.

    You may need several toothpicks depending on the size of the tear. Also, remember to remove the toothpicks before serving.

    How Long to Cook a Turkey?

    My recipe is slightly different than most because I cook it breast side down. However, these times and temperatures are still foolproof for any size turkey.

    • 450° for 22 to 25 minutes to brown the breasts of the turkey.
    • 350° at 9-11 minutes per pound once it is flipped and breast side down.

    Make-Ahead and Storage

    Make-Ahead: You can keep the turkey warm by completely wrapping it in foil or placing it in a cooler for up to 90 minutes before serving it.

    How to Store:  It will hold in the refrigerator covered in plastic for up to 5 days. In addition, you can freeze it covered for up to 3 months. Be sure to thaw it in the refrigerator for a full day before reheating it.

    How to Reheat:  Add the desired amount of turkey to a saucepan and ½ to 1 cup of chicken stock. Cover and cook in the oven at 350° for 15-20 minutes or until warm. You can also heat the turkey in the microwave on a plate until warm.

    Chef Billy Parisi

    Chef Notes + Tips

    • Other ingredients you can add to the herb butter are lemon zest, orange zest, ground coriander, or finely minced shallots.
    • If you are starting with a frozen turkey, it takes 24 hours of thawing time in the refrigerator per 5 pounds of turkey, so plan accordingly.
    • Always cook the turkey on the bottom rack in the oven.

    More Thanksgiving Recipes

    Let's Cook - Chef Billy Parisi

    Video

    The Juiciest Roast Turkey Recipe

    5 from 3 votes
    You will be amazed at this incredibly juicy roast turkey recipe stuffed with herb butter and cooked breast side down.
    Servings: 8
    Prep Time: 30 minutes
    Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
    Resting Time: 20 minutes

    Ingredients 

    • 1 pound softened unsalted butter
    • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
    • 5 cloves finely minced garlic
    • 1 ½ tablespoons sea salt
    • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
    • 12-14 pound fresh turkey
    • 1 lemon cut into wedges
    • 6 bay leaves
    • 10 sprigs of Italian flat leaf parsley

    Instructions

    • Start by whipping the unsalted butter in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment on high speed until it becomes light, and fluffy, which takes about 5 to 7 minutes.
    • Add the chopped parsley, thyme, rosemary, sage, garlic, salt, and pepper to the butter and mix on low speed until it is mixed in. Taste it to make sure it is seasoned enough. Set it aside.
    • Bring out the turkey and make sure it is patted dry inside and out with paper towels.
    • Stuff the inside cavity with lemon wedges, parsley sprigs, and bay leaves.
    • Using clean hands, use your fingers to pierce between the skin and the meat on the breasts to separate the two but also to keep the skin connected to the turkey and intact. Flip the turkey over and do the same on the backside. See the video.
    • Evenly divide the herb butter and place it under the skin on both sides of the breasts and underneath on the back. Butter may spill out a little bit, but it’s ok.
    • Flip the turkey back onto its back and truss it using butcher’s twine.
    • Place the turkey breast side up on a rack in a pan and roast in the oven on the bottom rack at 450° for 22 to 25 minutes or until browned on top.
    • Remove the turkey and flip it over. Be careful, as the turkey is hot and you should use gloves and towels.
    • Wrap the top with several strips of bacon, making sure to cover it.
    • Place it back in the oven and roast at 350° for 90 minutes to 2 hours total or until browned and cooked throughout. You should figure about 9 to 11 minutes per pound.
    • After about an hour of roasting time with it wrapped in bacon come back and remove it and return to the oven for the remaining cooking time. Sometimes the bacon won’t be completely crispy and that’s ok. It doesn’t matter if the bacon is chewy or crispy, it’s now time to brown up the back side of the turkey. Keep an eye on the bacon throughout the process, as you do not want it to burn.
    • Once the turkey is done cooking and has an internal temperature of 165° in the thickest part of the breast or thigh, remove it and let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes.
    • Remove the butcher's twine and lemon stuffing, and serve.

    Notes

    Make-Ahead: You can keep the turkey warm by completely wrapping it in foil or placing it in a cooler for up to 90 minutes before serving it.
    How to Store:  It will hold in the refrigerator covered in plastic for up to 5 days. In addition, you can freeze it covered for up to 3 months. Be sure to thaw it in the refrigerator for a full day before reheating it.
    How to Reheat:  Add the desired amount of turkey to a saucepan and ½ to 1 cup of chicken stock. Cover and cook in the oven at 350° for 15-20 minutes or until warm. You can also heat the turkey in the microwave on a plate until warm.
    Other ingredients you can add to the herb butter are lemon zest, orange zest, ground coriander, or finely minced shallots.
    If you are starting with a frozen turkey, it takes 24 hours of thawing time in the refrigerator per 5 pounds of turkey so plan accordingly.
    Always cook the turkey on the bottom rack in the oven.

    Nutrition

    Calories: 972kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 155gFat: 36gSaturated Fat: 18gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4gMonounsaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 517mgSodium: 2295mgPotassium: 1639mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 1139IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 109mgIron: 7mg
    Course: dinner
    Cuisine: American