Juicy Roast Turkey Recipe

Juicy Roast Turkey. This turkey has the juiciest, most flavorful turkey breast! KEEPER!! | natashaskitchen.com

I was so excited about this juicy roast turkey recipe every step of the way and I think you’ll feel the same way when you try it. I spent several days researching all of the best turkey recipes online, in books, and getting trusted advice from my Mom and you, my readers. This tender and delicious turkey will impress your dinner guests.

The turkey breast is so juicy and flavorful and the skin is crisp and roasts to a beautiful golden brown. I invited all of my family over to help eat this turkey and received rave reviews from 10 adults and quite a few kiddos. I was so giddy with excitement when I tasted the juicy bird. Since the beginning of my blog (2009), I’ve been flooded with requests for a great turkey recipe for the holidays.

P.S. Be sure be sure be sure to make the turkey gravy; it’s super delicious and was the talk of last year’s Thanksgiving dinner! Big Thank you to Wolf for sponsoring this recipe!

Watch How to Make a Juicy Roast Turkey Recipe:

You don’t need to be scared to try new things in the kitchen, like the Thanksgiving turkey which is the “year’s most important dish”. You can’t go wrong by adding this roast turkey recipe to your menu. It’s fantastic. Read on to learn everything you need to know for a perfect turkey. P.p.s. you can even make this turkey recipe a day in advance if it makes your life easier and it will taste even better! 🙂

Juicy Roast Turkey. This turkey has the juiciest, most flavorful turkey breast! KEEPER!! @natashaskitchen

Roast Turkey Recipe Ingredients:

12 lb turkey (Anything from 11-15 lbs will work, but bake time will vary – see below)
Salt & Pepper for the inside and outside of the bird

For the Flavored Butter:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 Tbsp olive oil (not extra virgin), plus more to drizzle the top
4 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (from 1 large lemon), plus 1/2 Tbsp lemon zest
3 large garlic cloves, pressed
1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley
1/2 Tbsp salt (I used sea salt)
1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground

Juicy Roast Turkey Recipe

For the Turkey Stuffing:

1 large onion, quartered (no peeling)
4 garlic cloves, halved (no peeling)
1/2 bunch parsley
1 lemon, quartered

What you’ll need:

Kitchen String
Heavy duty foil
A heavy roasting pan that accommodates your bird, but isn’t over-sized
A temperature probe (to ensure a fully-cooked turkey)

Juicy Roast Turkey Recipe-3

Note:

Many of you have asked about using a larger turkey. One of my readers, Shannon, shares her experience with a 23 pound turkey (Thanks Shannon!): “Used this recipe last night with a 23 pound turkey and it was superb!! I used 3 sticks of butter instead of the 2, about 1 cup of parsley, kept the zest and juice of 2 lemons and quartered them for the stuffing. Kept 1 large onion peeled & largely sliced, used about 8 cloves of garlic peeled and sliced in half.

Cooked at 430 for 20 minutes and then 350 for about 5 1/2 hours, basting occasionally. I used the tin foil hat and had to made a couple other tin foil accessories for the legs that started to scorch. Took the tin foil hat off when it had 10 minutes of cook time left to ensure a nice browned top. Had tons of drippings to make a delicious gravy with. Will use this recipe every year! So flavorful and yummy. Thank you”

Required Prep for Roast Turkey Recipe:

*If using a frozen turkey, defrost it in its plastic bag in the refrigerator for 3 days prior to roasting.

*Remove turkey from fridge about 30 minutes before you start working with it. If the turkey is closer to room temperature, it will bake more evenly. *Remove the neck and bag of giblets from the turkey.

*Rinse turkey with cold water and pat it dry with paper towels. Let turkey sit in over paper towels to soak up any excess water from the turkey.

*Fold the wings behind the turkey; if you don’t they are the quickest to scorch and dry out.

Juicy Roast Turkey Recipe-12

Seasoning, Stuffing and Tying up a Turkey:

1. Season inside of turkey cavity generously with about 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.

Juicy Roast Turkey Recipe-4

2. In a medium bowl, combine: 2 sticks softened butter, 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1/2 Tbsp lemon zest, 4 Tbsp lemon juice, and 3 pressed garlic cloves, 1/4 cup chopped parsley, 1/2 Tbsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper. Mash/stir with a fork until well combined (the lemon juice doesn’t easily stir into butter, but keep mixing and it will happen after a few minutes). This mixture was adapted from Gordon Ramsay’s Christmas Turkey video and it’s wonderful. Take a whiff of it; you’ll fall in love with how fresh it smells!

Juicy Roast Turkey Recipe-13

3. Separate the skin from the turkey breast by pushing your fingers under the skin. Do this from the front and the back of the turkey, being careful not to tear the skin.

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4. Stuff 2/3 of the butter mixture under skin then spread the butter around by massaging over the top of the skin. This butter keeps the turkey breast tender, juicy and provides rich flavor.

Juicy Roast Turkey Recipe-15

5. Rub remaining butter over the outside of the turkey (breast, legs, wings). Drizzle all over the top of the turkey with olive oil and generously season with salt and pepper; I just love a crisp, salty skin.

Juicy Roast Turkey Recipe-17

6. Stuff turkey with quartered onion, 4 halved garlic cloves, 1/2 bunch parsley and quartered lemon. Tie turkey base and legs together; crossing the legs to better close up the turkey cavity, plus it looks extra fancy on the table.

Juicy Roast Turkey Recipe-16

How to Roast a Turkey:

Prep: Pre-heat the oven to 430˚F on the bake mode. Place oven rack in the lower part of your oven (mine was on the second level from the very bottom) – this ensures that your large turkey roasts in the middle of the oven and keeps the turkey breast further from the top heating element.

1. Here is a fantastic tip I picked up from Alton Brown to protect the turkey breast and keep it juicy: Fold a large square sheet of foil into a triangle. Rub one side of your triangle with olive oil and shape the foil (oil-side-down) over the turkey breast, then remove foil;  it will shield your turkey breast and keep it from getting dry. You’ll apply this shield later in the roasting process.

Juicy Roast Turkey Recipe-6Juicy Roast Turkey Recipe-7

2. Place a meat thermometer into the bird; beneath the drumstick; deep into the dark meat. It’s ready for the oven. Start roasting at 430˚F for 20 min.

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3. Remove from oven; quickly baste with butter from the bottom of the dish. You can use a baster or tilt one side of the pan and collect drippings with a large spoon. Now apply prepared foil triangle to turkey breast area.

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4. Reduce oven to 350˚F and bake for another 2 hours 30 min for a 12 lb bird. (Once you have reduced the oven to 350˚F, you will bake about 13 min for every pound of turkey). The turkey thigh should register at 170˚F on the temperature probe and the breast at 160˚F to make sure it’s fully cooked through then remove from the oven (keep in mind the turkey temp continues to rise slightly after it’s out of the oven).

Note: temperature recommendations based on the USDA which now says the safe poultry temp is 165˚F but the deeper thigh parts really should be at 170˚ to be fully cooked through. 

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5. Transfer turkey to serving platter and cover loosely but fully with foil. Let turkey rest for at least 1 hour. It will become more tender and easier to carve, the longer it sits. Keep drippings from roasting pan for a most delicious turkey gravy. Decorate around your turkey and make it festive. I used kale for my greens, then added small apples, sliced oranges and quartered lemons.

Juicy Roast Turkey. This turkey has the juiciest, most flavorful turkey breast! KEEPER!! @natashaskitchenJuicy Roast Turkey. This turkey has the juiciest, most flavorful turkey breast! KEEPER!! @natashaskitchen

Juicy Roast Turkey Recipe

4.8 from 156 reviews
Cook time:
Total time:
How to Make the Juiciest Roast Turkey Recipe (no lengthy marinating required)
Author:
Skill Level: Medium
Cost To Make: Varies by season and turkey prices

Ingredients

  • 12 lb turkey (Anything from 11-15 lbs will work, but bake time will vary)
  • Salt & Pepper for the inside and outside of the bird

For the Flavored Butter:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil (not extra virgin), plus more to drizzle top
  • 4 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (from 1 large lemon), plus ½ Tbsp lemon zest
  • 3 large garlic cloves, pressed
  • ¼ cup freshly chopped parsley
  • ½ Tbsp salt (I used sea salt)
  • ½ tsp black pepper, freshly ground

For the Stuffing:

  • 1 large onion, quartered (no peeling)
  • 4 garlic cloves, halved (no peeling)
  • ½ bunch parsley
  • 1 lemon, quartered

What you'll need:

  • Kitchen String
  • Heavy duty foil
  • A heavy roasting pan that accommodates your bird, but isn't over-sized
  • A temperature probe (to ensure a fully-cooked turkey)

Instructions

Seasoning, Stuffing and Tying up a Turkey:

  1. Season inside of turkey cavity generously with about 1 tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine: 2 sticks softened butter, 2 Tbsp olive oil, ½ Tbsp lemon zest, 4 Tbsp lemon juice, 3 pressed garlic cloves, ¼ cup chopped parsley, ½ Tbsp salt, ½ tsp pepper. Mash /stir with a fork until well combined (the lemon juice doesn't easily stir into butter but keep mixing and it will happen after a few minutes). Take a whiff of it; you'll fall in love with how fresh it smells!
  3. Separate the skin from the turkey breast by pushing your fingers under the skin. Do this from the front and the back of the turkey; being careful not to tear the skin.
  4. Stuff ⅔ of the butter mixture under skin then spread the butter around by massaging over the top of the skin. This butter keeps the turkey breast tender, juicy and provides rich flavor.
  5. Rub remaining butter over the outside of the turkey (breast, legs, wings). Drizzle all over the top of the turkey with olive oil and generously season with salt and pepper; I just love a crisp, salty skin.
  6. Stuff turkey with quartered onion, 4 halved garlic cloves, ½ bunch parsley and quartered lemon. Tie turkey base and legs together; crossing the legs to better close up the turkey cavity, plus it looks extra fancy on the table.

How to Roast a Turkey: (Pre-heat the oven to 430˚F on the bake mode. Place oven rack in the lower part of your oven (mine was on the second level from the very bottom).

  1. Here is a fantastic tip: to protect the turkey breast and keep it juicy: Fold a large square sheet of foil into a triangle. Rub one side of your triangle with olive oil and shape the foil (oil-side-down) over the turkey breast, then remove foil; it will shield your turkey breast and keep it from getting dry. You'll apply this shield later in the roasting process.
  2. Place a meat thermometer into the bird; beneath the drum stick; deep into the dark meat. Start roasting at 430˚F for 20 min.
  3. Remove from oven; quickly baste with butter from the bottom of the dish. You can use a baster or tilt one side of the pan and collect drippings with a large spoon. Now apply prepared foil triangle to turkey breast area.
  4. Reduce oven to 350˚F and bake for another 2 hours 30 min for a 12 lb bird. (Once you have reduced the oven to 350˚F, you will bake about 13 min for every pound of turkey). The turkey thigh should register at 170˚F on the temperature probe and the breast at 160˚F to make sure it's fully cooked through then remove from the oven (keep in mind the turkey temp continues to rise slightly after it's out of the oven).
  5. Transfer turkey to serving platter and cover loosely but fully with foil. Let turkey rest for at least 1 hour. It will become more tender and easier to carve, the longer it sits. Keep the drippings from roasting pan for gravy. Now you can decorate around your turkey and make it festive. I used kale for my greens, then added small apples, sliced oranges and quartered lemons.

Notes

!Instructions/Tips for prepping your bird:
*If using a frozen turkey, defrost it in its plastic bag in the refrigerator for 3 days prior to roasting.
*Remove turkey from fridge about 30 minutes before you start working with it. If the turkey is closer to room temperature, it will bake more evenly.
*Remove the neck and bag of giblets from the turkey.
*Rinse turkey with cold water and pat it dry with paper towels. Let turkey sit in a roasting pan lined with paper towels to soak up any excess water from the turkey.
*Fold the wings behind the turkey; if you don't they are the quickest to scorch and dry out.

Final Final Picmonkey Hashtag bannerJuicy Roast Turkey. This turkey has the juiciest, most flavorful turkey breast! KEEPER!! @natashaskitchen

This roast turkey recipe are sponsored by Sub-Zero and Wolf Appliances – I’m so excited to be working with such a phenomenal brand; they are truly top notch; the creme de la creme of ranges and ovens. Wolf is all about empowering home cooks to make predictably delicious dishes every time. This is especially crucial during the holidays when everything has to be just so, like this roast turkey recipe! Be sure to show Sub-Zero & Wolf some like and thank them for sponsoring by visiting their Facebook page.

Now you know exactly how to make this juicy roast turkey recipe :). I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

Read comments/reviewsAdd comment/review

  • Patricia S-B
    June 19, 2017

    I’ve been eating turkey for almost 60 years, and this is the BEST I’ve ever tasted. My daughter, who doesn’t like turkey, liked this recipe. In addition, the leftovers didn’t taste like usual leftover turkey- that “old turkey” taste. They tasted like the freshly-baked bird for a number of days.
    Thank you! (BTW, I used a 10# bird, and still needed to increase the baking time. Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      June 19, 2017

      I’m so glad to hear that Patricia! Thanks for sharing the tip and the INCREDIBLE review! 😀 Reply

  • Gladys
    April 8, 2017

    Can I stuff this turkey with a bread dressing Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      April 8, 2017

      Hi Gladys, our family never added the traditional stuffing to our bird so I can’t say for sure. I would suggest using the stuffed turkey timing that you are comfortable with since it’s important to have the stuffing a safe temp to consume as well and that can be tricky to get both fully cooked and safe to eat. I would definitely suggest using a meat thermometer so your turkey doesn’t end up overcooked. Sorry that’s not the most helpful answer… Reply

  • Shayla
    February 24, 2017

    My Husband and I followed this recipe for our first Thanksgiving (2016) and OMG best turkey we have EVER eaten! I would actually almost say best turkey anyone has ever made in the whole family! It was super moist and flavorful! Thanks for my new favorite seasonal recipe! Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      February 24, 2017

      You’re welcome Shayla! What a pleasure for me to contribute to the joy felt on Thanksgiving day! Thank you for sharing such a wonderful review 😀 Reply

  • Greg
    January 14, 2017

    I made this mostly to the instructions, but apparently I messed up in the execution, as the breast came out extremely dry. It was complicated by the fact that I wasn’t present for most of the cooking (I left it in the care of my neighbor whose larger house we were using for the dinner and who knows nothing of roasting turkeys). I think either the fact that a.) the turkey didn’t get any basting at allduring its cooking process and b.) it may have been left in the oven about an hour too long may have been the deciding factors.

    -shrug-

    oh well – I will say the rest of the turkey was very tasty, but I was disappointed in the breast. Since the fault may have been my own I won’t say this recipe wasn’t successful and I do want to re-try this sometime when I can keep my full attention on things. (P.S. I did the herby lemon butter in a food processor and it was AWESOME – afterward we spooned a little on toast and steamed potatoes, yummy!) Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      January 14, 2017

      Oh bummer!!! Definitely overcooking a turkey will result in a dry turkey breast. I definitely recommend using a thermometer to gauge doneness. It’s tempting to leave a turkey in too long for fear of undercooking which is why the thermometer is so beneficial. I hope you love it when you give it another go! 🙂 Reply

  • Shawnette Griffith
    December 31, 2016

    Seasons Greetings,

    I found your recipe and have everything I need to make it happen. My question to you is “Once I have seasoned and buttered down the turkey….can I let it marinate over night in the refrigerator and cook it around noon the next day ?” I dont need it till after 5pm.I would pick up on #6 – stuff turkey with quartered onion Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      December 31, 2016

      Yes you can absolutely prep and even stuff the bird the day before. I have done it up to three days in advance and it was great! Reply

  • Mark Bennett
    December 29, 2016

    Hi,

    Thanks for the great recipe. My sister used it a few years ago at Thanksgiving and it worked great.

    I tried it for the first time this year though, and had trouble with it not being cooked in the middle. I used a square roasting pan instead of a deeper turkey dish, but otherwise followed your directions as closely as I could. Was I supposed to use convection bake instead of the normal setting?

    I normally cook vegetarian, so the entire experience of cooking meat is new to me! 😛 Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      December 29, 2016

      Hi Mark, I’m always happy to help troubleshoot. It was supposed to be on a regular bake setting, not convection. Did you use a meat thermometer? I highly recommend one for next time to ensure the turkey is cooked through and not overcooked. Not using a thermometer is risky business. Did you follow these instructions using a turkey large than 12 lbs? Reply

      • Mark Bennett
        December 31, 2016

        Hi Natasha,

        Thanks for the reply. I did use an electronic thermometer and poked it into the turkey at various times throughout the cooking. It seemed to be the right temperature, but my Mom also suggested using a meat thermometer instead. Will give that a go next time I try this recipe. Thanks! 🙂 Reply

  • Ryan
    December 27, 2016

    I’m an amateur in the kitchen and never cooked a turkey, ever. I cooked a 20lb bird and just used a little extra of everything. It was easily the best turkey I’ve ever had for the holidays, and many of my 15 guests said the same thing. What people said about the breast is true… very tender, juicy, and flavorful. This bird was a hit and I’m VERY glad to have found this recipe. So, THANK YOU!

    The only advice I’d give that I havent already seen on this site is how to handle the “drippings”. My grandmother didnt want to use the drippings in the gravy b/c it was almost all butter. We agreed to just give up on the drippings UNTIL we took the turkey out to set for an hour. We didnt leave the turkey in the hot roasting pan, we moved it to a carving dish and as it sat there for an hour a pool of “juice” began to form. We got our delicious drippings from the carving dish and it wasnt too much butter. Reply

    • Natasha
      natashaskitchen
      December 27, 2016

      Thank you for sharing your wonderful review!! 🙂 Reply

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