The Best Roast Turkey Recipe for Holidays

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Are you ready to make your holiday gatherings unforgettable? Let’s talk turkey — and not just any turkey. I’m sharing my go-to recipe for the most incredible Roast Turkey recipe that’s sure to be the centerpiece of your festive table. Imagine a turkey so tender and juicy, with skin so perfectly golden and crisp, it almost steals the show from the holiday lights!

This isn’t just another roast turkey recipe. It’s the ultimate guide to creating a holiday masterpiece infused with butter and a blend of aromatic herbs. Whether you’re hosting a big family dinner or a cozy gathering, this recipe is surprisingly simple yet delivers results that will have everyone asking for seconds. And the best part? It’s completely low-carb, fitting perfectly into your healthy festive menu. So, roll up your sleeves, and let’s create some holiday magic in the kitchen!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Buttery & Golden: Ensures moistness and a crispy skin.
  • Flavor-Packed: Each bite is full of sage, rosemary, and thyme.
  • Easy & Foolproof: Our cheesecloth technique simplifies cooking.
  • Low-Carb Friendly: Perfect for your healthy holiday menu.

Ingredients & Substitutions

Heads up: For exact measurements, see the recipe card below.

Creating this succulent Holiday Roast Turkey recipe is simpler than you think. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Whole Turkey: The star of your holiday table, 5.5 kg (12 lbs) ensures there’s enough for everyone.
  • Butter: Adds richness and helps in achieving that perfect golden skin.
  • Onions: Small-sized, they add a subtle, sweet flavor.
  • Sage and Thyme: Fresh herbs infuse the turkey with classic holiday aromas.
  • Chicken Stock: Keeps the turkey moist during roasting and adds depth to the flavor.
  • Sea Salt and Pepper: For that essential seasoning to enhance all the flavors.
  • Rosemary, Sage, Thyme (chopped): These herbs in combination create a fragrant and flavorful rub.
  • Garlic (minced): Adds a punch of flavor to the herb butter.
  • Cheesecloth or Muslin: Key to your turkey’s perfectly even cooking and golden skin.
Ingredients for holiday roast turkey recipe.

Substitutions & Variations

Looking to tweak this Holiday Roast Turkey recipe to suit your taste or dietary needs? Here are some easy swaps and variations:

  • Butter Alternative: For a dairy-free version, use the same amount of a duck fat, goose fat or ghee (usually well tolerated).
  • Herb Choices: Not a fan of sage or thyme? Feel free to experiment with your favorite herbs like oregano or parsley.
  • Stock Swap: Vegetable stock or bone broth can be used instead of chicken stock.
  • Adding Citrus: For an extra zing, add lemon or orange slices inside the turkey before roasting.
  • Spice It Up: Love a bit of heat? Mix some paprika or cayenne pepper into your herb butter.

How To Make

Prepare the Turkey and Oven. Start by preheating your oven to 430°F (220°C) fan assisted, or 465°F (240°C) conventional. Pat the turkey dry inside and out with paper towels.

Make the Butter Mixture. Melt half of your butter and mix it with 1 cup (240 ml) of chicken stock in a saucepan. In a separate bowl, blend the remaining butter with salt, pepper, chopped herbs and minced garlic.

Season Under the Skin. Gently separate the skin from the turkey’s meat and evenly spread the herbed butter underneath. Stuff the turkey with halved onions, sage, and thyme.

Raw turkey and herb butter for stuffing.
Turkey stuffed with herb butter.

Cover with Cheesecloth. Soak a piece of cheesecloth in the butter-stock mixture, then drape it over the turkey, smoothing it out for even coverage.

Turkey with herb butter ready to be baked.
Turkey covered with a muslin to prevent burning during baking.

Roast the Turkey. Place the turkey on a rack in a roasting dish. Pour another cup of chicken stock into the dish. Roast for 30 minutes at high heat, then lower the temperature to 355°F (180°C) fan assisted, or 400°F (200°C)conventional, and continue roasting for another 2 hours, basting every 30 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C). The exact time will depend on the size of your bird (about 20 minutes per each pound/ 450 g of turkey).

Rest and Serve. After cooking, carefully remove the cheesecloth, cover the turkey with foil, and let it rest for 30 minutes before carving. Enjoy your beautifully roasted, golden-skinned turkey!

Roast turkey with muslin to prevent burning the skin.
Crispy and golden brown roast turkey.

Simple Baking Guide for Different Turkey Sizes

Got a different size turkey? No worries! Here’s a quick guide to adjust your baking times in this roast turkey recipe:

  • Small (3-4 kg / 6.6-8.8 lbs): Start with 20 minutes at high heat, then approximately 1.5 to 2 hours at the reduced temperature.
  • Medium (5-6 kg / 11-13.2 lbs): This is your recipe’s size. Follow the instructions as is.
  • Large (7-8 kg / 15.4-17.6 lbs): Start with 30 minutes at high heat, then about 3 to 3.5 hours at the reduced temperature.
  • Extra Large (9-10 kg / 19.8-22 lbs): Start with 40 minutes at high heat, then 4 to 4.5 hours at the reduced temperature.

Remember, these are approximate times. Always check that your turkey reaches the safe internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) before serving.

The Best Roast Turkey Recipe for Holidays.

Tips for Best Roast Turkey for Holidays

Here are some tried-and-true tips to make your Holiday Roast Turkey recipe a standout success:

  • Temperature Matters: Start with a high oven temperature for the first 30 minutes to crisp the skin, then reduce to cook the meat thoroughly without drying it out.
  • Don’t Skip the Resting Time: Allowing the turkey to rest for at least 30 minutes after roasting helps redistribute the juices, ensuring a moist and tender bird.
  • Butter Under the Skin: Spreading herbed butter under the skin not only flavors the meat but also helps keep it juicy and makes the skin incredibly crispy.
  • Cheesecloth Technique: Using cheesecloth soaked in butter and stock prevents the turkey from drying out and promotes an evenly browned, crispy skin.
  • Internal Temperature is Key: Always check that the turkey’s internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C) before serving to ensure it’s perfectly cooked and safe to eat.

Storage Instructions

How long will the turkey last in the fridge?

Properly stored in a covered container, your roast turkey will stay fresh in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Can I freeze the cooked turkey?

Yes! Slice the turkey and store it in freezer-safe bags or containers. It’ll keep well for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating.

What is the best way to reheat leftovers?

Reheat in the oven at a low temperature, like 300°F (150°C), covered, until warmed through. This helps retain the moisture.

What about the turkey gravy or stock?

Store gravy or stock in the fridge for up to 4 days, or freeze it for up to 3 months. It’s perfect for future recipes! You can also use the drippings to make our creamy Low-Carb Gravy. To do that, use the fat drippings to cook the aromatics, and add the turkey stock instead of the bone broth.

The Best Roast Turkey Recipe for Holidays.

Serving Your Holiday Roast Turkey

The Main Event

Present your turkey as the centerpiece of your holiday feast. Carve it at the table for that ‘wow’ moment, serving with low-carb sides like Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Braised Cabbage or Cauliflower Mash.

Complement your turkey with our Low-Carb Gravy, Cranberry Sauce or a buttery herb sauce for added flavor.

Creative Ideas for Leftovers

  • Turkey Salad: Combine chopped turkey with mixed greens, nuts, and a light dressing for a quick and healthy salad. Try this Leftover Turkey Salad.
  • Low-Carb Wraps: Use lettuce wraps to encase turkey slices, cheese, and veggies for an easy, low-carb lunch.
  • Turkey Sandwich: Use our Quick Keto Bread or Low-Carb Bread Rolls to make easy lunchbox-friendly sandwiches!
  • Turkey Soup: Simmer leftover turkey with vegetables and herbs to make a comforting soup, perfect for chilly evenings.
  • Turkey Casserole: Mix turkey pieces with low-carb vegetables and a creamy sauce, then bake until bubbly for a satisfying casserole.

Tools for The Best Holiday Turkey Recipe

  • Cheesecloth or Muslin: Crucial for covering the turkey, this helps keep it moist and assists in achieving that golden, crispy skin.
  • Roasting Pan: A sturdy roasting pan to comfortably fit your turkey and catch all the delicious drippings.
  • Meat Thermometer: To check the internal temperature of your turkey, ensuring it’s perfectly cooked.
  • Basting Brush: For evenly applying the butter and stock mixture during the roasting process.
  • Fat Separator: Handy for making gravy, this tool helps separate the fat from the delicious turkey juices in the roasting pan.
The Best Roast Turkey Recipe for Holidays.

Butter Blanketed Roast Turkey

5 star from 1 vote
Ready for a turkey that's the talk of the table? Slather it in butter for the most mouth-watering, golden-skinned roast turkey, and add herbs add that extra yum. This is the one recipe you need for that perfect holiday feast!
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time3 hours
Resting Time30 minutes
Total Time3 hours 50 minutes
Print Pin Rate


  • 1 whole turkey (about 12 lbs)
  • 1.1 lbs butter
  • 2 small onions
  • 1 bunch of sage
  • 1 bunch of thyme
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tsp sea salt (or up to 3 tsp, to taste)
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp chopped rosemary
  • 2 tbsp chopped sage
  • 1 tbsp chopped thyme
  • 1 tsp minced garlic


  • Set your oven to 430 °F (220 °C), or 465 °F (240 °C). Dry the turkey inside and out with paper towels.
  • Melt half the butter and mix with 1 cup (240 ml) of chicken stock in a saucepan.
  • In a separate bowl, blend the remaining butter with salt, pepper, chopped herbs and minced garlic.
  • Gently separate the turkey skin from the meat and spread the herbed butter underneath.
  • Stuff the turkey with halved onions and whole bunches of sage and thyme.
  • Soak a cheesecloth in the butter-stock mixture, then drape it over the turkey.
  • Place the turkey on a rack in a roasting dish and add another cup of chicken stock to the dish.
  • Roast the turkey at high heat for 30 minutes, then reduce the oven to 355 °F (180 °C), or 400 °F (200 °C), continuing to roast for 2 hours, and basting every 30 minutes.
  • Check the turkey's internal temperature has reached 165 °F (74 °C). Once cooked, baste the cheesecloth well and gently remove it from the turkey.
  • Cover the turkey with foil and let it rest for 30 minutes before carving.


Calories: 611kcalNet Carbs: 1.5gCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 46.3gFat: 46.1gSaturated Fat: 24.2gSodium: 820mgMagnesium: 77mgPotassium: 575mgFiber: 0.5gSugar: 0.9g


  • Serving Size: About 170 g (6 oz) cooked turkey. (Note that nutrition facts are estimated and the calorie/fat content w, unless all drippings are served with the meat.)
  • Cooking Turkey: The exact time to cook will depend on the size of your bird. After the initial 30 minutes, it will take another about 20 minutes per each pound (450 g) of turkey. This is about 2 hours per a 12 pound bird.
  • Butter Under the Skin: Spreading herbed butter under the skin adds flavor and moisture, resulting in juicy meat and crispy skin.
  • Use Cheesecloth: Covering the turkey with butter-soaked cheesecloth helps it cook evenly and keeps it moist.
  • Basting: Regular basting every 30 minutes is key for a golden, flavorful crust.
    Check Internal Temperature: Ensure turkey reaches a safe internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) before serving.
  • Rest Before Carving: Let the turkey rest covered for 30 minutes after cooking for juicier meat.
  • Storage: Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

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