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Roasted Citrus Turkey Recipe with Herb Butter

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Succulent and delicious, this Roasted Citrus Turkey Recipe with Herb Butter is incredibly easy and fail-proof! Stuffed with zesty orange, garlic, rosemary, and sage, this oven-roasted turkey recipe is bursting with flavor! Perfect for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and even Sunday Lunch throughout the year!

Roasted Citrus Turkey in a baking tray.

This post was originally published on December 11th, 2020.

🍗 Roasted Turkey Recipe

Living in the UK we don’t really celebrate Thanksgiving. Turkey is more of a Christmas tradition and one I look forward to every year! However, with all of my food blogging friends buzzing about Thanksgiving in the states, I decided (4 months pregnant) to make a whole Thanksgiving dinner for me, Dimitris, and a dear friend. It included this roasted turkey recipe as well as gluten-free gravy, keto stuffing, Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with hazelnuts, mustard, and lemon, and of course, some sugar-free cranberry sauce to go with the roasted turkey. It was an enjoyable effort by all, eating or cooking!

Roasted Turkey in the oven is much easier than I thought it would be. It’s always been one of those things that I’ve avoided making because…I just didn’t know how to. After watching some videos, reading a few how-to’s, and making a few adjustments, this fail-proof recipe is what I came up with. If I can successfully make this recipe for roasted turkey, you can too!

Not only is this Citrus Turkey recipe easy, but it’s also really flavorful! No one wants a bland turkey, and bland this is not! This delicious turkey is stuffed with orange, rosemary, garlic, and sage, and then totally smothered in garlic herb butter after poking holes through the skin. It also lies on top of a bed of orange, rosemary, garlic, and sage and gets cooked on both sides, making sure the flavor has the best chance to penetrate the whole turkey. It’s SO delicious! Be sure to make my Gluten-Free Turkey Gravy recipe with the leftover pan drippings! If there isn’t enough turkey stock, add chicken stock to top it up.

Knife and fork slicing roasted turkey.

🗝️ Key Ingredients & Substitutions

Roasted Turkey

  • Turkey: I used a small, 3kg thawed turkey (about 6 lbs) which serves a smaller crowd of 4-7 people. It was plenty for the 3 of us to have at dinner, and then we made turkey curry out of the leftovers.
  • Orange: Just one orange, sliced into 1 cm slices (about 1/2 an inch). You can also add lemon wedges for more citrus flavor.
  • Sage: I used fresh sage as the flavor goes so well with poultry like turkey and chicken.
  • Rosemary: Just an extra herb that also goes well with poultry. I use home-dried rosemary, but fresh or dried will work.
  • Olive oil: Helps with moisture and also crisps up the skin.
  • Garlic: Plenty of garlic – nearly a whole head! Feel free to use a whole head of garlic if you want even more flavor.
  • Salt and pepper: I ground generous amounts of kosher salt and ground black pepper over the whole bird to season it well.

Garlic Herb Butter

  • Butter: I (for once) used regular, salted butter as my dairy intolerance has been minimized in pregnancy (yay!) but dairy-free butter, ghee, or refined coconut oil will work as well.
  • Garlic & Rosemary: More garlic and rosemary to make the outside of the turkey taste absolutely amazing!
.

🥣 How to Make this Citrus Turkey Recipe

Preparing the turkey

  1. Prep the oven. Firstly, preheat the oven temperature to 425 degrees F / 220 degrees C for standard ovens, or 390 degrees F / 200 degrees C for fan-assisted ovens. Make sure the shelf is moved to the lowest part of the oven.
  2. Prep the baking tray. Secondly, prepare a large roasting pan with parchment paper, and place a bed of 1/2 of the orange slices, 6 cloves of garlic, 1/2 of the sprigs of each fresh herb, and olive oil in the bottom of the pan.

3. Pat dry & poke. Next, pat turkey dry with paper towels and poke holes all over with the point of a sharp knife.
4. Stuff it. Stuff the cavity of the turkey with the other half of the orange, remaining sprigs of fresh herbs, 4 cloves of garlic, and a dash of olive oil.

5. Make the garlic herb butter. Next, in a small bowl whip up the garlic herb butter and then spread 1/4 of it over half of the fresh turkey. Sprinkle salt and ground black pepper generously over the turkey.

6. Flip, spread & sprinkle. Flip the turkey upside down (breast side down) onto the herbs and orange in the baking tray and spread with another 1/4 of the herb butter mixture. Save the rest of the butter in the fridge. Add salt and pepper generously as before.

Roasting the turkey

7. Roasting time! Place turkey in the lowest third of the oven and roast uncovered for 30 minutes (see notes for additional roast turkey cooking time).
8. Remove and flip. Remove the turkey from the oven and turn it over so it’s now breast-side up. I had a little help with this. We used tongs and wooden spoons.
9. Slather more butter. After that, take the remaining herb butter from the fridge and spread half of it over the turkey. We used a pastry brush but a spoon would work too. The turkey is hot and the butter will melt easily, so take extra care!

10. Lower and bake. Lower the heat to 325°F / 165°C (for standard ovens), or 300°F / 150°C (fan-assisted ovens), and then roast the turkey uncovered, for 1 hour.
11. Remove and slather two more times. Remove the turkey from the oven, slather it with the remaining garlic herb butter and then baste it with the juices gathered in the tray. Roast it for 30 minutes and then baste the turkey before roasting it one more time for a further 20 minutes. Tip: If the skin of the turkey seems to be browning quickly, tent it loosely with aluminum foil.
12. Broil. Turn your oven to broil and broil the turkey for up to 10 minutes. Watch it to make sure it doesn’t overcook and burn. This is optional. If you decide to skip it, bake the turkey for a further 10 minutes.
13. Remove and tent. Remove the turkey from the oven and tent it with aluminum foil if you haven’t already.
14. Rest. Finally, let the turkey rest for 30 minutes.

Roasted Thanksgiving Turkey

🌡️ How do I know the turkey is cooked through?

There are two ways to check if your turkey is cooked properly:

  1. Thermometer: Check the internal temperature of the turkey by inserting a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. When the temperature reads 165°F it’s ready. An instant-read thermometer is the quickest way to check.
  2. Slice and see: If you don’t have a meat thermometer, slice the thickest part of thigh open. Check if it’s pink. If the juices are running through and the meat is no longer pink, it’s ready!

🫙 Storage & Freezing

Store: After removing the bones, store this roasted turkey in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat it in the microwave or oven until it is piping hot. You’ll want to cover it with aluminum if you’re reheating it in the oven (NOT the microwave!). It’s also a great addition to leftovers! We’ve added it to soups, curries, and enchilada bakes the next day.

Freezing: You can also freeze turkey meat for later. Store it in an airtight container or ziplock bag and freeze it for up to 3 months. Thaw the frozen turkey completely before reheating.

Knife and fork slicing through a citrus turkey breast.

🍊 Can I make this taste even more citrusy?

Yes! for an extra step, zest the orange peel and mix the orange zest with the butter mixture. You can also zest a lemon and add the lemon zest instead.

💦 How do I keep my turkey moist?

By basting it and adding more garlic herb butter throughout cooking, we ensure that the roasted turkey stays nice and juicy! When it is browning towards the end of cooking, carefully add an aluminum tent over the turkey to lock in extra moisture.

🍽️ What can I serve with Roasted Turkey?

All of your classic Thanksgiving and Christmas side dishes go really well with this roasted turkey recipe! Here’s what I make as the turkey cooks:

Turkey on a white plate with brussels sprouts and stuffing.

🦴 What do I do with the leftover turkey bones?

My favorite was to use the bones to their full potential is to make bone broth. Take the leftover bones, plus any leftover herbs or fruit, and add them to a slow cooker. Fill the slow cooker up with water and then cook it on high overnight. Turkey broth is AMAZING, and great to boil rice in or add to soups and curries.

🦃 How do I use up leftover turkey meat?

Leftover turkey meat is a great replacement for shredded chicken. Use up your leftovers with one of these recipes:

A spoon pouring gravy over turkey on a white plate with brussels sprouts and stuffing.

😋 More holiday recipes to try:

Have you made this recipe? We’d love to know <3 Tag us (@makehealthyrecipes) on Facebook and InstagramPin it on Pinterest, and please leave a star rating review below! Don’t forget to subscribe to the email list (top right of this page) for sparkly new recipes in your inbox.

Whole roasted citrus turkey in a black baking tray.

📖 Citrus Turkey Recipe with Garlic Herb Butter

Yield: 6 people
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Resting Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes

Step-by-step guide for making the Best Roasted Citrus Turkey Recipe with Garlic Herb Butter for special occasions like Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Ingredients

Roasted Turkey

  • 2.5-3 kg Turkey, thawed, 5.5-6.5 lbs, serves 5-8 people
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 5-9 stems fresh sage, about 20-30 leaves
  • 6 sprigs rosemary, fresh or dried
  • 90 ml olive oil , 1/2 cup
  • 10 cloves garlic , crushed
  • Generous amount of salt and pepper

Garlic Herb Butter

  • 3 oz salted butter, room temperature, (sub: dairy-free butter, ghee or refined coconut oil + salt), 6 tbsps
  • 4 cloves garlic , minced
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, fresh or dried, crushed/diced

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F / 220°C for standard ovens, or 390°F / 200°C for fan-assisted ovens. Make sure the shelf is moved to the lowest part of the oven.
  2. Prepare a large baking tray with parchment paper, and a bed of 1/2 of the orange slices, 6 cloves of garlic, 1/2 of the sage, rosemary, and 1/2 of the olive oil.
  3. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels and poke holes all over with the sharp point of a knife.
  4. Stuff the turkey with the other half of the orange, remaining rosemary, sage, 4 cloves of garlic, and a dash of olive oil.
  5. Whip up the garlic herb butter and spread 1/4 of it over half of the turkey. Sprinkle salt and pepper generously over the turkey.
  6. Flip the turkey upside down (breast side down) onto the herbs and orange in the baking tray and spread with another 1/4 of the herb butter. Save the rest of the butter in the fridge. Add salt and pepper generously as before, and pour the other 1/2 of the olive oil over the bird.
  7. Roast uncovered for 30 minutes (see notes for additional roast turkey cooking times)
  8. Remove the turkey from the oven and turn it over so it’s now breast-side up. I had a little help with this. We used tongs and wooden spoons.
  9. Take the remaining herb butter from the fridge and spread half of it over the turkey. We used a pastry brush but a spoon would work too. The turkey is hot and the butter will melt easily, so take extra care!
  10. Lower the heat to 325°F / 165°C (for standard ovens), or 300°F / 150°C (fan assisted ovens), and then roast the turkey uncovered, for 1 hour.
  11. Remove the turkey from the oven, slather it with the remaining garlic herb butter and baste it with the juices gathering in the tray. Roast it for 30 minutes and then baste the turkey before roasting it one more time for a further 20 minutes. Tip: If your roasted turkey seems to be browning quickly, tent it loosely with aluminum foil.
  12. Turn your oven to broil and broil the turkey for up to 10 minutes. Watch it to make sure it doesn’t overcook and burn. This is optional. If you decide to skip it, bake the turkey for a further 10 minutes.
  13. Remove the turkey from the oven and tent it with aluminum foil if you haven’t already.
  14. Let the turkey rest for 30 minutes.

Notes

  1. Store: After removing the bones, store this roasted turkey in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat it in the microwave or oven until it is piping hot. You’ll want to cover it with aluminum if you’re reheating it in the oven (NOT the microwave!). It’s also a great addition to leftovers! We’ve added it to soups, curries, and enchilada bakes the next day.
  2. Freezing: You can also freeze turkey meat for later. Store it in an airtight container or ziplock bag and freeze it for up to 3 months. Thaw the frozen turkey completely before reheating.

How do I know the turkey is cooked through?

There are two ways to check if your turkey is cooked properly:

  1. Thermometer: Check the internal temperature of the turkey by inserting a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. When the temperature reads 165°F it's ready. An instant-read thermometer is the quickest way to check.
  2. Slice and see: If you don't have a meat thermometer, slice the thickest part of thigh open. Check if it's pink. If the juices are running through and the meat is no longer pink, it's ready!
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 695Total Fat: 33gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 21gCholesterol: 348mgSodium: 346mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 90g

Nutrition information and calculations will vary with the use of different brands or ingredients. These figures are estimates. Please get in touch if you have questions!

Did you make this recipe?

Have you made this recipe? I’d love to know <3 Tag me (@gallaxygas) on Facebook and Instagram, Pin it on Pinterest, or leave a star rating review below! Don’t forget to sign up to the email list for sparkly new recipes in your inbox =]

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