Citrus and Herb Butter Roast Turkey

The easiest turkey ever made.  This Citrus and Herb Butter Roast Turkey is moist, tender and juicy.  So simple to make and will definitely steal the show at your Thanksgiving dinner.  

Citrus and Herb Butter Roasted Turkey | The Suburban Soapbox #thanksgiving #turkey

This is the lazy person’s turkey.  I say this because brining a bird is such a mess and you MUST plan ahead AND you have to be sure the turkey is kept at the right temperature so it doesn’t contract any nasty organisms.  With all the other details you need to worry about on Thanksgiving….sometimes it’s best to keep it simple.Simple being….mixing up a citrus and herb butter concoction in a cereal bowl and smearing it all over the turkey…over AND under the skin. (Under the skin is very important!)  This is no time to be squeamish.

This is the turkey of the future, or the present….my days of brining a giant bird are over for now.  I agree, sometimes the brining process does give you an incredibly flavorful and moist bird but so does not overcooking it!  So, if you want to take the easy route this year…try this “technique” and everyone will be thankful.  Especially you.I will stress the importance of not overcooking the bird….as tempting as it is.  If you don’t own a meat thermometer go buy one now.  Seriously…stop reading, go to your favorite kitchen supply store and buy this.  It’s a life saver when roasting meats.

Citrus and Herb Butter Roasted Turkey | The Suburban Soapbox #thanksgiving #turkey

And don’t forget to truss….nobody likes a bird with their legs spread wide open.  🙂  And trussing helps the meat cook more evenly.  I also use a fast and furious cooking method….it’s the only way I’ll roast my turkey and I have Alton Brown to thank for that.  I really believe that this is the best way to ensure you will not dry out your bird.  (Just make sure your oven is VERY clean!  I set off the smoke detector….3 times!)  To round out my Thanksgiving spread I like to serve my Citrus and Herb Butter Roast Turkey with THESE killer mashed potatoes (so easy!!!) and THIS knock your socks off cranberry sauce.



Citrus and Herb Butter Roasted Turkey

Prep Time 10 mins Cook Time 2 hrs Total Time 2 hrs 10 mins
Serves 16



    For the citrus and herb butter

    • 1 large navel orange, juiced and zested
    • 1 large lemon, juiced and zested
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
    • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
    • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
    • pinch of salt
    • pinch of pepper
    • 1 stick of unsalted butter, room temperature

    For the turkey

    • 14-16 pound turkey, thawed if frozen)
    • 1/2 large orange, cut in two wedges
    • 1 lemon, cut in quarters
    • 1/2 large granny smith apple, cut in two wedges
    • 1 garlic head, cut in half
    • 5 sprigs of sage
    • 2 sprigs of rosemary
    • 5 sprigs of thyme
    • Kosher Salt and fresh ground pepper


    1. For the butter:
    2. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients and stir together thoroughly. Set aside.
    3. For the turkey:
    4. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
    5. Rinse the turkey inside and out. Pat the skin dry and place in a roasting rack inside a large roasting pan. Stuff the cavity of the bird with the orange, lemon, apple, garlic and herbs.
    6. Tuck the wing tips under the turkey.
    7. Carefully loosen the skin by running your hand between the skin and the breast meat working your way down to the leg. Take 1/4 of the butter mixture and rub it, thoroughly, under the skin over the breast and leg meat being sure to coat as much of the turkey as possible. Repeat on the opposite side and then coat the remaining butter mixture over the skin being sure to cover the entire turkey.
    8. Sprinkle the breast and legs of the turkey with salt and pepper and tie the legs of the turkey together with kitchen twine.
    9. Roast the turkey on the lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees in the oven for 30 minutes and then turn the oven temperature down to 35o degrees and insert a probe thermometer into the thickest part of the breast. Set the alarm on the thermometer to 161 degrees. A 14-16 pound turkey takes approximately 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting time total. (You can also use an instant read thermometer, just remember to check the turkey before the 2 hour mark to avoid overcooking.)
    10. Remove from the oven and cover with foil. Let the turkey rest for approximately 30 minutes before carving.

    Recipe Notes


    5.0 rating
    1 reviews
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    26 comments on “Citrus and Herb Butter Roast Turkey”

    1. I will have to share this recipe with the hubs because this holiday, I will be taking a back seat in the kitchen to get my snuggles on with my little man. He loves to brine a turkey, but I am going to vote for this one this year!

    2. This looks beautiful. Thanks for inspiring me to practice my turkey recipe before Thanksgiving!

    3. What a gorgeous looking turkey! I can’t believe Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away!

    4. I love the additional herbs and citrus flavors you’ve added, I can only hope that my turkey looks and tastes as good as yours!

    5. This turkey is gorgeous! You are getting me excited for Thanksgiving!

    6. Could that bird possibly look any prettier?? Gorgeous – this belongs in a magazine!

    7. What a gorgeous turkey! I can’t wait for Thanksgiving!

    8. Now I can’t wait for Thanksgiving!!

    9. I have given up on brining too and, let me tell you, we don’t miss it at all. You can get great flavor from a well-roasted turkey. And yours – absolutely gorgeous!

    10. Do you have to put some foil so the turkey doesn’t dry out/Burn ?

    11. This recipe looks amazing. Looking to change up my turkey this year. Do you use the drippings to make gravy? Just wondering how the citrus would translate into a gravy. Thank you.

    12. If I buy a pre-brine turkey, can I still follow this method?

      • Yes! Absolutely! Sometimes that’s what I do and it just enhances the flavor. I just would recommend not using the drippings for gravy because the brine could make it a tad saltier than most people like.

    13. I’m planning to make this for Thanksgiving this year, but I’m nervous about the herbs under the skin and in the rub burning during the 30 minutes at 500 degrees. Have you ever had this problem?

      This is my first year making a turkey on my own so I’m a little nervous!! Any tips would be greatly appreciated 🙂

      • I’m so sorry I’m just seeing your message now. I hope you had turkey success but for the future, I’ve never had a problem with the herbs burning during the first blast of heat. 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving!

    14. Making this as the first turkey I’ve ever made. So nervous but seems fool proof. Wish me luck!

      • I hope it turned out great for you! Happy Thanksgiving!

        • Hi Kellie! I’m making my turkey tomorrow (we’re doing the late Thanksgiving thing:). My roasting rack says it shouldn’t cook in over 400°, do you have a suggestion for keeping this under 400°?
          Also, can I prep the turkey the day before and just refridgerate?
          Thanks! 😉

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