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How to Cook the Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

Roast Turkey with Garlic and Herb Compound Butter is a simple way to prepare a turkey in a flavorful and moist way.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs 30 mins
Servings 18 servings
Calories 700 kcal


  • 1 Roasting Pan
  • 1 Meat Thermometer


  • 1 18 lb. turkey thawed
  • 3 carrots cut into 3 inch pieces
  • 3 celery stalks cut into 3 inch pieces
  • 1 lemon quartered
  • 1 large onion cut into chunks
  • 3 sprigs fresh sage left whole
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary left whole
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme left whole

Compound Butter

  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
  • 6 cloves of garlic finely minced
  • 4-5 sprigs fresh sage stripped and chopped
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme stripped and chopped
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary stripped and chopped
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper


Creating the Compound Butter

  • Begin by taking your butter out of the fridge to begin softening.
  • Once butter is softened, mix your butter and other ingredients in a bowl.

Cooking the Turkey

  • Begin by preheating your oven to 325° F.
  • While it is in the roasting pan, open the package of your thawed turkey. There will be lots of juice, so make sure to catch it all in the pan.
  • Drain the pan in a sink and take out the neck and any giblet bag from inside the turkey. Also take this time to search for any feathers that may have gotten overlooked. Let sit on the counter for 30 minutes to dry out the skin a bit.
  • Pat down your turkey with a paper towel.
  • In your roasting pan, place the carrots and celery at the bottom. These will be used for your gravy later.
  • Place the turkey in your roasting pan, and tuck the wings underneath the body.
  • Use your fingers to gently reach underneath skin and separate it from the meat. Be careful not to tear it.
  • Take half of your compound butter and put it underneath the skin. Take the other half and spread it all over the top of your turkey, trying to get as much of it coated as possible.
  • Next, stuff the turkey cavity with your lemons, onions, thyme, sage, and rosemary. I like to also place a couple pieces of onion to put in the pan around the turkey.
  • Put the turkey in the oven with the lid on or tented with tin foil.
  • After 2 ½ hours, uncover the turkey and raise the heat to 375° F.
  • Bake for another 1 ½ hours until turkey is fully cooked through and a nice golden brown on the outside. It may start getting brown earlier than the inside is done, in which case just place your lid or tenting foil back on.
  • At about the 3 hour and 15 minute point, start temping your bird in multiple places to see where it's at (you want it to be 165° F). All ovens cook differently and if yours happens to run hotter (or colder), the turkey could be done faster (or slower).
  • Let turkey rest on the counter for 30 minutes after cooking to let all the juices redistribute. Then it's carving time!