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5 from 1 vote

Best Garlic Herb Roasted Turkey

A classic Roast Turkey is a holiday centerpiece that has everyone's mouths watering when it's finally time to sit up to the table and feast. This roast turkey recipe is hands down the best I've ever had, with a butter, herb, and garlic rub that results in crispy skin and juicy, perfectly flavored meat that will have everyone asking you how you did it!
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time3 hrs
Additional Time30 mins
Total Time4 hrs
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Diet: Gluten Free
Servings: 8 -12 servings
Calories: 1001kcal
Author: Amy Nash



  • 12-16 pound turkey, thawed for 3-4 days in the fridge if previously frozen

Turkey Brine

  • 2 gallons cold water 8 quarts or 32 cups of water
  • 1 ½ cups coarse kosher salt or 1 cup table salt
  • 1 ¼ cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons whole black peppercorns
  • 2 Tablespoons allspice berries
  • 3-5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 5 cloves garlic smashed
  • 1-2 oranges rind peeled off in ribbons
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 clean 5-gallon bucket pot, or other large container

Garlic Herb Butter

  • ½ cup butter softened
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh rosemary finely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh thyme finely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh oregano finely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh tarragon finely chopped
  • 5-6 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper


  • 1 apple quartered
  • 1 onion peeled and quartered
  • 1 carrot roughly chopped
  • 1 celery stick roughly chopped
  • 2-3 Tablespoons olive oil



  • In a 5-gallon food-grade bucket, combine the water, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice, fresh herbs, garlic, orange peel, and bay leaves.
  • Remove the neck and giblets from the thawed turkey and discard or set aside for later use. Remove any plastic or wire holding the turkey legs together and discard. Gently lower the turkey into the bucket of brine, making sure it is fully immersed. Place in the fridge or cover with a bag of ice placed directly on top of the turkey to keep it submerged fully in the bucket. Cover the bucket a lid or a thick, tight layer of aluminum foil and set aside to brine overnight or up to 24 hours.
  • Remove the turkey from the brine and pat completely dry both inside and out using plenty of paper towels. Let the turkey air-dry for at least 30 minutes or overnight in the fridge.

Garlic Herb Butter Rub

  • Combine the softened butter with the fresh herbs, garlic, salt, and pepper, mashing into a paste with a fork or with a food processor.
  • Carefully use your fingers to separate and loosen the skin from the breast meat by sliding one hand in to gently stretch and separate them on both sides of the turkey. Be sure to remove any rings first so as not to tear the skin.
  • Use your hands to stuff about ⅔ of the garlic herb butter between the skin and the breast meat, massaging it to create a thin, even layer over the entire breast on both sides of the turkey. Rub the remaining ⅓ of the butter mixture inside the cavity of the turkey.
  • Stuff the cavity with the apple, onion, carrot, and celery. Other good aromatics are quartered lemons or oranges. I do not recommend cooking stuffing or dressing inside your turkey.
  • Truss the turkey by tying a piece of kitchen string around one leg, then crossing the legs and wrapping the string around both legs before tying it off, securing the legs together. Fold the wings under the turkey.
  • Transfer the turkey to a roasting pan with the breast side up. At this point, the turkey can go back into the fridge for 24 hours.

Roasting the Turkey

  • Remove the turkey from the fridge 30 to 60 minutes before cooking, if it was prepared the day before. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  • Take a large square of aluminum foil and fold it in half to make a triangle. Shape the triangle over the breast of the turkey to create a shield, then set aside. Rub the turkey all over with a drizzle of olive oil.
  • Transfer the roasting pan to the oven and cook for 20 minutes.
  • Decrease the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and place the shield on top of the turkey. Roast for 13 minutes per pound of turkey (an additional 2 hours 30 minutes for a 12-pound bird), removing the shield and basting the turkey with the juices in the bottom of the pan every 30 minutes or so. Remove the shield during the last 30 minutes, unless the turkey is already looking evenly browned all over.
  • Cook until the internal temperature reaches 170 degrees F when tested on the meatiest part of the thigh and 160 degrees F when tested on the breast. The temperature will continue to rise about 5 degrees after removing the turkey from the oven.
  • Remove from oven and tent loosely with foil. Let the turkey rest for 30 to 60 minutes before carving. Save the drippings for turkey gravy!
  • Arrange the carved meat on a large platter with sprigs of fresh herbs and fresh cranberries or other fruit as a garnish, then serve.


  • This recipe will work for a 12- to 16-pound turkey. Larger turkeys may need additional butter and herbs and will require longer roasting time.


Calories: 1001kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 106g | Fat: 43g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g | Monounsaturated Fat: 14g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 378mg | Sodium: 22221mg | Potassium: 1390mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 39g | Vitamin A: 2188IU | Vitamin C: 18mg | Calcium: 222mg | Iron: 7mg