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Easy Herb-Roasted Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe

A Brine-Free Solution to Your Thanksgiving Turkey Woes

In my fantasy world, I'd be the sort of put-together individual who plans things out far enough in advance to lovingly brine a heritage bird. Realistically, though, my actual Thanksgiving planning is more of a fly by the seat of my pants sort of endeavor.

Years of crunch-time prep (and admittedly a bit of unnecessary panic) have taught me that even when I only get down to business the morning of the big day, it can still lead to a juicy, flavorful bird that my family will devour with relish.

Essentially, this is a friendly reminder that one need not stress themselves out (too much) over the big day. Take a deep breath; pull the (hopefully thawed) turkey out of the fridge; whisk together a hefty helping of salt, minced herbs, olive oil, and other aromatics; and have at it!

Don't forget to carve the bird before serving. Here's a step-by-step guide to breaking down the bird.

Easy Herb-Roasted Thanksgiving Turkey

Adapted from Ina Garten


If you have extra time, let the turkey sit at room temperature for an hour after it's been prepped; this will allow some of the salt and aromatics to infuse the flesh.

Easy Herb-Roasted Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe


  1. 12- to 14-pound turkey, rinsed and patted dry, neck and giblets reserved for stock
    2 tablespoons minced garlic (from about 6-8 cloves)
    1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon dry mustard
    2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary, plus whole sprigs for the cavity
    2 tablespoons minced fresh sage, plus whole sprigs for the cavity
    2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme, plus whole sprigs for the cavity
    2 tablespoons kosher salt
    2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper
    4 tablespoons olive oil
    4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus 1 lemon, quartered for the cavity


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line the v-rack of a roasting pan with heavy-duty tinfoil, and use a paring knife to poke holes in it every inch or so (this will protect the turkey from sticking to the rack, while allowing the drippings to accumulate on the bottom of the pan).
  2. Whisk together all ingredients (except the turkey, herb sprigs, and quartered lemon) in a small mixing bowl.
  3. Remove any remaining feathers from the turkey with tweezers. Gently loosen the skin from the flesh on the breasts, thighs, and drumsticks, and spread slightly more than 1/3 of the herb paste under the skin directly onto the flesh of these parts.
  4. Spread a scant 1/3 of the herb paste in the cavity of the turkey, and the remaining herb paste on the skin, focusing on the wings (since these aren't seasoned yet).
  5. Place turkey, breast-side down on the prepped v-rack and add 1-1/2 cups water to the bottom of the pan (this will prevent the drippings from burning). Stuff the cavity with the whole herb sprigs and quartered lemon.
  6. Roast for 45 minutes, then using clean oven mitts, or a wad of paper towels, flip the turkey so that the breast-side is facing up, and return to the oven.
  7. Roast for an additional 50 to 60 minutes, or until the thickest part of the thigh registers 170-175°, and the thickest part of the breast is 160°.
  8. Remove the turkey to a carving board, and let rest 30 minutes before carving.
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Nicole Perry
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