This roast turkey recipe with fresh sage and orange zest is the perfect holiday meal centerpiece. It’s seasoned perfectly with a simple dry brine, then roasted with herbs, aromatics, and citrus until tender and juicy.
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Does roasting a whole turkey sometimes feel like a big task? With this holiday turkey recipe, it doesn’t have to.
This recipe couldn’t be simpler and results in the most tender, juicy, and flavorful roast turkey every time. Just a little bit of hands-on time and dinner is served!
📖Why This Recipe Works
- Simple ingredients. This recipe is made up of the simplest ingredients that come together to make the best roast turkey.
- Minimal prep. A dry brine keeps the dirty dish count low and the whole thing takes next to no time to prepare. Win!
- Perfect for the holidays. This whole roast turkey is perfect for feeding a crowd during the holidays. And you can always count on delicious leftovers!
🦃 Selecting a Turkey
When estimating the size needed, assume 1 pound per person for a bone-in turkey and ½ pound for a boneless turkey breast.
Fresh turkeys are chilled below freezing but not frozen solid. They should be baked within 3 days of purchase.
Fresh vs Frozen
When selecting a frozen turkey breast, look for any signs of frost. Skip those.
You will need to defrost the turkey fully before cooking. The average bone-in double turkey breast will need 48 to 72 hours in the refrigerator to completely defrost.
When it comes to turkey, labels can be confusing. Heritage, organic, pastured, free-range... it can be confusing. Buy the best quality turkey in your price range. There are only 2 things you need to look out for.
First, avoid basted and self-basting turkeys if possible. These will be the most highly processed. If you have already purchased a basting turkey, do NOT brine. They are injected with a solution that is intended to retain moisture. Your turkey may be too salty if brined.
Second, do not brine kosher turkeys. They are typically brined during the packaging process. Confirm with your butcher if you are unsure. Again, it will be too salty if doubled-brined.
I use a 15-pound turkey for this recipe, so the amounts needed are designed for that. If you use a smaller or larger bird, then adjust the amounts accordingly.
Aromatics - Use garlic, white or yellow onion, carrot, and celery.
Unsalted Butter - Rubbing the turkey with melted butter adds moisture and flavor and helps the skin get golden and crispy. You can substitute vegan butter to make this recipe dairy free.
Dry White Wine - If you don’t have white wine, chicken broth will work too.
Orange Juice - I use freshly squeezed orange juice from the oranges that
Sage - We’re using sage already in the brine, but I like to add a couple of extra sprigs to add more herb-y flavor.
Dry Brine - we’re making a super simple dry brine made with kosher salt, brown sugar, fresh thyme, fresh sage, orange zest, and black pepper. Check out my post on how to dry brine a turkey for more details!
See the recipe card for exact quantities.
🦃 Brining Turkey Breast
Often people ask if bringing turkey is really necessary and my answer is... yes! I am a big fan of brining chicken and brining salmon. Turkey is no different, in fact, I would say that a turkey brine is the most critical step in roasting a turkey.
Turkey is known to dry out quickly which is why brine is a critical step.
There are two brine methods. The wet method submerges the turkey breast in a solution of water, salt, sugar, and herbs. I use that method for our roasted turkey breast recipe.
While the dry method coats the turkey in salt and it sits uncovered in the fridge. Both are great but the dry method takes longer so plan ahead.
The main reason I prefer the dry method is that it less messy and you are seasoning the turkey and brining it in one step. Plus is creates lovely crispy skin.
⏲️How to Roast a Turkey
This roast turkey is so much simpler than it tastes! Here’s a quick summary of the recipe.
Step 1- Dry Brine
Combine all of the dry brine ingredients in a food processor and pulse until combined.
Place the turkey onto a roasting pan or baking sheet, remove the giblets and neck, then pat dry gently using paper towels.
Sprinkle the brine mixture into the cavity, under, and over the skin. Rub it all over, then bend the wings back, tuck them under the breast, and set the turkey uncovered into the refrigerator. Let it brine for 1-3 days.
Step 2- Roast the Turkey
Bring the turkey to room temperature for 1 hour and place the rack into your roasting pan.
Brush both sides of the turkey with melted butter, then add it to the roasting pan breast side down. Add the veggies, garlic, and herbs to the pan, truss the turkey if desired, then pour the orange juice and white wine into the roasting pan.
Roast the bird at 425ºF for 45 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350ºF and continue roasting until the turkey reaches 165ºF.
Step 3 - Rest and Carve
Remove from the oven, let rest for 20 minutes. This will allow the turkey to come to a higher temperature while sealing in the juices. I prefer to carve the turkey in the kitchen and serve it on a platter.
🥗What to Serve with Roast Turkey
perfect for the holidays, so I love to serve it alongside all of the holiday classics! A few of my favorites include Boursin Cheese Mashed Potatoes, Gluten-Free Crescent Rolls and our Deconstructed Green Bean Casserole.
And of course, the best gluten-free turkey gravy.
👩🏻🍳 Expert Tips
- Don’t skip the brine! It’s what gives the turkey its delicious flavor and texture.
- Bring the turkey to room temperature. I recommend setting it out for 1 hour on the counter after brining and before roasting. Room temperature meat cooks more evenly.
- Truss the turkey. This closes the breast cavity and prevents the bird from drying out as it cooks.
- To truss a turkey, tuck the wing tips behind the shoulders and lock them into place. Cross the T ends of the drumsticks over one another, then wrap twine around them and tie them a knot to secure.
- Check the temperature. As always, it’s important to make sure that the internal temperature is high enough before serving. To check the temp, insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the turkey. It should be 165ºF.
- Let the meat rest for 20 minutes before slicing. This gives the moisture and flavor time to redistribute back into the meat
🌡️Storage and Food Safety
To store any leftover roasted turkey, portion the bird out into smaller pieces, then place it in an airtight container. It will last in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for 3-4 months.
When you’re ready to enjoy again, thaw in the fridge if frozen, then warm at 300ºF in the oven until heated through. To prevent it from drying out, warm it in a foil-covered dish with a little bit of chicken broth.
Here are a few food safety tips to keep in mind as you proceed with this roast turkey recipe!
- Check the temperature. The minimum internal temperature of the turkey should be 165ºF (74ºC) before serving. Use a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the bird to make sure it’s fully cooked before slicing and serving.
- Wash everything thoroughly. After handling and cooking raw meat, it’s important to make sure your hands and any tools you use are nice and clean.
- A cooked turkey shouldn’t sit out for more than 2 hours. Once you’re finished carving and serving, let the turkey cool, then slice it up and store it.
Recipes to Use Leftover Turkey
💬Frequently Asked Questions
You’ll actually roast your turkey at a couple of temperatures: 425ºF for 45 minutes, then 350ºF until it reaches an internal temperature of 165ºF.
The initial cook time at high heat allows the skin to get nice and crispy. The longer roasting time at a lower temp cooks the bird all the way through and results in that juicy, tender texture.
That depends on the size of the turkey! My rule of thumb is 13-15 minutes per pound, so calculate accordingly.
Uncovered! Exposing the turkey to the heat is what gives it that delicious crispy skin.
If you do notice the outside of the bird burning or drying out too much as it roasts, cover with foil and continue roasting until cooked through.
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Roast Turkey with Sage and Orange
- 15 pound turkey
- 1 large white onion cut into chunks
- 2 large carrots cut into chunks
- 2 stalks celery cut into chunks
- ½ cup unsalted butter melted
- ½ cup dry white wine or chicken broth
- 2 oranges juice only
- 1 head garlic top ⅓ cut off
- extra sprigs of fresh sage
Dry Brine the Turkey
- Place all the ingredients in a small food processor and pulse several times. The salt mixture will be a light green.
- Remove the turkey from the wrapping and place the turkey on a clean roasting pan aor large baking sheet. Remove the giblets and neck from inside the cavity. You can discard or save for another use. Remove or discard any plastic or metal cages. Pat the turkey dry, inside and out, using paper towels.
- Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of the salt mixture into the cavity of the turkey and rub it in. Gently loosen the skin over the breast and meaty part of the legs. Rub 4 teaspoons of the salt mixture into the meat of but under the skin. Then sprinkle the remaining salt mixture over all the outside of the turkey. Running it into the skin.
- Bend the wings back and tuck under the breast. Place the turkey breast side up uncovered into the refrigerator for at least 1 day up to 3 days.
Roast the Turkey
- Allow the turkey to sit at room temperature for one hour before roasting. Preheat hte oven to 425 F degrees.
- Place the rack in your roasting pan. Brush the turkey on both sides with the melted butter. Add the turkey to the pan breast side down.
- Place the vegetables, garlic, and herbs around the side of the turkey. You can add some inside the cavity if you like. Truss the turkey if you like. Pour in the orange juice and white wine.
- Roast for 45 minutes. Remove the turkey from the oven and carefully flip it breast side up. Baste with the pan juices. Return to the oven and reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Cook the turkey until it reaches the temp of 165º for the breast and 175º for the thighs. The meat will rise an additional 10º continuing to cook as it rests. Plan on 13 to 15 minutes per pound for the total time. If your turkey isn't producing enough juices you can add water or broth to prevent the bottom from burning.
- Remove from the oven and allow the turkey to rest for 20 minutes before slicing.
- The quantities for brining the turkey are for a 15 pound bird. Adjust accordingly.
- You can brine a partially frozen turkey but it may be hard to loosen the skin properly.
- You must use kosher salt, not table salt.
- Do not brine kosher or self basting turkey. They were brined before packaging.
- Add additional water to stock if all the liquid evaporates from the bottom of the pan.
- Tuck the wing tips behind the shoulders to lock them into place.
- Cross the t ends of the drumsticks one over the other.
- Wrap twine around them and make a regular (overhand) knot to secure them.