Best Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe

Tender and juicy, with herby citrus flavors and covered in garlic butter, this is truly the Best Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe!
Course Dinner, Main
Cuisine American
Keyword best thanksgiving turkey recipe, how to carve a turkey, how to cook turkey, how to defrost a turkey, How to make turkey gravy, thanksgiving turkey recipe
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Resting Time 15 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Servings 10 (Depending on size of your turkey)
Calories 586kcal
Author Kristen King



  • 12-20 lb turkey
  • Garlic butter
  • 1 Orange halved
  • 1 Lemon halved
  • 1 Onion halved
  • Several sprigs of fresh herbs like sage, rosemary, thyme
  • Baking twine
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp flour


  • Preheat the oven to 425°F with the rack in the lower third of the oven.
  • Rinse and pat turkey dry with paper towels. Remove neck and giblets, gravy packet, or any packages inside the cavities of the bird. Check large cavity as well as neck cavity.
  • Carefully lift up skin, separating from breast as much as you can, and season underneath with garlic butter recipe (see notes below for ingredients). Rub the outer skin all over with more garlic butter. You don’t have to use it all and the leftover butter can be used to butter rolls or on vegetables or potatoes. You can also freeze the extra.
  • Stuff the cavity with the orange, lemon, onion, and herbs.
  • Tie the legs with twine and transfer the turkey to a rack set inside a roasting pan. Tuck wings underneath so they don’t burn.
  • Pour 2 cups of chicken broth into the roasting pan and transfer to the oven.
  • Roast the turkey for 30 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.
  • After the first hour of roasting, baste the turkey every 30 minutes. Tent the turkey with foil if the skin becomes a deep golden brown before the turkey is cooked. You can also just cover the parts that are getting too brown.
  • Roast until a meat thermometer inserted into the thigh joint registers 160°F.
  • If roasting a 12-pound bird, check the temperature after 1½ hours. A 15-pounder should take 2½ to 3 hours and a 20-pounder 4½ to 5.
  • Remove the turkey from the oven and transfer to a carving board.
  • Let the turkey rest for at least 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, place the roasting pan on the stovetop over medium-high heat (or transfer juices to sauce pan if you prefer).
  • Add 2 cups of the remaining broth to the pan drippings and bring to a simmer. Skim off all but 1-2 tbsp of the fat, depending on the size of your bird.
  • Combine the milk and flour in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake vigorously to combine.
  • Whisk the milk mixture into the gravy and simmer, whisking continuously, until the gravy thickens slightly, about 2 minutes.
  • Carve the turkey and serve with gravy.


  1. Turkey Breast: You can use a turkey breast in place of a whole turkey for this recipe.
  2. Garlic Butter: Trust us, once you try this garlic butter spread on your turkey, you will never go back to traditional roasting. It makes the juiciest turkey you will ever try. 
    •    For further instructions on how to mix the butter, check out our garlic butter recipe linked in the post above!
  3. Carving Turkey: When carving the turkey, find the wishbone at the front center of the breast. Use your fingers to pull it out.
  4. Slicing Turkey: Slice the turkey breast against the grain. Trust us, this will make a huge difference.


Calories: 586kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 85g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 282mg | Sodium: 793mg | Potassium: 1012mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 305IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 73mg | Iron: 4mg