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Simple Garlic and Herb Roasted Turkey

This is a no-tears, no-fuss Easy Roasted Turkey recipe. Read on to find out how to roast a turkey without losing your mind!

Easy Garlic and Herb Turkey--no fuss, no frills, just really good turkey!

On Friday I made my very first turkey…ever. Before that, I had never even watched someone make a turkey. I was clue to the capital Less.

So, like any good food blogger, I started hunting the Internet for recipes, and it took me about 5 minutes to become totally overwhelmed and confused.

People have some STRONG opinions about their turkey, and they’re all different. Brining is either THE BEST THING to ever happen to the poultry family, or it’s a total disgrace to the feathered population. According to the internet, frying your turkey is the best, but you should never do it because it’s too dangerous. You MUST tent your turkey with foil, except that’s actually terrible and you’re a terrible person for even thinking of tenting! Roast it at a high temperature, but low and slow is actually the key. MAKE SURE you baste the bird every 30 minutes except if you do you’ll ruin everything. Whaaaaaat?!

This Easy Garlic and Herb Roasted Turkey recipe is everything you need and nothing you don't!

Guys? Sometimes you just have to shut out the Internet and cook.

So that’s what I did. And it actually worked.

I made a turkey. And it had a golden crispy skin and tender, flavorful meat. There was no weeping, no gnashing of teeth, and no panic attacks.

But I felt kind of silly posting the recipe. I mean, I’ve only made one turkey in my ENTIRE life! What right do I have to post a recipe on the Internet and act like I actually know what I’m doing?

But then I decided that’s exactly why I needed to post this recipe. Not because I’m a turkey aficionado, but because I’m a normal person, just like you. And I want everyone else to know that turkey doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t have to take you 20 attempts. It doesn’t require 3 days of preparation. You can make your very first turkey today–Yes, this very day!–and it can taste good!

Easy Garlic and Herb Roasted Turkey |

Many Internet voices yelled at me told me I needed to buy a fresh, organic, local turkey. Normally I would be all for that. But here’s the thing. Some people can’t afford to buy a turkey like that, or they don’t even have access to one. And I believe everyone should be able to enjoy amazing turkey on Thanksgiving, whether it was butchered 2 days ago at a local farm or it was frozen and on sale at the local Save A Lot.

So I started with a frozen turkey I bought on sale. The Internet is in agreement on one count: thawing your turkey beforehand really pays off. So give yourself three days to let the turkey thaw out in your refrigerator. It’s not absolutely necessary, but it will make your life so much more enjoyable.

Once your turkey is thawed, this whole thing is easy peasy. You’ll want to start by removing your rings, rolling up your sleeves, and mentally preparing yourself to get all up in that bird’s business. I recommend prepping all your ingredients before handling the turkey. That way you don’t have to get nasty turkey meat hands all over the salt box and refrigerator door.

So, take some butter and smash it with lemon zest and fresh herbs (or use Gourmet Garden’s herb blends in a bottle–the Italian Herb blend is great for this!). Put your salt and pepper in bowls, chop up an onion and some celery, and peel a head of garlic.

Then, take your bird out of the bag and remove the giblets and any other nasties up in the cavity. Rinse the bird under cold water then pat the whole bird dry with paper towels. Place the bird on your roasting rack, then dunk your hands into the butter mixture and rub it all over the bird–over, under, in all the nook and crannies and in the cavity. Do the same with the salt and pepper, then stuff the cavity with the onions, garlic cloves, and celery.

This Easy Garlic and Herb Roasted Turkey is all you need to make a juicy, flavorful bird. No brining required!

That’s it. Your bird is ready to roast! I started mine at a higher temperature then lowered it to 350. That seemed to work well for me, so I’m sticking with it. The bird will take around 2 1/2 hours to bake, but depend on your meat thermometer, not the time. After about 2 hours, take the turkey out and stick a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh. You want that area to register 165. If you’re far from there, put it back in for another 30 minutes. If it’s close, take it out and check every 10 minutes until it gets there. One piece of advice: Don’t forget to take the meat thermometer out before putting the bird back in the oven (unless it’s oven safe). This will most definitely result in a total plastic meltdown…not that I would know or anything. Ahem.

This Easy Garlic and Herb Roasted Turkey will make your Thanksgiving day a breeze! No brining required!

Once you take out your gorgeous, crispy, golden bird, tent it with foil and let it sit for at least 30 minutes before carving. I know it’s hard. I know you want to dive right in, but that 30 minutes allows the juices to soak back into the meat, keeping your turkey nice and juicy. If you want a tutorial for carving turkey, I recommend checking out this one from Huffington Post. Or just grabbing a big knife and hacking away, which, in the interest of full disclosure, is exactly what I did.

This Easy Garlic and Herb Roasted Turkey doesn't require any fancy ingredients, steps, or equipment. It's all you need for a juicy, flavorful bird!

That’s it y’all! You’ve totally got this. Go forth and roast!

Pssst! One more thing! Don’t even think about tossing all those juicy, herby, buttery drippings. They make the best gravy ever! I used this easy recipe from In Sock Monkey Slippers.

Note: I did find this BuzzFeed article on 17 Thanksgiving Turkey Mistakes Everyone Makes helpful. It’s worth a read. But do yourself a favor and ignore everything else. I promise you’ll do just fine!

Looking for more easy Thanksgiving recipes? I recommend pairing this turkey with Lemon Rosemary Melting Potatoes, Roasted Green Beans and MushroomsHomemade Crock Pot Applesauce, Butterhorns, and my Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pinwheel!

Simple Garlic and Herb Roasted Turkey

Prep Time 30 minsPrep Time
Cook Time 2 hours 30 minsCook Time
Total Time 3 hrs Total Time
Serves 8

A simple garlic and herb butter keeps this turkey moist and extra flavorful. 


  • 12-14 lb. turkey
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoons assorted fresh herbs (I used basil, rosemary, and parsley)
  • Zest of 1 lemon, plus the lemon itself
  • 1/2 a yellow onion
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped in long strips
  • One head of garlic
  • About 1/4 cup Kosher salt
  • About 2 Tablespoons black pepper


  1. Take the turkey out of the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  3. Prep your ingredients. In a medium sized bowl, stir together softened butter, olive oil, herbs, and lemon zest. Place the salt and pepper in a bowl and lay out all the other ingredients so they're ready to go.
  4. You'll probably want to remove any rings and roll up your sleeves at this point because you're about to get up close and personal with this turkey. Ready?
  5. Rinse the turkey under cold water and make sure to remove any gravy packets and the giblets. Place the turkey on a roasting pan and pat dry with paper towels. Make sure to dry the top, inside the cavity, and the underside of the turkey.
  6. Grab a hunk of the butter mixture and rub it all over the turkey, over the wings and breast, underneath, and in the cavity. Then take your fingers and work them under the skin (I told you we were going to get up close and personal, right?), and rub some butter under the skin of the breast as well.
  7. Sprinkle the salt and pepper evenly all over the bird and inside the cavity. You may not need the full ¼ cup, but the bird should look like a light snow has fallen all over it.
  8. Halve the garlic crosswise so the centers are exposed then stuff it in the cavity along with the onion, celery, and halved lemon. Tie the legs together with twine, tuck the wings under, and place the bird in the oven.
  9. Bake the turkey at 450 for 30 minutes then turn the heat down to 350, tent with foil, and continue to cook for 1½-2 hours. Take the bird out after 1½ hours and insert a thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. (It's easiest to place your thermometer straight down right where the thigh and breast connect) You want the thigh to register 165 degrees before removing it. If it's at 150, you know you're getting close--check every 10-15 minutes from there. Remove the foil for the last 30 minutes of baking, unless it's getting too browned.
  10. Once the thigh registers 165 degrees, remove the turkey from the oven, and allow to stand for 30 minutes before carving.


Recipe Notes

My absolute favorite thermometer to use is the Thermapen. It's easy to use and incredibly reliable.

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Thanks for cooking with me today!

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Roasting a turkey doesn't have to be hard! We make this easy Garlic and Herb Roasted Turkey every year and it's always moist and delicious!
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  • Joanne (eats well with others) November 19, 2013, 8:29 AM

    Ha! I loved your analysis of turkey making. And that you just kind of went with your gut instinct. Definitely the way to go!

    • Courtney @ Neighborfood November 23, 2013, 10:27 AM

      Always. Seriously, sometimes the internet is more of a pain than it’s worth. But of course, I couldn’t live without it. 🙂

  • Elisabeth November 19, 2013, 10:35 PM

    This bird is a work of art and it looks de-li-cious!!! I think you are the new turkey chef in our family…..yeah? You do amaze me! And I love it! Thanksgiving will be great with a turkey like this one on our table.

  • Erin@WellPlated November 21, 2013, 1:59 AM

    What a beautiful bird! Congrats on this milestone. Why do we only roast turkeys once a year? I think they deserve more time to shine!

    • Courtney @ Neighborfood November 23, 2013, 10:27 AM

      Thanks Erin! And I totally agree. Now that I actually know how, I’m going to do this much more often. Plus, it gives me tons of shredded turkey to use in soups and enchiladas later!

  • Matt November 27, 2013, 8:39 PM

    Getting ready to try this recipe. Sounds and looks great. Hope I can recreate it.

  • Stephanie November 28, 2013, 12:22 PM

    This is my first time making a turkey and I’m following your recipe. I’m hoping I am at least half as successful as you were! *Deep breath* here we go!

    • Courtney @ Neighborfood November 28, 2013, 2:49 PM

      You can do it!!! Just wanted to let you know I updated the recipe to note that you take the temp from the thickest part of the thigh not the breast. Can’t wait to hear how it turns out! Happy thanksgiving!

  • Robyn Sherman October 9, 2016, 8:43 PM

    Sounds so good will try this for sure. Thank you for sharing.

  • Jessica November 16, 2016, 5:23 AM

    Hi! Thanks for a great read! I make a very similar turkey except I roast mine in an electric roaster so I can free up my oven for all the sides and it always ensures a juicy, stress free turkey! Thanks for adding the buzz feed article though, good reminders! Even though I make the same turkey every year I love reminding myself what NOT to do. ?

    • Courtney November 17, 2016, 11:26 AM

      Thanks for stopping by! I always feel like I need a little refresher course before diving in each year. Wishing you lots of turkey success this year!

  • Lori November 17, 2016, 4:22 PM

    OMG, I love this! This is how I am feeling now….minus the food blogger part 🙂 This is my first year for a turkey and I am freaking out a little. I am cooking for about 20 people and we have a much bigger bird (18 lb). How much longer should I cook the turkey???

    • Courtney November 17, 2016, 10:24 PM

      A standard guideline is 20 minutes/lb for a defrosted turkey and 15 for a fresh turkey, but every oven (and turkey) is different. I definitely recommend checking it before the recommended time and using a thermometer, not a timer, to determine doneness. You’ve totally got this! It’s going to be great!

      • Hannah November 21, 2017, 3:59 PM

        So I have a 20 lb bird. Do I cook it the initial 30 min at 450° and then 6 hr and 45 min on top of that? Or does the initial 30 minutes get subtracted from the overall time? Did I do my math right?

  • diane November 17, 2016, 8:06 PM

    Do you have a picture of what you mean by tenting the turkey?

    • Courtney November 17, 2016, 10:22 PM

      I don’t have a picture, but basically I just mean don’t let the foil touch the top of the turkey. Attach it to one side and pull it out in a big triangle or tent shape over the turkey then attach to the other side so there’s still a little “breathing room” on top of the turkey.

      • diane November 18, 2016, 8:36 AM

        Thanks! your turkey looks great! hopefully mine will look as nice.

  • Jamie November 19, 2016, 2:21 PM

    Can you use a Reynolds bag, or just cook it in the pan? Thanks!

  • Kiersten November 20, 2016, 11:00 AM

    I am assuming your turkey was bought with it already injected with brine solution so you skipped brining it yourself? With that said did you use salted butter or unsalted butter in your mix? Did you add any stock to the bottom of your pan or leave dry? Did you have the turkey on a cooking rack?

  • Mark November 21, 2016, 6:48 PM

    I’ve done my Turkey almost exactly like this for about 20 years with one addition to the recipe. Here it is:

    On Tuesday before Thanksgiving do everything EXCEPT loading up the cavity of the Turkey.
    Cover well with aluminum foil and seal the foil so the Turkey doesn’t dry out and let it set and marinate for the next 2 days. It slowly brines (add a lot of Salt – and Pepper if you like – to the Garlic Butter) and marinates.
    On Thanksgiving, bake as usual.

  • Taylor November 23, 2016, 8:49 PM

    Should I prepare the head of garlic any certain way before putting it in theturkey?

    • Courtney @ NeighborFood November 23, 2016, 9:37 PM

      Just cut it in half crossways so the insides are exposed then stuff it in the cavity! I will add that to the recipe. Good luck and happy Thanksgiving!

  • Alyx Kinder November 24, 2016, 9:31 PM

    I used this recipe to cook my very first turkey and it turned out fantastic! Everyone loved it and I just wanted to say, thank you for taking the time to share this! Happy Thanksgiving!!

    • Courtney November 26, 2016, 10:11 PM

      That is awesome!! Thank you so much for coming back to let me know. It makes my day!

  • Mindy taylor November 24, 2016, 10:09 PM

    Wow! I did it! I made a turkey that not only looked amazing, but tasted amazing as well!! Thank you so much for sharing your secret recipe!!

    • Courtney @ NeighborFood November 25, 2016, 6:31 PM

      High five!! That is awesome. Thanks so much for coming back to let me know. It makes me so happy!

  • Whitney November 25, 2016, 1:57 PM

    I used this recipe for my very first turkey yesterday! Came it amazing, and was so easy! Everyone was very impressed:) did mine in a bag to speed things up but other than that, follow the recipe to a T! The butter mixture was so tasty, I’m going to roast a chicken with it next week? Thanks for sharing!

    • Courtney @ NeighborFood November 25, 2016, 6:28 PM

      You have no idea how happy that makes me! Thanks for coming back to let me know. And congrats on being a turkey queen!

  • Delilah December 16, 2016, 7:44 AM

    I have been roasting turkeys for 35 years and I must say this one tops any I have ever roasted. The flavor was divine. Everyone raved over it. Will be my go too turkey seasoning from now on.

  • Katrina September 21, 2017, 1:12 PM

    I did this turkey for Christmas last year and it was FANTABULOUS!! The flavor was in every bite we took, not just on the skin and the drippings made an amazing gravy. I am starting to think about Thanksgiving this year (I know, I know it’s only September lol) and contemplating trying to fry my turkey. Have you ever tried frying it with this recipe?

    • Courtney @ NeighborFood September 21, 2017, 2:18 PM

      I am so glad you enjoyed the turkey so much! i’ve never tried frying myself. Not sure how that would turn out. I would probably do a little research first to see how to prep a turkey for frying. Good luck!

  • Sonia October 31, 2017, 6:01 AM

    Has anyone made this recipe with a chicken instead of a turkey?

  • Sonia November 4, 2017, 6:18 AM

    Has anyone made this recipe with a chicken instead?

  • char November 6, 2017, 8:17 AM

    Can you stuff the turkey ? My family likes the turkey in the bird…would I cook it longer

    • Courtney January 5, 2018, 3:55 PM

      So sorry I didn’t see this comment! I think you could stuff the turkey. Just make sure a thermometer inserted in the center of the stuffing reaches 165 degrees.

  • char November 6, 2017, 8:22 AM

    I wanted to know if I can use this recipe and stuff the turkey, that is the way my family likes it. Can I just leave the onion and celery and stuff out and stuff the bird also would I cook it a lot longer ??

    • Courtney November 7, 2017, 2:44 PM

      I think you could absolutely omit the citrus/onion/celery and stuff the bird. I would check the temperature at the same time. It might require a little bit longer roasting time. The center of the stuffing should reach 165 degrees.

  • Jay November 14, 2017, 1:56 PM

    Can I cover it with the roasting pan lid or is it important to use foil?

  • Kathie November 16, 2017, 12:01 AM

    Recipe sounds delicious!! Did you use fresh or dried herbs? Thanks

    • Kathie November 16, 2017, 12:07 AM

      Never mind! I just reread your article and answered my own question.? Follow up question…does the lemon give a strong or subtle flavor? This is the first time cooking the turkey and I’m worried some of my family won’t like the flavor.

      • Courtney January 5, 2018, 3:57 PM

        Sorry I never saw this question! In my opinion, the lemon is pretty subtle.

  • Danielle November 16, 2017, 11:11 AM

    Did you use fresh or dry herbs? Also did you do 1 tablespoon of each herb and just mix them up?


  • Casey iannucci November 19, 2017, 9:29 AM

    I cannot thank you enough for this blog! I was so nervous to make my first turkey and I found this post on Pinterest and tried it. The ingredients caught my eye but your blog made me feel so much better on my first attempt. You made me less stressed and gave the best tips!!! Again thank you and the turkey was amazing and a huge hit

  • Brittany November 19, 2017, 1:52 PM

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! I literally was on my tenth recipe thinking exactly the thoughts you wrote down, since this week will be my first year to host Thanksgiving. Holy Hannah, there are a lot of opinions about making the best turkey out there! So thank you for giving me permission to stop looking around. I can’t wait to use this recipe Thursday morning!

  • Seinna November 21, 2017, 2:29 PM

    Okay, this is my 2nd year cooking the Turkey for the family crowd and this recipe looks fabulous! Thank you for posting this, and for your step by step!

  • Courtney D November 21, 2017, 7:22 PM

    Do you use salted or unsalted butter?

  • Kelly Carpenter November 22, 2017, 10:11 AM

    I’m going to try this tomorrow. It’s my first time making a turkey! I was wondering though, what the point of the vegetables inside does? Add more flavor I’m assuming. ?
    Thanks for the recipe and instructions!

  • Stephanie November 26, 2017, 4:22 PM

    Hi! I just wanted to thank you so much for this recipe, and really…the entire post! I made my first turkey ever yesterday for Friendsgiving and it turned out better than I ever could have imagined. I’m usually not a big turkey eater, but I still can’t stop with the leftovers! Everyone raved about how great it tasted and how juicy it was. I look forward to using this for many more turkey dinners to come! 🙂

    • Courtney December 17, 2017, 10:35 PM

      Hi Stephanie! I apologize for the delayed response–I somehow JUST saw this comment, but I want to thank you for coming back to let me know. I’m so glad it was a success! It makes me so happy to hear that!

  • Erin December 27, 2017, 3:34 PM

    Hands down the best turkey recipe I have come across! The spices draw out the flavor of the turkey and the meat melts in your mouth. The crispy outer layer appeases my youngest while the meat fills the growing teens. Winner for the whole fam! Thank you ~

    • Courtney December 27, 2017, 4:20 PM

      I absolutely love to hear that! Thanks so much for letting me know!

  • Cynthia January 4, 2018, 10:35 AM

    Seemsss Yummyyyyyyy. Can you plz explain how u did the sauce??
    Thank u 😉

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