Thanksgiving turkey – simple, succulent and full of flavor – this is the perfect holiday recipe

This Thanksgiving turkey recipe is super simple to cook and super tasty to eat. It's exactly what you need on your festive menu...

Thanksgiving turkey recipe
(Image credit: Photography copyright Commission Studio)

With Thanksgiving upon us, it’s time to put on your apron and get cooking, because that Thanksgiving dinner just won't make itself! We’ve sourced the most fabulous (ly simple) Thanksgiving turkey recipe below, that even the most easy cook chefs will LOVE.

Sure, Thanksgiving might look a little different this year but family, friends (even if via Zoom) plus the perfect roast turkey is really all you need to get into the festive spirit. This recipe is simple to prepare, easy to cook and absolutely delicious. Because let's face it, knowing how to cook turkey is a bit of an art form, so keeping it simple is what we like.

Thanksgiving Turkey recipe

  • Prep time: 1 hour
  • Cooking time: 2 1/2 hours
  • Serves: 8

The simple combination of butter and herbs plus the method of cooking this bird will keep it moist, while if you want to know how to brine a turkey for even more juicy results, we can help also!

Ingredients

For the turkey:

  • 125 g (41⁄2 oz) softened butter
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
  • 2 teaspoons chopped thyme leaves 2 teaspoons grated orange zest
  • 5.5–6 kg (12–14 lb) turkey, giblets removed, neck reserved
  • 6 thin orange slices
  • 1 quantity Stuffing (page 188)
  • 2 onions, cut into wedges
  • 2 carrots, cut into 2.5 cm (1 in) pieces
  • 2 celery stalks, cut into 2.5 cm (1 in) pieces
  • 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) turkey or chicken stock, plus extra if needed

For the gravy:

  • Roasting juices from the turkey
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 2 large thyme sprigs
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).

1. In a mixing bowl, combine the butter, parsley, thyme and orange zest. Season the butter mixture to taste with salt and pepper and mix well.

2. Beginning at the neck end of the turkey, use your fingers to carefully make a pocket between the flesh and skin of the turkey breasts. Gently slide all but 1 tablespoon of the butter mixture into the pocket underneath the skin and carefully spread the butter to cover the turkey breasts, being careful not to pierce the skin. Slide the orange slices underneath the skin over the breasts.

3. Stuff the main turkey cavity with the stuffing, then truss the bird (see Note) and spread the reserved 1 tablespoon butter over the skin. Sprinkle it with salt and pepper.

4. Place the reserved turkey neck, onions, carrots and celery in a large, heavy roasting tin. Pour 250 ml (81⁄2 fl oz/1 cup) of the stock over the vegetables, then place the turkey on top and cover the breasts with foil.

5. Roast for 21⁄2 hours, then remove the foil and add the remaining stock to the tin. Continue roasting for another 30 minutes, or until a cooking thermometer inserted in the thigh registers 0°C (175°F).

6. Remove the roasting tin from the oven and transfer the turkey to a platter, reserving the pan juices. Rest for 30 minutes. Remember that the turkey will continue to cook and the internal temperature will continue to rise as it rests, so don’t be tempted to overcook it.

7. While the turkey is resting, prepare the gravy. Strain the juices from the roasting tin into a bowl. Spoon off any fat that rises to the top. Top the liquid up to make 1.25 litres (42 fl oz/5 cups) using turkey or chicken stock.

8. In a heavy-based saucepan, melt the butter over a medium heat. Add the flour and stir for 2 minutes, then whisk in the roasting juices and thyme and bring to simmer over a medium–high heat. 

9. Reduce the heat to medium–low and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the gravy thickens enough to lightly coat the back of a spoon. Stir in the lemon juice and season the gravy to taste with salt and pepper. Discard the thyme sprigs.

10. Serve alongside the turkey.

 Recipe extract from Celebrate with Chyka Keebaugh by Chyka Keebaugh (Amazon, $8.22).