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Roast Turkey for Thanksgiving & other Holidays

Sage & rosemary in the garden

Cooking for family and friends is very satisfying however there is a certain degree of pressure to ensure everything is perfectly cooked  & tastes fab. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Chanukah and other holidays require precision planning and none more so the star of the main course- the turkey.  After lots of research – reading, chatting with chef friends & experimenting I have settled on this recipe with a few key steps & tips using a steam roasting method. Easy to prepare & always resulting  in slices of succulent turkey that taste terrific, according to my guests!


Serves 10 plus leftovers

•Turkey around 6 kg/ 13.2lb, cleaned,  giblets removed, weigh & make a note (very important) .

•2 red onions peeled and roughly chopped

• 2 carrots peeled & chopped into discs

• 2 celery sticks, washed & roughly chopped

• 1 leek, washed & roughly chopped

• 6 cloves of garlic, left in the papery skins

• fresh herbs: rosemary ( 5 stalks), fresh thyme ( 6 stalks), fresh sage ( 5 leaves), 4 bay leaves, small handful of flat leaf parsley,  washed

•30g unsalted butter or non dairy spread at room temperature

• 1 unwaxed lemon , cut into half, rind removed from 1 half

•1 teasp sweet smoked paprika

• sea salt & black pepper

• 250 ml/ 9 fl oz cold water


Ensure the turkey is at room temperature so remove from the fridge about 1.5 hours before preparing & cooking.

Heat the oven to 200C / 392F fan.

Put the chopped veggies, garlic, 3 bay leaves, 4 rosemary  & 4 thyme stalks in the bottom of your roasting dish. These will act as trivet both protecting & adding flavour to the turkey.  They will be used to make the gravy too.

Prepare the herb butter for the turkey breast. Finely chop the sage & mix with the softened butter, paprika, lemon rind , few grinds of sea salt & black pepper. Divide into 2 & flatten.

Season the turkey with sea salt & black pepper around the outside & in the cavity.

With the breast side up push your fingers carefully between the skin & each breast to create a pocket. Add the herbed butter and massage to cover each breast ( see video).

Put remaining  bayleaf, rosemary & thyme, 1/2 lemon ( rind still on) &  flat leaf parsley into the cavity.

Turkey prepared & ready to roast

Put the turkey on its side, add the water to the dish then cover with foil ensuring wrapped but with some room to allow for the steam to circulate.

Cook for 30 minutes at 200C / 392F then turn the oven down to 180C/356F fan.

Calculate the roasting time which will be 20 minutes per 500g/ 17.6 oz.  E.g. a 6kg turkey will require 4 hours roasting time.

The key to a moist succulent turkey is to regularly baste the turkey, ideally every 30 minutes using a baster or  spoon ( see video).

After 1 1/2 hours cooking remove the turkey and carefully turn over onto its other side using thick rubber gloves or meat prongs. Be careful as it will be hot! Re-cover with foil and continue roasting, basting every 30 minutes.

For the last 30 minutes roasting, take the turkey out and turn so it’s breast side up, remove the foil and put back into the oven to brown the skin to a golden bronze colour.

Remove from the oven & re-cover with foil, then a hand towel to rest for at least 1-1.5 hours. This  tip is important to allow the juices back into the meat & ensures for easier carving. With a blanket of foil plus towel the turkey will keep warm.

Roasted, rested & ready to carve

After resting carefully remove the turkey onto a meat board. I then separate the turkey juices  from any fat in the roasting dish & push the roasted veg through a sieve. Combine in a pan adjust seasoning if needed and simmer to concentrate slightly. I add a desertspoon of redcurrent jelly & mix for a tasty turkey gravy.

Carve and enjoy along with chestnut, apple & thyme stuffing & roast potatoes (see recipes in our blog archives) and the home made gravy. I serve with braised red cabbage, carrots, roast parsnips, & roast brussel sprouts with pomegranates.

My super succulent turkey- happy thanksgiving!


  1. Thanks for going over this recipe for roasting turkey. You mentioned that you should baste the turkey about every 30 minutes. I hadn’t heard of this before so I’m interested to learn more about what should be used for this, like if you baste it with water.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Taylor I am glad you enjoyed the post. I use the cooking liquid to baste the turkey. I start the process adding water & veggies to the bottom of the roasting dish. More cooking juices are produced during roasting. I use a baster as shown in the video. Happy roasting let us know how you get on! Lindsey


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