Herbed Roast Turkey with Gravy

Arguably, the most anticipated feasting day of the year in the U.S. is Thanksgiving. With just a few short weeks away, it’s time to start planning the meal(s). If turkey is at the bottom of your must-have meats because you think it is dry and tasteless, then you need to rethink your stance on the poultry subject with this recipe.

Not often (ever?) have we thought of serving a whole turkey with gravy on Super Bowl Sunday. But this recipe was under development and was intended for America’s Test Kitchen, Cook’s Illustrated and Cook’s Country recipe testers only. That’s us, and we were under a deadline to get it done.

The meal was ready to eat just as half-time started… not bad timing… There are three options for the herb paste and we chose the Thyme-Fennel Paste. Keep in mind you need to make the paste and rub it under the skin of the turkey, and refrigerate the bird uncovered anywhere from 24 to 48 hours before you start cooking, so it takes a bit of planning on your end. We are debating which rub to make for this coming Thanksgiving. (List of rubs follows recipe.)

This process also requires a baking stone, and the success of the recipe is dependent on saturating the baking stone and roasting pan with heat. Luckily The Hubs received a rectangular one for Christmas a few months prior that fit perfectly under the roasting pan.

And don’t omit making the fabulous gravy, it brings everything on your plate altogether, and is so good you may be tempted to drink it…

Herbed Roast Turkey with Gravy

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print


  • 1 recipe herb paste (recipes follow)
  • 4 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • 4 tsp. sugar
  • 1 (12- to 14-lb.) turkey, neck and giblets removed and reserved for gravy
  • 2½ Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 small onion, chopped fine
  • 1 carrot, sliced thin
  • 5 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 3 ¼ cups water
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 5 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 2 bay leaves


  1. Combine ¼ cup herb paste, 4 tablespoons salt, and 4 teaspoons sugar in bowl. Place turkey, breast side up, on counter. Using your fingers, carefully loosen skin covering breast and legs. Rub 2 tablespoons herb mixture under skin of each breast, 4 teaspoons under skin of each leg, and remaining herb mixture inside cavity. Tuck wings behind back and tie legs together with kitchen twine. Place turkey on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate, uncovered, for 24 to 48 hours.
  2. At least 30 minutes before roasting turkey, adjust oven rack to lowest position, set baking stone on rack, set roasting pan on baking stone, and heat oven to 500 degrees.
  3. Combine 1½ teaspoons oil and baking powder in small bowl. Pat turkey dry with paper towels. Rub oil mixture evenly over turkey. Cover turkey breast with double layer of aluminum foil.
  4. Remove roasting pan from oven. Drizzle remaining 2 tablespoons oil into roasting pan. Place turkey, breast side up, in pan and return pan to oven. Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees and roast for 45 minutes.
  5. Stir 1 tablespoon herb paste into melted butter.
  6. Remove turkey from oven. Discard foil and brush herb butter evenly over turkey. Return turkey to oven, reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees, and continue to roast until breast registers 160 degrees and drumsticks/thighs register 175 degrees, 1 to 1½ hours longer.
  7. Using a spatula, loosen turkey from roasting pan; transfer to carving board and let rest, uncovered, for 45 minutes. While turkey rests, using wooden spoon, scrape up any browned bits from bottom of roasting pan. Strain mixture through fine-mesh strainer set over bowl. Transfer drippings to fat separator and let rest for 10 minutes. Reserve 3 tablespoons fat and defatted liquid (you should have 1 cup; add water if necessary). Discard remaining fat.
  8. Heat reserved fat in large saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add reserved neck and giblets and cook until well browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer neck and giblets to large plate. Reduce heat to medium; add onion and carrot, and cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until flour is well coated with fat, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in reserved defatted liquid and cook until thickened, about 1 minute.
  9. Whisk in water, wine, parsley sprigs, and bay leaves. Return neck and giblets to pan and bring to simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes. Discard neck. Strain gravy through fine-mesh strainer, discarding solids. Stir in remaining herb paste and season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to serving bowl.
  10. Carve turkey and arrange on serving platter. Serve with gravy.


Herb Paste Options

Herbes de Provence-Lemon Paste
Makes about 1/3 cup

  • ¾ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup herbes de Provence
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp. lemon zest
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. pepper

Process all ingredients in food processor, scraping down sides as necessary, until finely ground, about 30 seconds.

Thyme-Fennel Paste
Makes about 1/3 cup

  • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh thyme
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1½ tablespoons ground fennel
  • 2 tsp. orange zest
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. pepper

Process all ingredients in food processor, scraping down sides as necessary, until finely ground, about 30 seconds.

Sage-Fenugreek Paste
Makes about 1/3 cup

→ Whole fenugreek seeds can be difficult to grind, it is strongly recommended to purchase the spice already ground.

  • 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh sage
  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1½ tablespoons ground fenugreek
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. pepper

Process all ingredients in food processor, scraping down sides as necessary, until finely ground, about 30 seconds.

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