How to roast a turkey | Low-sodium herb-roasted turkey on Recipe Renovator

This post was sponsored by OXO.

If you’re wondering how to roast a turkey, you’ve come to the right place. I’ll take you step by step through the entire process, making you a delicious, golden, low-sodium turkey with no stress. I promise!

The most important thing is choosing your turkey. Inexpensive birds are not ideal, as they have been raised in poor conditions and are plumped up with a salt solution. See what brand options are available to you before you buy, go online to read the ingredients (it’s very hard to read frozen packages of turkey), and choose the best bird you can afford.

While I found aspects of cooking this turkey to be challenging, overall it’s just like roasting a big chicken. You can do it!

Where I went a little wrong:

I ignored the advice from Butterball to put a pan under the thawing turkey. It really WILL leak all over your refrigerator. It was 90 degrees that day, so that wasn’t fun. I couldn’t figure out how to tuck the wings under. Tip: Don’t Google “how to tie up a turkey”… there are some scary pictures having nothing to do with Thanksgiving.

I didn’t put anything under the turkey in the roasting pan, so it did stick just a little. Use a deep pan, not a cookie sheet, and check it once in a while to see if it needs draining. I had to add chicken stock to the roasting pan in order to have enough liquid to baste the turkey the first time, as I hadn’t seen the Martha Stewart recipe at that point. I didn’t put herbs in the cavity. I used herb butter instead of olive oil, which didn’t work as well. I cooked the giblets in the pan with the turkey, so they were overcooked.

Despite all that, the outcome was incredibly flavorful meat and uber-delicious gravy.

I really liked the OXO baster, which worked brilliantly. The turkey lifter was perfect, and the fat-separating cup with strainer top I will use anytime I am braising meat, like my pulled pork with bourbon-peach sauce. I have already used the fat-separating cup three times. Love it!

Required FTC disclosure: I received the OXO turkey tools kit (giveaway below) valued at $65. I was not paid any additional fees to write this post.

Suitable for:
low-sodium, migraine, gluten-free, paleo, dairy-free, soy-free, reduced-sugar diets

Not for:
vegan or vegetarian diets

You might also like:

How to make giblet gravy from Simply Recipes
Butterball how-to site, including how long you’ll need to thaw a frozen turkey, how to test for doneness, how long to roast, and how to carve
Perfect herb-roasted turkey from Martha Stewart

How to roast a turkey | Low-sodium herb-roasted turkey on Recipe Renovator

Herb-roasted turkey

Fresh herbs and olive oil produce a flavorful bird with no hassles.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs
Total Time 2 hrs 30 mins
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Servings 1 turkey


Herb-roasted turkey

  • 10 pound turkey (whole) fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (extra virgin)
  • 6 sage leaves (fresh)
  • 1 handful thyme (fresh) or 1 package
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 cup apple cider

Turkey giblet gravy

  • 1 cup pan drippings fat removed
  • 1 cup turkey broth unsalted chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp arrowroot powder or organic cornstarch
  • 1-2 tsp black pepper


Herb-roasted turkey

  • Thaw the turkey in the refrigerator or a cool water bath. Follow the instructions here for safe thawing. Make sure you put a deep rimmed pan under the turkey, as it will drip. (Trust me. I had to clean the entire refrigerator at 7 am. Not a great way to start the day.)
  • Put out all your ingredients and plenty of paper towels. Once you start working with the turkey you'll need them.
  • Remove the turkey from the wrapper. Rinse and pat dry with paper towels. Set the turkey in the roasting pan. If you do not have a rack, crumple up aluminum foil into a C-shape to lift it off the bottom of the pan. Otherwise it sticks. You can also set it on top of a pile of fresh herbs or root vegetables. Check the turkey cavity for gravy packets, giblet packets, the neck, etc. Remove all of these. Toss the gravy packet.
    Turkey with Gravy Pouch | How to roast a turkey | Recipe Renovator
  • Here is the turkey with the neck and giblet packet outside.
  • Refrigerate the neck and giblets until you're ready to make the gravy. If you wish to make stock, follow these excellent instructions from Simply Recipes, simmering the giblets and neck while the turkey is cooking.
  • Finely mince the herbs and peeled garlic, and whisk it into the olive oil. I tried using butter, but I found that it didn't stick to the outside of the bird at all, and mainly ended up on my hands.
    Herb Butter for roasted turkey | Recipe Renovator
  • The most important thing is to loosen the skin on the breast and the tops of the thighs and get the oil or butter under there as evenly as possible. This keeps the breast meat from drying out.
    Roast Turkey Butter Massage | Recipe Renovator
  • Once you have the turkey basted with oil under the skin, coat the rest of the bird with the herb-oil mixture. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine. Tuck the wings under (I cut a small hole in the skin under the legs to hold the wings in place). This is mainly to keep the wing tips from burning. There are other methods for folding the wings underneath but it was stressing me out dealing with the bird, and it doesn't make any difference to the roasting. So, cut a slit, tuck in the wing tips, move on.
    Turkey Wing Tucked Under | Recipe Renovator
  • Final touches: Put extra fresh herbs (parsley, rosemary, thyme, sage) inside the turkey. Pour one cup of apple cider or unsalted chicken stock into the pan. Place the meat thermometer into the thickest part of the breast, not touching bone. If it has an indicator, set it for 170F/78C. You will note that it looks like the turkey has been in the oven a little bit in this photo. Yes, I forgot to put in the thermometer. But it doesn't matter, just stick it in there when you think of it.
  • Preheat the oven to 450F/230C. Once the oven is hot and the turkey is ready, put the turkey in the oven and immediately turn the heat down to 325F/160C. Starting with a hot oven sears the outside of the skin, sealing in the juices.
  • Baste the turkey every 30 minutes. You should have plenty of liquid in the pan throughout, since you started with a cup of liquid. However, if you don't, make sure you add HOT liquid to the pan, not cold. Heat it in the microwave if needed. You'll crack a ceramic pan if using one, and you also don't want to lower the temperature by adding cold liquid to the oven.
  • The turkey is done once the thermometer reaches 170F/78C. My 9-pound turkey took just over 2 hours. Estimate 13 minutes per pound (I use a calculator.) Remove the pan from the oven carefully and set on hot pads on the counter. Use a turkey lifter to transfer the turkey to a cutting board. Let rest for 15 minutes before cutting the meat. Remove herbs from cavity.
    Turkey Lifter from OXO | Recipe Renovator
  • Have someone who knows what they are doing cut up the meat.

Turkey giblet gravy

  • Bring giblets and neck to a boil with two cups filtered water. Cook 30 minutes (short version) or simmer on low (after bringing to a boil) for the entire time the turkey is cooking. Add chopped carrots, celery, and green onion for a richer tasting gravy.
  • Strain the turkey stock.
  • Mince the meat from the giblets. You can pull off and mince meat from the neck if desired.
  • Pour the pan drippings through a strainer. Use a fat-separating cup to remove the fat. (Toss the fat in the trash, not down the sink. It will clog up your pipes big time.)
    Turkey Pan Juices | Pouring Off Fat | Recipe Renovator
  • Most people will tell you to put the roasting pan over two burners to make the gravy. Instead I used the strained turkey broth and a spatula to clean out the pan as much as possible. Put the turkey broth and defatted pan drippings into a medium saucepan with the minced giblet meat. Reserve 1/4 cup liquid to make your slurry.
  • Whisk arrowroot powder or cornstarch with the reserved liquid in a bowl to make a slurry, with no lumps. Whisk slurry slowly into the saucepan. Bring gravy to a boil, whisking frequently, until it thickens. Keep warm until serving.