Citrus, Herb and Garlic Roast Turkey Recipe

The Citrus, Herb and Garlic Turkey I started making a few Winter Solstices ago was an instant hit with family and friends.  The turkeys we buy are the smaller 5-7 kg ones that go on sale for .99 cents a pound so if you are cooking a larger turkey, you will need to adjust the recipe accordingly.

Turkey DinnerCranberry SauceTurkey StuffingOrange ZestTurkey stockSliced Roast Turkey
Roasted TurkeyRoasted TurkeyOrange Pecan Cranberry SacuePeeled Orange for de-veiningCitrus Herbed ButterButter and Herbs
Peeled and Slivered GarlicBunched HerbsZested Citrus and Minced HerbsThymeMincing SageRosemary
Minced Garlic and Citrus ZestMincing GarlicPeeled Garlic GlovesLemon Zest

Anytime I am trying to come up with a recipe for something, I search online and see what recipes are out there and then pick and choose the ingredients for our own liking.  This is what I have come up with for our Citrus, Herb and Garlic Roast Turkey Recipe:

Shopping List:

  • 2 lemons
  • 2 oranges
  • 1 package fresh rosemary
  • 1 package fresh sage
  • 1 package fresh thyme
  • 3 bulbs of garlic
  • butter
  • turkey

I have always found it easiest to make the turkey in a certain order and have everything prepared before stuffing the bird.  (I also prepare the ingredients for the Orange Pecan Cranberry Sauce at the same time).  This helps to reduce cross-contamination in working with raw meat.

Citrus, Herb and Garlic Butter Ingredients:

  • 1/2 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 tbsp orange zest
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh minced rosemary
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh minced sage
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh minced thyme
  • 1/2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup of butter
Citrus, Herb and Garlic Butter Ingredients

How to make the Citrus, Herb and Garlic Butter:

  1. Zest both a lemon and an orange (which should be about 1/2 tbsp of each) and place into a small bowl.
  2. Mince 1/2 tbsp of each of the herbs (rosemary, sage, thyme) and add to the bowl of zests.
  3. Mince 1/2 tbsp of garlic and also add to the bowl.
  4. Mix up the lemon zest, orange zest, minced garlic and minced herbs in their bowl.
  5. In a medium bowl, add the butter and “fluff” it up a bit with a fork so it is no longer a solid brick of butter.
  6. Add the mixed ingredients onto the butter and mix it up with a fork.
  7. Set aside (but not in the fridge).

Turkey Stuffing:

  • 2 lemons worth of wedges
  • 2 orange worth of wedges
  • fresh rosemary
  • fresh sage
  • fresh thyme
  • 2 bulbs of garlic
  1. Bunch and tie together what is left of the fresh herbs that were not used in the butter mixture.
  2. With the lemon and orange that was zested, cut these into larger wedges for stuffing into the cavity of the bird.
  3. With the remaining lemon and orange that still have their peel, cut them into thinner slices for stuffing under the turkeys skin and set aside, separate from the larger wedges.
  4. Peel off some of the white paper of one bulb of garlic, keeping the bulb in tact.
  5. With the other bulb of garlic, break apart and skin the individual cloves, cutting them lengthwise into smaller slivers and set aside.

How to stuff the Citrus, Herb and Garlic Roast Turkey:

  1. I start with the bunched herbs because it is easiest, stuffing the “twig” end through the neck to leave more room for the rest of the items we stuff the bird with.
  2. Stuff in the whole garlic bulb and push it right to the back.
  3. Then stuff in as many of the larger orange and lemon wedges as you can and if there are any pieces left over, you can place around the turkey in the roaster.
  4. Close up the bird cavity the best you can and tuck the legs back in.

Citrus, Herb and Garlic Butter:

I then work on separating the skin away from the turkey on both breasts and drumsticks with my hand.  I then work from the furthest into the bird by slathering the butter with my fingers for a few inches and then stuffing in the slivers of garlic and smaller lemon and orange wedges.  I then repeat doing so until the bird is fully buttered and wedged.  I found that by buttering the whole bird and then trying to get the garlic and citrus wedges in, I was having to re-do bits of the butter.

Citrus, Herb and Garlic Roasted Turkey

Cook the turkey based on non-stuffed turkey roasting recommendations which can be found on the internet.  This is the site I used the last time I cooked a turkey:

The final temperature of the bird, after “resting” for 15 to 20 minutes, should be at least but not much more than 165 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature will continue to rise 5 to 10 degrees after the turkey is removed from the oven.

The reason cooking times vary between stuffed and non-stuffed turkeys is that bread stuffing needs to reach a certain temperature within the bird to be safe for eating.  Because the stuffing we are using will be tossed (and almost completely cooks down in the cavity), it does not need to be factored into the cooking time of the turkey.

I cooked our turkey at 325F and used a meat thermometer to ensure the turkey reached a temperature within the breast of 155-160F before removing from the oven and letting sit for 30 minutes before removing the stuffing and carving the roasted turkey.  If you cut into the turkey as soon as it comes out of the oven, you will lose most of the juices that keep the turkey moist and it will be drier then it should be.  There is nothing worse then dry turkey!


As I mentioned, prepare everything first before stuffing the bird.  This helps reduce cross contamination if you forget to do something and then have raw turkey on your hands fumbling to get whatever it was you missed.  I forgot to cut smaller citrus wedges the last time I made a turkey and just used the bigger ones rather then risk cross-contamination.

The easiest way to mince up fresh herbs, is to roll them up, fold them over and start chopping them.

Don’t let the butter get too warm – it should still be a bit firm but not melted.  This will allow it to be more easily spread in the turkey.

4 thoughts on “Citrus, Herb and Garlic Roast Turkey Recipe

  1. Pingback: Orange Cranberry Sauce with Pecans Recipe | daddy jake

    • I am waiting for turkeys to go on sale again so I can buy a few to throw in the freezer. If your family is not much into stuffing, this is a great alternative. You can still cook turkey with this recipe and make stuffing in their own dishes while lessening the risk of food poisoning if the stuffing does not fully cook.

      The last turkey I bought and made for two reasons – to write this blog post and make turkey pies. But, I only got two turkey pies out of it because of how much of the turkey I ate! I made the cranberry sauce a lot sweeter then I normally do.

  2. Pingback: Winter Solstice 2014 | daddy jake

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