Whole Roasted Holiday Turkey


Geoffrey Zakarian

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Everyone loves Great-Aunt Belinda’s classic turkey recipe, but sometimes it’s time to try something new. Wow your holiday guests with this traditional yet modern take on the most important meal of the year.

Yields: 10 servings


  • 1 each 12-pound turkey

  • 6 each lemons, zested (then 3 cut in half)

  • 1 teaspoon shallots, finely minced

  • 2 tablespoons parsley, finely minced

  • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves, finely minced

  • 2 tablespoon tarragon, finely minced

  • 2 tablespoons oregano, finely minced

  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil

  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 10 sprigs thyme

  • 10 sprigs parsley

  • 6 each shallots, skin on, halved

  • Kosher salt

  • Fresh ground pepper

Method of Preparation:

1The morning before cooking your turkey, liberally season the inside and outside of the bird with salt and pepper. Allow the turkey to sit in the fridge uncovered to dry the skin. 

290 minutes before roasting your turkey, remove it from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature.

3Preheat your oven to 350F. 

4Using a mortar or a spice grinder, grind the lemon zest, minced shallots, parsley, thyme, tarragon and oregano together with some salt and pepper. The salt will help to draw the moisture and flavor from the mixture. Add the olive oil to form a paste.

5Spread the mixture all around the inside and outside of the turkey. Season again with salt and pepper. Place the halved lemons, thyme and parsley sprigs, and halved shallots in the cavity of the bird. 

6Roast the turkey on a roasting rack or a bed of vegetables, such as potatoes, carrots, and onions, with a cup of water or stock at the bottom of the pan. The turkey will take between 12-15 minutes per pound to roast (2.5-3 hours for a 12-lb. turkey).  Baste the turkey every 30 minutes. If necessary, add a little more liquid to prevent burning.

7The turkey can be removed when the thickest part of the leg reads an internal temperature of 155F.

8. Allow the turkey to rest for at least one hour before serving.

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Medical Reviewers: Rachel Baer, RD, LD Last Review Date: Nov 17, 2016

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