This apple and herb roasted turkey is the prefect centerpiece for your Thanksgiving table. Stuffed with apples and brined in sage and rosemary this juicy and flavorful turkey is sure to be a hit with the family during the holidays.
When I was in college, I worked at a restaurant that served Thanksgiving dinner pretty much every day. Needless to say, I suffered from turkey overload. One of the things I did learn how to do was make sure I had a perfectly tender turkey every time. With this apple and herb roasted turkey every single slice will be tender and juicy and won’t need an ounce of gravy. However, if you are like me then regardless of how juicy the turkey is I need gravy, then you will still enjoy every bite.
In this recipe
This is a pretty easy recipe however it does take some time to prepare properly. When I say time, I mean it just sitting there in the refrigerator becoming more and more delicious every hour.
Turkey: this is of course the star of the show. You want to get a size big enough for the family. I use a 14-pound turkey for this recipe. Check out below for additional cooking tips.
Apples: will provide a light sweetness to the turkey and help flavor the juices in the cavity for a delicious gravy.
Herbs: are in the brine that will give the turkey its wonderful flavor.
Defrosting a turkey – 5-6 days before cooking
This is one of the most important steps when getting your turkey ready. You want to let it defrost in the refrigerator at least 5 days before you want to cook it. Especially for larger birds. A rule of thumb is 1 day per every 4.5 pounds. This ensures that the turkey defrosts completely as well as safely. Since it takes so long to defrost this way you don’t have to worry about it going bad.
Dry vs wet brine
There are two different kinds of brines for a turkey, wet and dry brines. I prefer to use a dry brine as it takes up less space in the refrigerator as well as doesn’t introduce a lot more water to the bird. A dry brine uses the water already in the turkey to help season it and make it tender.
A good rule of thumb is to use 1 teaspoon of Morton’s kosher salt per pound turkey. If you are using Diamond, then you will want to use 1.5 teaspoons per pound of turkey. The salt underneath the skin will be gone by the time the turkey is ready for cooking.
Making the brine – 1-3 days before cooking
The cool thing about a dry brine is that it is easy, does not require rinsing, nor any additional salt for baking. Also, you can leave it in the refrigerator uncovered, recommended for this recipe, without having to worry about it. You want to use most of the brine under the skin of the turkey directly on the meat and in the cavity.
Use your hands to get as much of the brine as far under the skin as possible. The remainder can be placed on the skin, however that will impede the flavor penetration. Make sure that the turkey is elevated on a rack to keep it from sitting in the juices.
Use fresh peppercorns, they have a much better taste than already ground pepper. The salt will remove the water from the turkey and that water will mix with the herbs and then get reabsorbed allowing for all the turkey to be nice and flavorful. You want to brine at minimum of 1 hour per pound however at least 24 hours is best.
Cooking the apple and herb roasted turkey
The first thing you want to do is pull the turkey out of the refrigerator an hour before you are ready to cook it to allow it to come to room temperature. This will help the turkey cook more evenly. You will want to place the butter under the skin to help keep the breast meat nice and juicy during cooking.
Cook for 13 minutes per pound but you will want to check the turkey’s temperature every 15 minutes after the 2-hour mark. Once the internal temperature reaches 165F or 74C or within a couple degrees of that then take it out. Allow the turkey to rest for at least 20 minutes before slicing.
Looking for other Thanksgiving recipes?
Apple and Herb Roast Turkey
- Roasting pan with rack
- Sheet pan with baking rack
- Mixing Bowl
- 14 pound whole turkey
- 2 cups apple cider
- ½ cup butter softened
- 5 tablespoons kosher salt
- ¼ cup sage chopped
- ¼ cup rosemary chopped
- 2 tablespoons thyme
- 1 tablespoon peppercorns ground
- ½ cup apple chopped
- ½ cup onion chopped
- ½ cup celery chopped
- 2 tablespoons garlic chopped
Brining the turkey – at least 24 hours in advance
- In a mixing bowl combine the salt, pepper, sage, rosemary and thyme together. Separate the skin from the breast and apply the dry brine between the skin and turkey meat, inside the cavity, and then any remainder on the skin.
- Place on a sheet pan with a baking rack and refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days.
Roasting the turkey
- Bring the turkey out of the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature for an hour.
- About 15 minutes before you are ready to bake preheat the oven to 350°F, 177°C or gas mark 4.
- While the oven is preheating fill the cavity of the turkey with the garlic, apple, celery, and onion. Take the butter and place it between the skin and breast meat. Get it as far under the turkey skin as possible.
- Bake covered for 1 hour. Remove the cover and pour the apple cider over the turkey and baste every 25-30 minutes.
- At the two hour mark check the internal temp every 15 minutes until the temperature reaches 165°F or 74°C.
Making gravy (optional)
- In a skillet cook the turkey organs and neck, if included, with ¼ cup butter until browned. Add ¼ cup flour and cook for 2 minutes or until the raw smell disappears. Add the drippings from the turkey and water until the desired thickness is reached.