Herb and Citrus Butter-Roasted Whole Turkey

As the centerpiece of a holiday that truly revolves around food, deciding how to prepare your Thanksgiving turkey is an earnest endeavor. It's one that gets us excited for time spent in the kitchen and around the table and marks the start of a wonderfully festive season. 

The ButterballTM turkey is a beloved American icon that, for more than half a century, has been virtually synonymous with Thanksgiving. Here’s a delicious twist on an old tradition from the folks who not only produce more turkey than anyone else, but also insist on its being American Humane Certified.

​Now, more than ever, we are conscious of where our food comes from. We want to support farmers and ranchers who do things right and care deeply about the well-being of their animals. In line with this holistic approach, Dr. Robin Ganzert, CEO of American Humane--America's first national humane organization-- has compiled delicious recipes featuring ingredients that are compassionately produced by farmers, ranchers, and other organizations that are American Humane CertifiedTM. This turkey recipe is one of more than 35 seasonal recipes presented by The Humane Table: Cooking with Compassion that will help you set a humane table year-round. With the ingredients probably already in your fridge for Thanksgiving, you can can also try your hand at these Cranberry Almond Sour Cream Muffins from the cookbook. Plus get to know the book's author and the President of American Humane, Dr. Robin Ganzert.

Learn more and purchase the cookbook here, and have a very happy Thanksgiving!


Herb and Citrus Butter- Roasted Whole Turkey

Makes 10 servings, Courtesy of Butterball. 


3 small oranges, divided

2 small lemons, divided

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary (minced) or 1 teaspoon dried rosemary (crushed)

2 teaspoons salt, divided

2 teaspoons black pepper, divided

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 (12-to-14-pound) Butterball® Fresh or Frozen Whole Turkey, thawed

6 medium shallots or small onions—peeled, halved, and divided

2 sprigs fresh rosemary or 2 teaspoons dried crushed rosemary


1. Position oven rack in bottom third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 325°F.

2. Remove 1 teaspoon orange peel and 1 teaspoon lemon peel from fruit. Cut 1 peeled orange and 1 peeled lemon into quarters; set aside.

3. Combine orange peel, lemon peel, butter, rosemary, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder in medium bowl.

4. Drain juices from turkey and pat dry with paper towels. Place turkey, breast side up, on a flat rack in a shallow roasting pan (2 to 2-1⁄2 inches deep). Evenly spread 1⁄4 cup butter mixture between skin and breast meat of turkey, being careful not to tear skin.

5. Season cavity of turkey with remaining 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Place peeled orange and lemon quarters, 2 shallots, and rosemary sprigs into turkey cavity. Tie legs together with kitchen string. Turn wings back to hold neck skin in place. (Tucking wings will help stabilize turkey in pan and when carving.) Rub 1⁄4 cup butter mixture all over turkey.

6. Cut remaining 2 oranges and 1 lemon into quarters. Place orange and lemon quarters and remaining 4 shallots around turkey. Insert an oven-safe meat thermometer deep into lower part of thigh without touching bone.

7. Melt remaining 1⁄2 cup butter mixture and keep warm.

8. Bake turkey until meat thermometer registers 180°F and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the breast and stuffing registers 170°F (3 to 3-1⁄2 hours), brushing turkey with melted butter mixture once every hour for the first 2 hours and covering loosely with foil after 2 hours to prevent excess browning. Lift turkey onto platter and let stand 15 minutes before carving.

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