Lemon & herb-basted simple roast turkey

Contains pork – recipe is for non-Muslims only
Roast your Christmas turkey with a classic lemon, parsley and thyme butter for juicy, delicately flavoured meat

  • Prep:20 mins
    Cook:4 hrs
    plus resting, cook time depends on size (see step 3)
  • Serves 8
  • Easy

Nutrition per serving

  • kcal 628
  • fat 32g
  • saturates 14g
  • carbs 0g
  • sugars 0g
  • fibre 0g
  • protein 84g
  • salt 0.9g


  • 4½ kg free-range oven-ready turkeys
  • 100g softened butter
  • grated zest 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp chopped thyme
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • Hazelnut, pancetta & orange stuffing (optional, see 'Goes well with')


Homemade turkey stock

Put turkey giblets in a large pan with one halved onion, 1 small celery stick, 1 halved carrot, 2 bay leaves,1/2 tsp salt and 6 black peppercorns. Pour in 1 litre of water and bring to the boil. Skim off any scum from the surface using a slotted spoon. Reduce the heat, partially cover the pan and simmer for 1 hr 30 mins. Cool for 10 mins, then strain and set aside to cool fully. Chill until ready to use.


  1. Remove any giblets from the turkey and save for stock, if you are making your own (see 'Tip'). Remove the bird from the fridge 1 hr before cooking to allow it to come to room temperature. Wipe the turkey inside and out with kitchen paper.

  2. Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Starting at the neck-end of the bird, carefully push your fingers between the skin and flesh on the breast, loosening the skin. Mix the butter, lemon zest, herbs and garlic together and season. Push the flavoured butter under the skin and spread over the flesh. Smooth the skin back over the breast.

  3. You can now stuff the neck-end of the bird with the stuffing, if you like, and secure the skin underneath with a skewer. Weigh the turkey and calculate the cooking time – it will need 40 mins for every 1kg.

  4. Transfer the bird to a roasting tin, cover loosely with foil and place in the middle of the oven. Cook for 20 mins, then reduce the temperature to 180C/160C fan/gas 4 for the rest of the cooking time. Remove the foil for the last 30 mins. Check if the turkey is cooked by piercing the thickest part of the thigh with a skewer. If the juices run clear, it’s cooked. If they are pink, return it to the oven for another 15 mins, then test again. If using a meat thermometer, it should read 80C for the thighs, and the breast should be 75C.

  5. Remove the cooked turkey from the tin, and place on a serving platter (use the tin to make the gravy – see 'Goes well with'). Cover with foil and leave to rest for 30-45 mins before carving.

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