This easy to make Better Than Brined Balsamic-Basted Herbed Butter Roast Turkey will be the most succulent, moist and flavorful turkey you have ever made. You have my word on it!
When it comes to Thanksgiving turkey, skip the brining, people! It’s messy, time consuming, and simply not necessary. This simple recipe for Better Than Brined Balsamic-Basted Herbed Butter Roast Turkey will beat the pants off of a brined turkey with absolutely no fuss, and no muss!
Over the years, I’ve made many roast turkeys for Thanksgiving. I’ve brined (soaked them in a salt water solution) them for hours and hours, covered them in a butter soaked cheesecloth, smoked them in an outdoor smoker, made them in a tabletop roaster, deep fried them, and even tried to roast them upside down. All in the hopes of developing great flavor, crispy skin, and most importantly… MOIST, JUICY WHITE MEAT!
While all those methods resulted in turkeys that were good, it wasn’t until I made this Better Than Brined Balsamic-Basted Herbed Roast Turkey that my turkey was GREAT! With only a handful of chopped, fresh herbs (rosemary, sage, and thyme), a few kitchen aromatics (onion, carrots, and celery), a stick of softened butter, and some balsamic vinegar you’ll be amazed at the delicious difference spending less time and effort on your turkey will make!
And, it all that not enough, I have another great time-saving tip that will save you holiday stress when it comes to putting that all-important Thanksgiving dinner on the table. I’ll call it my Thanksgiving Day Holiday Life Hack. Keep reading to find out what it is. *teaser*
To aid in the clean-up after the large Thanksgiving dinner, I like to roast my turkey in one of those large, disposable aluminum trays. If I can cut down on even one dish or pan that needs to be washed after the big meal, all the better as far as I’m concerned. But, that’s not the time and stress saving tip I was alluding to earlier.
Ready to have your mind blown on a very “non-traditional” technique, but one that will make your Thanksgiving day run smoother than ever before?
Okay, here’s my Thanksgiving Day Holiday Life Hack…Roast (and slice) your turkey THE DAY BEFORE THANKSGIVING! Yup! That’s right!
Next, place all the meat back into the roasting pan, along with all those wonderful turkey juices, add some additional fresh herbs, and refrigerate overnight. Then, on that all-important Thanksgiving Day bring the already cooked and sliced turkey out of the fridge about an hour before you’re ready to reheat. *Note – Making sure to cover the pan with aluminum foil will keep the already moist turkey meat from drying out as it bastes in its own juices of butter, herbs, and balsamic vinegar. Once the turkey is reheated, place all the meat on a serving platter, cover again with foil and you can proceed with making the gravy with all that wonderfully flavored turkey juice at the bottom of the pan (not shown).
I found this method out completely by accident the day I made my Better Than Brining Balsamic-Basted Herbed Butter Roast Turkey. Because, as a food blogger, I needed to roast and style my turkey (for photography) the day before I actually wanted to serve it. Since I was afraid the meat would dry out because it had already been cooked and sliced, I’m so glad I had that light-bulb moment to add it all back into the roasting pan (along with those delicious juices). It was one of the best ideas I’ve ever had. It saved a lot of time, stress, and mess the next day when it was time to sit down to the most delicious turkey dinner EVER! Winner, Winner Balsamic-Basted Herbed Butter Roast Turkey for dinner!
Enough talking! I’m hungry! Let’s begin making Better Than Brined Balsamic-Basted Herbed Butter Roast Turkey.
If a store-bought frozen turkey is what you’ll be roasting (like me), make sure to thaw your turkey properly, several days in advance of when you’ll be cooking him. Once properly thawed, remove the neck piece from the inside cavity. Then, turn the bird around, lift up the back skin flap (between the wings) and remove the bag of innards. *Note – The neck and bag of innards can be roasted on the side of the turkey, and then they be used to make the gravy, or you can use them to add to your homemade turkey stock (if desired). Also, to avoid cross contamination of your salt and pepper, mix 3 teaspoons of kosher salt and 1 teaspoon of black pepper in a separate small bowl. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels (inside the cavity as well as the outside skin). Season the inside cavity with approximately 1 teaspoon of the salt and pepper mix, reserve the remaining salt and pepper mix for the herbed butter.
Once the turkey has be dried and in inside cavity seasoned, pour balsamic vinegar over the entire turkey. Allow the the turkey to sit with the balsamic vinegar for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, mince fresh rosemary, thyme and sage to make 2 tablespoons.
Add 1 stick of softened butter to a medium bowl. Stir in the minced herbs and the remaining salt and pepper. Mix well to combine.
Wash and roughly chop ½ a medium onion, 2 carrots, and 2 ribs celery. Stuff the aromatics (onion, celery, and carrots) into the cavity of the turkey. Gently run you hand under the skin of the turkey breast meat, and gently lift the skin from the meat of the turkey.Pour additional balsamic vinegar on the turkey breast.
Also rub approximately 4 tablespoons of the herbed butter mixture under the skin of the turkey, and then replace the skin and rub the remaining herbed butter on the top, legs, and wings of the turkey. Place the herbed butter turkey in a preheated 450 degree oven for 45 minutes to brown.
Remove the turkey from the oven and add 2 cups of chicken stock to the roasting pan. Baste the turkey liberally by spooning the juices in the pan over the entire turkey. Reduce the heat of the oven to 350 degrees and return the turkey to the oven until the internal temperature (when a meat thermometer stuck in the side) reaches 165 degrees. *Note – keep an eye on the turkey in the oven and if he gets too dark, cover with aluminum foil and continue roasting until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Remove the turkey from the oven and allow to sit for at least 20 minutes before carving. Once carved you can serve immediately, or return the sliced turkey back to the pan (with the juices), and refrigerate until needed.
If you’re serving the turkey at a later date, make sure to take the turkey out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes (to take the chill off) before heating. Keep the turkey covered and roast in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. Place the turkey meat on a serving platter, and use the juices remaining in the pan to make your gravy, if desired (not shown).
The following Amazon.com items are some suggested products I’ve chosen that will aid you in the making (and serving) of this recipe for Better Than Brined Balsamic-Basted Herbed Butter Roast Turkey, if needed. By clicking on the item photo, you’ll be taken directly to Amazon.com if you’re interested in purchasing any of these products. You are in no way required to do so, and you will not be charged in any way unless you decide to purchase a product through Amazon.
- 1 12-14 pound turkey, completely thawed with the neck and giblets removed.
- 3 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 stick butter, softened to room temperature
- 3 tablespoons minced fresh herbs (combination of thyme, rosemary, and sage)
- 1¼ cups balsamic vinegar
- ½ onion, rough chopped
- 2 carrots, rough chopped
- 2 ribs celery, rough chopped
- 2 cups chicken broth or stock
- Dry the cavity and outside skin of the turkey with paper towels.
- Season the inside cavity with 1 tablespoon of the salt and pepper mix you've prepared in a small bowl, reserved for the turkey.
- Pour 1 cup of balsamic vinegar liberally over the entire turkey, and allow the turkey to marinate with the vinegar at least 20 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Stuff the cavity of the bird with the chopped onion, carrot, and celery.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the softened butter, the minced, fresh herbs, and the remaining salt and pepper from the small bowl reserved for the turkey.
- Gently run your hand between the turkey skin and the meat of the breast and lift the skin gently.
- Pour ¼ cup of the remaining balsamic vinegar over the breast meat of the turkey and also rub approximately 3 tablespoons of the herbed butter mixture over the breast meat.
- Replace the skin on the breast and liberally slather the remaining herbed butter mixture over the breast and leg area of the turkey.
- Roast the turkey, uncovered for 45 minutes.
- Remove the turkey from the oven, and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.
- Add the chicken broth to the roasting pan, spoon the pan juices liberally over the turkey, and return the turkey back to the oven until the internal temperature of the turkey (using a meat thermometer inserted into the thigh area of the turkey) reads 165 degrees. Approximately 2½ - 3 hours. *Note - If during that time the turkey appears to be browning beyond your liking, cover him with aluminum foil and continue roasting until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
- Remove the turkey from the oven and allow him to rest for at least 30 minutes before slicing.
- Use the juices in the pan to make gravy, if desired.
- *See notes if you plan on making the turkey in advance.
Use paper towels to dry the turkey inside the cavity and also the outside skin.
Separate the 3 tablespoons salt and one tablespoon pepper into a small bowl so cross contamination of your seasonings does not happen when handling raw poultry.
Roasting and slicing of the turkey may be done 2 days in advance of serving. Once sliced, return the turkey to the cooking pan with all the juices. Add additional fresh herbs to the pan, cover and refrigerate. Remove the turkey from the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before heating. Keep covered and heat the turkey in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. Remove the turkey to a serving platter, discard the herbs, and use the turkey juices to make gravy, if desired.
Thanksgiving is, by far, my favorite holiday and I know I’m not alone in this. Here’s an apron I painted recently for a woman who shares my exact feelings. I love how this apron turned out, and I sincerely hope she enjoys wearing it while preparing Thanksgiving dinner this year, and all the many many more years to come!
I paint all of my aprons with bright, vivid fabric paints. Upon completion all my painted fabrics are heat-set for durability. They’re completely machine washable and dryable, but no fabric softener, please. The aprons I paint on are a high quality chef’s apron made of a 65/35 cotton poly blend. Each apron has an adjustable neck strap, extra long ties, and two large front pockets.
If there is ever anything I can paint for you, from fabrics to glassware items, please don’t hesitate to contact me or visit one of my shops: Etsy and Wazala. Custom orders (like the apron shown above), are always welcome. I will happily paint and design from any photo, idea, or description you send my way.
Kudos Kitchen by Renée ~ Where food, art, and fun collide each and every day!
Until we eat again, I hope you have a delicious day!
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