Skip to Content

Garlic Butter Basted Turkey

Garlic butter basted turkey marries the flavors of butter, garlic, fresh herbs, and turkey in a near perfect union. Moist and golden brown, this roasted turkey will be the feast your family talks about for years to come. A lovely main dish for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter.

Gravy being poured onto a turkey dinner plate
Garlic Butter Basted Turkey
Post may contain affiliate links. As a member of the Amazon affiliate program, I may earn a small commision from qualifying purchases. To read my affiliate policy, click here.

Turkey is the star of nearly any holiday dinner. Unless you’re vegetarian, then you might like a Pumpkin Risotto or skillet baked ziti instead.

For everyone else, a moist turkey with a golden brown skin makes for a picturesque Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, or nearly any other holiday dinner. This butter basted turkey, loaded with roasted garlic, and seasoned with some extra herbs and touch of citrus, will certainly be the focus of your next holiday meal.

The Best Butter Basted Turkey

Garlic Butter Basted Turkey is the star of the Thanksgiving or Christmas table this holiday season.
Garlic Butter Basted Turkey

If it is one thing Italians, like myself, know, its how to use garlic. It is pretty much a staple in every dish we make… well, except desserts. That… that would be gross.

But when it comes to savory dishes, garlic reigns supreme in our house.

Garlic is even better when you combine it with lots of butter.

And that’s just the start.

You’ll also love how moist and tender the turkey gets as you cook it.

In over 20 years of cooking our own turkey, we have never had a more moist (SORRY but there is no other word) turkey than what this butter basted turkey gave us.

This is also a great show-boating turkey. Want to show up your over-bearing in-laws? Because of how we roast this turkey, it will create a beautiful golden-brown color, which is sure to impress your family and friends.

Is a basted turkey better?

Garlic Butter Basted Turkey is the star of the Thanksgiving or Christmas table this holiday season.
Garlic Butter Basted Turkey

A lot of people will tell you, no, you don’t need to baste a turkey. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.

Here’s the thing: a basted turkey, particularly a butter basted turkey, helps to get the skin of the turkey that beautiful golden-brown color.

And in this recipe, you add a fresh basting of garlic-herb butter before roasting and twice more during the cooking process, which helps add more flavor to the skin.

It can also help you keep the bird nice and moist as it cooks. A lot of turkeys are now self-basting, but that doesn’t mean adding more butter will hurt.

More butter never hurts. Your arteries may disagree, but your stomach will appreciate the added garlic butter.

Ingredients

Ingredients for Garlic Butter Basted Turkey: Butter, Spices, Herbs, Garlic, Citrus. Turkey not pictured.
Ingredients for Garlic Butter Basted Turkey: Butter, Spices, Herbs, Garlic, Citrus.
  • Turkey –  Use a fully thawed whole turkey with the inners (giblets) removed.  Our turkey was 19 pounds, but you can adjust up or down as needed. 
  • Garlic– This recipe could also be called how to ward off vampires. You’ll need 7 heads cut in half to place both under the turkey and in the cavity. You’ll also need an additional 1.5 half heads with the cloves peeled and removed for the garlic butter.
  • Unsalted butter – If you are in a pinch, you could use salted, just note it may make it a bit too salty for your taste. Of course if you love salt, then go salted and go nuts.
  • Fresh herbs – You’ll need a bundle of fresh thyme and a bundle of fresh rosemary. You’ll also need a loosely packed cup of parsley. (See, it’s not all garlic in this butter basted turkey).
  • Fresh zest – For an optional spritz of freshness, you can use orange or lemon zest. To make zest, all you need to do is use a microplane or the smallest grater and rub the rind of the orange or lemon against it.
  • Sea salt and pepper – You can use as much or little as you like of both salt and pepper.

How Cook and Baste a Turkey

Garlic Butter Basted Turkey is the star of the Thanksgiving or Christmas table this holiday season.
Garlic Butter Basted Turkey
  1. Preheat the oven.
    Before you do anything else, get the oven preheating. To start, you’ll need to set it to 450 degrees F.
  1. Make the garlic butter.
Make the butter baste in a food processor
Make the butter baste in a food processor

Place the peeled garlic, herbs, salt, pepper, and citrus zest together in a food processor and then pulse to combine. 

Next, remove the woody sticks from the thyme and rosemary by gently sliding the sprigs through your pointer finger and thumb to remove the fragrant leaves.

Add the butter, prepared herbs, peeled garlic, and salt and pepper to the bowl of the food processor. Pulse until combined. Melt the herb butter in the microwave for a few seconds to soften further if needed.

  1. Prepare the turkey to roast.
Put cut heads of garlic in the roasting pan underneath where the turkey will lay
Put cut heads of garlic in the roasting pan underneath where the turkey will lay

Place six of the halved garlic heads, cut side up, in a roasting pan that you’ve sprayed with non stick spray. Make sure the pan is big enough to hold the turkey you have.

Next, place a roasting rack on top of the garlic and then put the turkey on the rack, breast side down.

Slather the turkey in garlic butter, making sure to rub it into and under the skin.
Slather the turkey in garlic butter, making sure to rub it into and under the skin.

Rub or brush the the butter over turkey, making sure to cover the breast and the bottom of the bird thoroughly with the mixture. 

  1. Bake and baste.
Slather the turkey in garlic butter, making sure to rub it into and under the skin.
Slather the turkey in garlic butter, making sure to rub it into and under the skin.

Place the turkey in the oven and roast at 450 for 45 minutes.

After 45 minutes, take the turkey out of the oven and turn the temperature down to 325. Carefully turn the turkey over, baste with pan juices, and then slather on half of the remaining butter.

Roast the turkey, uncovered for an hour. When the hour is over, baste again and spoon on the last of the remaining butter.

Tent the turkey with foil and then continue roasting for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 165. In this final cooking time, you’ll want to baste it every 30 to 45 minutes.

  1. Rest and serve.
A turkey dinner complete with mashed potatoes, cranberries, stuffing and squash on a white plate
Garlic Butter Basted Turkey

Carefully remove the turkey from the oven and let rest on the counter for 20 to 30 minutes before cutting and serving with your favorite sides and gravy.

Enjoy!

How to store basted turkey

To store roasted turkey, follow these simple steps:

  1. Allow the turkey to cool to room temperature.
  2. Remove the meat from the bones (optional) to help decrease the size of the container you’ll need to store it in.
  3. Place the meat in an airtight container and store in the fridge.
  4. Freshly roasted turkey should lat about 3 to 5 days in the fridge.

To freeze the turkey, follow steps one and two above and then:

  1. Tightly wrap the turkey meat in cling or plastic wrap.
  2. Wrap it once in aluminum foil tightly.
  3. Place the turkey into a freezer bag or freezer safe container.
  4. It should stay fresh in the freezer for up to 6 months.

To reheat the butter basted turkey:

  1. If frozen, allow to thaw in the fridge overnight.
  2. Place an individual serving on a plate and reheat for about 3 minutes on high in the microwave or heat until warmed through.

Tips and Tricks

Garlic Butter Basted Turkey is the star of the Thanksgiving or Christmas table this holiday season.
Garlic Butter Basted Turkey
  • Start thawing your turkey several days before you need to use it. To safely do this, place the bird in the fridge, not the counter top.
  • When you start roasting the turkey, do it breast side down. This helps the fats and juices from the dark meat drain into the breast, which helps it become extra moist as it cooks.
  • Don’t use minced or diced garlic that you find in the can for this butter basted turkey. They will burn up in the oven. You will want to use fresh heads with the tops chopped off, so it is super simple to prep.

Is a basted turkey cooked?

Turkey dinner on a white plate
Garlic Butter Basted Turkey

Many brands sell what was known as self-basted turkey. What this means is that they injected the meat with solution of salt, fat, broth, and other seasonings that help keep the turkey moist as it cooks.

When you buy a turkey advertised as “basted” it does not mean it is cooked.

What is a self basted turkey and is this a recipe for self basted turkey?

Garlic Butter Basted Turkey is the star of the Thanksgiving or Christmas table this holiday season.
Garlic Butter Basted Turkey

A self-basted turkey comes injected with a combination of fat, broth, salt, and other seasonings based on the brand you buy. Many stores sell self-basting turkey, which means the meat will stay moister for longer periods of time.

This recipe can use either a self-basting or non-self-basting turkey. Either way, you will want to add the butter mixture as described at different intervals to help ensure the skin gets the golden-brown color.

How often should a turkey be basted?

A turkey dinner complete with mashed potatoes, cranberries, stuffing and squash on a white plate
Garlic Butter Basted Turkey

This can vary based on the recipe you follow and whether or not your turkey is self-basting.

For this butter basted turkey, you will want to baste it at least three times. Each time you baste it, you add a fresh layer of butter to the bird and some of the pan juices.

You only need to baste this turkey a few times throughout the roasting process, which makes it an easy recipe to get perfect everytime.

Turkey baste recipe

The garlic butter basted turkey out of the oven fully cooked and beautifully golden brown/
Garlic Butter Basted Turkey

If you love basting your bird as it cooks, you will want to use my turkey baste recipe, which uses butter, garlic, and a bit of citrus.

This baste recipe is great for the holidays or anytime you want to roast chicken, turkey, or even beef.

Turkey Stuffing Recipes

No turkey dinner is complete without some stuffing. But I’ll give you a hint. The best compliment to this butter basted turkey won’t be found in box of Stouffer’s stuffing.

Don’t get me wrong, it has a place. It’ just that place is the garbage can, not your turkey’s butt.

For a much better stuffing experience that will wow your family, you should try either my Classic Stuffing or, if you are feeling like tasting fall, my Apple Sage Stuffing.

Other Holiday Main Dishes

Whether turkey is not really your jam or you just want to try something different for each holiday this season, here are a few other holiday main dishes you will enjoy:

  • Apple Cider Turkey Breast – This yummy recipe is great for a smaller crowd or to compliment your main turkey if you are feeding a big group. It’s brined in apple cider and served with apple cider gravy for a can’t miss dish.
  • Garlic Roasted Turkey Breast – Love garlic? This turkey breast recipe is for you and great for a smaller crowd or to compliment your main turkey.
  • Instant Pot Roast Beef with Apple Cider Gravy – Looking for a beef main for Christmas perhaps? Roast beef with apple cider gravy is super tender and delicious. Plus it feels extra festive with apple cider gravy.
  • Blood Orange Roast Chicken– Want to skip turkey and do chicken instead? This blood orange roast chicken is so pretty and perfect for any holiday.
  • Christmas Stuffed Flank Steak– This impressive beef dish wraps flavorful meat around a walnut stuffing.

Did you make this garlic butter basted turkey or any other recipe on my site? Leave me a comment below and let me know how you liked it. And make sure you follow along with me on FacebookPinterest and Instagram to see everything we’ve got going on.

Garlic Butter Basted Turkey is the star of the Thanksgiving or Christmas table this holiday season.

Garlic Butter Basted Turkey

Yield: 12
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours 45 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours 5 minutes

Garlic butter basted turkey creates a deliciously moist, tender, and well-seasoned turkey that is sure to impress your family.

Ingredients

  • roughly 19 pound turkey
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • 1 bunch of thyme
  • 1 bunch of rosemary
  • 7 heads of garlic
  • lemon or orange zest (about a teaspoon)
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

    1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
    2. Make the garlic butter by combining butter, herbs, and about one head of peeled garlic in the food processor. For more detailed instructions, see this post.
    3. Remove the tops from the 6 remaining cloves of garlic and place them, cut side up, in a large roasting pan. Make sure to spray the pan first with cooking spray to help prevent sticking.
    4. Place the turkey, breast side down, on top of the garlic on a roasting rack.
    5. Rub or brush about half of the garlic butter all over the turkey.
    6. Place the turkey in the preheated oven and cook for 45 minutes.
    7. Carefully remove the turkey from the oven and lower the temperature to 325 degrees.
    8. Use tongs to carefully flip the turkey over, slather with half of the remaining butter and baste with the pan juices before returning to the oven to cook for an additional hour uncovered.
    9. Remove the turkey once more and slather on the remaining butter mixture. Baste with the pan drippings and then place a tent of aluminum foil over top before returning it to the oven.
    10. Roast for about 1.5 to 2 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. As it finishes roasting, baste the turkey every 30 to 45 minutes.
    11. Once done, remove the turkey from the oven and let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes before carving and serving it.

Notes

You can make larger or smaller sized turkeys and follow the same recipe. If it is half the size, you may want to halve the ingredients or add a bit more of everything if it is much larger.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1454Total Fat: 61gSaturated Fat: 20gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 37gCholesterol: 803mgSodium: 769mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 206g

This is an estimate provided for convenience only.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

Check out the web story here.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Skip to Recipe