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Salt and Pepper Turkey


Spreading butter under the skin enhances the flavor of the breast meat.

  • Prep:
  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 10

Source: Everyday Food, November 2009


  • 1 whole turkey (about 12 pounds), thawed if frozen, rinsed and patted dry (neck and giblets reserved for Giblet Stock; liver discarded)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 6 tablespoons butter (3/4 stick), room temperature
  • Bread Stuffing with Sage


  1. Make Giblet Stock. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, with rack in lowest position. Tuck wing tips underneath body of turkey. Season inside of turkey with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, mix together butter and 1 teaspoon salt. With your fingers, gently separate breast skin from flesh without tearing skin. Spread butter mixture evenly under breast skin.

  2. Loosely fill large cavity and neck cavity with stuffing; fold neck skin over opening. Tie legs together with kitchen twine. Season turkey generously with salt and pepper. Place turkey in an 11-by-14-inch roasting pan. Roast 1 hour. Reduce heat to 350 degrees; tent turkey with foil. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of thigh registers 165, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

  3. Transfer turkey to a cutting board, still tented with foil, and let rest 30 minutes. Reserve pan with drippings for Pan Gravy. To serve, carve turkey and scoop out stuffing.


When Martha made this recipe with Sarah Carey on "The Martha Stewart Show," they did not prepare the giblet stock. To prepare the recipe they made, substitute unsalted butter and disregard giblet stock instructions.

Reviews Add a comment

  • Rachel1989
    27 NOV, 2013
    Darn good turkey! We used Lawry's Seasoned Salt instead of salt and pepper, since that's my husband's preference for poultry, but other than that we followed the directions. It had been a long, long time since I made a turkey and we were more than satisfied.
  • StarlaCook
    24 NOV, 2011
    This was perfect for my first Thanksgiving Hostessing! Simple & helped take the stress out of it! The accompanied video is excellent & vital for this first time turkey cook! I followed Martha & buttered the outside too! I threw the innards out & stuffed it with instant stuffing this time. Now that I have Turkey cooking confidence I will try the Roast Turkey with Herb Butter next year & maybe real stuffin! Yum! It was a very good day!
  • abensen
    29 NOV, 2010
    I was nervous to be in charge of the turkey for my family's Thanksgiving gathering this year. Everyday Food really came through with this recipe. The meat came out tender and juicy. The gravy was very flavorful and rich. I did not stuff the turkey with stuffing (we baked it in a separate dish) and this reduced the baking time by about an hour. I also basted the turkey every 30 minutes with the pan juices. Huge success - thanks!!