Butter-Basted Roast Turkey

Prep Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
1 day 4 hrs 10 mins

Adapted from Anne Quatrano's "Summerland: Recipes for Celebrating with Southern Hospitality" (Rizzoli), this spectacular turkey calls for an easy dry brine.


  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 1 turkey (14 to 16 pounds), giblets reserved for gravy

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, plus 1 stick, melted, for basting

  • Turkey Gravy for Butter-Basted Roast Turkey, for serving

  • Pomegranates, clementines, and sage and thyme sprigs, for garnish (optional)


  1. Rub 2 tablespoons salt evenly inside cavity of turkey, then rub outside with 1/4 cup salt. Place on a rimmed baking sheet; refrigerate 24 hours.

  2. Rinse turkey inside and out; pat dry with paper towels. Season cavity with salt and pepper. Rub room-temperature butter evenly over outside of turkey; season with salt and pepper. Tuck wings under turkey; tie drumsticks together with kitchen twine. Transfer to a roasting pan fitted with a rack. Let stand 1 hour.

  3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees with rack in lower third. Roast turkey 30 minutes. Baste with some of melted butter; lower oven temperature to 350 degrees. Continue roasting, basting with butter every 30 minutes, until a thermometer inserted into thickest part of breast near (but not touching) bone registers 165 degrees, 1 1/2 to 2 hours total, depending on size of bird.

  4. Transfer turkey to a serving platter. Reserve pan with drippings for gravy. Let turkey rest at least 45 minutes; carve and serve with gravy and garnishes.

    John Kernick
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