Italian Roast Turkey is an easy and fuss free recipe with those delicious Italian herbs and flavors you love. Cook the perfect juicy roast turkey with this simple recipe, no brining or basting required!
Italian Roast Turkey is the only turkey recipe you need for the holidays. This simple recipe takes the stress out of making a Thanksgiving turkey and gives you a juicy and moist turkey without a lot of work.
For another delicious holiday recipe, be sure to try this Slow Cooker Ham recipe or this Spatchcock Smoked Turkey. And, if stuffing is your favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner, definitely check out this Focaccia Stuffing or Cornbread Stuffing with sausage and apples.
Have leftover turkey? Don't miss this delicious and easy recipe for Turkey Orzo Soup!
Why You Need to Make this Recipe!
If you struggle or stress about Thanksgiving Turkey, this recipe is for you. Italian Roast Turkey is simple to make and completely fool proof!
Cooking a turkey doesn't have to be stressful or time consuming. This recipe comes together fast and is so simple to make.
With this recipe, you can make a flavorful and moist turkey with no brining or basting required. What makes this bird so moist and flavorful is the combination of spices and olive oil used to rub on on the turkey before roasting.
There are many recipes out there that require extensive prep to be done ahead of time to flavor the turkey such as brining, dry rubs, or uncovering in the fridge for the bird to dry out. Here, all you do is open the thawed turkey, rub on the oil, and bake until it's perfect.
After making many turkey throughout the years, I can tell you that recipe is truly tested and perfected. So, if you love Italian-inspired recipes with mediterranean flavors, this Italian Roast Turkey recipe is for you!
The ingredients needed for Italian Roast Turkey are: a thawed turkey, olive oil, garlic powder, Italian herb blend, fresh rosemary, lemon zest, salt and pepper, and broth.
- Turkey: this recipe calls for a 12-15 pound turkey, but you could go larger or smaller with similar results.
- Garlic Powder: this will give you a garlic flavor without having to worry about the garlic burning in the oven.
- Italian Herbs: I like to use a blend of Italian herbs from the store (also called Italian seasoning). You can make your own with a combination of dried oregano, thyme, sage, and marjoram.
- Lemon Zest: the lemon zest gives the turkey skin a lot of flavor without being over powering.
- Fresh Rosemary: this is the only fresh herb I recommend using here. A little bit of fresh rosemary goes a long way (I only use a tablespoon) but it gives the turkey such a distinct flavor.
- Broth: turkey or chicken broth work.
Thawing the Turkey
The only prep involved in making this Italian Roast Turkey is being sure the turkey is thawed before roasting. You will need a couple of days, so be sure to plan ahead.
If you are using a frozen turkey, you will need to thaw it in the refrigerator for about 24 hours for every 5 pounds of turkey. So, a thirteen pound bird would need to start thawing in the refrigerator on Monday for it to be ready to cook on Thursday.
Remove the bird from the refrigerator about an hour before roasting to let it come to room temperature. This is also a good way to get rid of any ice crystals that remain on or inside the cavity of the turkey.
How to Make Italian Roast Turkey
To make this recipe, start by placing your oven baking rack near the bottom third of your oven so that there is plenty of room for the turkey. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Step 1: first, you need to make the olive oil herb rub for the turkey. In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon zest, garlic powder, kosher salt, Italian herb seasonings, pepper, and fresh rosemary.
Step 2: unwrap your thawed turkey from the packaging. Remove the neck and gizzards from the cavities of the turkey. Place the turkey on a roasting pan and dry thoroughly using paper towels. Be sure to dry the bottom of the turkey as well.
Step 3: brush the herbed oil all over the skin of the turkey. You can brush some of the oil underneath the skin of the breasts as well if you'd like. Also, don't forget the brush the bottom of the turkey as well.
Pour the broth in the bottom of the roasting pan. Cover the turkey with foil and place in the preheated oven.
Step 4: remove the foil from the turkey about an hour before it's done cooking so it has a chance to brown in the oven. Then, remove from oven when the internal temperature of the bird reaches 165 degrees. Cover with foil and let sit 20-30 minutes before carving and serving.
Tips for Making Italian Roast Turkey
- Give yourself time to thaw the turkey. You will need about 24 hours for each 5 pounds of frozen turkey. Add an extra day to that just to be safe.
- When ready, remove the turkey from the packaging and don't forget to remove the gizzard and neck from the turkey's cavities! The turkey will have a lot of water, so it's best to do this part in a clean sink.
- Don't wash the turkey. Instead, pat it very dry using paper towels.
- No need to brine or baste the turkey. A frozen turkey like Butterball, doesn't need to be brined ahead of time. And, basting doesn't help flavor the turkey and instead causes the oven to lose heat with the constant oven door opening.
- No need to place anything, including stuffing, in the cavity of the turkey. Stuffing will not cook at the same time as the bird and should be cooked separately in a casserole dish.
- Test the turkey with a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh and breast. The thermometer should read 165 degrees. Then, remove the bird from the oven, tent with foil, and let rest 20-30 minutes before carving.
- Be sure to save the pan drippings so that you can make a delicious gravy out of them!
Make Gravy from Turkey Drippings
While your Italian Roast Turkey is resting, make a delicious gravy from the pan drippings!
Carefully move the turkey from the pan to a large cutting board or plate to continue resting. Then, carefully pour the drippings from the roasting pan into a large glass measuring cup or bowl and let sit for five minutes.
After a few minutes, you'll see that the fat from the drippings rises to the top. Use a spoon to remove the excess fat. Strain the remaining liquid through a fine mesh sieve to remove any excess turkey renderings.
You will need about 2-3 cups of liquid for the gravy. If you don't have enough liquid from the pan drippings, supplement with turkey or chicken broth.
In a sauce pan over medium high, melt ¼ cup of unsalted butter. Add in ¼ flour and whisk until the flour has browned slightly. Then, pour in the turkey drippings (and broth if needed). Continue whisking until the gravy has thickened and is bubbly. Taste for seasonings and serve alongside the turkey.
Frequently Asked Questions
Brining a turkey is submerging it in a water/salt/seasoning solution in the refrigerator a day or two before roasting it. However, if you cook and season your turkey properly, brining is an unnecessary and messy step. Use a good flavored rub on the turkey before roasting it instead. And, be sure to cover the turkey with foil for half of the cooking time so that it doesn't loose a lot of moisture.
Whether you use butter or oil for your turkey rub is a matter of preference. Butter is 17% water and, in my opinion, not as good of an option as olive oil. I recommend using a herbed olive oil mixture instead and brushing it all over the turkey skin before roasting.
Adding broth to the bottom of a turkey pan will help to keep the turkey moist as well as give you enough liquid to make a tasty gravy later.
Recommended Side Dishes
Italian Roast Turkey
- roasting pan
- pastry or basting brush
- 12-15 pound turkey, thawed
- ¾ cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, diced
- 1 tablespoon Italian herb blend (Italian seasoning)
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest (from about one large lemon)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups turkey or chicken broth
- Remove the thawed turkey from the fridge about an hour before roasting, so it can come to room temperature.
- Adjust your oven rack so that the turkey will sit in the center of the oven. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Remove the turkey from the packaging and remove the giblets and neck from inside the cavities of the turkey. Use paper towels to pat the turkey very dry. Place the turkey in your roasting pan breast side up.
- Make the herb oil by combining the oil, garlic powder, rosemary, Italian seasoning, lemon zest, salt, and pepper.
- Use your fingers to loosen and lift the skin of the above the breasts and brush a bit of the herbed oil underneath. Use your brush to brush the remaining herbed oil all over the outside of the turkey. Pour the broth in the bottom of the roasting pan.
- Cover the turkey and pan with foil and roast at 325 degrees, removing the foil during the last hour of baking. Roast the turkey until internal temperature (inserted on the middle of thigh and breast) reaches about 165 degrees. (About 3 ½ hours for a 14 pound turkey).
- Remove the turkey from the oven. Tent with foil and let rest 20-30 minutes before carving. Reserve any drippings and juice remaining in your roasting pan to make gravy.
- If your turkey is frozen: Thaw in the fridge, 24 hours for every 5 pounds of turkey. I like to give myself an extra day, just to be safe.
- If you don't have a roasting pan, you can use a disposable foil roasting pan or large casserole pan. Then, place a bunch of chopped veggies like onions and carrots on the bottom of the pan to elevate the turkey. Place the turkey directly on the vegetables.
- This combination of herbs is definitely Italian-inspired. Feel free to add whatever herbs you like to the oil.
- You definitely don't need to brush the oil under the skin of the turkey. I like to do so to add a bit extra flavor to the meat.
- Be sure to remove the foil an hour before the turkey is done cooking so the turkey can brown. If the turkey starts to get too brown, cover lightly with foil and continue roasting until it reaches 165 degrees.
- Make sure you let the turkey sit, covered, before cutting it so that give the juices a chance to settle in the meat.
- See the full recipe post to learn how to make a simple turkey gravy from the pan drippings.