Herbed Roasted Turkey and Homemade Gravy - gluten free, dairy free, soy free
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Foolproof roasted herb turkey that is moist and full of herb flavors! Many notes and tips below for successful roasting and homemade gravy.
Recipe type: Main
Serves: serves 8-10
  • Note: You will need a roasting rack and an unbleached cheesecloth (folded 2-ply and large enough to cover the turkey).
  • 1 - 15 pound turkey, organs and giblets removed from cavity*
  • 5 sprigs of fresh rosemary (about 4-inches high), stems removed
  • 10 sprigs of fresh thyme, stems removed
  • 15-20 leaves fresh sage (one handful), stems removed
  • 4 tablespoons PLUS 3 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 2 tablespoons black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons PLUS 3 tablespoons non dairy buttery spread,divided (I use Earth Balance soy free spread)
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • *If frozen, it requires 3 days to defrost in the refrigerator.
  • FOR GRAVY: (updated 11/25/16)
  • all the fat drippings on the bottom of the roasting pan, any solids removed ( about 3 cups)
  • ½ cup tapioca starch
  1. *Please read notes below before beginning to yield best results.* COOK TIME includes resting meat.
  2. Preheat the oven temperature to 425 degrees F (218 degrees Celsius) with the oven rack placed in the lower part of the oven.
  3. In a mini food processor, pulse all the fresh herbs, 4 tablespoons kosher salt (3 teaspoons set aside), black pepper, 4 tablespoons non-dairy spread, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic until herbs are well minced.
  4. Place your turkey in a roasting pan, set on its’ rack. Doesn’t matter which way now since we are seasoning.
  5. Wearing latex-free gloves (to prevent ruining your nails!), rub the seasoning mixture under the skin and the inside cavity. To do so, gently detach the skin from the meat with your fingers (not nails) then grab a heaping handful of herb mixture then push your way under the skin, rubbing herb mixture as you go. Repeat until both sides of the turkey is seasoned. To prevent ripping the wings, gently push only under the wings where it’s attached to the breast. Don’t force it, otherwise the skin may tear.
  6. Note: This step does take a little time, so give yourself 20-30 minutes to season. Music in the background is always nice.
  7. When fully seasoned, set turkey breast side up. Gently twist the wing tip (the first joint of the wing) and push it under the thigh. You may need to give it a bit of a push as it can be resistant. Then push the drumsticks together, one on top of the other, and truss, or tie with twine (sold in supermarkets or cooking supply shops) by looping in between (drumsticks) then under, and over several times — kind of like making a figure eight out of twine, securing the drumsticks securely (this helps prevent too much air circulation, which can result in a dry turkey).
  8. Pull the neck skin to cover the meat, then melt remaining 3 tablespoons non-dairy butter and submerge cheesecloth to fully coat and cover the turkey completely.
  9. Cook at 425 degrees F for 1 hour then reduce the heat to 325 degrees F for 90 minutes. The cheesecloth will be dark and very dry, clinging to the skin. Be careful not to pull the cloth off quickly, it's hot and may also tear the skin. Do not carve into the turkey to test for doneness, it will dry out the turkey.
  10. Note on doneness: poke an instant-read thermometer somewhere between the leg and thigh (do not touch the bone or it will not read accurately), when it reaches 160 degrees F it's ready.
  11. To easily separate: spoon some hot fat drippings over the cheesecloth then gently lift it off. Spoon more fat as needed until completely off. You should have dark, amber looking crispy skin underneath.
  12. Turkey temperature will continue to rise another 5-10 degrees while the turkey rests and reach the optimal 165 F temperature.
  13. Transfer turkey to a carving board and loosely cover with aluminum foil, let rest for 20-30 minutes before carving. Meanwhile, prepare gravy.
  14. FOR THE GRAVY: (Updated 11/25/16) Set your roasting pan, containing strained drippings, directly over medium-high heat. When it comes up to a boil, add tapioca (evenly across the drippings) and whisk continuously for a minute or two until it begins to thicken. Transfer into a heat-safe bowl and bring to a smooth consistency using a hand-held immersion blender. This will remove any stubborn lumps and thicken it even more. I originally combined water with tapioca starch then added the slurry to the fat drippings. This year I added more starch, without the water and immersed it right in the roasting pan. I don't recommend that, though, better to transfer it since the hot gravy can splatter! Using the immersion blender created a smoother gravy in less than a minute, instead of the laborious whisking for 5 minutes.
  15. More tips & notes:
  16. Keep an oven thermometer in the oven. I have one in both of my ovens to ensure the temperature is accurate before cooking or baking. The temperature the oven says or beeps at when it’s ready is never accurate!
  17. Remember to allocate enough time for seasoning, roasting, AND resting the turkey - about 3½ to 4 hours.
  18. Turkey should be close to room temperature. Roasting a turkey straight out of the fridge (or still very cold) will NOT roast evenly, instead keep it out at room temperature for an hour before seasoning.
  19. Make sure to remove the plastic that secures the cavity to the drumsticks before roasting.
  20. No need to baste your turkey! I used to roast the turkey breast side down to allow the fat from the dark meat to drip down and baste a few times, but now follow this method (cover with greased cheesecloth) that I learned from my uncle. The cheesecloth makes roasting turkey foolproof - it will do all the work until the very end.
  21. Basting while the oven remains open lowers the oven temperature, this can affect the roasting time and yield inconsistent results depending on how many times the oven was opened.
  22. You can season the turkey the day before, cover and refrigerate. Bring it to room temperature (at least an hour) before roasting.
  23. For a larger crowd: try roasting two smaller turkeys rather than one big one to give your guests more drumsticks and thighs. Average 12-pound turkeys will need 45 minutes at 425 F then 70 minutes at 325 F.
  24. If you are buying a turkey that has been brined then omit the salt, and just sprinkle a little evenly on the skin.
  25. If you like to roast the neck and giblets, place somewhere inside roasting pan, not inside the turkey. It should also be covered with cheesecloth.
  26. Defrost a frozen turkey 24 hours per 5 pounds. A 15-pound turkey needs 3 days in the refrigerator, so figure Sunday before Thanksgiving as the last day to buy a frozen turkey.
  27. Organic, non-GMO turkey does not contain any pesticides, glyphosate, and arsenic. It is also hormone & antibiotic-free. Costco and Whole Foods have Organic turkeys here in Southern California, check your local retailer if possible. For your health, a little extra cost for organic goes a long way :)
  28. Many recipes state to roast turkey at 350 degrees for 30 minutes per pound; I find this dries out the turkey and does not yield a crispy skin (as I learned from experience). For me, it would yield perfect dark meat and dry white meat, not a winning combination for guests! So I threw that method out and have been roasting it this way since.
  29. Another thing I don’t do: stuff the turkey! I did this one year (think it was 2004, the year the twins were born) thinking the turkey juices will take my stuffing to a whole new level, instead I got soggy stuffing and a turkey that wasn’t cooked in the center because it was stuffed. I had to cut it up and serve it in its' juice as "turkey au jus" - another method out the window!
  30. For the gravy: in prior years I have found that tapioca starch makes the gravy too gummy. The best is cornstarch. If you are corn-free, try potato starch (not flour) for great results.
Recipe by From Jessica's Kitchen at http://fromjessicaskitchen.com/herbed-roasted-turkey/