Roast Turkey With Orange and Sage Recipe (2024)

By Sam Sifton

Roast Turkey With Orange and Sage Recipe (1)

Total Time
About 3 hours, plus resting
Read community notes

The butter, massaged under the bird's skin, does a lot to help keep the breast meat moist, and the juice and wine in the pan below the bird create a deliciously steamy environment for the roasting. The combination leads to an interesting outcome: a bird that crisps up nicely not at the beginning of cooking, but at the end. The sweet-savory drippings make for excellent gravy.

Featured in: The 400-Degree Thanksgiving

Learn: How to Cook a Turkey

Learn: How to Make Gravy

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Yield:8 to 10 servings

  • 112- to 14-pound turkey, giblets removed
  • ½cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 2tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • 2cloves garlic, minced
  • 1tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • ½of a 750-milliliter bottle dry white wine
  • 2cups orange juice
  • 10 to 12fresh sage leaves

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (10 servings)

749 calories; 33 grams fat; 12 grams saturated fat; 1 gram trans fat; 10 grams monounsaturated fat; 7 grams polyunsaturated fat; 10 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams dietary fiber; 6 grams sugars; 92 grams protein; 1037 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Roast Turkey With Orange and Sage Recipe (2)


  1. Step


    Heat oven to 400 degrees. Pat turkey dry with paper towel and place it on a rack in a roasting pan. In a small bowl or on a clean cutting board, mash the butter together with the orange zest, sage, garlic, salt and pepper to create a paste. Lift the turkey’s skin at the neck and gently use your hand to separate skin from breast meat. Rub about half of the compound butter under the skin, covering the breast meat. Rub the rest of the butter over the skin of the turkey and season with a little more salt and pepper.

  2. Step


    Fold the wings of the turkey under the bird, and tie its legs together with butcher’s twine. Pour the wine and orange juice into the roasting pan, scatter the sage leaves over the liquid and carefully slide the pan into the oven.

  3. Step


    Roast for about 2 to 3 hours, basting bird every 30 minutes with drippings. Start checking the bird 1 hour and 45 minutes into cooking, and tent it with foil if skin is turning too dark. Cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh without touching bone registers 165 degrees. Transfer to a cutting board or platter and allow to rest at least 30 minutes before carving.



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Cooking Notes


Hello, this sounds delicious. I was wondering how I could modify the recipe for a 17-20 lb bird? Thanks!


I'm wondering how to cook this bird if you are spatchco*cking. Would you still use the rack or lay the bird flat on the pan? Would you need to brown the skin in a skillet before popping it into the oven?Also, would it harm anything to season the bird with salt (or put it in a brine) a day or two before cooking?


How come nobody is answering these people’s questions?? They would probably like an answer before Thanksgiving.


A version of this has been my go-to turkey prep for the last 2 years. I do a dry brine of salt, zest and thyme for 1 day prior to cooking and then use the compound butter for the cooking. Fabulous results!

Richard MacSorley

I brine all my turkey's regardless of what recipe I use. Never had a problem. Last year I also cooked the bird breast down for about 45 minutes at 450, and flipped it over and finished at 350.

Bobbie Goeden

Hi there Sam and Melissa,This meal looks delicious but a lot of us have questions about times and temps and turkey weights. Thanksgiving is getting really close. Please help us all out and answer the questions in this stream.Thanks!

Carolyn S

Everything in this menu (which is great, btw - I love the ideas for the dressing) would benefit from being cooked at 350. I actually start my turkeys at 425 and then turn the temp down to 350, which still works with your plan. You can still do it on the same day - just start an hour earlier or have another glass of wine and eat at 5. 400 pushes the fruits and vegetables to an uncomfortable level. Just look at the photos! Everything is too browned on the edges.

Patrick Chadd

Cooking Times:15 - 16 lb turkey at 400 F is 3 1/4 to 3 1/2 hours18 - 20 lb turkey at 400 F is 3 3/4 to 4 hours21 - 22 lb turkey at 400 F is 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours24 lb turkey at 400 F is 4 1/2 to 4 3/4 hours

David Quail

A small turkey @ 400 for 3 hours will be dry as dust. Check the thigh w your instant read starting at 90 minutes and yank the bird as soon as the dark meat near the bone hits 160. The breast will be done.

David Quail

Stuffed bird takes longer to cook because the stuffing comes to temp last. While waiting for safely cooked stuffing in the bird the breast meat will over cook. No flavour gain in stuffing cooked in the bird, big loss with dry breast meat.

Question same as Laura.

Would a bigger bird work at 400


Very interesting!The Diestel turkey folks (NORCAL) recommend a baste of buffer, salt and paprika. They also recommend pouring a glass of warm white wine slowly over the turkey about 3/4 way through the bake.During the high-temperature period, I keep liquid in the roasting pan - but not too much. Sprinkle some of the stuffing in the bottom on the pan so the bread, onions, and celery caramelize at the high temperatures. Just don't let it burn! Leads to a dark, robust gravy!


I used apple cider instead of orange juice, since that's what i had on hand. It was lovely and made for wonderful drippings for gravy


My mother was the BEST cook (I know...EVERYBODY'S mother was the best!). She would roll over in her grave if she thought I'd put liquid in the bottom of the turkey roasting pan! "I serve ROAST turkey, not STEAMED turkey!" I'm with her.


I also would appreciate some crucial answers before the big day! 1) Are we putting the turkey up on the rack slightly above the pan, or down in among the orange juice, wine et all? 2) Does all this liquid end up steaming the bird? 3) With a larger bird, say 16 lbs. isn't it best to start high (400) and then go lower (350) once it starts to render the fat a bit? And 4) will this work well with a pre-brined organic never frozen bird?

Deb T

I have always roasted my turkey at a lower temp- I loved the results of the 400 degree oven. I usually use the juices for gravy so the orange juice/wine changed that.


I’m made turkey meat, not the whole turkey and it turned out super delicious. The whole family enjoyed it. It was most and very flavorful. Highly recommend the recipe!


Turkey was fine but the pan drippings were not great (too sweet for my taste) for gravy.


Pairing this with a brine using similar flavors (Easiest Turkey Brine on Simply Recipes website) led to the best Thanksgiving turkey we’ve done to date. Moist, flavorful meat with crispy skin. Plus it makes delicious gravy!


Made this per the recipe in an electric countertop roaster set to 400. Was cooked (and acceptably browned) in under two hours. That meant it sat - tented - for more like an hour. No big whoop, really. The butter was difficult to spread, so next time I’ll soften it more as others have suggested. It turned out really nicely, though - moist and with good flavor and not noticeably “orangey.” Gravy was delicious, too.


Made this bird almost exactly as written, but put some cut up (quartered) oranges and sweet onions, and fresh sage and oregano, inside the cavity. I’ve always done this in the past and it makes the meat so moist. Thought it would play well with the compound sage and orange butter. And I was right! I did an 11 pounder, started at 400 for the first hour, then turned it down to 350 and foiled the breast. I did add more wine and OJ as I saw it was evaporating too much and needed more. Used Prosecco!


Made pretty much as written. Might have been easier to spread butter if turkey got up to room temperature. And ultimately baked it for about 3.5 hours, about half the time at 400 and half the time at 350. Turned out really well.

Rich Morey

The flavors from the sauce in the bottom of the pan were really yummy and a very unique and interesting take on turkey. The compound butter rub was good but as someone suggested - make sure the butter is very soft. It was hard to work with the butter because it stuck to the fork more than the bird. I'm thinking of trying this recipe with a chicken and maybe having the butter almost liquid.


Make sure the butter is really soft!!

Leah H

All oranges squeezed fresh except we added about 1/4ish cup of dried orange to the gravy. Oranges were a mix of:- calamondin (1 cup of oranges)- sour orange (1 oranges)- blood orange (4 oranges)


Followed the recipe to a T - perfect! I cooked a 10 lb Turkey and following the advice for another comment I dropped the temperature to 375 and cooked for 2.5 hours . Checked the temp at 90 minutes in the thigh and when it hit 160 I yanked it out of the oven. Juiciest turkey I ever made!


Spread the compound butter on with a knife, not your hands, difficult to transfer the butter to the turkey skin. Otherwise fantastic recipe


This was delicious. Possibly the best turkey I've roasted. Made the recipe with an 8-lb breast. No need to brine if you use a fresh turkey that comes in brine. The wine and OJ in the bottom of the roasting pan burnt and charred to a crisp but there were still enough drippings to make some good gravy. Next time I'll add some chicken stock to the bottom to try to prevent the burning.


One of the best turkey recipes I've tried, and I've tried a few! I'm usually not a fan of garlic in roast turkey but with the fresh orange zest and sage it was perfect. We roasted our bird on the grill (in a roasting pan with convection) and it came out juicy and flavorful.


When I put the turkey in the oven the butter mixture on the top of the skin incinerated into a puffy charcoal crust within 20 minutes. The liquid in the pan turned to a black boiled syrup. I brushed off the charcoal into a dustpan. In the end we cut off the charred skin and the breast was moist and delicious underneath. Drippings were inedible. We used a sweet wine.

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Roast Turkey With Orange and Sage Recipe (2024)


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