Citrus and Herb Turkey with Lemon-Garlic Gravy

My Mom, Laura, first prepared this Citrus and Herb Turkey a few years ago for Thanksgiving. It incredibly moist and flavorful, and was one of those meals that I’ve never been able to forget. I was so excited when she agreed to make it for us earlier this week, so that I could share the recipe with you before Thanksgiving. If you’re looking for a turkey preparation that is a little bit different while still being traditional, this recipe is for you.

It’s turkey time ya’ll! (That’s how we say dinner is served here in the south.)

Citrus Herb Turkey with Lemon Garlic Gravy

Citrus and Herb Turkey with Lemon-Garlic Gravy


Lemon-Herb Butter:

1 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
grated zest from 1 lemon
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1 14- to 16-pound turkey, rinsed, patted dry inside and out; neck, heart, and gizzard removed
2 lemons, cut into wedges
1 small orange, cut into wedges
1 handful fresh parsley sprigs
6 fresh thyme sprigs
salt and pepper


pan drippings
3 cup chicken stock warm
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

Citrus and Herb Roasted Turkey with Lemon-Garlic Gravy


1. If you are using a frozen turkey, remove the turkey from the freezer several days before roasting day and let it thaw.

2. Remove the turkey from the refrigerator and rinse turkey with cool water. Pat dry with paper towels. Let it rest on a baking sheet for 2 hours until it comes to room temperature.

3. Meanwhile, place all the ingredients for the lemon-herb butter into a food processor. Pulse for 1 – 2 minutes until well incorporated. Remove from food processor, and set aside.

4. Set rack at lowest position in oven and preheat to 325°F. Sprinkle main turkey cavity with salt and pepper. Starting at neck end of turkey, carefully slide hand between skin and meat of breast to loosen skin. Spread lemon-herb butter over the breasts, under the skin. Spread remaining butter over the outside of the turkey. Sprinkle the outside of the turkey with salt and pepper. Fill main cavity with lemon and orange wedges, and parsley and thyme sprigs. Tie legs together loosely to hold shape. Tuck wing tips under.

5. Place turkey on rack set in large roasting pan. Roast turkey until thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 165°F to 170°F, about 3 hours. Cover loosely with foil while roasting, if turkey begins to brown too quickly. Tilt turkey so juices from main cavity run into pan. Transfer turkey to platter. Tent very loosely with foil; let rest at least 30 minutes (internal temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees). Reserve pan.

Citrus and Herb Roasted Turkey with Lemon-Garlic Gravy

6. Scrape juices and browned bits from reserved roasting pan into large glass measuring cup, skim off fat. Reserve 2 tablespoons. Add 1 cup chicken stock to juices.

7. Heat reserved 2 tablespoons fat in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute 2 minutes.

8. Pour drippings into a small saucepan; skim fat. Combine flour and remaining broth until smooth; whisk into the pan. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Add flour and whisk until golden, about 4 minutes. Add degreased pan juices and 2 cups stock. Bring to boil, whisking until smooth. Reduce heat and simmer until gravy is reduced to desired consistency, about 4 minutes. Whisk in 2 tablespoons reserved lemon butter and chopped parsley. Season with salt and pepper.

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  1. says

    I love this recipe – it will be fun to try it this year to do something traditional but slightly different than our typical routine for Thanksgiving.

  2. says

    Hi Laura & Angela,

    That turkey looks amazing! You really outdid yourself here! This is something I would normally do with something smaller, I don’t know why I haven’t thought of revamping my turkey before.

    Great recipe. This is just the recipe to use when we break our vegetarian diet once (or twice) a month 😉

    ~Mommy’s Playbook

  3. says

    I can vouch for the fact that this citrus herb turkey is yummy. We tried it and it tasted delicious, especially the dark meat. Definitely a Thanksgiving recipe keeper.

  4. says

    Oh wow! I saw this one Pinterest and was drooling! I don’t actually season my turkey much but citrus herb turkey sounds delicious and would be a great new flavor to try this year!

  5. says

    Wow, this is seriously incredible. I can only imagine how wonderful it makes the house smell. We’re still trying to finalize Thanksgiving plans… if I am going to cook.. I will definitely be trying this!

  6. judy gardner says

    oh my gosh – this looks and sounds AMAZING!!! i cooked a whole turkey once and it was very dry, but this recipe sounds like it would work for me! my sister is supposed to cook the turkey this year but i may just do it instead. if not, i will give her this recipe to try for sure!

  7. Faye Mc says

    Wow, what a beautiful bird :) my mouth is watering. I love lemon and garlic, but have never tried it. I wonder if I can get away with it for Thanksgiving dinner and if not, I can always make it for us, so there :)

  8. says

    Your turkey looks so moist and juicy!! Lemon and garlic are two of my favorite flavors but I have never used them on a turkey before. I need too!!

  9. Candice says

    Yum! We only eat turkey once a year on thanksgiving but this looks too yummy. Maybe I’ll cook up a little thanksgiving this weekend.

  10. Janet W. says

    I’m usually not a turkey person and prefer chicken most times, but this looks delicious! The flavoring looks amazing!

  11. says

    This Citrus and Herb Turkey sounds very delicious! My family usually makes the turkey but it’s very generic and bland — sometimes a little too dry. I need to share this recipe with my aunt and maybe we can have it this year!

  12. Rosie says

    The best way I’ve had turkey had a stick of butter over it that melts while it cooks. the best chicken I’ve had uses lemon and oranges inside the cavity and under the skin, I can’t imagine how good it is to combine the best! I soooo want to make this. I’m going to get a small turkey to make this, since I’m not making the turkey for the holiday. This is a stunner! Boy, that photo looks good, I want to grab that turkey leg so bad!!!

  13. Betsy Barnes says

    My mother makes her turkey very similar to this recipe, I must say, it’s the moistest turkey I’ve ever eaten :)

  14. Tami Vollenweider says

    The Turkey looks so moist and delicious! We usually smoke a Turkey,but I’m always looking for different ideas! I like the idea of lemon and lots of Garlic!

  15. says

    Oh my….that looks delicious. I am gravy-challenged, but having said that – your recipe here for lemon, garlic gravy looks fabulous. I hope I can recreate it!

  16. molly c says

    that looks incredible!! i always have a problem with thanksgiving turkey being dry.. this looks like the answer to my problems

  17. christine reyes says

    I’m not usually a fan of turkey, but you say it’s juicy and moist? I might be willing to give it a go this year for Thanksgiving. Thanks!

  18. says

    I normally have trouble with citrusy flavors, but the herbs and garlic could help neutralize that for me. I can’t wait to try this out – I’m starving!

  19. says

    My mouth is watering just LOOKING at those pictures of yours! That turkey looks and sounds beyond delicious and I love the way it’s a different spin on an old classic :)

    Thanks so much for sharing it with us-Just in time for turkey day, too!

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