Roast Turkey with Citrus and Sage

This classic roasted turkey has just enough of a twist from orange zest and a fresh herb rub to keep things interesting.

Roast Turkey with Citrus and Sage
Photo: Carson Downing
Hands On Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
1 day 11 hrs 15 mins


  • 1 12 pound whole turkey

  • 1 orange

  • 3 tablespoon kosher salt

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper

  • 2 tablespoon chopped fresh sage and/or rosemary

  • 2 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

  • 1 small onion, quartered

  • 3 tablespoon olive oil or melted butter

  • Bourbon and Cider Gravy (see recipe)

Bourbon and Cider Gravy

  • Reserved drippings from a roast turkey

  • ¼ cup apple cider

  • 2 tablespoon bourbon or apple cider

  • No-salt-added turkey or chicken broth

  • cup all-purpose flour

  • Salt and pepper


  1. Two to three days before roasting, remove neck and giblets from thawed turkey (reserve for gravy, if desired, or discard). Pat turkey dry with paper towels. Zest the orange; reserve fruit. For dry brine: In a small bowl stir together orange zest, thyme, 3 to 4 Tbsp. kosher salt, and 1 tsp. black pepper. Gently loosen skin of turkey. Rub turkey all over with dry brine, including under skin and inside the cavity. Cover turkey with plastic wrap or place in a 2-gal. resealable plastic bag and seal. Place in a roasting pan or large container. Refrigerate 24 to 48 hours, turning occasionally.

  2. One day ahead of roasting, remove turkey from bag. Pat dry with paper towels. Gently stuff sage and parsley under turkey skin. Return turkey to pan or container. Refrigerate, uncovered, overnight (8 to 12 hours). (This step allows skin to dry so it will be crispy.)

  3. One hour before roasting, remove turkey from refrigerator. Preheat oven to 425°F. Meanwhile, quarter reserved orange. Stuff cavity with orange and onion. Place turkey, breast side up, on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Twist wing tips under back to hold neck skin in place. Brush turkey with 3 Tbsp. olive oil. If you like, insert an oven-going meat thermometer into center of an inside thigh muscle (not touching bone).

  4. Roast 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Roast 2 1/4 to 2 3/4 hours more or until thermometer registers at least 175°F in thigh. About 40 minutes before the end of roasting, rotate pan; cover turkey loosely with foil. When turkey is done, the juices should run clear and the drumsticks should move easily in their sockets. Transfer turkey to a cutting board, reserving drippings in roasting pan for gravy. Cover turkey; let rest at least 15 minutes before carving. Serve with Bourbon and Cider Pan Gravy. Serves 12 to 14.

Bourbon and Cider Gravy

  1. After roasting turkey, transfer to a cutting board. Pour drippings into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Skim off fat, reserving 1/4 cup fat. Add cider and bourbon to roasting pan, stirring to loosen brown bits. Add cider mixture to skimmed drippings. Add enough turkey broth to equal 2 cups.

  2. In a medium saucepan place reserved fat. Whisk in flour. Cook and stir over medium 1 minute. Add drippings mixture all at once. Cook and stir over medium until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 1 minute more. Season with kosher salt and black pepper. Makes 2 1/4 cups.

Take It Easy:

Instead of a whole turkey, use 8 lb. bone-in turkey pieces (breast, thighs, and/or drumsticks). For rub, stir together thyme, sage, parsley, orange zest, 2 tsp. kosher salt, and 1/4 tsp. black pepper. Rub all over turkey pieces and under loosened skin. Preheat oven to 425°F. Brush turkey with 2 Tbsp. olive oil or melted butter. (Omit orange and onion used to stuff cavity.) Place on greased rack of a roasting pan. Let stand at room temperature 30 to 60 minutes. Roast turkey pieces, uncovered, 20 minutes. Reduce oven to 325°F. Roast 1 to 1 1/4 hours more or until done (165°F for breast, at least 175°F for drumsticks and thighs), covering with foil as needed to prevent overbrowning. Let rest and serve as directed.

Make sure to thaw turkey in refrigerator before dry brining. Allow 1 day per 3 1/2 to 4 pounds of turkey.

Prep as directed, using 1/4 cup butter in place of turkey fat. Combine cider and bourbon; add enough broth to equal 2 cups. Melt butter in saucepan and cook as directed in Step 2; cool slightly. Transfer to an airtight container; refrigerate up to 3 days. Reheat gravy in a saucepan. If you like, add 2 to 3 Tbsp. drippings from the turkey for extra flavor.

Take It Easy:

In a small saucepan stir together one 12-oz. jar purchased turkey gravy, 1/4 cup apple cider, and 2 Tbsp. bourbon; heat through. If you like, stir in 2 to 3 Tbsp. turkey drippings and 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage. Makes 1 1/2 cups.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

511 Calories
21g Fat
1g Carbs
74g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 12
Calories 511
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 21g 27%
Saturated Fat 5g 25%
Cholesterol 244mg 81%
Sodium 1126mg 49%
Total Carbohydrate 1g 0%
Protein 74g
Vitamin C 1.7mg 8%
Calcium 53mg 4%
Iron 2.9mg 16%
Potassium 582mg 12%
Folate, total 15.9mcg
Vitamin B-12 2.7mcg
Vitamin B-6 1.4mg

*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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