The Speckled Palate

November 11, 2016

Browned Butter Sage Turkey

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Prepare a show-stopping entree for the holidays this year! Browned Butter Sage Turkey is a decadent twist on the classic roasted turkey. This turkey makes a flavorful entree for Thanksgiving or ANY holiday celebration! Makes 1 large bird.

The browned butter sage turkey sits on a table, reading for slicing

Every year, my mom makes a classic roasted turkey for Thanksgiving. She seasons the turkey inside and outside, then spreads butter all over the bird. On top of the butter, she adds more seasoning and TONS of sage. Then she stuffs it with a traditional baguette stuffing.

This is the same kind of turkey my grandmother used to make for Thanksgiving every year. I know my aunts make a similar one at their houses, too.

So when I began thinking about Thanksgiving dishes to share with y’all this year, I wanted to take their classic recipe and give it a small twist.

That twist, of course, is browned butter.

Because WHY NOT?

Browned butter is one of my favorite things, and I wondered how it would taste on a turkey.

Spoiler alert: Really freaking delicious.

The butter, which is browned with fresh sage, permeates the turkey, and the sage can be tasted throughout the bird. The browned butter helps the skin crisp up beautifully and adds additional flavor to the meat.

Seriously, y’all. I’m drooling as I tell you about this because this was the juiciest turkey I’ve ever made.

Looking for more Thanksgiving recipes, but don’t know where to begin? My BEST Thanksgiving Recipes index is perfect for you!

Close up of the roasted turkey from above

How to Make a Browned Butter Sage Roasted Turkey

Make the Sage Browned Butter

In a nonstick skillet, heat the butter and sage over medium heat. Season with the salt.

Using a whisk, stir the butter as it foams up and begins to heat. You can also do this by simply moving the pan over the burner, letting the butter gently swirl around the pan.

Watch this step carefully. Brown bits will begin forming at the bottom of the pan, and we don’t want these to burn! Keep moving that pan!

When the butter begins smelling nutty and the browned bits are becoming more prominent, remove your skillet from the heat.

Let the butter cool slightly, then set it aside. Leave the sage in the butter, though, because we want it to crumble and add extra flavor when we rub it on the turkey.

Prep ahead tip: You can make this butter a week in advance! When it’s browned and delicious, transfer it to a food storage container, and store it in the fridge until it’s time to make your sage roasted turkey!

Make the Browned Butter Sage Turkey

Preheat the oven to 325°F, and set aside a large roasting pan for your bird.

Remove the turkey from its packaging, and pat it dry with a paper towel. We do this because it’ll make the bird’s skin crisp up even more. 

Place the turkey on your prepared roasting pan.

Using your hands, smear the sage browned butter onto every surface of the turkey. Spread it beneath the skin, too, and inside the turkey’s cavities. (OK, that sounds super disgusting, but I really hope that you do because this butter everywhere makes the bird that much tastier!)

When you’re done smearing the butter onto the turkey, wash your hands really well. Like, reaaaaaaaally well. 

Next up, season the turkey with freshly ground pepper. Just use your pepper grinder and get that everywhere for extra flavor on the bird.

Transfer the turkey to the preheated oven, and let it remain uncovered for the duration of its bake time.

Please note: Different turkeys will take different amounts of time. My turkey, which fell into the 14-18 lb. range, took about 3 hours and 45 minutes, when all was said and done. Please read the instructions included on your turkey to make sure you give your turkey enough time to bake.

When you think your turkey is cooked through, use a digital thermometer to check its temperature. You want the turkey breast meat to read 165°F before you remove it from the oven to ensure it’s completely cooked through. (Because nobody wants undercooked turkey on their holiday table.)

When the turkey has reached temperature, remove it from the oven, and cover with aluminum foil. Let it rest for 15-20 minutes so the juices can settle into the meat.

Transfer the turkey from the roasting pan to a platter, and slice!

Closeup of the Honeysuckle White Turkey in its packaging, from above

 

Make the Homemade Turkey Gravy

While the turkey cools, make the gravy!

Pour the turkey drippings from the roasting pan into a liquid measuring cup so you know how much you have.

Heat the roasting pan (or a large saucepan) over medium heat, and measure the drippings back into the pan. Add flour, and whisk until smooth. When the mixture begins to bubble, add in the chicken stock, too.

Lower the heat, and continue whisking. The gravy will thicken, and once it reaches the desired consistency, remove from the heat.

Please know that as the gravy sits, it will thicken more. You can always put it back on the heat over low and add a little more chicken stock to it to thin it out.

Serve the turkey and gravy

Once the turkey has rested for the desired amount of time, carve with a sharp knife or a carving knife.

Serve it with the gravy and your other favorite side dishes with the people you love!

Collage of where to find the turkey and other ingredients in the Kroger grocery store

Erin’s Easy Entertaining Tips and Tricks

This is one of our all-time favorite recipes to make for both Thanksgiving and Christmas because this whole turkey is a gorgeous and flavorful centerpiece.

Here are a few tips and tricks for making yours a show-stopper, too!

  • Make the Sage Browned Butter in advance! This can be done up to a week before Turkey Day, and it’ll make spreading the mixture on the turkey a whole lot easier since it’s challenging to smear all over the bird if it’s in liquid form.
  • Give your bird extra time to cook. Depending on the size of your turkey, it could take more or less time than mine did. Because of this, you’ll want a little more wiggle room in your cooking schedule to ensure that the centerpiece is done at the correct time. When you purchase your turkey, look for its weight to see if yours will need more or less time than mine did.
  • Make as many sides in advance as you can. It sounds silly to mention this, but a turkey could potentially take up your entire oven. Because of those, put together your side dishes in advance or choose ones that can cook in a slow cooker or be finished in the oven right before dinnertime so that everything is warm.

A knife cuts into the roasted turkey with browned butter and sage rub

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes this roasted turkey recipe special?

Quite honestly, I think this recipe is super unique with the sage browned butter. But also, the turkey is incredibly juicy!

Why is this? It’s a Honeysuckle White turkey, which I purchased at my local Kroger store. (You can get the other ingredients at Kroger or a Kroger banner store, too!)

I’m a big fan of the Honeysuckle White brand because they use no growth promoting hormones, nor added hormones or steroids. Additionally, their turkeys are raised by Independent Family Farmers, and the farming is USDA process certified.

Honeysuckle White is committed to customers knowing how their food is made and who is making it. The brand works closely with its farmers to ensure that high standards are being met.

How will I know when my roasted turkey is done?

Use an instant read meat thermometer to know (instead of guess) when your bird is done.

Stick the thermometer into the thickest part of your turkey, and see what the reading is. You want it to reach 165°F before you remove it from the oven.

How long do I need to cook my turkey?

Depending on the size of your turkey, it will cook for a different amount of time, and again, you will always want to take its internal temperature before removing it from the oven. Because guessing the internal temperature is impossible and you don’t want to serve a raw or overcooked bird at a holiday.

  • For an 8 lb. turkey, roast it at 325°F for 2 hours 45 minutes. 
  • For a 10 lb. turkey, roast it at 325°F for 3 hours 15 minutes.
  • For a 12 lb. turkey, roast it at 325°F for 4 hours.
  • For a 14 lb. turkey, roast it at 325°F for 4 hours 45 minutes hours.

The general rule is 20 minutes per pound of a whole turkey. This is dependent on if its stuffed, though, and how your oven works. So… set the timer for the time that makes sense, math-wise, for you, and check your bird’s temperature before you remove it from the oven.

Also, a stuffed turkey will cook for longer than an unstuffed turkey, so keep that in mind. 

What side dishes can I serve with this sage turkey?

Gravy is drizzled on top of a slice of turkey breast on a plate

Now who’s ready for TURKEY?

Scroll on down to see how we do it…

 

Browned Butter Sage Turkey
Yield: 15 servings

Browned Butter Sage Turkey

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours 45 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours

Prepare a showstopping entree for the holidays this year! Browned Butter Sage Turkey is a decadent twist on the classic roasted turkey. Brown butter in a pan with fresh sage, then slather a Honeysuckle White Fresh Whole Turkey with the sage browned butter. Bake until golden brown, and serve warm with homemade gravy and traditional sides! This turkey makes a flavorful entree for Thanksgiving or ANY holiday celebration!

Ingredients

Sage Browned Butter

  • 16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks)
  • 20 sage leaves, fresh
  • 1 ¾ teaspoons kosher salt

Browned Butter Sage Turkey

  • 14 ½ lb. Honeysuckle White Fresh Whole Turkey
  • Sage Browned Butter, (recipe above) at room temperature
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Homemade Turkey Gravy

  • 1 ½ cups turkey drippings
  • ½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ cups chicken stock (plus additional stock should the gravy get too thick)

Instructions

Make the Sage Browned Butter

  1. In a skillet, heat the butter, sage and salt over medium heat.
  2. With a whisk or simply moving the pan over the burner, swirl the butter as it foams up and begins to heat.
  3. Watch carefully as brown bits begin forming at the bottom of the pan, and continue moving the butter. (This will ensure the browning bits of butter don’t burn.)
  4. When the brown bits begin smelling nutty and are plentiful, remove the skillet from the heat.
  5. Let the butter cool slightly, then set aside. (Refrigerate if you’re making this in advance.) Do not remove the sage. When you spread the butter on the turkey, it will crumble and add additional flavor.

Make the Browned Butter Sage Turkey

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Set aside a large roasting pan.
  2. Remove the Honeysuckle White Fresh Whole Turkey from its packaging. Pat dry with a paper towel. Place in the prepared roasting pan.
  3. Smear the Sage Browned Butter onto every surface of the turkey. Make sure to spread the butter beneath the skin and in the turkey’s cavities. When done with this, wash your hands vigorously beneath hot water.
  4. Season the entire turkey with freshly ground black pepper.
  5. Transfer the turkey into the preheated oven. It will remain uncovered for the entire time it bakes.
  6. Please note that turkeys of different sizes will require different times to cook. My turkey, which fell in the 14-18 lb. range, took about 3 hours and 45 minutes, when all was said and done. Please read the instructions included on your turkey to make sure you give your turkey enough time to bake.
  7. When you believe your turkey has cooked through, use a digital kitchen thermometer and check the turkey’s temperature. You want the meat of the turkey breast to be 165°F before you remove it from the oven.
  8. When the turkey reaches the desired temperature, remove from the oven, and immediately cover with aluminum foil.
  9. Transfer the turkey from the roasting pan to a platter, and let it rest for 15-20 minutes so the juices can settle into the meat.

Make the Homemade Turkey Gravy

  1. While the turkey cools, make the gravy!
  2. Pour the turkey drippings from the roasting pan into a liquid measuring cup.
  3. Place the roasting pan on the stove and warm over medium heat. Measure 1 ½ cups of the drippings back into the pan.
  4. Add the flour to drippings, and whisk until smooth. The mixture will begin to bubble, and at that point, add the chicken stock, whisking constantly.
  5. Lower the heat, and continue whisking. The gravy will begin thickening, and when it has reached the desired consistency, remove from the heat.
  6. If the gravy sits for a little while, it will thicken. If this happens, put it back on low heat and add a little more chicken stock.

Serve the turkey and gravy

  1. When the turkey has rested for the desired amount of time, carve with a sharp knife or a carving knife.
  2. Serve the turkey with the gravy and other side dishes, and enjoy warm!

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

15

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 221 Total Fat: 17g Saturated Fat: 9g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 7g Cholesterol: 83mg Sodium: 328mg Carbohydrates: 4g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 0g Sugar: 0g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 14g
Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate.

 What kind of turkey does your family make for Thanksgiving?

How do you feel about browned butter?


42 Comments

  1. Madison | A Joyfully Mad Kitchen

    This turkey looks AMAZING and now I am so sad I have two weeks until Thanksgiving. You killed it with this recipe! We’re having Thanksgiving at my grandmother’s this year but next year it’s my turn to host and I’ll be making sure to make this recipe! It looks so good!

    • Erin

      Thank you, Madison! I wish you didn’t have to wait until Thanksgiving to eat turkey, but it’s not too far off now! And I hope that this turkey turns out as well for you next year as it did for us. We thoroughly enjoyed it!

  2. Michelle Goth

    You’re so much fancier with your turkey than I am. I need to step it up this year, it looks great and sounds great!

    • Erin

      Pssh. It only *looks* fancy. And I’m sure your turkey is delicious!

  3. Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet

    What a GORGEOUS bird! I can’t wait for the turkey day!

    • Erin

      Thanks, Anna! I cannot wait for Turkey Day, either!

  4. Patricia @ Grab a Plate

    This looks heavenly! I’m sharing with my husband (the “turkey cooker”) and look forward to enjoying this!

    • Erin

      Thank you, Patricia! I hope you and your family enjoy this turkey!

  5. Katerina @ diethood .com

    This is one amaaazing turkey!! YUM!!

    • Erin

      Thank you, Katerina! We were big fans of this turkey!

  6. Kimberly @ The Daring Gourmet

    That is SUCH a gorgeous turkey and I love the addition of the browned butter!

    • Erin

      Thanks, Kimberly! The browned butter adds such delicious flavor to this bird. 🙂

  7. Krista

    As if I wasn’t already excited to have Turkey!

    • Erin

      I know, right?!?

  8. Cathy Trochelman

    What a gorgeous turkey! I love sage so much!

    • Erin

      Thanks, Cathy! Sage is one of my favorites, too. It is such a flavorful addition to this turkey.

  9. Martha Ramirez

    Turkey looks great. In the oven do you cook it with or without An aluminum tent. I’m sure it would turn out just as well in a roaster.

    • Erin

      Thank you, Martha! I baked this without an aluminum tent the entire time. I only cover it once it comes out of the oven.

  10. Shirley

    Wow! That looks scrumptious! Approximately how long is the “butter-browning” process? Thanks for sharing.

    • Erin

      Hey Shirley! The butter-browning process took me about 5-10 minutes. It’ll be dependent on how hot the fire/burner is, as well as the fat content of the butter. Continually swirl it around the pan as it heats and begins browning, as you don’t want to burn it.

  11. Tine

    I have already purchased a Butter Ball turkey, do you think I can still use the same browned butter process?

    • Erin

      Hey Tine! Yes, you can still use the same browned butter process with a different brand of turkey. 🙂

  12. Cynthia

    Can you use ground sage?

    • Erin

      Hey Cynthia. I don’t suggest ground sage for this recipe. The fresh sage really does a great job in the butter because it stays whole while it cooks. I fear that the ground sage might cook faster than the fat in the butter and burn at the bottom of the pan. I hope that helps!

  13. Nancy

    How much flour in your gravy? Thanks!

    • Erin

      Hey Nancy! The recipe calls for 1/2 cup of flour. Happy cooking!

  14. Zoe

    Does the turkey need to be brined?

    • Erin

      Hey Zoe. No, the turkey does not need to be brined! That’s one of the best things about this recipe – the turkey is fresh, and all you have to do is slather it in the browned butter sage mixture before it goes in the oven.

  15. CC

    I have been baking a Thanksgiving turkey every year for over 40 years. I have brined, bagged, flipped and wrapped. I will tell you this was the best turkey ever and so easy. This will be my turkey go to now. Thanks so much! Merry Christmas 🙂

    • Erin

      CC, your comment made me smile SO BIG this morning. I am thrilled that you loved this turkey and that it’s going to be your go-to recipe from here out. Thanks for giving it a try! Merry Christmas to you and yours, and happy turkey baking!

  16. Kaycee

    This looks amazing! Do you brine your turkey before hand or do you find it alright to go either way?

    • Erin

      Thanks so much, Kaycee! I don’t brine my turkey beforehand, and this has been lovely every time we’ve made it! I hope it works for you, too, and you find it DELISH!

      • Kaycee

        Thank you! It’s going in the oven in an hour! So excited!!

        • Erin

          Woohoo! Happy baking and a very happy Thanksgiving to you and yours! I hope you enjoy this bird–we’re making it, too!

  17. Katelyn

    Do you need to roast this on a rack in the pan or can you just set it in the pan?

    • Erin

      Hey Katelyn, I’ve always roasted this on a rack in a pan. I hope that helps!

  18. Jen

    Hello! Making this turkey on Thanksgiving. We keep a kosher home and was wondering if I can substitute butter with fake butter or margarine?

    • Erin

      Hi Jen! I’m thrilled to hear that you’re making this turkey for Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, I’ve never tried to brown fake butter or margarine. Since neither will have milk solids, I don’t know if you can get the same flavors or effect. That said, you could use margarine and simply cook it with sage and use that on the turkey. I hope that helps! Let me know how it turns out, and Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

  19. Diane

    Hello! I used your wonderful recipe for my thanksgiving turkey last year, I fell in love, and now it’s my go to recipe! I do however want to spatchcock the turkey this time around. Would you recommend that I rub the turkey under skin with the brown butter mixture before or after I spatchcock? I’m assuming that I should do it before, but would love your advice!

    • Erin

      Hi Diane! It makes me so happy to hear that you fell in love with this recipe last year and that it’s now your go-to! I’ve never spatchcocked a turkey (or a chicken, for that matter), but I think you’re right! Rubbing the brown butter mixture under the turkey’s skin would be easier before you spatchcock it. Please let me know how this turns out–it sounds like a fun and delicious take for Thanksgiving!

  20. Jackie

    Hi

    Is this butter used in solid form or liquid form.

    • Erin

      Hey Jackie. I like for the butter to have firmed up, so it’s not completely melted, but it doesn’t need to be rock hard. I’ll make a note in the recipe. Thanks for asking!

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