Prepare a show-stopping roasted turkey for the holidays! Sage Browned Butter Turkey is a decadent twist on the classic, complete with a sage browned butter compound butter. This turkey makes a flavorful centerpiece for ANY holiday gathering! Makes 1 large turkey.
Every year, my mom makes a classic roasted turkey for Thanksgiving.
She seasons the turkey generously with salt and pepper, 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 and give it a small twist.
Which, of course, is browned butter.
Why I love this recipe:
Roasted turkey can be so bland sometimes, right? Or worse, DRY. *shudders*
This Brown Butter Turkey with Sage is utterly decadent, juicy and bakes up beautifully every time.
It starts with a homemade compound butter.
The butter, which browns with fresh sage, permeates the turkey, and the sage can be tasted throughout the bird.
The browned butter helps the skin crisp up and adds additional flavor to the meat.
Spoiler alert: This is wonderfully delicious.
Seriously, y’all. I’m drooling as I tell you about this because this was the juiciest turkey I’ve ever made. (Also, be sure to check out my Rosemary Garlic Herb Butter to use on a turkey, too!)
Some side dishes to serve alongside this bird: Bourbon Sweet Potato Casserole | Bacon Wrapped Green Bean Bundles | Fresh Cranberry Sauce | Fresh Green Bean Casserole from Scratch | Creamed Cornbread Casserole
Looking for more Thanksgiving recipes, but don’t know where to begin? My BEST Thanksgiving Recipes is perfect for you!
What you need to make this recipe:
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- Nonstick skillet
- Roasting pan with a rack—make sure yours is large enough for the bird you purchase. Consider purchasing a disposable one if you don’t own one or if your turkey is too large for the one you do own.
- Instant read thermometer—while most turkeys come with a pop-up thermometer, this is the best way to confirm your bird is actually cooked properly.
Let’s talk ingredients!
In addition to the tools above, you’re going to need some ingredients to make this recipe, too! Chances are, you might already have some of them in your fridge or pantry. Scroll down to the recipe card for the full measurements and instructions.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Unsalted butter — this is the base for the compound butter. There is no substitute. You cannot use a vegan butter in place of it because it does not have milk fat to brown.
- Fresh sage leaves — grab ’em from your garden or get a packet at your local grocery
- Kosher salt — I always use a medium grain salt. If you’re using a finer grain salt, consider using less since it will become saltier more easily.
- Whole Turkey — I used a 14-15 lb. bird for this recipe, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use a smaller one if you’re not feeding a crowd! Make the sage butter as instructed and use it on the bird, knowing you might have some leftover.
- Freshly ground pepper — we do this to taste, so measure with your heart.
- Turkey pan drippings — this is what runs off the turkey as it roasts. We’re going to save it and use it as the base of our gravy.
- All-purpose flour — this is the thickener for our turkey gravy. I keep unbleached AP flour in our house, but you can use the regular kind, too.
- Chicken stock — this thins out the gravy and is super important. I tend to purchase unsalted chicken broth so that the gravy doesn’t get too salty. You may also use turkey stock, if you have it on hand.
You may use a frozen turkey, but it needs to be defrosted before you bake it. This should be done in the refrigerator over the course of several days.
For this turkey, you may stuff stuffing in its cavities, or you can half an onion, apple and a few carrots to go inside. Do whatever works best for you. An unstuffed bird will roast faster.
How to Make Browned Butter Sage Roasted Turkey
Make the Sage 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.
Make 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!
One to two hours before you want to bake your turkey, remove the browned butter from the fridge so it can come to room temperature. It’ll be significantly easier to spread on the turkey this way.
How to make the Browned Butter Sage Turkey
Preheat the oven to 325°F, and set aside a large roasting pan for your bird.
Prepare the turkey. Remove the turkey from its packaging, and pat it dry with a paper towel. This will make the bird’s skin crisp up even more.
Place the bird on your prepared roasting pan with the breast side up. Remove the turkey neck and giblets, which should be in a bag inside one of the cavities.
Season with the sage browned butter. Use your hands to smear the turkey butter on, spreading it beneath the skin, inside the cavities and on top of the skin.
Yes, this sounds like a bit much, 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.
Since the sage butter has salt added to it, we don’t need to season the turkey with it, too.
If you’re going to add stuffing or veggies to the cavities of the turkey, do that now. (You can also roast it without these.)
Transfer the turkey to the preheated oven, and roast uncovered.
However, if the turkey starts browning too fast or gets too dark, cover with aluminum foil to prevent burning.
Did you know…
Different turkeys will have different cook times. Also, an unstuffed turkey needs less time than a stuffed turkey.
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 your turkey is golden brown, use an instant read digital thermometer to check its temperature. The turkey breast meat needs to reach 165°F. (Because nobody wants undercooked turkey.)
When the turkey has reached temperature, remove it from the oven, and cover loosely with foil. Covering it too tightly will result in soggy skin.
Let it rest for 15-20 minutes so the juices can settle into the meat.
Transfer the turkey from the roasting rack to a platter, and slice!
How to 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 on a cutting board.
Serve it with homemade turkey gravy (instructions in the recipe card) and your other favorite sides!
Erin’s Easy Entertaining Tips
This is one of our all-time favorite recipes to make for the holidays.
Truly, this turkey is a gorgeous, flavorful centerpiece.
Here are a few tips and tricks for making yours a show-stopper, too!
- Make the Sage Brown Butter in advance! This can be done up to a week before, and it’ll make spreading the mixture on the turkey a whole lot easier since it’s impossible 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 your sides in advance. It sounds silly, but a whole turkey can take up your entire oven. Put together your sides early, choose ones that can cook in a slow cooker or be finished in the oven right before dinner so that everything is warm.
Frequently Asked Questions
Use an instant read meat thermometer to confirm.
Stick the thermometer into the thickest part of your turkey’s breast, and see what the reading is. You want it to reach 165°F before you remove it from the oven. (The dark meat, like the thighs and drumsticks, should reach 175°F.)
Depending on the size of your turkey, it will cook for a different amount of time. Always want to take its internal temperature before removing it from the oven.
The general rule is 20 minutes per pound of a whole turkey. This is dependent on if its stuffed (because stuffed birds take longer to cook), 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.
Here’s an estimate of how long you can expect an unstuffed turkey to roast:
8 lb. turkey: 325°F for 2 hours 45 minutes.
10 lb. turkey: 325°F for 3 hours 15 minutes.
12 lb. turkey: 325°F for 4 hours.
14 lb. turkey: 325°F for 4 hours 45 minutes hours.
What side dishes can I serve alongside this protein?
- Baguette Bacon Stuffing
- Southern Cornbread Dressing
- Bourbon Butter Sweet Potatoes
- Homemade Stuffing
- Drunken Cranberry Sauce
Now who’s ready for TURKEY?
Scroll on down to see how we do it…
Prepare a show-stopping entree for the holidays this year! Browned Butter Sage Turkey is a decadent twist on the classic roasted turkey, complete with a turkey butter featuring sage and browned butter. This turkey makes a flavorful entree for Thanksgiving or ANY holiday celebration!
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. 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 all-purpose flour
- 1 ¼ cups chicken stock (plus additional stock)
Make the Sage Browned Butter
- In a skillet, heat the butter, sage and salt over medium heat.
- With a whisk or simply moving the pan over the burner, swirl the butter as it foams up and begins to heat.
- 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.)
- When the brown bits begin smelling nutty and are plentiful, remove the skillet from the heat.
- 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
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Set aside a large roasting pan.
- Remove the raw turkey from its packaging. Pat dry with a paper towel. Place in the prepared roasting pan.
- Smear the 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.
- Season the entire turkey with freshly ground black pepper.
- If you want to stuff the turkey, do that now. Alternately, you can half an onion, an apple and a few carrots and place those into the bird's cavities. You can also roast it without either of these.
- Transfer the turkey into the preheated oven. It will remain uncovered for the entire time it bakes.
- 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.
- When you believe your turkey has cooked through, use a digital kitchen thermometer and check the turkey’s temperature. You want the turkey breast to be 165°F before you remove it from the oven. (The dark meat should reach 175°F for optimal flavor.)
- When the turkey reaches the desired temperature, remove from the oven, and immediately cover loosely with aluminum foil.
- 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
- While the turkey cools, make the gravy!
- Pour the turkey drippings from the roasting pan into a liquid measuring cup.
- Place the roasting pan on the stove and warm over medium heat. Measure 1 ½ cups of the drippings back into the pan.
- 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.
- Lower the heat, and continue whisking. The gravy will begin thickening, and when it has reached the desired consistency, remove from the heat.
- 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
- When the turkey has rested for the desired amount of time, carve with a sharp knife or a carving knife.
- Serve the turkey with the gravy and other side dishes, and enjoy warm!
Always want to take your turkey's internal temperature before removing it from the oven. The turkey breast should reach 165°F, so take its temperature using a digital meat thermometer. The dark meat should reach 175°F for optimal flavor, too.
Prep ahead tip: You can make this sage browned 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!
One to two hours before you want to bake your turkey, remove the browned butter from the fridge so it can come to room temperature. It'll be significantly easier to spread on the turkey this way.
The roast time is dependent on the size of your turkey, as well as if it's stuffed.
The general rule is 20 minutes per pound of a whole turkey. This is dependent on if its stuffed (because stuffed birds take longer to cook), 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.
Here's an estimate of how long you can expect an unstuffed turkey to roast:
- 8 lb. turkey: 325°F for 2 hours 45 minutes.
10 lb. turkey: 325°F for 3 hours 15 minutes.
12 lb. turkey: 325°F for 4 hours.
14 lb. turkey: 325°F for 4 hours 45 minutes hours.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 221Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 83mgSodium: 328mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 14g
Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate.