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, complete with a turkey butter featuring sage and browned butter. This turkey makes a flavorful entree for Thanksgiving or ANY holiday celebration! Makes 1 large turkey.

A golden brown turkey on a table before carving

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 recipe and give it a small twist.

That twist, of course, is browned butter.

Because browned butter is one of my favorite things.

Spoiler alert: This is wonderfully delicious.

The butter, which is cooked 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.

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!)

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

What you need to make this recipe:

  • Nonstick skillet
  • Roaster—make sure yours is large enough for the bird you purchase. Consider purchasing a disposable one from the store 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.

In addition to these tools, you’re going to need some ingredients, too:

  • Unsalted butter
  • 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.
  • Honeysuckle White Fresh 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 stock so that the gravy doesn’t get too salty.

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.

A Honeysuckle White Turkey in its packaging, 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!

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.

Sliced roasted turkey on a white platter with turkey gravy

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 turkey on your prepared roasting pan with the turkey breast side up. Remove the 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 turkey’s 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 on the bird. 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 foil to prevent burning.

Please note: Different turkeys will take different amounts of time. (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 you think your turkey is golden brown, use a instant read digital thermometer to check its temperature. You want the turkey breast meat to reach 165°F. (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!

Make the Homemade Turkey Gravy

While the turkey rests, 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 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 turkey is a gorgeous, 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, 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 as many sides in advance as you can. It sounds silly to mention this, but a whole 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 butter

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, too.

The turkey is a Honeysuckle White turkey, which I purchased at my local Kroger store. Honeysuckle White doesn’t use 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 turkey is done?

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.)

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. 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.

Gravy drizzles of a slice of turkey breast on a plate

What side dishes can I serve with this roasted turkey?

Now who’s ready for TURKEY?

Scroll on down to see how we do it…

A whole roasted Browned Butter Sage Turkey is cut into with a knife.
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. 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.
  6. Transfer the turkey into the preheated oven. It will remain uncovered for the entire time it bakes.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.)
  9. When the turkey reaches the desired temperature, remove from the oven, and immediately cover loosely with aluminum foil.
  10. 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!

Notes

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.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

15

Serving Size:

1

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.

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57 Comments

  1. 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!

    1. 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. 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!

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

  4. 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.

    1. 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.

    1. 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!

    1. 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.

  5. 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 🙂

    1. 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!

    1. 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!

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

    1. 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!

  7. 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!

    1. 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!

    1. 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!

    2. Hi! I am planning on making this Turkey this year! Do yiu recommend covering it when in the oven? Will be using an electric convention oven

      Thanks!

      1. Hi Andres! I love that you’re going to make this turkey this year. I don’t recommend covering the turkey in the oven. However, if your turkey starts browning too fast (or getting too dark on the top), feel free to tent it with foil. I hope that helps!

        1. Hi! We are very excited, thanks for the tips. I am also adding a bread stuffing inside the turkey so looking forward to see how the turkey flavors blend into the stuffing! Happy Thanksgiving!

          1. Your recipe was a success!! So tasty, the bread stuffing I used ended up delicious mixed with all the turkey flavors! I have to say I did added something to the turkey though. I injected some brandy to it!

          2. This makes me so happy to hear, Andres! So glad the turkey was delicious! And the addition of brandy sounds excellent, too.

      2. Making this turkey for thanksgiving this year!! Just made the sage butter and it smells AMAZING. Question tho, do you put anything inside the turkey? Onions carrots celery? Orange slices? Anything?? Thank you!!!

        1. Hi Kelly! You can do whatever you like with the turkey. My mom always puts stuffing in hers. I like to cut up an onion, a carrot and an apple and stuff those in the cavity because I don’t do stuffing in the bird. So do whatever works best for you—it’s delicious either way. And I’ve just added this to the recipe card and body of the post, too, to help others with the same question.

          I’m so happy you’ve made this and hope it turns out splendidly for you! Enjoy!

  8. Hi Erin! I will be making this during our 2020 holiday season & can’t wait to try it! I just wanted to ask, as I’ve read through all of the above info, why the Turkey is not covered / tented while cooking? I thought by doing so it would assist to seal in the juices? Thanks!

    1. Hi Billie! I’m so excited that you’re going to try this turkey out this holiday season!

      You know, I’ve just always done it uncovered without issue because the amount of butter and sage really infuses into the meat (and it hasn’t dried out on me before.) That said, I covered it about halfway through last year because it started browning too quickly.

      That said, if you want to tent it with foil, please do! I know it won’t detract from the flavors, and I’m sure that’ll seal in the deliciousness.

      Happy baking! I hope you and yours enjoy this turkey recipe. That sage browned butter is our favorite.

  9. I was SO grateful to stumble upon this recipe 4 years ago as a newlywed hosting our first Friendsgiving. I had never cooked a turkey before so all of the pointers were really helpful. And even from that first turkey, the results have always blown me away. I will forever cook turkeys this way. It is absolutely delicious. No need to baste your turkey every 20 minutes when every inch and crevice is coated in that sage brown butter. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. So tasty. Can’t wait for dinner tonight! Thanks for teaching me how to make my favorite part of my favorite meal!

    1. You have no idea how happy this makes me to hear, Emily! SO happy this turkey recipe has been a success for you for years and that the tips and tricks helped you out, too! Please enjoy some of this turkey on my behalf, and thank you SO much for letting me know that you’ve loved this recipe!

  10. Hi!! This sounds amazing! My husband is obsessed with using his infrared fryer every year for our turkey. Can this be cooked in that? I know that it will not leave me with drippings for gravy, but that is ok!

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Rebekah! Thanks for your comment. This turkey really is amazing. I have never used an infrared fryer (or actually heard of one before your comment today), so I cannot tell you if this would work in one. If you give it a try, will you report back and let me know how it turned out? Thanks!

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