Chef John's Roast Turkey and Gravy Recipe -
Chef John's Roast Turkey and Gravy Recipe
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How to Prep and Roast Turkey
Watch a very simple method for prepping and roasting turkey. See more
  • READY IN ABOUT 5 hrs

Chef John's Roast Turkey and Gravy

Recipe by  

"The biggest myth in all of American cookery is the belief that a juicy, perfectly cooked turkey is difficult for the novice cook to achieve. One of the secrets to a moist, delicious, and beautiful turkey is spreading butter under the skin. You can season the butter any way you want; the possibilities are endless."

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Ingredients Edit and Save

Original recipe makes 1 whole roast turkey with gravy Change Servings
  • PREP

    1 hr
  • COOK

    3 hrs 45 mins

    4 hrs 55 mins


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  2. Mix 2 tablespoons salt, and 1 tablespoon pepper, and poultry seasoning in a small bowl. Tuck turkey wings under the bird, and season cavity with about 1 tablespoon of the poultry seasoning mixture. Reserve remaining poultry seasoning mix.
  3. Toss the onion, celery, and carrots together in a bowl. Stuff about 1/2 cup of the vegetable mixture, rosemary sprigs, and 1/2 bunch sage into the cavity of the turkey. Tie legs together with kitchen string. Loosen the skin on top of the turkey breast using fingers or a small spatula. Place about 2 tablespoons butter under the skin and spread evenly. Spread the remaining butter (about 2 tablespoons) all over the outside of the skin. Sprinkle the outside of the turkey with the remaining poultry seasoning mix.
  4. Spread the remaining onion, celery, and carrots into a large roasting pan. Place the turkey on top of the vegetables. Fill the pan with about 1/2 inch of water. Arrange a sheet of aluminum foil over the breast of the turkey.
  5. Roast the turkey in the preheated oven until no longer pink at the bone and the juices run clear, about 3 1/2 hours. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, near the bone should read 165 degrees F (75 degrees C). Remove the foil during the last hour of cooking. Baste the turkey with the pan juices.
  6. While the turkey is roasting, make stock: place neck, heart, and gizzards in a saucepan with the bay leaf and water. Simmer over medium heat for 2 hours. Strain the turkey giblets from the stock, and discard giblets. There should be at least 4 cups of stock.
  7. Remove the turkey from the oven, cover with a doubled sheet of aluminum foil, and allow to rest in a warm area for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing. Pour the pan juices, about 3 cups, into a saucepan and set aside. Skim off the turkey fat from the pan juices, reserving about 2 tablespoons.
  8. Heat 2 tablespoons of the turkey fat and 1 tablespoon butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Transfer the onion from the roasting pan into the skillet. Cook and stir until the onion is browned, about 5 minutes, then stir in the flour. Continue to cook and stir for about 5 minutes more; whisk in 4 cups of the skimmed turkey stock and the reserved pan juices until smooth; skim off any foam. Stir in the balsamic vinegar. Simmer until the gravy is thickened, whisking constantly, about 10 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon of chopped sage, and season to taste with salt and black pepper.
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  • Cook's Note
  • For thicker gravy, double the amounts of turkey fat, butter, and flour in the gravy part of the recipe.

Reviews More Reviews

Apr 22, 2012

I was in charge of making the turkey this last Thanksgiving and I came across this recipe. I followed the recipe exactly and I have to say it was the best Turkey we've ever had. Everyone was amazed how moist and flavorful the turkey was. This will be my turkey recipe for now on. It was perfect, I won't change a thing!

Feb 10, 2012

Only a partial review, BUT the simple herb coating is FABULOUS! It coats the skin well enough that it doesn't burn or need covering; &, of course, tastes delicious! I combined recipes which basically means, I used olive oil on, & some butter in the turkey. Also put an apple inside - & a T of the seasonings. I used a cup of apple juice & a cup of water in the pan. Gravy was dark, but very good. When turkey time comes again, I'll follow the recipe better. :)

Nov 22, 2012

This really was easy for a first-time turkey girl! I am not a cook, in fact, I think of myself as a terrible cook and I wanted to simply buy the frozen slab of turkey meat for Thanksgiving last year. But my bossy little sister forced me to try to make a "real" turkey. So she taught me how to search all recipes and we found this. It was FANTASTIC. Everyone loved our turkey, even my fussy "no-processed-food-ever-amazing-cook-sister". I am going to use this every year!!!! The turkey really does stay incredibly moist and it was delicious. Make sure to search the for the video. Last year it was linked right there with the recipe, but this year I had to do a google search to find it. His step by step easy to follow video really helped.

Dec 06, 2012

What an easy, and beautiful, and flavorful, and crispy, *and* moist turkey!(however, I must admit that I did turn down the heat during the last hour thinking we would have to hold the turkey for late comers, but the bird was done 'on time' anyway?!) Made up the butter mixture, the spice mixture, & cut up the veggies ahead of time; helping us get the turkey into the oven so easily come Thanksgiving day. I was shopping for a recipe because it was time to help my daughter learn to roast a turkey, & I want her to learn to cook better than I myself can cook. Yes, my 12 year old daughter & I had prepped a turkey together once before following another method, which didn't work as well as my 'decent' turkeys of the past. So we went shopping together for a new recipe. She was utterly sold on your approach. I let her take the lead. She loved watching your video, and her jaw dropped when she watched you loosen the skin on the breast with a rubber spatula (yes, another thing I'd missed out on in the past, but thanks to you, my daughter will have an easier time of it!). I do plan to obtain a fresh turkey which we can brine next time, but I want to incorporate much of what we learned from you modifying for a brined bird. Will try to remember to let you know how that goes if we proceed as planned..... Either way, thanks so much for helping my daughter's second turkey far exceed anything my mother or I put on the table throughout our entire lives! Gotta love it! Thanks, Chef John!

Jan 04, 2013

This is the second time I am making the turkey. One was made for the saturday after thanksgiving, which came out great and the next one was made today. I used all of the ingredients with only one addition to the herb butter, garlic. Just used a small amount. The presentation of the bird is wonderful! the flavors were fantastic and it was so very moist and tender! The steps from the video were spot on and very helpful. Can't wait to try more Chef John recipes!

Jan 19, 2013

juicy and delicious!!!!

Nov 04, 2013

The vegetable mixture, herbs and spices combined with lots of butter made this the best turkey I've ever made. I'll use this recipe again. Very "Chef-y." Did not make the gravy due to the fact I could not find the bag of giblets. (I DID find the bag after I carved the turkey.) Maybe next time, Chef John. :)

Dec 28, 2013

This recipe was amazing! The turkey was moist and FULL of flavor. The aroma in the kitchen was heavenly! This was my first Christmas turkey and we will definitely be repeating this next year and throughout the year. I used my food processor to quickly chop the veggies and it really cut down on the prep time. I also did them in advance to save time on the busy holiday.


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  • Calories
  • 942 kcal
  • 47%
  • Carbohydrates
  • 4.6 g
  • 1%
  • Cholesterol
  • 256 mg
  • 85%
  • Fat
  • 70.1 g
  • 108%
  • Fiber
  • 0.9 g
  • 3%
  • Protein
  • 68.7 g
  • 137%
  • Sodium
  • 974 mg
  • 39%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

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