Roast turkey with a slice removed to reveal juicy flesh

Roast turkey with citrus butter

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(13 ratings)

Prep: 15 mins Cook: 4 hrs, 10 mins


Serves 8

Moist and golden, this Christmas turkey will be the crowning glory of your festive feast. It's simple to make and guaranteed to impress friends and family

Nutrition and extra info

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal686
  • fat32g
  • saturates13g
  • carbs0g
  • sugars0g
  • fibre0g
  • protein100g
  • salt0.86g
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  • 1 turkey, about 6kg/13lb, giblets removed



    While it's the traditional Christmas bird, turkey is good to eat all year round, though…

  • 140g butter, at room temperature



    Butter is a dairy product made from separating whole milk or cream into fat and…

  • zest 1 lemon



    Oval in shape with a pronouced bulge on one end, lemons are one of the most versatile…

  • zest 1 orange



    One of the best-known citrus fruits, oranges aren't necessarily orange - some varieties are…

  • 2 thyme sprigs, leaves finely chopped


    This popular herb grows in Europe, especially the Mediterranean, and is a member of the mint…

  • 1 rosemary sprig, leaves finely chopped



    Rosemary's intense, fragrant aroma has traditionally been paired with lamb, chicken and game…

  • 4 large onions, halved



    Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…

  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
    olive oil

    Olive oil

    ol-iv oyl

    Probably the most widely-used oil in cooking, olive oil is pressed from fresh olives. It's…


  1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Pat the turkey dry all over with kitchen paper. Now weigh the bird and calculate the cooking time at 40 mins per kg. 

  2. Mix the butter with the zests and herbs, and season well. Gently push your fingers under the turkey’s skin, starting from the neck end of the bird, easing the skin away from the flesh over both the breasts and the tops of the drumsticks. Spread the butter under the skin, pushing it in as far as you can, then smooth the skin back into place. Halve the lemon and orange and put in the turkey cavity along with 2 onion halves and the bay leaves.

  3. Rub turkey all over with oil and sprinkle with salt. Arrange remaining onions in the bottom of a large roasting tin to act as a trivet for the bird. Sit the turkey on top and completely cover both bird and tin with foil to make a tent. Roast according to your calculated cooking times.

  4. Thirty mins before the end of the cooking time, take out the turkey and turn up the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Remove the foil and return to the oven for a further 30 mins until golden.

  5. To test whether your turkey is cooked, pierce the fattest part of the thigh with a skewer – the juices that run out should be clear and not pink. Keep cooking if the juices are pink and re-check at 10-min intervals. If you like your turkey meat almost falling off the bone, then wiggle the leg – it should give slightly if the meat is ready. Keep cooking and basting until it does.

  6. Rest the turkey, covered loosely with foil, for at least 30 mins and up to 1 hr before serving. Strain and reserve the cooking juices and keep the onions in the tin for making gravy

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Comments, questions and tips

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10th Jan, 2020
My go to recipe for Christmas. Used this several times and turkey turned up moist and yummy. I also stuff the turkey with onion. The tricky bit is pushing the butter under the skin but it’s worth the trouble.
6th Jan, 2016
Used this recipe for Xmas and it was a hit. Very simple and delicious recipe. Bird was moist and the best bit was the gravy I made from the roast which had a lovely sweet taste to it thanks to the oranges.
25th Dec, 2015
Used this recipe for my first roast turkey ever and the result was fantastique!!! Definitely going to use this recipe again! Very easy to prep and the taste is amazing.
29th Dec, 2012
Excellent, simple to do and very tasty. Highly recommended.
8th Jan, 2012
recipe looks good and great comments from other cooks also makes a nice change from sage and onion stuffing and being citrusy flavour will convince me its healthyn eating! so I will be cooking this turkey tonight. Frozen turkeys now half price in sainsbury's.
26th Dec, 2011
This turkey turned out extremely tender and succulent. It was easy to prepare and cook (no hassle with basting etc) and I had a lot of positive comments at the dinner table. I will definately be doing this again in the future.
karinabeecham's picture
25th Dec, 2011
Turkey all prepped yesterday. Rubbed the oil and salt in and now in oven........ Happy Christmas everyone. The test will be when we all eat it at about 12.30 hopefully!
6th Dec, 2011
interesting recipe, I hope that will do it for lunch next week.
9th Jan, 2011
made this for a new years dinner and the guests were hugely impressed - top recipe !!!!
25th Dec, 2010
Made for Christmas dinner. It was difficult to ease the skin away from the flesh over both the breasts actually... But the overall outcome was satisfying - the citrusy flavor was really there!


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