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Lemon-Thyme Turkey


Tired of the same old Thanksgiving turkey? Give this citrusy, herby turkey recipe a try!

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Rate this recipe 4.4/5 (36 Votes)


  • 2 medium onions, cut into wedges
  • 2 lemons, cut into quarters
  • 1 stalk celery, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup snipped fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons lemon peel, finely shredded
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons shallot, finely chopped (1 medium)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (8 - 10 pound) fresh or frozen turkey, thawed if frozen


Servings 12
Preparation time 30mins
Cooking time 120mins
Adapted from


Step 1

Position the oven rack in the bottom third of the oven. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large roasting pan combine onions, lemons, celery, thyme sprigs, and garlic; set aside.

In a medium bowl combine butter, snipped thyme, lemon peel, lemon juice, shallot, oil, salt, and pepper; set aside.

Remove neck and giblets from turkey; discard. Rinse turkey; pat dry with paper towels. Place turkey, breast side down, on a cutting board. Using kitchen shears, make a lengthwise cut down one side of the backbone, starting from the neck end. Repeat on the other side of the backbone. Remove and discard backbone. Turn turkey, cut side down. Flatten turkey as much as possible with your hands. Cut off and discard tips of wings. Using kitchen shears or a large sharp knife, carefully cut through the entire breastbone, creating two equal halves.

Rub herb-butter mixture over turkey on all sides, massaging some of the mixture underneath the skin. Place turkey halves, skin sides up, on top of vegetables in roasting pan. Insert an oven-going meat thermometer into the center of an inside thigh muscle. The thermometer should not touch bone.

Roast, uncovered, for 1-1/2 to 2 hours or until the thermometer registers 175 degrees F. (The juices should run clear and drumsticks should move easily in their sockets.) Remove from oven. Cover turkey halves with foil; let stand for 15 minutes before carving. Discard vegetables in roasting pan.

For more citrus flavor, use a combination of lemons, limes, and oranges in the roasting pan. Low on fresh thyme? Use half the amount of fresh rosemary, sage, or tarragon instead.

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