Thanksgiving Sage Roasted Turkey Recipe

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Last updated on December 9th, 2021 at 04:19 pm

Thanksgiving is a time for f-words: family, friends, and food. And nothing is more synonymous with Thanksgiving than turkey. So cook a flavorful bird with this sage roasted turkey recipe.

Turkey can be a pretty divisive meat. Maybe it’s just me, but it doesn’t seem like turkey is a common meal. Except maybe as deli meat for sandwiches. Because turkeys are so much larger, chicken tends to rule the roost if poultry is on the menu.

Carving the turkey after it has finished roasting and resting

So sometimes it can seem a little intimidating to tackle turkey. Especially on the big day. Both because of lack of experience and the big expectations that can accompany it.


As long as you have a plan (such as this recipe here), you will be able to take on turkey with confidence. It takes a few simple steps and a basic food thermometer to make sure you get things right. You’ve got this.

All About the Temperature

It begins with prepping the turkey. You can brine the turkey if you’d like but it is not necessary. It can add extra flavor and fill the turkey with moisture. You can also try dry-brining (maybe with a mixture of salt, pepper, dried sage, and citrus zest). But the turkey can be cooked perfectly without brining. And a brine sometimes takes too much forethought…

The biggest complaint about turkey is that it can be dry. So while a brine may help, it really all comes down to cooking it to the right temperature.

You need an instant-read thermometer. This holds true for cooking almost any meat really. This inexpensive food thermometer is the one I use and I love it. You can even buy leave-in thermometers with either long cords or high-tech that will let you see the temperature while it is still in the oven. These are most commonly used when smoking meats outdoors. But a regular instant-read thermometer works perfectly.

Use this guide from Serious Eats on how to check your turkey temp.

Do not rely on the little pop-up ‘done indicators’ that come set inside the turkey sometimes. They typically let the turkey come to way too high a temperature and will lead to a bad, dry experience. Don’t do it. Promise me.

To cook the turkey you can use a roasting pan designed for the purpose. But if you aren’t roasting things much, then it may be overkill to have a pan just for the purpose. In my case, I just decided to put a cooling rack inside a baking sheet and rest the turkey on that.

Worked like a charm.

Making Sure the Turkey Isn’t Dry

  1. Use a food thermometer to cook to the proper temperature
  2. Have a roasting pan type setup where the turkey can cook on a rack while the juices drip to a pan below
  3. Don’t stuff the turkey, it’ll just slow down cooking and make it more prone to an uneven cook
  4. Baste the turkey every 30 minutes with the juices from the pan while cooking
  5. Let the turkey rest at least 30 minutes before cutting into it
Thanksgiving table set with gravy, potatoes, green beans, and sage roasted turkey

Serving Sage Roasted Turkey

For this recipe, I call for using some brown butter sage sauce to baste the turkey at one point. I think it just adds to the sage flavor of the turkey, plus it gave me another excuse to make my brown butter sage sauce recipe that is the most popular on the site.

For some traditional Thanksgiving sides, pair your sage roasted turkey with any of the following:

Turkey with mashed potatoes and gravy on a plate for Thanksgiving

One of the greatest parts of Thanksgiving is all of the leftovers. From turkey noodle soup to turkey sandwiches to turkey pot pie, there are tons of ways to use leftover turkey.

You can also make turkey stock from the bones after removing all the roasted meat. I typically loosely follow my chicken stock recipe while accounting for the fact that a turkey is much larger than the chicken bones I normally use.

Whatever you decide to do with your turkey, rest assured that this sage roasted turkey recipe will make sure it is delicious.

How did yours turn out?

I’d love to hear when you try out this sage roasted turkey! Take a pic of your food and share your success with me by adding it to your Instagram stories or feed, and tagging me @doyouroux, or by using #doyouroux.

Plus, leave a rating to let me know how you liked the recipe. It helps me out a lot to know how things worked out… or didn’t.

Thanksgiving Sage Roasted Turkey

Recipe by Marc PetersonCourse: DinnerDifficulty: Intermediate


Prep time


Cooking time




Resting Time


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Juicy turkey, sage and thyme, golden-brown skin. Everything about this sage roasted turkey makes it a perfect recipe for Thanksgiving.


  • 15 to 18-pound turkey, defrosted

  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons minced sage, about 20 leaves

  • 2 teaspoons minced thyme

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

  • 8 to 10 sage leaves

  • 2 to 3 small sprigs thyme

  • 4 cups turkey or chicken stock, divided

  • 1/3 cup prepared brown butter sage sauce, or melted butter


  • Preheat the oven to 400°F (205°C)
  • Combine the butter, garlic, minced sage, minced thyme, salt, and pepper in a small bowl and mix it together until thoroughly combined
  • Place the turkey on the rack over the roasting pan and pat the turkey dry with paper towels – this will help keep the butter from just sliding around in the next step
  • Gently pull the skin away from the turkey breast and slather about 1/3 of the mixed butter under the skin and on top of the breast
  • Use the remaining butter to cover the skin of the turkey, including the drumsticks, wings, and breasts
  • Add the sage leaves, thyme sprigs, and turkey or chicken stock to the bottom of the roasting pan
  • Place the turkey on the center rack in the oven and cook for 1 hour, basting every 30 minutes with the juices from the roasting pan
  • After the second baste an hour into the cook, turn the oven heat down to 350°F (175°C) and rotate the turkey 180° so the other side of the turkey faces the back of the oven
  • Continue cooking, basting every 30 mins and cook to an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C) in the breast and 170°F (77°C) in the thigh, about 2 and 1/2 to 3 hours of total cooking time
  • On the third baste, 1 and 1/2 hours into the cook, pour the brown butter sage sauce over the turkey instead of basting with juices from the pan
  • While the turkey cooks, add more turkey or chicken stock into the bottom of the roasting pan if too much has evaporated while cooking
  • When the turkey reaches the right temperature, remove it from the oven and let it rest about 30 minutes before slicing


  • Loosely tent foil over parts of the turkey if the skin is browning too much

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