Here’s the original post: Ilyce’s Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe. This is an updated and expanded edition to satisfy those who had more questions. 

Back by popular demand, here’s my turkey recipe for Thanksgiving:

Ilyce’s Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe

The secret to making a great turkey is the margarine/olive oil and herb mash I make and then spread all over the bird (and under the skin).

Here’s what I put in it:

2-3 sticks of margarine plus olive oil (to loosen it)

Piles of fresh herbs: sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano, chives (whatever looks good that day; parsley works also, sage is nice, etc.)

6-8 cloves of garlic, peeled

seasoned salt


2-3 lemons, cut in half (you can juice the lemons if you want and add them to the mash in the Cuisinart).

Turkey Stock

Orange juice

Put all of these ingredients (except the lemon) into a Cuisinart and puree until smooth and faintly green (from the herbs). If you like, squeeze in some of the lemon juice to help smooth it out or add some of the lemon zest.

Loosen the turkey skin and spread the mixture underneath the skin, all over and in the cavity. Reserve any extra mixture to saute veggies for the stuffing.

Put the lemon halves inside the cavity. Turn the bird upside down and roast covered at 375F for the first 2 hours. Then, flip the bird, take off the tinfoil and continue to roast at 350F until done. Baste every half hour with turkey stock mixed with orange juice for a lovely golden color.

When you’re done, deglaze the pan with some white wine. Dump all the liquid (scraping up the browned bits) into a big pot, defat the liquid and add a ton of mushrooms (I use a mix of wild/ordinary). Once it boils to concentrate, use this as your mushroom gravy.
It took 3 1/2 hours for my 20-pound bird to cook. Please note: I don’t stuff the bird. I use turkey stock when making the stuffing on the stove, and then bake it separately. It tastes great!

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Updated November, 2016 and November, 2021