The Ultimate Thanksgiving Turkey

by Heather on November 10, 2011

‘Twas but 3 years ago that I made a whole turkey for the first time.  And even then, as I did this year, I left the giblets in on accident.

I mean really, who can every find the giblets anyway?!  I promised I searched high and low for them and found nary a giblet bag to remove, so I just figured it was one of those giblet-free turkeys (just go with me on this) and called it a day.


Come carving time the turkey told me a different story and Nate made sure to ask me if this wasn’t the 3rd time that I’ve done that in the past few years.  How is he keeping track of these things?  No clue…but apparently he is.


Noted, sweetie!

This turkey is pretty much the same as the turkey breast that I made a few weeks ago, but better because it has the dark meat too.  I used to SWEAR ON MY LIFE that I didn’t like dark meat.  I thought it was gross.  And looking back now I don’t know why…maybe it was because the grown-ups liked the dark meat so of course it had to be gross.  I mean, they liked onions and peppers too…their palates were not to be trusted.


Now that I’m a ripe ol’ 28 years old I can say that I go straight for the dark stuff all the time.  I guess that means I’m officially a grown-up…you know, because the pregnancy and job and health insurance and owning a house and being married didn’t solidify that before.

There is one addition that I made to this turkey after reading Amy’s mayonnaise-roasted turkey post – and that is indeed some mayo to go along with the butter.  I never promised health food on here y’all, especially not for Thanksgiving!  See, many moons ago we would travel to California in the dead of summer to visit my grandparents, aunt, uncle, and cousins and would always have Thanksgiving dinner on one of those days since we never had the ability to make that trip around the actual holidays.  My uncle at the time would slather a turkey in mayo and roast it, which I thought was disgusting.  And then I ate the turkey and my life changed.


I still don’t love mayo, but it will change that turkey’s life, you hear me?!

So let’s see – we now have butter, mayonnaise, fresh spices, gobs of salt and pepper…what else could you possibly need?  I like mine alongside some of Mom’s best stuffing and green beans (I steamed mine – I can eat turkey before Thanksgiving but I just can’t bring myself to do the green bean casserole yet).  Oh, and definitely some cranberry sauce.  OH!  And, under normal circumstances, a brie en croute appetizer with a great white wine.


Is anyone else hungry now?  Let’s eat!


  • 1 11-14 lb turkey, completely thawed (100%, all the way thawed), giblets and neck removed
  • 1 stick butter, completely at room temperature
  • 1 cup real mayonnaise
  • 3 Tbsp chopped fresh sage
  • 3 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 Tbsp fresh chopped rosemary
  • salt and pepper (lots of it)
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 3 large carrots
  • 1 lemon

Preheat your oven to 350.  In a bowl mix together the butter, mayonnaise, sage, thyme, and rosemary.  With your fingers separate the skin of the turkey from the breast meat…it’s not as hard as it seems, it just takes a little while.  Be patient because it’s worth it!  Before the bird gets down and dirty, cut the carrots, onions and lemon into wedges and stuff inside the cavity of the turkey.  Once you’ve done that, dig into the butter/mayo mixture and slather it all over the skin of the turkey and underneath the skin on the breast, making sure you use all of it.  Wash your hands rigorously and then GENEROUSLY sprinkle the entire bird with salt and pepper (I used about 3 Tbsp of salt and probably 1 Tbsp of pepper).  It seems like a lot, but you’re seasoning the entire bird and not every piece is going to have skin on it.


Put the turkey in a roasting pan and roast in the oven at 350 for 2-3 hours until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees Fahrenheit.  Remove from the oven and cover with foil to rest for 20-30 minutes before carving.



Simple, no-holds barred turkey is where it’s at y’all…and now I’m sad that we have to wait a few more weeks til the rest of the meal can come out to play!



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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Elle November 10, 2011

Oh my gosh, stop it! That looks amazing. All of it. I’ve been hearing about this mayo on the turkey thing, and it’s definitely intriguing. Looks fabulous!


2 Heather November 10, 2011

it really makes a huge difference! extra fat, extra flavah ;)


3 Gina @ Running to the Kitchen November 10, 2011

Turkey is usually my least favorite thing of all on Thanksgiving, but this makes it look good!


4 Anna @ On Anna's Plate November 10, 2011

Ooooh, dark meat is the best– so much juicier than the white!! Your posts are getting me so excited for Thanksgiving :-)


5 Estela @ Weekly Bite November 10, 2011

I think dark meat is the best too :) Oh, and I left the giblets in last year too :)


6 Heather November 10, 2011

haha i feel so much better! i couldn’t stick my hand any further in, i have no idea where they were hiding!


7 Sherri November 30, 2013

The giblets are not in the main cavity of the bird; they are in the spot where the neck was. You have to lift up that flap of skin and the bag is stuffed in there.


8 Heather November 30, 2013

Thank you so much Sherri! That is super helpful!


9 Urban Wife November 10, 2011

You make it seem so effortless! Kudos to you….because I’m not brave enough to make a whole turkey myself yet!


10 Heather November 10, 2011

you can TOTALLY do it…it’s surprising how simple it is! just make sure you get a meat thermometer, that’s the thing that will make or break it


11 Kristin November 10, 2011

I love the touch of the bundled green beans in those photos. You’re so creative with this stuff!


12 Jessica @ How Sweet November 10, 2011

Wow – this turkey looks incredible!!


13 Jen of My Tiny Oven November 10, 2011

Ok it is only 8:10am here and I totally want that plate of food for breakfast! Great picture!


14 Delishhh November 10, 2011

oh looks soooo good!!! I like turkey but in moderation – i can only have so much – i didn’t grow up with it.

Looks fabulous. How are you feeling?


15 Heather November 10, 2011

i’m feeling good! starting to get a little more tired a little more easily, but that’s OK with me :)


16 Kim in MD November 10, 2011

I am not a big mayo fan either, but I imagine it did amazing things for this turkey! It looks delicious!


17 Kelli H (Made in Sonoma) November 10, 2011

this made me so excited for thanksgiving! It looks DEElicious!


18 Alexa @ Simple Eats November 10, 2011

I’m drooooooling over this! My favorite part of turkey day is piles of stuffing and gravy…mmm.


19 Molly at Duchess of Fork November 10, 2011

Gorgeous photos!


20 Em (Wine and Butter) November 11, 2011

This is amazing! My husband and I are cooking a Thanksgiving meal for 20 people (YIKES) here in the Uk and I was in desperate need of a tutorial. My husband is also mayo OBSESSED (he puts it on tortellini and in soup, which is SO gross) so anything mixing mayo with turkey will be a hit – I’ll let you know how it goes…. :)


21 Tiffany {A Clove of Garlic} November 11, 2011

What a great post! The turkey looks delicious.


22 Robin Sue November 12, 2011

Ok I must try this Mayo method thingy- sounds so good and must make a super duper juicy turkey! You have been cooking up a storm lately! You go pregnant girl, wish I had your energy and I am not even preggers.


23 Christine November 21, 2011

Would this recipe work if you brined your turkey ahead of time (maybe just cut out some of the salt??)


24 Heather November 22, 2011

i don’t see why not – you’d want to make sure that turkey was SUPER dry on the skin though since the mayo/butter mixture would just slide off if it was wet. i love brined turkey though, so it would just add more flavor!


25 Amy November 22, 2011

this looks awesome and easy!! i have to make a turkey this year and im kinda scared haha. but this recipe seems simple enough..think ill try it!


26 Ellie November 9, 2013

I have never seen anyone mention using the mayo recipe for a STUFFED turkey and that is what my family prefers. Any reason why not?


27 Heather November 10, 2013

Hey Ellie! I don’t really have a reason why or why not other than the fact that I prefer my stuffing to be baked outside the bird so it gets nice and crunchy on top. I think as long as you’re cooking it to the correct temperature for poultry then you could certainly stuff the bird as your family likes. Just make sure you measure the temp of the stuffing with a thermometer to make sure it’s cooked thoroughly along with the turkey.

I hope that helps!


28 Belinda November 27, 2013

Can i use this recipe after brining the turkey


29 Heather November 28, 2013

Yes ma’am!


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