Citrus-and-Butter Turkey


Food & Wine’s Justin Chapple soaks cheesecloth in citrus butter and drapes it over turkey while roasting, yielding superjuicy, delicious meat and skin. Slideshow: More Thanksgiving Turkey Recipes 

Active Time:
40 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs 30 mins
10 to 12


  • One 12 to 14-pound turkey, rinsed and patted dry

  • Kosher salt

  • Black pepper

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated grapefruit zest, plus 1/4 cup fresh grapefruit juice

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest, plus 1/4 cup fresh orange juice

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest, plus 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  • 4 garlic cloves, finely grated

  • 1 tablespoon minced thyme plus 5 sprigs

  • 1/2 grapefruit, cut into wedges

  • 1/2 orange, cut into wedges

  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges

  • 3 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth


  1. Season the turkey inside and out with salt and pepper. Transfer to a rack set in a roasting pan and let come to room temperature.

  2. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Whisk in the citrus zests and juices along with the garlic and minced thyme; let cool slightly. Transfer half of the citrus butter to a small bowl and refrigerate until spreadable.

  3. Run your fingers under the breast and thigh skin to loosen it, then spread the chilled butter under the skin and over the breast and thighs. Stuff the turkey cavity with the thyme sprigs and the grapefruit, orange and lemon wedges. Dampen an 18-by-18-inch double-layer piece of cheesecloth with water and squeeze dry. Soak the cheesecloth in the remaining citrus butter and drape it over the breast and legs; pour any remaining butter on top.

  4. Roast the turkey for about 30 minutes. Add the stock to the roasting pan and continue to roast for about 1 hour and 45 minutes longer, rotating the pan a few times, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the inner thigh registers 165°.

  5. Carefully peel the cheesecloth off the turkey. Transfer the turkey to a board; let rest for 30 minutes. Skim the fat off the pan juices and transfer to a gravy bowl. Carve the turkey and serve with the pan juices.

    Citrus-and-Butter Turkey
    © Nicole Franzen

Suggested Pairing

Fresh, grapefruit-scented white Bordeaux.

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