Roast Turkey with Shallot Butter and Thyme Gravy


Shallots and thyme in both the turkey and the gravy provide double the flavor for this simple roasted bird. Plus:  Ultimate Thanksgiving Guide 

Roast Turkey with Shallot Butter and Thyme Gravy
Photo: © Lucy Schaeffer
Active Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs 30 mins
8 to 10


  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

  • 1/2 cup minced shallots (2 large)

  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped thyme, plus 8 thyme sprigs

  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

  • One 12-pound fresh turkey, rinsed and dried, neck and giblets reserved

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

  • About 2 1/2 cups chicken stock

  • 3 cups water

  • 1/4 cup Madeira

  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a small bowl, blend the butter with the soy sauce, 1/4 cup of the minced shallots, 2 tablespoons of the chopped thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Separate the skin from the turkey breast and rub 2/3 of the shallot butter over the meat, then smooth out the breast skin. Rub the outside of the turkey with the remaining shallot butter and season liberally inside and out with salt and pepper. Tuck 5 of the thyme sprigs into the cavity.

  2. Pour the wine and 1/2 cup of the chicken stock into a roasting pan fitted with a V-shaped rack. Set the turkey on the rack and roast for 30 minutes. Baste with the pan juices. Roast the turkey for about 1 hour and 45 minutes longer, basting every 30 minutes and adding chicken stock to the pan as necessary; keep the pan moist throughout roasting so the drippings don't burn. If the turkey starts getting too dark, tent it loosely with foil. The turkey is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted in the inner thigh registers 165°. Transfer the turkey to a carving board and let rest for 20 to 30 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, cover the turkey neck, heart and gizzard with the 3 cups of water. Add the remaining 3 thyme sprigs, season with salt and pepper and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain the turkey broth and reduce it to 2 1/4 cups.

  4. Pour the pan drippings into a fat separator; reserve 2 tablespoons of the fat and all the drippings. Add 1 1/4 cups of the turkey broth and the Madeira to the roasting pan; simmer, stirring to dissolve the browned bits; you should have 1 1/4 cups of jus.

  5. In a medium saucepan, heat the reserved turkey fat. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of shallots and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until softened. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of chopped thyme and cook for 1 minute longer. Stir in the jus, pan drippings and the remaining 1 cup of turkey broth and bring to a simmer. Stir in the cornstarch slurry and bring to a boil to thicken very lightly, then season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a gravy boat. Carve the turkey and serve with the gravy.

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