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Roast Turkey with Citrus, Herbs and Za'atar

The ultimate Thanksgiving citrus and herb roast turkey, seasoned with loads of aromatic za'atar, citrus zest and fresh herbs and then slathered with butter making it juicy and flavorful.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time2 hrs 30 mins
Overnight Dry Brine8 hrs
Total Time10 hrs 45 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Mediterranean
Keyword: Citrus herb turkey recipe, Herb and Citrus turkey, roast turkey with citrus recipe, roast turkey with herbs recipe
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 659kcal
Author: Samantha Ferraro
Cost: $30


  • 1 10 pound whole turkey defrosted
  • 3 tbsp. za'atar
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary leaves chopped finely
  • 1 small bunch of fresh oregano leaves removed and finely chopped
  • 1 small bunch of fresh thyme leaves removed and finely chopped
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter softened
  • 1 whole onion cut in half
  • 1 whole garlic bulb cut in half
  • 1 whole lemon and/or orange cut in half


  • This recipe is with a thawed turkey, but I will leave a few notes on what to do with a frozen or deeply chilled turkey later in the post.
  • Remove turkey from its bag and take out any giblets inside of it (spoiler: we keep the neck and giblets and roast them or save them for the gravy!)
  • Pat dry the entire turkey with paper towels and place on a rimmed baking sheet or toasting pan.
  • In a bowl, mix together the citrus zests, herbs, spices and sugar and stir to combine, then rub the mixture all over the turkey, getting into the crevices and under the skin if you can.
  • Make room in the refrigerator and place the seasoned turkey in the fridge, uncovered for at least 8 hours. I like to do this right before bed the night before Thanksgiving.
  • Remove turkey from the fridge about an hour before you're ready to roast it and pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • While the oven is preheating, rub the softened butter all over the turkey, getting under the skin as well. Some of the herbs may rub off and you can add more zaatar all over if you'd like.
  • Next, fill the turkey cavity with halved onions, garlic bulbs and lemons or oranges and tie the legs togetehr with kitchen twine.
  • Place turkey in a roasting pan and roast at 450 degrees for 30 minutes, then lower the temperate to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and continue roasting for another 2 hours or until the thickest part reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Once done, remove turkey from oven and let rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.


  • If using a frozen turkey, keep in mind that it takes time to fully defrost. The general rule is 24 hours for every 5 pounds.
  • If you're buying a deeply chilled turkey, the turkey is not frozen but still needs to finish thawing for a whole day. It hasn't been frozen but it's been deeply chilled which can still have ice crystals inside the turkey.
  • This recipe is a place on dry brining, which leaves the turkey uncovered in the fridge, drying out the skin for a crispier crust.
  • Allow turkey to get the chill off before roasting, so plan ahead and leave the turkey at room temperature for 20 minutes before cooking.
  • Carving a Turkey: We followed this video from Food & Wine which explains how to carve a turkey in its simplest form.


Calories: 659kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 97g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 319mg | Sodium: 1217mg | Potassium: 1104mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 1066IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 165mg | Iron: 11mg