Garlic and Herb Roast Turkey with Cider Pan Gravy

November 7, 2016 By Cathy — 40 Comments
Crispy skin, a tender, juicy bird and rich and smooth cider pan gravy…hello Thanksgiving.

Garlic and Herb Roast Turkey with Cider Pan Gravy

The bird. It’s synonymous with Thanksgiving, right? I mean it would be blasphemous not to serve turkey in some form for the big day. But that being said, it can often be underwhelming. Under-seasoned, over-cooked and <EEEEK!> the dreaded dry turkey. But this should come as no surprise. I mean, who is cooking a 20 pound bird more than once or twice a year? So it’s no wonder that we live in fear of the Thanksgiving turkey. But today I tell you to fear no more!

Today we’re talking turkey. But before I get to that, let’s discuss the Thanksgiving meal.

Garlic and Herb Roast Turkey with Cider Pan Gravy

I’m so honored to be joining forces with some amazingly talented women to bring you Thanksgiving dinner, from start to finish. We’ll be kicking things off with a Jalapeño and Ranch Cheese Ball, followed by Apple and Cheddar Hard Cider Soup, Brussels Sprouts SaladTraditional Thanksgiving Stuffing with Sausage and Apples, my Garlic and Herb Roast Turkey with Cider Pan Gravy (over these mashed potatoes) and Garlic Butter Dinner Rolls to sop it all up. Of course no Thanksgiving dinner would be complete without dessert so let me introduce you to the queen of pumpkin cakes: The Maple Praline Pumpkin Cake.

Now, I love my family as much as the next girl, but after reading all of these recipes and drooling over the photos, I wouldn’t be mad at sharing Thanksgiving with these fabulous ladies. But since we’re spread out across the country, we’re doing it blogger-style and sharing our virtual Thanksgiving with you. Please make sure you head on over to all of their blogs to check out these recipes as well as the many others they’ll be sharing for the holidays. These are some talented women and trust me, if you love to eat, you’re going to love their creations.

A Very-Blogger Thanksgiving

The Beach House Kitchen: Jalapeño and Ranch Cheese Ball

No Spoon NecessaryApple & Cheddar Hard Cider Soup with Crispy Prosciutto and Pumpkin Seeds.

Hapa Nom Nom: Garlic Butter Dinner Rolls

Ciao Chow BambinaTraditional Thanksgiving Stuffing with Sausage and Apples

Seasonal Cravings: Brussels Sprout Salad with Pear and Pomegranate

What Should I Make ForRoast Turkey with Garlic Herb Butter and Pan Gravy with Creamy Mashed Potatoes

The Sweet Nerd: Maple Praline Pumpkin Cake

Garlic and Herb Roast Turkey with Cider Pan Gravy

Now, back to the bird. I’ve made Thanksgiving turkey many ways over the years, wet-brined, dry-brined, no-brine, Martha’s cheesecloth method, flipped over and straight up. And today you’ll reap the benefit of these wins and losses….or as I like to call them, “learning experiences”. I am all about the dry brine, which is fancy talk for rubbing salt and a little sugar over the bird and sticking it in the frig. Yep, I’ve done the big pots of brine and soaked the bird and while good, it wasn’t always worth the effort. For the dry-brine method, you simply rub the salt/sugar mixture over the bird and let it rest uncovered in the refrigerator for 1-2 days. The result? A wonderfully juicy turkey with crispy skin.

Garlic and Herb Roast Turkey with Cider Pan Gravy

To impart flavor, I love an herb butter slathered all over and under the skin. And it’s key to baste, baste, baste and not let the bottom of the pan dry out (we’re going to want all that goodness for our pan gravy). I’m also a believer in a hot oven (425 degrees) for 20 mins, then reducing the temperature to 350 for the remainder of the cooking time. Let’s get a good sear going on that bird for that browned, crispy skin your showstopper deserves. Getting too brown? Simply cover it gently with foil until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees or until the juices run clear.

Now listen, here’s the critical part. REST. No, not for you. You’re cooking Thanksgiving dinner and you can rest tomorrow. No, you’ve got to rest that bird. The bigger the bird, the more rest we’re talking. I recommend at least 30 mins and up to an hour. Besides, we’ve got pan gravy to whip up while your bird relaxes.

Garlic and Herb Roast Turkey with Cider Pan Gravy

So yes, you can make your own turkey stock from the neck and giblets to use in the gravy. I usually do because I can’t tear myself away from the kitchen over the holidays. But I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to. That’s right, they’re are plenty of good quality stocks on the market and your pan gravy won’t suffer a bit if your stock isn’t from scratch. After all, we’ll be using all of those glorious drippings to make our gravy sing.

First things first, remove the bird to a large, (rimmed) cutting board or platter to rest. Tent it with foil so it stays warm. Now pour the drippings into a cup, or even better, a fat separator, but don’t scrape the pan. Place the pan on top of the stove  and pour some of the fat back in, add flour (Wondra flour is ideal for smooth gravy) and whisk, whisk, whisk. We’ll cook the flour/fat for a bit to get rid of the raw flour flavor, then very slowly pour in the wine, then the cider, while continuously whisking. Next up, add the turkey stock and any juices that you’ve collected (we’re whisking, we’re whisking) and lastly, season to taste with salt and pepper.

Garlic and Herb Roast Turkey with Cider Pan Gravy

My recipe today is for a smaller bird, about 9 lbs, but all of the same principles apply for a larger one. Obviously you’ll need to adjust the cooking time (think 10 -15 mins per pound) and increase the ingredient quantities. Hosting a large group? This recipe can be easily doubled for an 18 pound bird.

So talk turkey we did today and as a bonus we got all the fixins’ too! But the Thanksgiving well has not run dry my friends, so keep on coming back to see what else will be gracing my table and filling our bellies for the big day. And don’t forget to check out all of the mouth-watering recipes provided by my blogging buddies. I’ll be back on Friday for more Thanksgiving goodness. Until then, enjoy your week!

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Garlic and Herb Roast Turkey with Cider Pan Gravy
Garlic and Herb Roast Turkey with Cider Pan Gravy
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
2 hrs 15 mins
Total Time
2 hrs 45 mins
Crispy skin, a tender, juicy bird and rich and smooth cider pan gravy...hello Thanksgiving.
Course: Main Dish
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Cathy Roma |
  • 9 lb fresh turkey giblets removed, washed and dried

  • Dry Brine
  • 2 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp sugar

  • Garlic and Herb Butter
  • 4 oz 1 stick unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 Tbsp minced parsley
  • 2 Tbsp minced thyme
  • Kosher salt and pepper

  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic smashed
  • 1 apple cored and quartered
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup turkey or chicken stock

  • Cider Pan Gravy
  • 1/4 cup fat from drippings
  • 1/3 cup Wondra or all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup apple cider
  • 3 cups turkey or chicken stock
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Dry Brine: Combine salt and sugar and rub all over the turkey. Place the turkey on a large baking sheet or roasting pan and place in the refrigerator, uncovered overnight.
  2. Garlic and Herb Butter: Mix all the ingredients together until combined.
  3. Turkey: Remove the turkey from the refrigerator and let the bird sit at room temperature for 30 mins to an hour. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  4. Spread the herb butter all over chicken, including under the skin and in the cavity.
  5. Stuff the cavity with the herbs, apple and garlic.
  6. Fold the wings behind the bird and truss the legs together with kitchen twine. Place the bird on a v-rack in a large roasting pan and pour the wine and stock into the bottom of the pan.
  7. Roast for 20 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees. Continue to roast 1 1/2 - 2 hours or until the juices run clear. (or when an instant read thermometer reads 160 degrees. It will continue to cook while it rests). Baste the bird frequently and cover loosely with foil if the skin gets too brown. Add a little stock or water to the bottom of the pan if it dries out.
  8. Remove the turkey from the oven and place on a rimmed cutting board or platter. Tent with foil so the bird stays warm and let it rest for 30 mins to 1 hour.
  9. Cider Pan Gravy: Pour the drippings into a large measuring cup or fat separator. Do not clean the pan. Measure out 1/4 cup of fat and pour back into the roasting pan set over 1-2 burners on your stove on medium heat.
  10. Whisk in the flour and cook for about two mins. Slowly whisk in the wine and then the cider, scraping the bottom of the pan. Finally add the stock and any collected juices in a slow, steady stream. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
  11. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  12. To serve: Carve the turkey and serve with gravy alongside.

Garlic and Herb Roast Turkey with Cider Pan Gravy

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Filed Under: Holiday, Main Dishes, Recipe


40 responses to “Garlic and Herb Roast Turkey with Cider Pan Gravy”

  1. You’re right in calling them learning experiences! We don’t often have turkey but my grandma makes the BEST roasted chicken – and that’s definitely from years of experience. (And loads of butter) Anyway, I’m in charge of Christmas dinner this year and I’ve been gathering all sorts of recipes…. This one is going on the list! I hope to benefit from your years of experience 😉 Have a great week!

    • Cathy says:

      “Learning experiences” just sounds so much better than “mistakes” right?? Can’t wait to see what you come up with for Christmas!

  2. That is a beautiful turkey and I love how you have presented it so beautifully! So many great Thanksgiving recipes. Wishing my Thanksgiving wasn’t behind me 🙂

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Jennifer. Thanksgiving if definitely one of my favorite holidays and I think I enjoy the planning almost as much as the day!

  3. I am ALL about the dry brine, butter and resting too, Cathy! I’ve tried lots of other methods and they all pale in comparison, plus they were totally not worth the effort. Your bird looks BEYOND delicious!!!! Talk about turkey perfection! I love the garlic and herbs and that cider pan gravy has me droooooooling! Wish we lived closer, because I would have shown up at your door. 🙂 Pinned! Cheers friend!
    P.S. Thank you SO much for ‘hosting’ our dinner!! <3

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Chey! Yes, the dry brine is so much easier and makes for a juicy bird with the best crispy skin. I so wish we were all closer so we could enjoy this feast together!

  4. I’m totally drooling over your turkey and mashed potatoes Cathy! I love the dry brine and butter method for turkey! Always so flavorful! Wishing I could grab a slice of that turkey and some of those mashed potatoes and gravy right off my screen! Thanks for hosting the party! XO

  5. Your photos have me feeling like I’m right at your table! If only I could swoop in with a fork and start tasting! Gorgeous! My hubby takes care of the turkey and he is going to love this recipe as much as I do! Thanks for hosting our virtual dinner, my friend! It was a wonderful idea that garnered beautiful dishes! Have a great day! xo

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Annie! I’m loving how all of our dishes came together. Now I’m bummed at how long we have to wait to get to eating this feast.

  6. I’m staring at my computer screen right now with hearts in my eyes, lol 😀 This looks amazing, Cathy! I just want to dive right into those mashed potatoes and gravy. You can’t go wrong brining and then covering with butter and loading it with herbs. And then making your own gravy, not to mention cider gravy? YES! Our thanksgiving is over for the year in Canada, so now the next time I’ll have turkey will probably be Christmas and now I can’t wait, especially after seeing this deliciousness!! I can only imagine the smells coming from your kitchen as all this cooks. Pinned! Happy Monday 🙂

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks so much Dawn. Butter makes everything just a little better right? Your Thanksgiving may be passed, but you can join in on this one from afar. Too bad they don’t make computers scratch and sniff 😉

  7. Cindy says:

    Wow! and Wow! This turkey is stunning. Eeek, is so funny. I am such a rookie when it comes to turkey making so I love the timing of this post. It is bonus time when I get to be the beneficiary of your tried and true attempts with turkey-making. Looking forward to trying this rub and getting that crispy outside. Cheers Cathy!

  8. What a gorgeous bird! I love using herb butter under the skin too. My mother in law used to cook hers in an oiled down paper grocery bag. That’s a new one, right? No offense to my MIL but yours looks like the way to go. And I promise to rest my bird just like you advise! I am thrilled to be sharing a virtual Thanksgiving with you my dear.

    • Cathy says:

      That is an interesting way to go Karen. Now you’ve peaked my interest. I’d love to see how that works! Great sharing the day with you too!

  9. Sing it girl! Brining and basting covered with cheesecloth is the BEST way to go! It always yields the juiciest, most tender turkey ever! And I’m really loving all of the ingredients in your butter baste – talk about some serious flavor! YUM! And I definitely need some carving lessons from you!!! Somehow my turkey always looks like it was carved by a pack of wolves 😛

    • Cathy says:

      Ha! My carving skills definitely have improved with time. It’s also so much easier to carve all alone in my kitchen rather than with a table full of hungry people waiting for their drumstick!

  10. April Davila says:

    This looks amazing. I was actually feeling kind of stressed about the turkey, as I have never been in charge of the bird before this year. I was even considering buying a deep fryer. This sounds SO much better!

  11. Those are some beautiful turkey photos you have there! I love your setup. And I’m with you on the dry brine. I’ve done wet brines and they are tough to do with a giant turkey it’s dry all the way for me these days. 🙂

    • Cathy says:

      Thanks Annemarie. Wet brines can be delicious for sure, but a lot more work with a big bird.

    • Leslie Anid says:

      Do you rub the dry brine just on the outside, or under the skin and in the cavity, too?

    • Cathy says:

      Great question Leslie. If the brine is applied to the skin only, it will take longer to penetrate. I like to gently loosen the skin and apply some to the meat as well. The majority goes on the skin. The key is to leave it uncovered in the frig for the crispest skin.

  12. Summer says:

    Looks fantastic ♥

  13. Trudy says:

    I have a guest with celiac disease. I can’t use flour in the gravy, but can use cornstarch or some non- wheat substitute. Any suggestions? Amounts?

    • Cathy says:

      Cornstarch will definitely be a good substitute and make a smooth, velvety gravy. Be sure to mix the cornstarch with a little water to make a slurry before adding it to the pan. I would mix 1/4 cup cornstarch with 1/4 cup water and proceed with the recipe. You can always add more stock to thin or more cornstarch to thicken.

  14. Lar says:

    Hey, do you have a guess on how long to cook other sized turkeys? My wife’s company gives everyone a Thanksgiving turkey. Our small turkey is 12 lbs or so. I can always watch for the clear drippings, but I’ll be running in enough circles that a beeping timer is a good feature to add.

    • Cathy says:

      The rule of thumb I go by is 12-15 mins per pound. Frozen turkeys take a little longer than fresh. If you start at a high heat and then lower it, it will be closer to 12 than 15. Happy thanksgiving!

  15. Barb says:

    I am smoking a 21 pound turkey. I always brine my turkeys first. Would the dry rub work for smoked turkey and do you rinse the brine off before putting anything else on it?

    • Cathy says:

      Hi Barb. If you’re a fan of brining I couldn’t recommend dry brining more! I’m a complete convert. I never rinse the bird after dry brining (always before) because I’m after the crispiest skin possible. And always leave it uncovered in the frig. The skin may look a little odd after the dry brine, but trust me, the end result is fabulous. I haven’t smoked a turkey before, but if you’ve used a wet brine prior to smoking, I’m sure a dry brine would work in its place. Let me know how it goes!

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