3 Step Tuscan Style Roasted Turkey


This year we will be traveling back to California for Thanksgiving to spend the holiday with my husband’s family. But my sister and I didn’t want to miss our favorite cooking holiday, so we decided to celebrate a little early. We spent all day Saturday making WAY too much food. Hayley made us breakfast while I got to work on this mouth-watering Tuscan Style Roasted Turkey. We love all the side dishes and yummy desserts, but we all agree that this turkey is hands-down the best Thanksgiving turkey ever! I have broken the process down into 3 easy steps should you desire to make this incredibly moist turkey this holiday season:

Step 1: Clean and Stuff the Turkey

roasted turkey on foil balls

First, heat the oven to 425 degrees and prepare your roasting pan. You will want to keep the turkey off of the bottom of the roasting pan so that it doesn’t sit in it’s juices. Keeping the turkey off the bottom also ensures that it will roast more “rotisserie” style because air will be able to circulate around the entire bird. So if you don’t have a rack inside your roasting pan, use the aluminum foil method. Simply form about six balls of foil that the turkey can rest on.

Now, clean the bird. Remove all the innards, rinse it in water, and then pat it dry. It is important that the skin is dry so that the turkey gets nice and brown. I use paper towels to pat it dry.

Stuff the turkey with a small diced onion, a lemon cut in several pieces, and about 5-8 sprigs of sage.

tuscan style roasted turkey

Stuffing the turkey with these ingredients, particularly the sage, will infuse a TON of flavor throughout the turkey. I leave the onion, lemon, and sage in large chunks so that I can remove them afterwards to make turkey broth or soup.

Step 2: Prepare the Herbed Butter Spread

tuscan style roasted turkey herb spread

The essential requirement for keeping a moist turkey while still attaining the beautiful, browned, crispy skin is creating a “fat barrier.” The fat barrier locks the moisture and flavor within the meat and allows the skin to get crispy. It also infuses a bunch of flavor. In a small bowl, mix 1/2 cup of butter (1 stick) with 1/4 cup of freshly chopped sage. Add in the zest from one lemon (it can even be from the lemon you used to stuff the turkey in step 1). Then you’ll need a tablespoon of minced garlic, 2 teaspoons of Kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes.

tuscan style roasted turkey herb spread

Mash all the ingredients together so that everything is combined thoroughly.

tuscan style roasted turkey

Now grab the turkey and slowly begin separating the skin from the meat. You’ll need to do this gently to try and keep the skin in tact.

tuscan style roasted turkey

Work your hands all the way to the back of the bird, tearing the sinews and muscle fibers carefully but firmly. You should be able to separate the skin from the breast all the way down each side to the wings.

Do the same thing on each drumstick. Move your fingers all the way down the leg meat, even underneath if you can.

roasted turkey with butter barrier

Starting in the back toward the neck cavity, press tablespoon amounts of your “butter barrier” between the muscle and the skin. It might be a bit chunky, but pat it down as smoothly as possible. You should have enough of the butter mixture to cover the breast and both legs.

tuscan style roasted turkey

Work the butter barrier around the entire bird as much as possible.

tuscan style roasted turkey

Now put the turkey on top of the roasting rack or foil balls in your roasting pan. If you like to keep the drippings for gravy, broth, or soup, throw in the turkey neck and innards so that they can release their juices as well. Bake the turkey uncovered at 425 degrees for 45 minutes and then turn the temperature down to 350 degrees for another 1 hour and 30 minutes (this is for a turkey that weighs about 9-13 lbs). Total cook time should be between 2:15 hours and 2:30 hours.

Step 3: Baste the Roasted Turkey

tuscan style roasted turkey baste

While the turkey is roasting at 425 degrees for 45 minutes, make your basting liquid. This will come in handy toward the end of the turkey’s cooking time. The baste is made of 1/2 cup of water, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup white wine, and 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard.  The Dijon mustard and sage flavors really mix well to create that “Tuscan style” taste.

tuscan style roasted turkey

When the turkey has roasted for 1 hour and 30 minutes, pull it out. Baste the turkey with your Dijon mixture using a basting brush. Don’t be shy, pour at least 1/3 of mixture on the top and sides. Put the turkey back in the oven, facing the other direction so that all the sides cook evenly.

roasted turkey

Baste the turkey at least 2 more times, waiting 15-20 minutes between each time. After 2 hours and 15 minutes has passed, check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer. If the thickest part of the meat has reached 160 degrees, remove the turkey and let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. If your turkey is a little heavier, it may need more time to cook. Keep checking it with the thermometer so you don’t overcook it. The turkey will still continue to cook once it is removed from the oven.

roasted turkey

Once the turkey has cooled a bit, transfer it to your serving platter. I placed my roasted turkey on a bed of fresh parsley and then cut up another lemon for decoration.

tuscan style roasted turkey thanksgiving dinner

This Tuscan Style Roasted Turkey really is the most flavorful and moist turkey. I fall in love with it more every Thanksgiving! If you’re wondering what else is on the table, we had quite the spread! I made a Healthy Green Bean Casserole, Creamy Mashed Potatoes with Homestyle Gravy, Fluffy Yeast Rolls, and a Cinnamon Cranberry Orange Sauce.

Do me a favor and save this pretty picture on Pinterest, would you? If you need more Thanksgiving ideas, check out my Festive for Fall or Tasty Thanksgiving boards.

More than good food, we love being together and enjoying the gifts God has given us. We are so blessed and thankful for His mercies on us. I hope y’all have a Happy Thanksgiving too! Happy Cooking y’all!

3 Step Tuscan Style Roasted Turkey

Heidi Davison
This Tuscan Style Roasted Turkey recipe is easy and full of flavor. The meat stays moist and the skin gets crispy. Only 3 steps to the perfect Thanksgiving turkey.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 55 minutes
Course Entree
Cuisine Italian/American
Servings 8 -10


  • For the Turkey:
  • 1 9-13 lb turkey
  • 2 lemons 1 for decoration
  • 1 small onion in chunks
  • 5-8 sprigs of sage
  • Optional: parsley for decoration
  • For the butter barrier:
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup 1 stick of butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped sage
  • zest of 1 lemon about 1 Tbsp
  • 2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • For the Baste:
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 white wine
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard


  • Heat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Prepare roasting pan with grill rack or foil balls to keep turkey off bottom.
  • Remove innards from turkey. Clean, rinse, and pat dry.
  • Stuff turkey with onion, lemon, and sage sprigs.
  • Mash all the butter barrier ingredients together.
  • Use fingers to separate the skin of the turkey from the muscle across the breast and legs.
  • Work butter mixture in between the skin and meat covering the breast and legs.
  • Place the turkey in roasting pan on top of rack or foil balls. Leave uncovered.
  • Bake at 425 degrees for 45 minutes then reduce heat to 350 degrees.
  • Prepare basting liquid while turkey cooks.
  • After 1 hour and a half of cooking, baste the turkey and turn it the opposite direction in the oven.
  • Baste 2 more times, 15-20 minutes apart each time.
  • Check turkey at 2 hours and 15 minutes to read the internal temperature.
  • Remove the turkey once a thermometer in the thickest part of the meat reads 160 degrees.
  • Remove and let rest 15-20 minutes


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  • Is the compound butter with salted or unsalted butter?

  • Camryn Pinner says:

    I tried this recipe for the first time this Thanksgiving and I’ll be sure to use it again! Our friend’s turkey has always been super moist with crisp skin, but he deep fries his and I don’t have a fryer. I was nervous to be in charge this year. Dry turkeys are the worst! So, I tried Heidi’s recipe and hoped for the best, and we were not disappointed! The turkey was full of flavor and the meat was super moist and juicy. The fat barrier really does make a difference! My turkey was a bit bigger so I adjusted all the proportions by an extra half and it worked out to be just right. The white wine and dijon mustard basting sauce was the perfect touch as well, leaving the skin golden brown and tasty! Yet another win for Heidis Home cooking in my book. (Her crockpot ribs recipe is another favorite in our home.)

    • You’re right, turkeys are intimidating and it’s so much pressure when you are the one solely responsible for it! But I’m proud of you for taking it on and even more glad that it was such a hit! Thanks for entrusting your holiday with my recipe!

  • Wow, Heidi! We will be making our turkey using this recipe, this year! Can hardly wait!

    • After you come out of your food coma from Thanksgiving, let me know how you liked it! 🙂

  • This is 2019, and I am looking forward to trying this recipe this Thanksgiving. Seems like it will be delicious. Thank you.

    • I hope you enjoy it Karyn! It is my favorite and I use it every year. No need to change what everybody loves!

  • Oh my word! Thank you so much for this! It is forever more our traditional turkey! I actually bought another one and am fixing it again just cause I crave it! This has been the best turkey ever! Many many thanks for the awesome recipe! It’s amazing!

    • Isn’t it the best?! I knew there was no way I could keep this recipe to myself. It is BEYOND delicious. Thanks for trying it!

  • 5 stars
    This recipe is amazing! The turkey came out so tender and delicious. The cooking time was perfect. This was, by far, the best turkey we have ever made. Thanks for another great recipe Heidi!

    • I feel so honored that you wanted to try it on the big day! I’m so glad it worked out. And I agree, this is the best turkey recipe I have ever had.

  • 5 stars
    WOW…looks delicious! If you wanted to go with a more traditional turkey, what type of basting liquid would you suggest?

    • You can always just baste with the turkey juices or chicken broth to keep it simple.

  • christina says:

    what about if you wanted to stuff the turkey??

    • This turkey is stuffed with lemon, onion, and sage and I believe that really lends to the overall flavor and moisture in the meat. If you want to prepare traditional stuffing, I would do it separately.

  • Elizabeth says:

    5 stars
    It looks so good! Is the turkey hot/spicy ?

    • No, the red pepper is subtle and adds the tiniest kick.

  • I’m hosting my first “friendsgiving” this weekend and I am so nervous about it! I think I will try this recipe out for our friends! Thank you for posting, and beautiful pictures and directions.

    • Kimberly, don’t be nervous! You’ll do great! This recipe is so easy it’s hard to mess up. I’m sure your friends will love it. Please report back and let me know how it turned out.

  • This looks delicious! Thx for the detailed instructions!

    • You’re welcome! Please let me know if you try it out.

      • Sounds simple and very tasty….definitely will try! Thank you 😊

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