This easy Orange Turkey recipe uses a fresh turkey roasted with lemon, lime, and, and oranges for a beautiful citrus flavor. The result is a bright and fresh piece of poultry that is great for sandwiches, or as the main meal on your holiday table!
There are so many ways to flavor a turkey. While fresh herbs are usually a traditional go-to during the holiday months, we like switching it up by adding some bright and fresh citrus flavor.
Orange turkey is made with not just oranges, but also lemons and lime. A fresh turkey gets simply seasoned with butter, salt, and pepper while the chopped citrus fruits get added to the cavity while baking.
The bright flavor infuses the turkey giving this savory protein a bright contrast that pairs perfectly.
This turkey is decadent enough to be served on a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner table, or it can be used during the week to make a stacked Turkey Avocado Club or a comforting Turkey Pot Pie with Puff Pastry!
- A layer of aluminum foil on the bottom of the roasting rack makes cleaning up easier as the juices and oil could stick to the bottom and be difficult to clean off.
- When preparing the turkey, it's important to make sure the skin is completely dry. This will help the seasonings stick and will create a nice crispy skin.
- Tying the legs together with twine is an important step as the inside could dry the turkey out from the inside as it loses moisture.
- A kitchen thermometer is a crucial kitchen tool when making poultry as it’s important to make sure the thickest parts of the turkey are fully cooked. The thighs should be 180°F while the thickest part of the turkey breast should register at 170°F for safety.
- After the turkey is cooked, it's important to make sure you let it rest before carving. This allows the juices inside the meat to re-distribute evenly and not run out when carving.
- Additional butter can be added under the skin if needed depending on the size of the turkey. More butter can be used for basting, too.
- You can customize the type of orange flavor that spreads throughout the turkey by using just one fruit or a variety of citrus fruit. This turkey also tastes great with just oranges, lemons, or limes.
- Salt and pepper are used to simply season the top of the turkey, but you can also use your favorite seasoning blend or a mix of poultry herbs such as sage and rosemary.
- If you need the turkey to cook a bit quicker, you can spatchcock the turkey and keep the citrus fruit underneath while roasting.
- This recipe is also great for if you don’t have a turkey and would like to use a whole chicken or duck instead.
- Fresh herbs can be added to the turkey for extra flavor. If they’re exposed to direct oven heat, they’ll burn, so make sure they’re inside the cavity with the citrus.
Storing and Freezing
Storing: Leftover orange turkey can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days. For best results, reheat in a skillet over medium-low heat with a splash of stock to retain moisture.
Freezing: If you’d like to freeze any leftover turkey, remove it fully from the bone first. Then add it to a freezer-safe bag. Add gravy to keep the moisture intact and remove as much air as possible. Lay flat until completely frozen for up to 4 months.
Thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating and serving.
Frequently Asked Questions
What flavors go best with roasted turkey?
Although classic herbs such as thyme, rosemary, parsley, sage, basil, paprika, pepper, garlic, onion, and oregano pair well with turkey, fresh citrus help enhance the flavor of turkey as well.
Is it better to roast a turkey covered or uncovered?
This depends on the size of the turkey. A smaller turkey may not need to be covered as the skin will evenly crisp up while it roasts. A larger turkey does benefit from being covered as the outside may dry out and the skin may burn if it is exposed to the heat too long.
Do you cook a turkey at 325°F or 350°F?
We always cook our turkeys at 325°F. It may take a little longer, but slower and lower heat keeps the turkey moist and flavorful.
Recipe Card with Ingredient Amounts and Instructions
- 8 to 10 pound turkey, giblets and neck removed, cavity cleaned, and turkey patted dry
- ½ cup unsalted butter, divided (2 tablespoons cut into small pieces, the rest melted for basting)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoons ground black pepper
- 3 to 4 pieces citrus fruits, sliced or cut into quarters (variety of oranges, lemons, limes, etc.)
- Line a large roasting pan with aluminum foil, then add the rack. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
- Transfer the turkey to the prepared roasting pan, and loosen the skin around the turkey breasts. Carefully slide 2 tablespoons of butter pieces underneath the loosened skin.8 to 10 pound turkey½ cup unsalted butter
- Sprinkle the salt and pepper over the top of the turkey in an even layer. Place the citrus pieces into the cavity of the turkey until the entire cavity is full.2 teaspoons salt½ teaspoons ground black pepper3 to 4 pieces citrus fruits
- Tie the turkey legs together to ensure the citrus stays in place.
- Cover the turkey with foil, and bake for 20-25 minutes per pound, about 3 to 4 hours depending on the size of the turkey.
- During the last 30 to 45 minutes, remove the foil. If the skin looks like it’s beginning to dry, slowly pour melted butter over the turkey. Repeat as needed to keep the skin moist and flavorful.
- The turkey is done when an instant read thermometer inserted into the thigh registers 180°F and 170°F in the breast. Remove the turkey from the oven, and allow it to rest for 20 minutes before carving.