Oranges and Herbs Roasted Turkey

How to roast a turkey Orange and cloves turkeyThis is my second time to roast a turkey. Last year I shared my very first turkey attempt. I was SO nervous. I started having dreams about ruining the turkey for days before our Friendsgiving last year. This year, I was less nervous. I am happy to report I only had one dream about messing up the turkey. So, that's progress I guess (in a crazy person kind of way).Beer brined turkeyMy first step was to track down our bird. I don't eat a lot of meat. But, for Friendsgiving I make exceptions. 🙂 I do, however, make an effort to buy organic and ethically raised meats when I do choose to cook with them. Most of the farms in our area work like this: You sign up (and pay a deposit) for a turkey. The turkeys are delivered a day or two before Thanksgiving and you pick them up from the store where you signed up. Since we host Friendsgiving weeks before the real turkey day, this posed a problem for me. That's the thing about no preservatives—it limits the shelf-life—so you have to get it within a short period before you plan to cook it. I called around and (thankfully) Home Grown Foods found a way to get me a turkey early. They really went out of their way to help me get a turkey from a few hours away, and I am extremely thankful. I nearly thought we'd have to serve something other than turkey at Friendsgiving this year. And that would be a bummer because turkey is the showstopper!Orange and cloves turkey I picked up my turkey the day before our event. It was ready for brining since it was fresh. If you use a frozen turkey this year, allow it to thaw (in the refrigerator) before brining. 

Blue Moon Brine: 7 1/2 cups vegetable (or chicken) stock, 2 bottles Blue Moon beer, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 cup kosher salt, 2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns and enough water to submerge the turkey.

In a big pot, stir together the first four ingredients over medium heat until the sugar and salt has fully dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in the peppercorns. Prepare your thawed turkey for brining by first removing the giblets (my least favorite part). Place the turkey in a brining bag. Fill with the cooled brining liquid and enough water to submerge the turkey. Seal the bag and refrigerate overnight. Finding the right container to hold the brining turkey can be tricky. A clean bucket works well, or you can use the turkey roasting pan and fill the bag only halfway. Just flip the turkey halfway through the brining time if you go this route.How to roast a turkey  In the morning discard the brining liquid. Rinse off the turkey and pat dry with paper towels. Fill the inside of the turkey with one onion (cut into fourths), the rinds of three or four oranges, two sprigs of rosemary, two sprigs of thyme and one sprig of sage. Drizzle a generous amount of olive oil over the top of the turkey and rub it all over the skin. Toward the back of the turkey, just above the opening where you added the aromatics, you can usually get under the skin a little. Be sure to rub some oil in there as well. Sprinkle on a little salt and pepper all over the bird. Use kitchen twine to tie the legs together, helping the bird keep its shape.

Tuck a piece of aluminum foil over the top of the bird. Bake at 500°F for 30 minutes. High temperatures can more easily create smoke/steam in your kitchen, so don't be afraid to open a few windows. 🙂 After the first 30 minutes, reduce the temperature to 350°F, remove the foil and continue to roast until the turkey reaches around 155°F. You can use an instant read thermometer to check this. Just stick the thermometer into the breast, avoiding the bones of the bird. Some sources suggest your temperature needs to reach 165°-170°F before removing the turkey from the oven. But, after you remove it, you need to rest the bird in a tent of aluminum foil for 30 minutes before serving time. This process will raise the temperature, even after it's out of the oven. So, keep that in mind. Beer brined turkey Our turkey was about 14lbs., so it took about two hours to finish cooking. The time it will take to roast can be hard to predict, so I highly recommend an instant read thermometer. 

During the last 30 minutes of bake time, I added orange slices (with the rinds removed, because those were already inside the bird) with whole cloves held on by toothpicks. My thought behind this was mostly aesthetic, I kind of wanted it to look similar to a roasted ham (often garnished with pineapple slices and cherries). Before serving, remove the toothpicks and the aromatics from inside. Place your turkey on a large serving platter and decorate with cut oranges and fresh herbs.How to roast a turkey    How to roast a turkeyThanks for letting me share my oranges and herbs turkey! Do you have a favorite turkey recipe you'll be using this year? xo. Emma

Credits // Author: Emma Chapman, Photography: Janae Hardy

  • Congrats! You guys have made it to the front page of HuffPo.

  • Here in Ireland we have turkey with our Christmas dinner as we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving. I will probably be making my first turkey this year so thanks for the tips. I’ve also just realised I’m definitely going to need to nominate a family member to take the photographs for my blog.

  • Thanks, Laura
    Looking forward to it!!!
    I love the idea of a friendsgiving as all the details of the party. Really lovely.

  • That turkey looks so beautiful! I just read your “My First Turkey” post and I must admit it made me feel SO much better and less crazy. I’m making my first turkey this year for my husband and a bunch of his training friends. I’m terrified I’m going to burn it, or it’s going to be dry, or just something terrible and then I’m going to have 15 very hungry men in my house. SO SCARY!! But seeing you did it makes me feel a bit better!

    Happy early Thanksgiving!

  • I just learner about brines a few months ago. Thank you so much for putting a a beer spin on it. It opens up so many possibilities.

  • I roasted my first turkey this year for work, and it turned out surprisingly delicious with a Bourbon Glaze… but this bird just looks divine! I wouldn’t mind trying something like this later this month!

  • Holiday gatherings can be super stressful, but you absolutely nailed it! Everything looked delicious. Definitely lent me some inspiration for this holiday season. xx

  • We gave up baking the bird. Hello Butterball Turkey fryer. We were sold on the infomercial…

  • I don’t eat meat apart from fish every now and again but this does look good. Well done Emma! It’s wonderful to see your Friendsgiving for the second year running! 🙂

    Lulu xx

  • what a unique take on turkey!
    i made a whole roasted chicken for the first time this year and was surprised how well it turned out!

    Molly {Dreams in HD}

  • Happy Thanksgiving! We must try this recipe, here we eat little turkey and only in Christmas!

  • That looks so delicious! I’m pregnant and craving citrus, so it looks extra good!! I have never tried cooking a turkey, I am scared! But your advice is so well written, thanks for sharing! 🙂
    xo kristen genevieve

  • Looks delicious! On an unrelated note – I had a croissant French toast with marscapone cheese and strawberries this weekend. I would love to see Emma create a recipe for something like that.

  • That sounds delicious! I usually make this one from Giada and it always comes out delicious:
    It also uses citrus and herbs, but no brine needed.
    I was also sooo nervous the first time I roasted a turkey a few years back, but now it is fun and my family looks forward to it every year.
    We’re also going to host a friendsgiving this year – so much fun to enjoy a nice meal with friends on a chilly day.

  • That’s the most delicious turkey I’ve ever seen. Great that you only buy organic and ethically raised turkeys. We try to get our meat also from strictly organic producing farms. And the dairy as well. My husband is even stricter than me in this regard. But I know he’s right.

  • This looks so delicious and it’s also so pretty 🙂

  • Hi Jessica!
    It’s actually a DIY that we will be sharing later this week on the blog 🙂

    A Beautiful Mess Team Member

  • Hi Stephanie!
    It is a DIY that we will be sharing later this week on the blog 🙂

    A Beautiful Mess Team Member

  • it looks great! Well done babe

  • Awh… I missed it. I miss the entire fun of this party. I wish next year I will be celebrating it with the help of your kind guidance 🙂 Emma, looking gorgeous!

  • Those oranges looks amazing on top

    Celebrity fashion dictionary of who made it and where to get it

  • Beautiful bird! Love all those oranges. I’m going to brine my turkey for the first time this year and blue moon happens to be my favorite beer, cant wait to try it!

  • I’m impressed! I’ve never dared to make a whole bird but you make it look managable!

    Love and happy bee week from Germany:


    PS: what happened to vegetarianism? We’ve given up…so no judgment from our side:-)

  • Looks great! I’ve still never done a turkey on my own! I’ll be going down to my boyfriend’s parents’ house again this year, but I’d love to one day get the chance to roast a turkey on my own!

  • When I brine my turkey every year I too use a cooler. It saves me space in my fridge for other prepped foods. Simply add your liquids and spices then top with lots of ice to keep the turkey properly cooled. Just remember to empty out your cooler asap! My hubby forgot once and had to suffer a most rancid cleaning later!

  • Wow! How impressive! That looks amazing! So much citrus! Such a great added flavor! 🙂

  • it all looks so pretty with the oranges and flowers. Wow!
    In the UK, turkey means Christmas so the idea of a colour theme which isn’t either green & red or gold and has roses in bloom to boot, is new to me and it looks wonderful!

    We always slow roast our turkey (also about 14Lbs) overnight for about 12 hours in a very slow oven and this way works too.

  • wow, this seems to be so good ! I really like all the orange everywhere, on the table and on the flower crowns, it makes november looks like summer !


  • Great recipe.
    Just an idea for anyone interested in following the brine recipe, using a large cooler works very well too. (Like the large plastic kind you pack when you go camping)

  • That looks really delicious, might have to consider using oranges for a turkey this holiday season. Something different!
    The Flair Society

  • who says you need a thanksgiving (or friendsgiving) to have turkey? we usually buy big cuts of meat and make many meals out of it. turkey might be our new endeavor! last weekend we hosted friends for our first leg of lamb roast!


  • That looks so pretty! We always stick oranges and other citrus fruit in the cavity of our turkey, but never thought about having it on top!

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