Classic whole roast turkey with sage and black pepper butter recipe

Classic whole roast turkey with sage and black pepper butter recipe

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Make this classic roast turkey recipe if you're expecting a crowd for Christmas dinner. Friends and family can choose between white or dark meat, while everyone will love the traditional sage and onion stuffing. See method

  • Serves 12
  • 10 mins to prepare and 3 hrs 10 mins to cook, plus resting
  • 732 calories / serving


    For the sage and onion stuffing

    • 300g red onions, chopped
    • 50g unsalted butter, plus 15g extra for adding to the stuffing before baking
    • 100g toasted rolled oats
    • 250g fresh white breadcrumbs
    • 20 sage leaves, chopped

    For the turkey

    • 5kg turkey
    • few sprigs fresh rosemary
    • few sprigs fresh thyme
    • few sprigs fresh sage, plus extra to garnish
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 4 lemons, 1 halved, 1 juiced, 2 sliced into wedges
    • 1 onion, sliced
    • olive oil, for greasing

    For the sage and black pepper butter

    • 100g unsalted butter, softened
    • ¼ tsp black pepper, freshly ground
    • 1 tbsp sage, chopped

    For the classic turkey gravy

    • 15g plain flour
    • 450ml chicken stock

Each serving contains

  • Energy

  • Fat

    44g 63%
  • Saturates

    16g 78%
  • Sugars

    3g 3%
  • Salt

    1.5g 26%

of the reference intake
Carbohydrate 18g Protein 67.7g Fibre 2.4g


  1. Begin by making the sage and onion stuffing. Melt the unsalted butter in a frying pan until bubbling, add the onions and fry for 5 mins. Put the toasted rolled oats and fresh white breadcrumbs in a bowl. Add the sage leaves and season, then stir in the onions until well combined. Leave to cool, then press half the stuffing into a lined 18cm square cake tin and dot with the extra unsalted butter – set aside for cooking later.
  2. Half-fill a deep roasting tin with hot water and place it in the bottom of the oven, to help create moisture. Preheat the oven to gas 5, 190°C, fan 170°C. Dry the outside of the turkey with kitchen paper and season the cavity. Pack the neck end of the bird with half the stuffing, fold the skin underneath and secure with a cocktail stick.
  3. Fill the cavity of the bird with the herbs, lemon halves and onion, then place it in another roasting tin. Tie the legs together with kitchen string.
  4. To make the sage and black pepper butter, mix the softened butter with the black pepper and chopped sage. Spread the butter mixture all over the bird and season. Cover with foil and cook for 2½ hrs, basting twice.
  5. Remove the foil, baste again, then pour over the lemon juice and continue to cook for a further 40-50 mins until the turkey is golden brown and cooked through*. Cover any parts that begin to brown too quickly with foil. For the last 45 mins of cooking time, bake the remaining stuffing alongside your turkey until lightly golden. Cover and keep warm.
  6. Drain the turkey, reserving the juices, and place on a warm serving plate. Cover with foil and leave to rest for 30 mins.
  7. Make the gravy by combining 2 tbsp of the fat from the roasting tin with the plain flour, mixing to a smooth paste. Skim off the remaining fat, then pour 150ml of the pan juices into a saucepan, along with the chicken stock. Whisk in the flour mixture and bring to the boil, stirring until slightly thickened.
  8. Heat a nonstick griddle pan, grease with a little oil and griddle the lemon wedges for 1-2 mins each side until lightly charred. To serve, remove the foil from the turkey and garnish with sage and the charred lemon wedges. Serve with the stuffing and gravy.

See more Turkey recipes

*To tell if your turkey is cooked, insert a kitchen thermometer into the thickest part of the leg, being careful not to touch the bone. If it reads 75°C, then it’s done. If it doesn’t reach this temperature, return to the oven for 15 mins, then retest. Repeat until you have the right temperature. If you don’t have a thermometer, insert a skewer into the thickest part of the leg and check that the juices run clear. If there are signs of pink, return to the oven for 15 mins, then retest.

For top tips on protecting you and your family when preparing raw meat and poultry, visit Food Safety in the Home.

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