Roast Turkey with Apple Cider Gravy

Turkey Day is almost here.  It's time to get that brined turkey into the oven.  This recipe for Roast Turkey with Apple Cider Gravy is one of my favorites.  I like the subtle sweetness the apples give the drippings from the turkey and also the apple cider that is reduced in the gravy base adds the that sweetness as well.

Let's get that bird in the oven! 

You will need 2 Granny Smith apples, 2 onions, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme...go ahead sing it!  I did while picking the herbs from my garden.  Thank goodness I didn't have to brush snow off of them.  They are still alive and green.   That will only last a few more days I'm afraid.

I was too busy singing and almost forgot the marjoram.  Oh my, I had forgotten how wonderful marjoram smells.  I had to purchase the marjoram.  (Note to self:  plant marjoram next spring)

Chop all of the herbs quite fine.  Let's throw in some ground nutmeg as well.

Toss all of the herbs into a small bowl and toss together.

Add the ground nutmeg.

Just stir together with a fork.

Reserve 1/4 cup of the herb mixture for the gravy base that we will make in just a minute.

I forgot to show the 3/4 cup butter, softened in my ingredient picture. 

Stir the butter to break it up a bit.

Add the herbs (except for the reserved 1/4 cup). 

Stir together with a fork. Set aside.

I like to dry off the turkey with paper towels.  I, also, blot out any liquids from the brine that might be hanging out in the cavity of the bird.

Throw the butter into the microwave for about 20-30 seconds to melt the butter herb mixture.

Brush the bottom of your roasting pan with the melted butter/herb mixture.

Quarter the apples.

Place half of the apples into the cavity of the bird.

Peel and quarter the onions.

Place half of the onion quarters into the cavity of the bird along with the apples.

I like to tie the legs of the turkey together with some kitchen twine so the bird will hold it's shape.

Tuck the wings under the bird.  Not an easy task, but can be done.

Toss the remaining apples and onion quarters into the roasting pan that has been brushed with the melted herb butter.

I almost forgot the neck of the turkey that I had put into the freezer the day I brined it.  I like to put the neck into the bottom of the roasting pan to help create a richer stock for gravy.

Brush the outsides of the turkey with the melted butter and herb mixture.

Place the turkey into a preheated 350 degree oven.   Depending on the size of the turkey.  I am cooking a 12 pound bird and it should take about 3 hours to roast. 

Roast the bird for one hour before basting.  Leave the bird for a moment.  We'll come back for basting.

While the turkey is roasting I am going to make a gravy base.   I am using low sodium turkey stock and apple cider.  Chicken stock is fine to use, if turkey stock isn't available.

In a saucepan pour in 4 cups of turkey stock.

Add 2 cups of apples cider.

Place the saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer.

Simmer until the mixture boils down to 3 cups.  This will take about 20 minutes.

Pour the reduced mixture into a bowl and set aside.

For the remaining gravy base you will need flour, butter, cream and the 1/4 cup fresh herbs that were reserved earlier.

In the same sauce pan that was used to reduce the stock, melt the butter.

Add the flour to make a roux.

Whisk flour into the melted butter.

The mixture will begin to foam. 

Carefully pour in the reduced stock mixture.  Whisk and cook until beginning to thicken.

Add the cream.


Add the reserved fresh herbs.

Stir in the herb mixture.

Pour the cooked gravy base into a bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.  This can actually be made up to two days in advance.  Nice.

Let's baste the turkey.  You will need about 1-2 cups of turkey or chicken stock and a baster.  If you don't have a baster, just use a big spoon, but don't burn yourself. 

I love this bulb baster that I have.  I purchased it several years ago at Williams-Sonoma.  I love it because it as an attachment that I can screw onto the end that can be used as an injector. 

Suck up some of the stock into the baster.

Pour the juices all over the bird.  I have removed the turkey from the oven just for pictures.  I usually leave the bird in the oven while basting.

With the injector attachment I am squeezing some of the stock under the skin.  This should help keep the turkey moist and give it more fabulous flavor.

Baste the turkey every 30 minutes after the first hour of roasting.  I have inserted a meat thermometer into the fatty part of the thigh.  I am waiting for the thigh meat to reach 175-180 degrees.  The temperature needs to be at 185, but the internal heat will continue to cook the turkey as it rests.  I don't want to over cook the turkey, so I'll take it out just a bit early.

Looks good.  They smell of the herbs throughout the house is making my mouth water.

Remove the turkey from the roasting pan and place on a cutting board.  Let the turkey rest for about 20-30 minutes.  This resting period will help retain the juices into the meat, which is where I want them to stay.

Look at all the brown goodness left in the bottom of the pan.  Remove the turkey neck, apples and onions.  discard them.

Pour the remaining pan drippings into a bowl or a fat separator.  This is an awesome invention.  The fat rises to the top then I just pour out the beautiful brown stuff out from the bottom and into my pan for flavor without the fat.

Place the roasting pan into a burner of your stove top.  Look at all the brown bits.  Remember brown bits = flavor. 

Remember the gravy base that I made earlier?  Remove that from the refrigerator and pour it into the roasting pan.

While stirring, scrape up the brown bits that are on the roasting pan.

Now pour in the pan juices that have had the fat drained off.

At this point taste the gravy.  It just might need a bit more salt.  It might be perfect.  You decide.

I like to give the gravy several grinds of fresh black pepper.

Simmer the gravy until it coats the back of a spoon.   Serve! 

This is when I call in the husband that never reads this blog to carve the turkey. 

My mouth is watering.  I can hardly wait for Thanksgiving day. 

Roast Turkey with Apple Cider Gravy

Herb butter and gravy:

3 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley
3 tablespoons minced fresh thyme
3 tablespoons minced fresh sage
3 tablespoons minced fresh marjoram
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 cups low-salt chicken broth
2 cups apple cider
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 cup whipping cream

1 16-17 lb. Turkey that has been brined
2 large Granny Smith apples, quartered, cored
2 large onions, quartered
1 cup Chicken low salt chicken broth or stock

For herb butter and gravy:

Mix parsley, thyme, sage, marjoram, rosemary, and nutmeg in small bowl. Transfer 1/4 cup herb mixture to small bowl; mix in 1/2 cup butter.

Combine broth and apple cider in heavy large saucepan. Boil until reduced to 3 cups, about 20 minutes. Pour broth reduction into bowl. Melt remaining 1/4 cup butter in same saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour; stir 1 minute. Whisk in broth reduction, then cream, and remaining herb mixture. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until gravy base is thickened. Cool gravy base slightly. (Gravy base and herb butter can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill.)

To roast the turkey:

Position rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 350°F. After brining remove turkey from roasting pan; drain any accumulated juices from main cavity. Discard paper towels from roasting pan. Melt herb butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Brush bottom of roasting pan with some of herb butter. Return turkey to prepared pan. Tuck wing tips under; tie legs together loosely to hold shape. Place some apple quarters and onion quarters in main cavity. Brush remaining herb butter over turkey; sprinkle with pepper. Scatter remaining apples and onions around turkey in pan. Add reserved turkey neck to pan.

Roast turkey 1 hour. Baste with 1/2 cup chicken stock. Roast turkey 30 minutes. Baste with remaining 1/2 cup chicken stock. Roast turkey until thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 175°F, basting turkey every 30 minutes with pan juices and covering breast loosely with foil if browning too quickly, about 2 hours longer (3 1/2 hours total). Transfer turkey to platter; let stand at least 30 minutes before carving (internal temperature will rise 5 to 10 degrees).

Discard apples, onions, and turkey neck from pan. Pour pan juices into large glass measuring cup; spoon off fat from surface. Pour juices into gravy base and bring to boil over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally. Boil until gravy thickens enough to coat spoon and is reduced to 3 1/2 cups, about 15 minutes. Season gravy to taste with pepper.

Serve turkey with gravy.

Print recipe

Happy Thankgiving!


  1. CJ, my husband who is awesome, was reading this over my shoulder...he is worried that you cooked your turkey waaaaaay too early for Thanksgiving...he also wants to invite himself to your house for Thanksgiving. I might send him over for Round 2 after he's done at Mama Peck's ;)

  2. Hahaha. Well that Turkey was devoured in no time. ryan and Tiff both brought college friends home that night. Poof - gone! You know that we'd take you and CJ anytime!

  3. Maybe we'll come trick or treating...just a few weeks late and asking for savory rather than sweet ;)

  4. hahaha. We'd welcome you with open arms, but I bet Diane's turkey tops anything I can do! Have a great Thanksgiving.

  5. I'm so excited to try this for Christmas as my roommate did Thanksgiving and I will be here all by myself, so I'm going to tackle this :) it sounds just too good to not.

  6. You can do it, Julie! It will be awesome. The gravy is fabulous.

  7. Oh my God! This is yummy!!!

  8. That turkey is looking absolutely delish! YUM!

  9. I made your Maple Oatmeal Scones earlier this week and let me just say, they were absolutely phenomenal! My family devoured them...and so, so easy too! I currently have a turkey brining (draining it this morning) for Christmas Dinner tomorrow night...AND I'm making your funeral potatoes for the feast, as well! Thank you thank you thank you for all your wonderful recipes and great instructions!

  10. Ok, this may sound really stupid but what if I can't find any kitchen twine? And if I were to do all of the above (w/o the Kitchen twine) to a Chicken?


  11. No kitchen twine? No problem. You could omit the twin all together or use some other type of string...kite string...whatever. As far as the chicken goes...DO IT! It will be one fabulous chicken.

  12. I'm so excited! I'm making this turkey for Thanksgiving this year! I've been dreaming about is since I saw SEVERAL months back... I will report back and let you know how it goes!
    BTW... I just completed my first Marathon, last week!

  13. Congratulations on the Marathon! That's awesome. I really want you to report how you like the Turkey. I'll start brining mine in the Tuesday morning. Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

  14. I was simply looking and googled for a great potato gratin recipe. Then I found your site and found quite a few recipes I am going to try. I enjoyed reading your trials. However, my real find was this turkey that I will definitely be making for Thanksgiving this year. THANK YOU FOR POSTING SUCH WONDERFUL AND TEMPTING DISHES. I'll be back! - Mary

  15. So excited to make the cider turkey gravy this year! I've gone through enough of your recipes at this point that I can trust anything you post--my tastes are perfectly calibrated with yours, and it's so nice to have a go-to resource for solid recipes. Thank you!

    1. Ohhhh, you are so nice and just made my day. If your brine the turkey before roasting, it just pushes the flavor over the top. Fresh herbs make all the difference. I think you'll love it. Happy Thanksgiving.

  16. I am so excited for Apple Cider gravy at our Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. It is my favorite! I look forward to it every year.

    1. Thanks Lisa. I'm going to have to agree with you. It's my favorite too. Have a great Thanksgiving. Hugs and kisses to the family.

  17. Janet, I love your blog with all your wonderful recipes and pictures. Our thanksgiving dinner consisted of most of your recipes. I have to tell you that I used your recipe to brine and roast a turkey and it turned out fantastic (almost dumped the brine because I didn't have a second person. But it made it :-). In fact one friend had sampled 4 different turkeys on Thanksgiving and he came over to my house the day after so I offered some leftover turkey and he said this one was the best one he had so far. It was for sure a hit. If you ever have a relief society event I would love to come or if you just need someone give you a hand I would love to help. I am only in Sandy, UT!! ;-) Thank you so much for sharing.

    1. Oh my goodness, Jana, you have made my day. Thank you so much. We are practically neighbors. I'm over the Relief Society Meetings (homemaking). Our Stake president has asked us to go back to basics like cooking from scratch, knitting, crochet, etc. We are trying to have monthly classes during the day. They are pretty informal just a pop in type thing for anyone interested. Last month I taught the crusty bread. It was fun. We just finished a huge dinner at my home for the holidays. Whew. I'll let you know when our next one is. It would be so fun to meet you.