Turkey Roast Recipe for Thanksgiving and Christmas

is a chef, food photographer, cookbook author and blogger.
Here he shares recipes, answers cooking questions and helps with cooking.

In this article I present you my Turkey Recipe with and without filling.

The wonderful roast poultry from the oven comes to Thanksgiving, thanksgiving and Christmas on the festive table.

Especially in the USA this dish is the MVP (most valuable player) on the Thanksgiving table of every American family.

Also in Germany, the turkey is more of a family meal or a circle of friends meal, if only because of the size of the food.

Everything should be well thought out: Is sister vegan in the meantime? Can all ingredients tolerate?

Are the special wishes of the part-time gourmet brother-in-law also fulfilled? I like the poultry meat most juicy and not dry.

The side dishes should be successful quickly, after all we want to spend a lot of time with our dearest people on festive days. 

Now read quickly and get the best tips and after shopping we go to the kitchen… Have fun and good luck!

1. Tips for the Perfect Turkey in the Oven

To fry a turkey, you need a few things:

Don’t forget the other ingredients! Of course you also need vegetables and garlic, spices, shallots and good ideas for side dishes. So please read on!

Since the type of marinade requires a suitable selection of the side dishes, we will take it step by step….

Seriously you need at least 3.5 hours for the preparation of the large poultry roast with side dishes and sauce.

Tip from Chef Thomas Sixt

2. Recipe Turkey Roast

Now we want to go to action and prepare an unforgettable family meal.

My turkey recipe for you is this time without filling, the variant with filling I still owe you 🙂

Questions and remarks to this recipe I accept gladly from you via comment function – answer guaranteed.

Turkey Roast

Cooked many times, refined, photographed and written down by chef Thomas Sixt.

Servings 6
Calories 568
Total Time 180 Min.
Preparation Time 15 Min.
Cook Time 165 Min.

Guide to prepare roast turkey perfect with side dishes and sauces.

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Recipe picture turkey from the oven
Turkey Recipe Image © Thomas Sixt


Turkey Base Ingredients

1 pc turkey (One turkey in whole)
1 bunch Soup vegetables (Vegetables for the sauce)
5 pc cloves of garlic
6 pc shallots
2 pc bay leafs
500 ml chicken broth
1 twig thyme

Optional Sauces Ingredients for Christmas

1 pc Orange (I use an organic orange)
1 pc cloves
2 pinches gingerbread spice
1 pc Star Anise

Secret Sixt Marinade

250 g butter
2 pinches sweet red pepper
2 pinches curry
6 pinches Pepper
6 pinches Salt
1/2 tsp beaf broth


150 ml Water (Please use cold water)
1 tbs Maize starch
Salt (I like to use Himalayan salt)
Cayenne pepper
80 g butter (Optionally use the cooled remaining marinade!)


Nut butter in a bowl.
Ready-made nut butter, recognizable by its brown color.

Prepare marinade

Prepare the secret Sixt marinade from the article, it will take you about 15 minutes.

Raw turkey in the roasting pan
Turkey prepared ready to cook in the roaster.

Prepare Turkey

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius hot air.

Wash the turkey, pat dry and place in a large roaster.

Spread the marinade generously over the entire poultry.

Vegetable bundle for soup vegetables
Vegetables for the chicken soup, the more the better!

Prepare vegetables

Clean and chop the soup vegetables.

Peel the garlic and shallots, spread the prepared vegetables and aromatics in the roaster and pour on with the chicken stock.

Add the bay leaf and thyme.

Add the Christmas sauces ingredients as needed.

Roast turkey
Turkey in the roasting pan

Prepare roast poultry

Put the turkey in the roaster in the oven and reduce the temperature to 200°C.

After approx. one hour, reduce the temperature to 160°C and after 1.5 hours check the core temperature of the breast for the first time.

Savoy cabbage leaves for savoy cabbage
Blanched savoy cabbage leaves in ice water, prepared for savoy cabbage vegetables.

Prepare side dishes

Prepare the side dishes according to your own ideas, see the tips above in the recipe.

I prepared glazed chestnuts and cream savoy cabbage in butter.

Deglaze sauce with red wine and veal stock.
Sauce with red wine and veal stock, butter and potato finely grated to thicken.


After the breast has reached the desired temperature, the legs are folded down from the poultry body.

You can consult sketch 1 in point 9. Raise the roast poultry and let the stock run into the roaster.

Pour the stock into a saucepan and bring to the boil.

Slowly add the cold starch water and continue cooking until the desired consistency is reached.

Alternatively, instead of starch water, use a finely grated potato to bind the sauce. Season the sauce with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper.

Mix with cold butter shortly before serving.

Smart chefs will use the rest of the marinade, as long as something is left over.


Carve the turkey with a sharp knife. Heat sketch 2 under point 9.

Heat the side dishes and arrange on hot plates.

Serve the meat and sauce.

Enjoy your meal!

3. Nutritional Information

4. Tips for Turkey Marinades

Marinating is not a must, you can add a tasty emphasis.

First I show you a few ideas and then I answer the question:

Overnight or longer or shorter marinating.

In addition to the marinade suggestions, please note my side dishes ideas, after all, the side dishes should complement the roast in a tasteful and suitable way!

Put the mixing bowl in the oven
You can take a closer look at marinating poultry roasts here. Depending on the marinade selected, there are different side dishes – recommendations and I tell you the right time to stroke the bird. © Thomas Sixt Food Photographer

4.1 Herbs Marinade with Lemon

You prepare this marinade so simply:

Taste-wise, I find the variant with fresh or dried thyme in combination with the lemon zest particularly fine! The roast gets a wonderful lightness through the herbs.turkey seasoning tip from chef Thomas Sixt

Turkey seasoning tip from chef Thomas Sixt
Garden herbs bouquet
Herbs as a supplement are popular with star chefs, what tastes good and makes you happy is allowed.

4.2 Barbecue Marinade with Garlic

Preparation made easy:

To be honest, I prefer this seasoning mixture all year round rather in summer.

Poultry marinade tip from chef Thomas Sixt
Sugar close up brown sugar
Brown sugar

4.3 Honey Marinade

The preparation is very simple:

Especially during Christmas time and Christmas Eve I add a pinch of cinnamon or gingerbread spice to this marinade.

Christmas turkey marinade tip from chef Thomas Sixt
Lemon freshly sliced close-up
Lemon cut open on a board.

4.4 Sixt Secret Marinade

This is my favourite marinade, the preparation is very simple and the taste output is phenomenal:

  1. Put 250 g butter in a small pot, heat it up and bring to the boil.
  2. Let the butter simmer for 15 minutes and brown lightly. Be careful, the butter is very hot!
  3. Pass the hot, brown butter carefully through a fine metal hair sieve into a clean pot and allow to cool.
  4. Mix the nut butter with a little salt, pepper, two pinches each of curry and paprika and coat the roast poultry with it at the beginning.
  5. Nut butter gives the large poultry roast a fine, light, nutty sweetness. You can add thyme towards the end of the cooking time.

Nut butter adds a subtle, light, nutty sweetness to roast large poultry. You can add additional thyme towards the end of the cooking time.

Chef secret tip from Thomas Sixt

Spread the marinade on your roast every 15 minutes, I promise you: It will be delicious!

The nut butter is the basis for this Turkey marinade. Please be careful with the preparation because of the high heat and work exclusively with heat-resistant sieve and bowls! © Thomas Sixt Food Photographer

4.5 Turkey Marinate Overnight or Not?

So, now I’m telling you a real chef secret… Marinating the poultry overnight or even 24 hours has hardly any noticeable effect on the taste.

On the contrary: Strongly marinated poultry does not tolerate high temperatures. Honey and sugar marinades brown the meat and the skin very quickly, herbs suffer when the temperature is too high.

You can save 2, 4, 8, 12 hours of marinating!

Marinate poultry Tip from Chef Thomas Sixt

This is the reason why many poultry roasts on the Internet get a highly dubious last dress with aluminium foil.

Honestly, if Manneken Pis gets a new outfit every now and then in Brussels because of the tourist attraction, I can live with that. The aluminium foil on the turkey breast just turns me off.

Chest and aluminium foil is a NOGO

Chef Thomas Sixt about the frying cover thingy

At the same time it is unnecessary if you do it ingeniously…

Manneken Pis is also called “Petit Julien” and stands since 1619 at the corner Rue Rue de l’Etuve and Rue des Grands Carmes in Brussels. On special occasions, the little man is dressed. You don’t have to dress the roast poultry with aluminium foil, follow my tips for marinating (later in the oven!) and reduce the temperature to 140°C. © Thomas Sixt Food Photographer

4.6 Best Method of using the Marinades

So… my recommendation is… spread the roast poultry with some oil and season with salt and pepper first.

If you use the Sixt secret marinade, you can marinate from the beginning, because the ingredients tolerate high heat.

Apply all other marinades to the poultry meat after a cooking time of approx. 60 minutes and continue cooking at reduced heat.

Apply the marinade later and prepare the roast poultry with certainty!

Chef Thomas Sixt on modern marinating and glazing

By the way, the aluminium foil has only a small effect on the breast, which I would like to explain briefly.

So you can stand your ground at the table in the Perfect Dinner-watching-round:

The marinade with sugar lies on the poultry meat and/or the poultry skin.

In the oven there is a temperature X which is distributed. Now you put aluminium foil on the skin and what happens then?

The heat is still present in the whole oven and the sugar caramelises further, no matter if there is foil or not.

Even with top heat the aluminum foil does not bring much.

Always prepare poultry with hot air, the cooking result is more even.

5. Filling for the Turkey

In Germany the turkey is usually not filled. Of course you can put the herbs in the abdomen and influence the taste of the sauce!

In the USA fillings are very popular. You can try the American style. I don’t like this kind of filling so much, it reminds me of crumbled dumplings.

You can also prepare the fillings in the pan and then serve them for frying. I prefer the bread crispy and don’t add broth.

But that’s my opinion and I also think it’s justified for fillings, because: Every little animal has its own little pleasure!

There are no limits to the creativity of the filling. So let’s go wild, wild West!

Says Chef Thomas Sixt
Classic1 small loaf of farmer’s bread, cut into 1⁄2 cm pieces,
3 tbsp butter,
Two diced onions,
2 sticks of chopped perennial celery,
3 cl chicken broth,
8 fresh, finely chopped sage leaves,
1 bunch of chopped fresh parsley,
Two whisked eggs,
pepper, salt
Autumnal300g diced farmhouse bread,
200ml chicken broth,
200g finely chopped butter, chestnut or porcini mushrooms (brown mushrooms if necessary),
6 soaked dried plums, finely chopped,
1 bunch of finely chopped parsley,
2 diced onions, sweated,
pepper, salt
Fineaccording to instructions approx. 400g solid polenta prepared,
2 bunch parsley finely chopped,
2 pickled truffles finely chopped,
1 tsp truffle oil,
8 shallots glazed in a pan,
50g butter,
salt and pepper
Fruity2 handfuls of dried fruit soaked and cut into small pieces,
1 fresh pineapple peeled, cored and cut into small cubes,
1 orange finely diced,
Cayenne pepper,
Pineapple is an option for a crazy fruity filling! Here I show it with a chicken. © Thomas Sixt Food Photographer

6. Preparation Time and Temperature for Perfect Roast Turkey

The preparation time for turkey is wrong in most recipes. The cooking time of 3-5 hours far exceeds what is necessary.

I have been preparing these wonderful roasts every year for more than 15 years. So far I have always done well with 2-2.5 hours.

Chef Thomas Sixt about the cooking time of roast poultry

Depending on the oven, the weight of the bird and the chosen marinade, the optimal temperature is 200°C at the beginning and 130-160°C after 60 minutes.

The overview may help with the preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 200-220° C with hot air.
  2. If you open the oven, the temperature will drop below 200°C.
  3. Brush the roast poultry with some oil, then season with salt and pepper. (exception Sixt secret marinade)
  4. Pour about 500 ml chicken stock into the roaster.
  5. Add garlic and chopped root vegetables (soup vegetables) to taste.
  6. The roast is then put in the oven. Start with an initial temperature of 200°C.
  7. After 60 minutes, generously spread the desired marinade on the roast and continue cooking at a reduced temperature of 130-160°C maximum.
  8. Now is also a good time to add the innards, if supplied.
  9. Vegetables such as soup vegetables and also organic oranges cut into coarse slices are added on the side.

Sometimes I also add cored and quartered apples.

Delicious crispy, juicy turkey ready cooked in a roasting pan. © Thomas Sixt Food Photographer

7. Turkey Core Temperature and What to Consider

With a roast thermometer you can check the core temperature of the breast by piercing it.

Without a thermometer you can use a fork and a needle sample:

You can do this by piercing the breast with a thin fork, checking the temperature of the fork with your finger or carefully on the lip.

The breast is also ready when the escaping juice is clear.

The core temperature of the breast should be at least 72°C.

Chef Thomas Sixt about the optimal roast core temperature

Then I have another tip here! Did you know that the poultry parts breast and legs have different cooking times?

In upscale restaurants the breast is always served first, the legs come after the carving of the breast, this happens before the guest at the table, again in the kitchen and are allowed to cook.

The breast is always the first to be finished with poultry!

Chef Thomas Sixt about the cooking time of breast and leg

Serve the perfectly juicy breast meat first and cook the legs again briefly. Simply hand them over in the second round! I do it like this: The breast is cooked, my side dishes are prepared and hot. Now I turn off the oven and leave the turkey in the oven. Now we make the sauce fast…

8. Prepare and thicken Roast Turkey Sauce

The great sauce in the roaster is a stock. The chicken broth added at the beginning, the meat juices from the turkey in combination with vegetables and aromatics have developed deliciously in the oven.

8.1 Preparing Turkey Sauce

8.2 Binding the Turkey Sauce and seasoning to taste

Note: The original Turkey Gravy is rather thin in the USA, the presented variant tastes better to me personally.

9. Turkey carving made easy

No video today, but a sketch! I think the picture helps you to carve the roast poultry.

Sketch 1 shows the cutting for folding the legs.

Sketch 2 shows the carving of the breast from the outside to the inside.

Sketch as help for professional turkey carving.

10. Delicious Side Dishes with Turkey Roast

What can you serve as a side dish? Please note the instructions above for the marinades.

The type of poultry preparation decides on the side dishes.

10.1 Vegetables Side Dishes for Turkey Roast

Glazed carrots with butter, salt, pepper, nutmeg and sugar are the best carrot vegetables. © Thomas Sixt Food Photographer
The wrapped bacon beans are a great companion for the festive roast. © Thomas Sixt Food Photographer

10.2 Potatoes and other satiating Side Dishes

You can add potato dumplings, gnocchi, baked potatoes and mashed potatoes. Bread dumplings and napkin dumplings are also wonderful.

I have decided on a simple side dish and show you glazed chestnuts as a side dish.

You can get the chestnuts at Christmas time from the chestnut man.


Always peel the chestnuts hot and then place them in the pot.

Later, toss in butter, season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg and caramelise lightly with a hint of icing sugar before serving.

Varieties of how you can serve mashed potatoes on the plate
Varieties of how you can serve mashed potatoes on the plate

11. Further Recipe Ideas

My Christmas goose recipe shows the preparation classic with dumplings and red cabbage!

The roast goose recipe brings you current chef tips in the kitchen.

The sauce to the goose I have made an extra post, classic goose sauce and quick variant of an orange sauce

Comments, Cooking Questions and Answers

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