Mayo-Roasted Thanksgiving Turkey With Gravy Recipe (2024)

By J. Kenji López-Alt

Mayo-Roasted Thanksgiving Turkey With Gravy Recipe (1)

Total Time
About 2 hours, plus overnight dry-brining
Read community notes

Some recipes for mayo-roasted turkey promise extra-juicy results with minimal effort. This one does no such thing. The mayonnaise won’t help the turkey stay juicy: Only salting and resting (a light curing process known colloquially as dry-brining) and carefully monitoring its internal temperature as it roasts will. The mayonnaise will, however, produce a turkey with glistening, burnished, golden-brown skin evenly flavored with herbs, no basting required. The mayo’s viscosity helps it stay in place as it roasts, while the extra protein from egg aids in browning. This recipe will make a little more mayonnaise than you’ll need. Use the excess for leftovers sandwiches, or toss it with roughly chopped vegetables (carrots, broccoli, brussels sprouts, zucchini or squash) before roasting at high heat for 10 to 15 minutes.

Featured in: The Secret to Great Thanksgiving Turkey Is Already in Your Fridge

Learn: How to Cook a Turkey

Learn: How to Make Gravy

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Yield:10 to 14 servings

    For the Turkey

    • 1(10- to 14-pound) whole turkey, backbone removed, neck, giblets and backbone reserved for the gravy (see Tips)
    • ½cup kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal) or 6 tablespoons coarse salt (such as Morton’s)
    • 2celery ribs, diced
    • 1large onion, diced
    • 1large carrot, diced

    For the Herb Mayo (see Tips)

    • cups mayonnaise (such as Hellmann’s or Best Foods)
    • 1cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves, stems reserved
    • ½cup loosely packed fresh sage leaves, stems reserved
    • 2tablespoons fresh thyme or oregano leaves, stems reserved
    • 2scallions, roughly chopped
    • 1lemon, zested
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

    For the Gravy

    • 2teaspoons neutral oil, such as vegetable, light olive oil or canola
    • 2celery ribs, roughly chopped
    • 1large onion, diced
    • 1large carrot, roughly chopped
    • Reserved backbone and any neck or giblets from the turkey, roughly chopped
    • quarts homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken or turkey stock
    • Reserved herb stems from the Herb Mayo
    • 2bay leaves
    • ¼cup all-purpose flour
    • 4tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 1tablespoon soy sauce

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (12 servings)

817 calories; 48 grams fat; 12 grams saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 14 grams monounsaturated fat; 19 grams polyunsaturated fat; 21 grams carbohydrates; 7 grams dietary fiber; 4 grams sugars; 75 grams protein; 1603 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Mayo-Roasted Thanksgiving Turkey With Gravy Recipe (2)


  1. Step


    Dry-brine the turkey: Pat the turkey dry with paper towels. Carefully loosen the skin from the breast of the turkey — going in through the neck may be easier here — until you can slide your hand between the skin and the meat. Season each turkey breast with 1 teaspoon salt, spreading it as evenly as possible with your hands. Sprinkle the remaining salt evenly over every surface of the turkey. Place the turkey skin-side up on a rimmed sheet pan, and refrigerate, uncovered, for 12 to 24 hours.

  2. Step


    While the turkey dry-brines, make the herb mayo: In a tall container just wide enough to fit the head of a hand blender (or using a regular blender or food processor), combine the mayonnaise with the parsley, sage, thyme or oregano, scallions, lemon zest and 1 tablespoon water. Season generously with salt and pepper. Use the hand blender to blend until it all forms a relatively smooth, pale-green sauce. Transfer to a sealed container until ready to use. You should have about 1¾ cups of herb mayo. (You can make the mayo in advance up to a week and keep it in the fridge.)

  3. Roast the turkey: Take the turkey out of the refrigerator to let it rest as the oven heats. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat the oven to 425 degrees for a 10- to 12-pound bird or 400 degrees for a 12- to 14-pound bird. Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil. Scatter the diced celery, onion and carrot over it. Place a cooling rack directly on top of the vegetables, then place the turkey on top, skin-side down.

  4. Step


    With your hands, slather ½ cup of the herb-mayo mixture over the exposed side of the turkey, making sure to lightly coat every surface. Flip the turkey skin-side up. Spread the legs out to the sides (they should remain skin-side up) and tuck the wing tips behind the breast. With your hands, spread a couple of tablespoons of the herb mayo between the skin and meat of the breast. Generously slather the rest of the turkey with the herb mayo, getting it into every crack and crevice. (Reserve any remaining herb mayo for your day-after-Thanksgiving sandwiches.)

  5. Step


    Transfer the turkey to the oven and roast until the breast meat registers 150 degrees at its coolest point (typically the deepest point of the breast next to the breastbone) and the thigh and leg meat register at least 165 degrees at their coolest point (typically the center of the joint between the drumstick and thigh or thigh and hip), 80 to 90 minutes, rotating halfway through. (You may want to start checking the turkey’s internal temperature after about 1 hour.) If any of the skin starts to darken too much during roasting, tent darker areas loosely with aluminum foil. Remove from oven, transfer to a cutting board, and let it rest.

  6. Step


    While the turkey cooks, make the gravy: Heat the oil in a large saucepan over high until lightly smoking. Add the celery, onion, carrot and turkey parts, and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Add the stock, herb stems and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer and cook gently until reduced by about half, or until the turkey is done.

  7. Step


    After removing the turkey from the oven, strain the stock mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a large bowl. Tilt and strain any collected liquids from the turkey-roasting tray into the same bowl. Discard the vegetables at the bottom of the tray. Skim off and discard most of the excess fat from the liquid.

  8. Step


    Heat the flour and butter in a medium saucepan over medium, stirring constantly with a whisk until the mixture is golden brown. Ladle the stock mixture into the saucepan, about a ½ cup at a time, whisking until smooth after each addition. Once all the stock is added, bring the gravy to a simmer until your desired consistency, stir in the soy sauce and season to taste with salt and pepper.

  9. Step


    Carve and serve the turkey with the gravy.


  • If spatchco*cking intimidates, you can cook the turkey whole. Place a baking stone or steel directly on an oven rack set in the lowest position when heating your oven in Step 4. (Let it preheat for at least 45 minutes.) Place the whole turkey, breast-side up on the rimmed baking sheet. Roast as directed in Step 6 for 30 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees, and continue roasting, tenting with aluminum foil if the skin starts brown too quickly, until the breast meat registers 150 degrees at its coolest point and the thigh and leg meat register at least 165 degrees at their coolest point, another 80 to 100 minutes. Remove from oven, transfer turkey to a cutting board as soon as you can handle it, then continue recipe as directed from Step 7.
  • You can make the herb mayo from scratch, if you like. In a tall container just wide enough to fit the head of a hand blender, combine 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, 3 medium garlic cloves, 1 whole egg, and the zest and juice of 1 lemon. Top with 1 cup neutral oil, such as vegetable, light olive oil or canola, so that the oil forms a distinct layer. Place the head of a hand blender firmly at the bottom of the container. (The garlic cloves should be entirely within the business-end of the blender.) Turn on the blender and, over the course of 15 seconds, slowly pull it up through the oil. A thick, stable mayonnaise should form. Remove the blender, shaking off most of the excess mayonnaise back into the jar. Proceed with the recipe.



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Cooking Notes

Logan Bacon

Doesn't leaving the dry brine on the turkey while cooking cause it to be too salty? Should we wipe down or rinse it before applying the herb mayonnaise?

Tony R

Another tip: if you plan to insert a probe to monitor the bird's temperature, insert it into the thickest part of the breast, instead of the thigh as you normally would. Spatchco*king makes the breast the thickest part of the bird, and I have found it takes longer for the breast to reach done-ness than the thigh.


Spring-loaded poultry shears make short work of taking out that backbone. I made sure that I purchased poultry shears that come apart for thorough cleaning.

Tony R

If you prefer Indian flavors in your turkey, then replace the flavorings in the mayo with an Indian masala. We prefer the Aachi brand these days, and the tandoori or the meat masala works well. Kenji's spatchco*cked brined technique with the Indian mayo has been our go to technique for poultry, and it gets consistent rave reviews. If you like, you can add minced garlic and ginger into the mayo-masala for complexity.

Scot in NC

All good. But I'd use Duke's mayo, or make my own from 3 egg yolks and a C of olive oil. Since I've experienced these aiolliscious wonders, Hellmanns and Best Foods are huge disappointments.If you're so unlucky to not have Duke's in your area (I guess it's a Southern thing) make homemade. There are dozens of videos online showing how to do it with an immersion blender. Surprisingly easy and satisfying.Side note: spell check did not balk at "aiolliscious!" Who knew!


Roasting chicken with a mayo-based marinade has changed my life - I recommend to all my friends and I am so excited to try this version with turkey. NO you cannot taste or detect any degree of mayo after roasting (or cooking on a pan). It tastes like oil or butter in the best way. Mayo is the best hack for super juicy, perfectly browned, flavorful meat, especially when you have very little time to marinate!

Kim S.

If you're like me and likely to use your hands to spread the mayo on the bird, saving extra mayo for sandwiches might not be a good idea. I'd take a spoonful out and reserve it first to avoid a salmonella sandwich.


Where are the directions for spatchco*cking the turkey?


I’ve been dry brining my turkeys and chickens for several years. I wouldn’t do them any other way. I do rinse them and dry well before the slathering commences. Make ahead gravy……it’s not only better as the flavors meld it also makes the day a lot less stressful.

Tom B

It needs to be said that dry brining should NOT be used on a supermarket turkey that has been injected with a salt-based solution, as most of these turkeys (Butterball, etc.) are. I have used this method -- both splatchco*cked and roasted whole on a large baking stone. The results are as phenomenal as Kenji promises!


Loosening the skin is a key step– it creates a very thin gap between the flesh and skin, allowing the skin to crisp better.

Jean A

I have my butcher do the spatchco*cking. Life can be easy!

Kevin Kruger

If using a kosher bird skip the dry-brining as it has already been salted.


Made this for a Friendsgiving this weekend. Several guests said it was the best Turkey they tasted in their life! Not sure how this is only rated 4 stars by many… super easy, flavorful and moist. Due to timing I brined it about 30 hrs before and put the mayo on 6 or so hours before cooking. My 15 lb Turkey took about 1hr 45 mins to cook. This will likely be my go to recipe for years to come!

Therese M

The article that accompanies this recipe is the best explanation of how and why brining works, bar none. He explains the science in very clear, understandable language, without dumbing it down. Thank you for this article and recipe!


A big oily mess to handle and carve once cooked. Flavor was good however!


Quick-text: 12lb at 405 for 40, flip, 400 for 40. Still not ‘done’ even at temp. Samples very salty. Flip. Return to oven at 385 for 25. Texture was great, saltiness was reduced, everything felt and tasted done.


When it says to rotate half way through cooking g, does that mean to turn over so skin side is up or just rotate the roasting pan ?


I followed this exactly as written for using a regular 14 lb. supermarket turkey (pre-brined, but I still salted mine anyway) and it was fine, nothing special, but definitely not bad. I felt like the herb mayo didn't really make a huge difference, although the reserved portion was great on sandwiches later. I will probably try a new turkey recipe next year, something with a little more oomph.


Have roasted spatchco*cked turkeys many times, this year was the first using the herbed mayonnaise. Game changer!15 lbs took 90 minutes in a convection oven. The legs were done in 60 minutes and had to be protected with foil while the breast cooked. (Turkey was from d’Artagnan.)

Wendy L.

Used this recipe for my first Thanksgiving turkey. Nerve wracking but came out beautifully. Next time I'll make the mayo dressing ahead of time to allow the flavors to meld. The tip to check at the 1hr mark was perfect, too.


My 10 pound Turkey was fully cooked by 50 min.

Amelia Rowland

I love this recipe. This was the second year I made it and it is a huge hit with everyone. The breast meat is juicy and flavorful. Spatchco*cking the turkey was intimidating the first time, but it makes a difference in the cooking time and makes the day so much easier.

John K

Spatchco*cked a 14 pound prebrined supermarket bird and prepared per the recipe, then roasted on a Weber grill with indirect heat, some soaked hickory chips on the coals, and a beer can of water on the side for evaporative moisture. Stuck a digital thermometer probe in the breast, covered, never peeked until it reached 170f, around 2 hours. Never had a bird more perfect. New go-to method. Going to try it with a chicken and the masala/garlic/ginger masala mayo that another reader posted.

Barbara W

This was so delicious! We won our family’s annual turkey contest this year. Followed the recipe as written up to the cooking — smoked it at 350 for a couple of hours and it turned out great.


I strongly recommend adding lemon juice and a hot green chili to the mayo for the next day sandwiches.


I've followed this recipe for two years in a row, and I intend to use it for all of the Thanksgivings I'll ever host in the future. The result is not just a delicious, moist turkey, but it also is beautiful when it comes out of the oven. The skin turns a gorgeous crusty brown. The drippings yield an excellent gravy that everyone heaps on their mashed potatoes and stuffing. The only recommendation I have is that you double the amount of mayo -- save some for sandwiches with the leftover turkey.


Made exactly as written. Most perfect, delicious, moist, packed full of flavor bird we've ever had. Outstanding. Can't imagine making turkey any other way ever again.

cynthia t

Made this the first year to much success and left the bird whole. This year I was so proud to spatchco*ck it—cooked in about 70 minutes for an 11-12 lbs bird. So thankful for the recipe.

Suzanne H.

My gravy did not thicken after prolonged simmering. Next time I’ll add more flour.

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Mayo-Roasted Thanksgiving Turkey With Gravy Recipe (2024)


Why do you put mayonnaise on turkey for Thanksgiving? ›

Mayo adds moisture throughout the cooking process, keeping the meat moist so there's no need to brine it beforehand.

Is Mayo a good binder for turkey? ›

It may sound unusual, but when you cover your turkey with mayonnaise, it bastes it during the roasting process, keeping the meat moist and tender. And before you ask, no, it doesn't make the turkey taste like mayonnaise, either, so mayonnaise-haters need not worry.

Is it better to roast a turkey at 325 or 425? ›

Oven Temps: Best roasting is two stage process—425°F (218°C) for 1 hour, then down to 325°F (163°C) for however long it takes until the turkey is done. If you read a post telling you exactly “how long to cook a turkey,” hit the back button fast.

How does Martha Stewart roast a turkey? ›

Roast 1 hour, then baste every 30 minutes with pan liquids, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of thigh (avoiding bone) registers 125°F, about 3 hours. Remove foil; raise oven heat to 400°F. Continue roasting, basting occasionally, until thigh reaches 180°F, 45 to 60 minutes more.

Does mayonnaise keep turkey moist? ›

Since we're skipping a brine, the turkey will need something else to help it retain moisture. The solution is a combination of mayonnaise and butter mixed with fresh herbs, lemon zest, grated onion and garlic.

What is the best binder for a turkey? ›

Mayonnaise. I usually enjoy using mustard as my binder, but this turkey needed something milder. Mayonnaise is a great binder when you don't want to add extra flavor, just something to help the spices stick. I use full-fat mayonnaise for the best results.

What should I put under the skin of a turkey? ›

Impart rich flavor and add moisture to your Thanksgiving turkey by adding a layer of butter under the skin before roasting.

Can I use mayonnaise instead of eggs as a binder? ›

Its components make it a perfectly suitable substitute for oil, its thick and creamy constitution is similar to that of softened butter, and since it already has eggs in it, mayonnaise exhibits some of the binding power of eggs when cooked.

What mayonnaise do chefs prefer? ›

But there is one store-bought mayo that nearly every professional chef and in-the-know food lover keeps in their chill chest: Kewpie. This Japanese brand has long been the secret weapon of the mayonnaise arsenal for those in the know.

Should you bake a turkey covered or uncovered? ›

To achieve a perfectly golden, juicy turkey, let the bird spend time both covered and uncovered in the oven. We recommend covering your bird for most of the cooking time to prevent it from drying out; then, during the last 30 minutes or so of cooking, remove the cover so the skin crisps in the hot oven.

How long do you roast a 14 lb turkey at 325? ›

Roasting the bird slowly, at a lower temperature is the best way to achieve tender meat. You should still prep the bird with butter, salt, and pepper, as described above (or dry-brine it). To cook, set your oven to 325°F and roast for 3½ to 4 hours for a 12- to 14-pound bird.

How does Bobby Flay roast a turkey? ›

Put the turkey on top of the vegetables, put in the oven and roast in the oven for 45 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. Reduce the heat to 350 and continue roasting, basting with the warm chicken stock every 15 minutes until basting with some of the chicken stock every 15 minutes, about 2 to 2 ¼ hours longer.

How does Gordon Ramsay keep the turkey moist? ›

Ramsay's key for a guaranteed delicious and juicy turkey is a parsley and garlic butter that gets generously slathered both under the skin and on top of the turkey. While the turkey is cooking, you'll want to baste the bird with the melted butter pan juices to ensure a crispy skin while cooking.

How does Trisha Yearwood cook her turkey? ›

Bake for exactly 1 hour and turn off the oven. Do not open the oven door! Leave the turkey in the oven until the oven completely cools; this may take 4 to 6 hours. Reserve the pan juices and refrigerate the turkey if it will not be served soon after roasting.

Why put mayo on meat before cooking? ›

Why mayo? According to the guys at Anova Culinary, the protein and the sugar and the egg in the mayo are helpful for developing that crust we all love on our steak, and the fat emulsion accelerates the Maillard reaction (non-enzymatic browning, flavor compound explosion. You know, the good stuff).

Why put mayonnaise on meat? ›

For most people, marinating a standard cut of beef is a go-to way for enhancing flavor. When you add the creaminess of mayonnaise into your marinade, then you increase that flavor profile on the steak instantly.

What is the best condiment for turkey? ›

Mayonnaise is favored by the majority, however. (Both Hellmann's and Duke's have adamant fan bases.) Mayo is a simple and apt pairing when the sandwich consists of richly flavored dark meat. Pat Eby takes it up a notch, though, mixing equal parts of Duke's with a country Dijon.

What is the tradition of turkey at Thanksgiving? ›

Thanksgiving-type celebrations were common at the turn of the 19th century with many opting to put a turkey on the table instead of slaughtering a useful animal like a hen or cow that was producing other needed products, according to Britannica. Turkeys at the time, and still today, were raised to be meat birds.

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