Recipe: 2 Hour Thanksgiving Turkey

Recipe by Chef Randy Goldberg of The Matthews House in Cary. Photo by David

Cary, NC – You know you should have put that turkey in the oven right after breakfast, but now its after lunch and the bird is still in the refrigerator. No fear – this recipe will have you eating dinner by 5pm, read on!

Actually this recipe calls for you to have brined your turkey overnight- but, still, the actual cooking- will only take 2 hours! That’s crazy fast and will allow you to take a shower and blow dry your hair to look fabulous when your guests walk in the door.

And the recipe specifically says DO NOT open the oven door, so no basting- or sweating in front of that hot oven!

Citrus-Herb Roasted Turkey


  • 1 (10 to 12-pound) turkey
  • Brine, recipe follows
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into 8ths
  • 1 large orange, cut into 8ths
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 large carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2  bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • Few whole sage leaves


  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup orange rind
  • 2 lemons, quartered
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
  • 5 bay leaves

Make the Brine:

  1. Dissolve the salt and sugar in 2 gallons of cold water in a non-reactive container (such as a clean bucket or large stockpot, or a clean, heavy-duty, plastic garbage bag.)
  2. Add the orange rind, lemons, thyme, rosemary, peppercorns and bay leaves.

Note: if you have a big turkey and need more brine than this, use 1/2 cup salt and 1/2 cup brown sugar for every gallon of water.

To Cook The Turkey:

  1. Remove the neck, giblets, and liver from the cavity of the turkey and reserve for the gravy.
  2. Rinse the turkey inside and out under cold running water.
  3. Soak the turkey in the brine, covered and refrigerated, for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.
  4. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.
  5. Remove the turkey from the brining solution, and discard all the liquid. Pat dry with paper towels.
  6. Place breast side up in a large, heavy roasting pan, and rub on all sides with the butter.
  7. Season lightly inside and out with salt and pepper.
  8. Stuff the turkey with the onion, orange, celery, carrot, bay leaves, and thyme.
  9. Loosen the skin gently from the turkey breast, and place whole sage leaves between the skin and the meat.
  10. Loosely tie the drumsticks together with kitchen string.
  11. Roast at 450 degrees for 20 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and cook, without opening the oven door, for 2 hours, until a meat thermometer inserted in the deepest part of the thigh reads 140 degrees.
  12. Remove from oven, lightly cover with foil, and allow to rest for 20 minutes before carving.

NOTE: When you take the turkey out of the oven, that’s when you pop your side dishes into the oven to be heated through before serving.

Enjoy your fast-cooking turkey.

What’s Your Thanksgiving?

Please add comments to this story if you try this recipe, or if you have a favorite you’d like to share with our readers. We’d love to hear your family favorites.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at CaryCitizen!


Read more CaryCitizen Recipes.

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