Herb & Lemon Roasted Turkey with Rich Gravy and Sage & Apricot Stuffing


Thanksgiving. The most epic of all holidays.

Near my home on the East Coast, the leaves have started to turn a gorgeous crimson red, the mornings are crisp, and the days are just near perfection. Fall is a beautiful time of year, with wonderful temperatures and local produce really showing their best colours. Root veggies, hearty soups, sweater weather – I love it all!

One of my favourite family meals of the year is Thanksgiving dinner. Turkey, stuffing, gravy, and all of our favourite fixin’s, with wonderful family gathered ‘round the table for hours. It’s how we were meant to enjoy food, embracing time well spent around the communal table. It’s a welcome and all too necessary reminder of the blessings that we enjoy in our lives, our incredible local community, and the bounty of the Fall harvest.

When I started cooking a few years back, Thanksgiving was a great opportunity for me to jump on the line and play sous chef to my Mom, and any aunts or uncles helping out on kitchen duty that holiday season. I learned a novel’s worth of info about food and cooking, but far more important was the time spent growing closer together as a family.

Now that I cook almost non-stop, I typically pick up the responsibility of holiday home chef for our family, and I absolutely love it. Cooking the ‘big meal’ is a total joy, and with carefully timed dishes, is easy as pie to whip together. This is one of my favourite go-to recipes for Thanksgiving Dinner, Christmas Dinner, or anytime a large crowd of hungry friends is craving the delicious tastes of the Fall Harvest.

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Herb & Lemon Roasted Turkey with Rich Gravy and Sage & Apricot Stuffing

 Makes 6 to 8 servings


1 10 to 12-pound turkey (defrosted or fresh)

1 large onion, roughly chopped

1 garlic bulb, halved crosswise

2 large carrots, roughly chopped

2 celery stalks, roughly chopped

1 bay leaf

2 sprigs of thyme

2 sprigs of sage

3 sprigs of rosemary

1 lemon, halved

½ cup butter, softened

Sea salt & pepper

Pork & Apricot Stuffing

2 large onions, finely diced

2 tablespoons finely chopped sage leaves

1 tablespoon minced rosemary leaves

6 cloves of garlic, minced

4 cups white bread, crust removed and torn into 1-inch pieces

250 grams loose (casings removed) mild Italian pork sausage

250 grams ground pork

1 cup dried apricots, finely chopped

Salt and pepper


¼ cup butter

¼ cup all-purpose flour

Pan drippings

3 cups Turkey (or chicken) stock

Salt and pepper

This recipe is all about timing. Be sure to read through the instructions prior to cooking to guarantee that your turkey, stuff, and gravy and all ready to go at the same time. 

  1. One hour before roasting, take the turkey out of the refrigerator. Remove the neck and any giblets from inside the cavity of the bird and set aside. Discard any packaging. Rinse the turkey all over, then dry completely with paper towel. Let stand for 1 hour to warm to room temperature.


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.


  1. Line the bottom of the roasting pan (insert hyperlink) with the onion, garlic, carrot, celery, bay leaf, and thyme. Place the turkey neck and any giblets with the bird in the roasting pan. These will help in making a truly unforgettable gravy.


  1. Rub the turkey all over with softened butter, coating every nook and cranny, then season it liberally with salt and pepper. Stuff the cavity of the bird with the rosemary and lemon, and position the turkey in the roasting pan, on top of the chopped veggies.


  1. Calculate your roasting time. A general rule of thumb is 20 minutes per pound for a defrosted bird, or 10 to 15 minutes for a fresh turkey.


  1. Transfer the turkey to the oven. Roast according to your calculated weight time, removing the turkey every 45 minutes to 1 hour to baste liberally with the pan juices. (while the turkey is roasting, prepare the stuffing. See instructions below). When the turkey has about 30 minutes of cooking time remaining, pop a meat thermometer (insert hyperlink) into the thickest part of the bird to take a temperature reading on the thermometer. You’ll know it’s fully cooked when the temperature reads 165 degrees F. If not yet reading 165 degrees, continue roasting until the bird is perfectly cooked. Using lifting forks (insert hyperlink), transfer the turkey to a board and tent with foil. Rest for 30 to 40 minutes.


  1. Meanwhile, carry on with the stuffing. Fill a medium-sized bowl with lukewarm water and set aside for the moment. Heat a large pan over medium-heat, and pour in the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the diced onions, sage, and rosemary. Season with a pinch of salt, and cook until the onions are softened and translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. While the onions are cooking, dunk the bread pieces in the bowl of water, soaking them through. Stir the garlic into the onion mixture, cook for 30 seconds, then add the bread. Cook for 45 seconds to 1 minute, working the bread into the onion mixture with a spatula, until the liquid has mostly vanished. Set aside to cool, 10 minutes.


  1. Combine the onion mixture, sausage, pork, apricots, and season with salt and pepper. Mix well. Transfer the stuffing to a bakeware dish (insert hyperlink), cover with plastic wrap, and transfer to the fridge until the turkey has 30 minutes of cooking time remaining.


  1. With ½ hour left to go on the bird, pop the stuffing into the oven. Cook the stuffing for 1 hour, until bubbling and crispy. This way, the turkey and stuffing times will line up perfectly.


  1. While the turkey is resting and the stuffing is roasting, prepare the gravy.


  1. Strain the pan drippings from the turkey roaster through a fine-mesh sieve set overtop a large bowl. To ensure that any excess fat is removed, grab your trusty gravy separator (insert hyperlink) for a quick and easy fix.


  1. Heat a saucepan over medium heat, and melt the butter. When melted, whisk in the flour and, while constantly whisking, cook until slightly browned and bubbling, about 1 minute. Whisk in the pan drippings and stock, and bring to a simmer. Continue whisking until the gravy has thickened beautifully, about 5 minutes. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.


  1. Serve the gorgeous roasted turkey with the stuffing, gravy, and all of your favourite holiday fixings.


  1. This looks super delicious! I think I’ll convince my mom that I’ll make this on Christmas for the family 😍

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