This Citrus Riesling Turkey is a stunner and will definitely steal the show on your Thanksgiving table! Rich and buttery, moist and tender, and oozing with the flavors of fresh citrus, Riesling wine, and savory herbs — this turkey is everything you want a turkey to be!
For the Brine:
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 (11-lb) whole turkey, completely defrosted, giblets removed
For the Turkey:
- 3 tablespoons softened butter
- 1 orange
- 1 lemon
- 3 garlic cloves, grated
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (I do a mix of sage and thyme)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup Riesling wine
- 1 cup chicken or turkey stock
For the Gravy:
- 1/2 cup of the pan drippings, solids strained and discarded
- 1/4 cup Riesling wine
- 1 1/2 cups chicken or turkey stock (I recommend low sodium for this)
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Salt and pepper, to taste
For the Brine:
- First, make sure your turkey is completely thawed – this can take a few days, so plan accordingly. The idea is to brine the turkey for at least 24 hours. I usually begin thawing my turkey 3 days before Thanksgiving, and I brine it the entire 24 hours beforehand (so, typically starting on Wednesday morning). To brine a turkey, it is also important to keep in mind the fridge space required.
- At least 24 hours before you plan to roast your turkey, pat it completely dry with paper towels and place it on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. I like to line the baking sheet with a thick layer of paper towels as well, as a lot of moisture will drip off the turkey as it brines.
- Combine the salt and sugar in a small bowl and rub it all over the turkey, making sure to sprinkle some inside the cavity and in between the skin and the breast meat.
- Place the turkey in the fridge completely uncovered. I recommend brining for at least 24 hours, but you can leave it in the fridge for up to 2 days, if your schedule and fridge space permits.
For the Turkey:
- One hour before you are ready to roast the turkey, remove it from the fridge and allow it to sit at room temperature. Generally speaking, I do this roughly 3-3.5 hours before I plan to serve dinner. This allows adequate time for it to sit at room temperature, roast until done, and then rest after cooking.
- There is no need to rinse the brine off the turkey. Place the turkey on a rack in a roasting pan.
- Preheat the oven to 500°F.
- In a small bowl, combine the butter, garlic, zest of the orange and lemon, mustard, herbs, salt, pepper, and olive oil to make a paste.
- Loosen the skin from the breast meat gently and spread a few tablespoons of the paste directly on the meat. Spread the remaining paste evenly all over the skin. Sprinkle the outside with more salt and pepper.
- Quarter the zested orange and lemon and place them into the cavity of the turkey. Pour the wine and the stock into the bottom of the roasting pan..
- Place the turkey in the oven and immediately decrease the temperature to 325°F. The high temperature will help to crisp and brown the skin, but you don’t want to roast the meat at that high of a temperature for the whole time.
- Roast the turkey for 2-2.5 hours, basting the turkey with the pan juices every 20-30 minutes, until the skin is crisped and brown and the internal temperature registers 160°F when inserted into the thickest areas of the breast and 155°F in the thickest part of the thigh. The temperature will increase to 165°F while the turkey is resting.
- When the turkey is done, cover with foil and allow it to rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before carving. Make your gravy during this time.
For the Gravy:
- Strain the pan drippings and discard the solids. Add ½ cup of the strained pan drippings, along with the wine, to a medium saucepan and set over medium heat.
- In a mason jar, combine the stock and flour. Cover the jar and shake vigorously until the flour is completely dissolved in the stock.
- Once the drippings come up to a simmer in the pan, slowly stream in the stock mixture, whisking constantly so no lumps form.
- Cook, stirring frequently, until the gravy is thickened and smooth, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the butter. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Keep the gravy warm until you are ready to serve. If it gets too thick, you can thin it by adding a splash of stock or water and whisking it vigorously to incorporate.
- Actual cooking time will vary, depending on the size of your turkey and your oven. The general rule of thumb is 13 minutes per pound at a moderate temperature (325°F). A meat thermometer is your best friend for these types of recipes – this smart thermometer is AMAZING.
- This recipe will work with any size turkey. If using a smaller turkey, cut the brine salt-sugar proportions in about half. If using a larger turkey, increase the proportions by about half for each 5 lbs (for example, for a 16-lb turkey, use 3 tablespoons kosher salt and 1½ tablespoons sugar).
- Feel free to play around with the white wine here. I love Riesling – a dry one – because it is light and slightly sweet with a rich flavor that deepens as it cooks. Chardonnay would also work beautifully here.
- Prep Time: 24 hours brining time
- Cook Time: 3 hours
- Category: turkey
Keywords: Citrus Riesling turkey, roast turkey with citrus and riesling wine, riesling roast turkey, thanksgiving turkey recipe, citrus and wine roast turkey