Turn your traditional holiday dinner into an unforgettable memory with deliciously juicy, roasted turkey thighs. The tastiest part of the bird cooked to tender perfection. It conveniently holds a fair amount of fat while delivering a lean high-protein portion! Flavor and tenderness all in one. Who says you can’t have the best of both worlds?
For a foodie-mom like me, the holiday season is busy. Don’t get me wrong, I love the holidays. Still, it’s usually the time that everyone in my house gets really impatient for dinner.
Well, who can blame them when they’re expecting a flavor-packed thanksgiving centerpiece like this recipe?
Roasted Turkey Thighs Recipe Ingredients
In cooking, I’m a firm believer that you don’t have to complicate things. That’s why I used easy-to-find and straightforward ingredients for this turkey recipe:
- Turkey Thighs – Of course, the star of the show!
- Salt and Black Pepper – It’s important to use coarse pepper, even if it’s just for adjusting the taste. This is because finer peppers can easily burn, nullifying a lot of the peppery taste.
- Unsalted Butter – I used the unsalted kind here to control the flavor of the whole dish. It also lets the authentic smooth taste of butter take its full effect on the meat.
- Garlic – Peeled and finely minced garlic will easily add a mouthwatering aroma to the dish.
- Sage – this herb has a pungent earthy flavor that’s almost peppery with undertones of mint and eucalyptus.
- Rosemary – It definitely looks piney, but it adds a sweet earthy herbal scent and flavor to the dish.
- Paprika – offers a pungent with a hint of sweetness from bell peppers. Adds a deep flavor to the turkey thigh
- Parsley – Parsley doesn’t really have much flavor, but it definitely brings a lot of freshness.
- Onions – This ingredient releases a lot of sweetness as it caramelizes during roasting. The flavor blends harmoniously with the natural juices.
- Celery – This veggie has a robust herby flavor that adds freshness to the dish. It’s super crunchy and full of fiber.
- Thyme – This aromatic herb kicks the flavor up on the veggies, making them so delicious even the kids will love them.
I would follow the recipe ingredients list as much as possible. Still, I understand that some of these ingredients are not readily available in some parts of the world. So here are my recommended alternatives so you can make this version of turkey thighs as close as possible:
- Basil – This can replace the parsley and sage. Although it has a distinct flavor different from sage, it has the same level of flavor intensity. This herb also provides the same kind of freshness as parsley.
- Cayenne Pepper – You can use this in place of paprika but just be careful because it can add a punch of heat to the dish.
- Margarine – it’s a great alternative if you don’t want to use dairy. Margarine is made from vegetable oils.
Tips for Roasting Turkey
Keep a shot of water in the oven. This will help keep your turkey thighs from drying out when roasting.
Elevate the meat. If you’re making dinner with veggies like potatoes and carrots, place them under the turkey to create just enough space for air to pass through.
The hot air will roast the veggies, and at the same time, it roasts the turkey meat all around, cooking it much faster. This is also great if you don’t have an oven rack.
Keep the juices. Those drippings hold a ton of valuable flavor which you can use for basting or turn into gravy.
Serving and Storage Instructions
If you have leftover roasted turkey thighs, let them cool to room temperature, then remove the bones from the meat. Place the meat in an airtight container and keep it in the fridge. It should last for about 3 days.
Reheating your leftovers is just as easy as making the dish. I always say that the best way to reheat a dish is with the same method that you cooked it. So for this recipe, you can put it in the oven and lightly roast it for about 5 – 10 minutes at 300-350℉/150-177℃.
Basting isn’t necessary when roasting. But if you decide to do this, you can baste it every 30 minutes. Don’t open the door too much as it can lower the temperature inside the oven.
Basting or rubbing fat on the skin of the turkey will make it crispier. Of course, you want to make sure that the temperature is consistently high.
If your oven’s temperature is too low, it won’t render the fat in the skin, which results in rubbery skin and dry meat. You might also hit a stall wherein the turkey thighs stop cooking even though some fats aren’t entirely rendered.
What Goes with Turkey Thighs?
A good turkey meal always includes the best sides. Whether it’s the holidays or you’re in the mood for some juicy roasted turkey thighs, you can always prepare these amazing sides to make it more complete.
Potatoes are always a great partner with turkey, especially if you prepare Roasted Potatoes and Carrots. This combo is always a winner for Thanksgiving.
Since this recipe uses garlic, you know that Garlic Mashed Red Potatoes would make a great pairing with this turkey recipe.
Seasoned Rice is another popular dish that goes well with this recipe. Personally, I like the complexity of the flavors in this combination, although high-carb. What’s wrong with carbs, anyway?
More Thanksgiving Recipes to Try
How to Roast Turkey Thighs
Prepare the Turkey
- Clean the turkey – Rinse turkey thighs with water, then pat dry with paper towels. (Photo 1)
- Season the turkey – Season turkey thigh with salt and pepper, slipping salt under the skin where possible.
Make the Herb Butter
- Make the Herb Butter Mixture – Combine butter, minced garlic, sage, rosemary, thyme, paprika, and parsley. (Photo 2 & 3)
- Rest the Turkey – Let it rest in the fridge until ready to use. You can make the herb spice a day or so in advance if desired.
- Prepare the Turkey – Loosen up the turkey skin by carefully running your fingers between the skin and the meat; the skin is very fragile, so be careful not to tear it up.
- Apply the Herb Butter – Generously rub the thighs with the herb butter combination. Refrigerate until ready to roast up to 24 hours. (Photo 4)
Ready for the Oven
- Preheat the Oven – Preheat your oven to 400ºF (200ºC).
- Arrange the Turkey Thighs – Place onion, celery, and thyme in a 3-quart baking dish, then place the thighs on top of onions. (Photos 5 & 6)
- Roast the Turkey – Roast the turkey thighs for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325°F/163℃. Continue to roast until an instant-read thermometer registers 165°F/74℃ in the thickest part of the breast. About an hour or more, depending on the size of your turkey thighs.
- Tent the Thighs – If the turkey is browning too fast, tent with a piece of foil to prevent over-browning.
- Remove and Rest – Remove from the oven and let it sit for about 10-15minutes before carving. So the juices settle back into the meat. Reserve turkey drippings to make gravy here, if desired.
- Serve with a Side Dish – Enjoy with mashed potatoes or vegetables.
Watch How To Make It
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Perfectly Roasted Turkey Thighs
- 2-3 pounds (907-1,360 g) turkey thighs
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 4 ounces butter, unsalted
- 2 teaspoons (10 g) garlic, minced
- 5 leaves fresh sage, minced
- 3 sprigs rosemary, leaves removed and minced (about one tablespoon)
- 1 teaspoon (2 g) paprika
- 1 tablespoon (4 g) parsley, chopped
- 1 medium onion, quartered
- 2 stalk celery, chopped
- 2 sprigs thyme, minced
Clean the Turkey
- Rinse turkey thighs with water, then pat dry with paper towels.
- Season turkey thigh with salt and pepper, slipping salt under the skin where possible.
- Combine butter, minced garlic, sage, rosemary, paprika, and parsley.
- Let the turkey rest in the fridge until ready to use. You can make the herb spice a day or so in advance if desired.
- Loosen up the turkey skin by carefully running your fingers between the skin and the meat, the skin is very fragile so be careful not to tear it up.
- Generously rub the thighs with the herbed butter combination. Refrigerate until ready to roast or up to 24 hours.
- Preheat your oven to 400ºF/200ºC.
- Place onion, celery, and thyme in a 3-quart baking dish, then place the thighs on top of veggies.
- Roast the turkey thighs for 30 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 325°F/165℃. Continue roasting until an instant-read thermometer registers 165°F/75℃ in the thickest part of the thighs. About an hour, depending on the size of your turkey thighs.
- If the turkey is browning too fast, tent it with a piece of foil to prevent over-browning.
- Remove from the oven and let it sit for about 10-15 minutes before carving. That allows the juices to settle back into the meat—reserve turkey drippings to make gravy if desired.
- Enjoy with mashed potatoes or vegetables
Tips & Notes:
- Keep a shot of water in the oven – this will help in keeping your turkey thighs from drying out when roasting.
- Elevate the meat – If you’re making dinner with veggies like potatoes and carrots, place them under the turkey to create just enough space for air to pass through. The hot air will roast the veggies and at the same time, it roasts the turkey meat all around, cooking it much faster. This is also great if you don’t have an oven rack.
- Keep the juices – Those drippings hold a ton of valuable flavor which you can use for basting or turn into gravy.
- Please keep in mind that the nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary significantly based on the products used in the recipe.