Butter Rub: How to Make a Moist Turkey Every Time

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How to Make a Moist Turkey with Butter Rub - Holistic Squid

[Holistic Squid note: I don’t know about you, but I’m not a fan of a dry bird on my holiday table. So let’s learn how to make a moist turkey! This butter rub is a nearly fool-proof method…]

I absolutely adore having family and friends over for a holiday grounded in gratitude and sharing good food. In my family we’re always talking people into enjoying just a little more.

“You’re too skinny! Why don’t you eat? You have to try this! What? You don’t like my food?!” It’s sheer madness when you think about it but, in my family, we love the crazy! And if you’re gonna talk that kind of semi-force-feeding smack, you gotta walk it!

I pride myself on a serving up a savory, succulent bird that not only fills my family’s bellies with gratitude and nourishment, but fills our home with the rich velvety aroma of luxurious layered flavors. The aromatic anticipation is just as much a part of the holiday experience as the meal.

We have a grand tradition of going all-out at big meals, so I’m always looking for easy ways to make dishes delicious. This is my go-to recipe for how to make a moist turkey every time! Never, ever dry!

You can choose to brine your bird or not. Either way the butter rub will make a moist turkey. To complete your perfect bird be sure to make this nourishing and delicious gluten fee gravy too!

Happy Thanksgiving –  I hope you love this quick and easy method for making a beautiful bird as much as I do!

How to Make a Moist Turkey Every Time:

Buttery Turkey Rub Ingredients

•    1 head celery
•    1 bunch scallions, whites only
•    1 head garlic
•    ¼ cup flat parsley leaves, loosel pack
•    ¼ cup duck, chicken or turkey fat, melted*
•    ½ cup butter, softened
•    ¼ cup white wine**
•    1 teaspoon black pepper
•    2 teaspoons unrefined sea salt
•    Extra butter, broth, and wine for basting
•    A gorgeous pasture-raised turkey (second choice – an organic free-range bird)

How to Make a Moist Turkey Every Time - Holistic Squid Buttery Turkey Rub Method

  1. Affix the S-blade to your food processor.
  2. Trim rough ends from celery. Rough chop and add to bowl of food processor.***
  3. Trim roots and green ends from scallions. Rough chop whites and add to bowl of food processor.
  4. Peel and trim ends from 1 head of garlic. Add to bowl of food processor.
  5. Add ½ cup softened butter to bowl of food processor.
  6. Pluck ¼ cup parsley leaves (loose pack) from stems and add to bowl of food processor.
  7. Add ¼ cup melted poultry fat to bowl of food processor.
  8. Add salt and pepper.
  9. Process mixture until smooth while adding white wine as needed through processor spout.
  10. Taste test for additional salt.
  11. If you have chosen to brine your bird, rinse thoroughly and pat dry before applying the rub.
  12. Run your hands between the skin and meat of the bird to loose the skin from the bird without tearing.
  13. Take small handfuls of the paste and take care to cover every meaty surface with the bright green mixture.
  14. Neatly replace the skin over the butter-rubbed bird.
  15. Brush skin of the bird with equal parts melted butter, poultry broth and white wine and use this mixture for basting as the bird cooks covered.
  16. Roast turkey at 325F for 12-15 minutes per pound, or until the thickest part of the thigh reaches 165F when you insert a meat thermometer. If cooking a pasture-raised bird, monitor frequently towards the end as it may cook faster than a conventional bird.
  17. Remove the cover for the last 30 minutes of cook time to brown.


*Poultry fat is tastiest but, if you do not have any poultry fat, you can use coconut oil for medium/high heat or olive oil.

**If you do not care to use wine, use poultry broth.

***If your food processor bowl is not large enough to process all ingredients at once, process in batches and combine together in bowl before spreading on bird.

Yields: 2-2 ½ heaping cups paste, and one

Butter Rub: How to Make a Moist Turkey Every Time - Holistic Squid



This post was generously contributed by Monica Ford of Real Food Devotee. Monica’s recipes will make your mouth water and your tummy purr. If you’re lucky enough to live in Los Angeles, Real Food Devotee can make your life easier by delivering nutrient dense goodies directly to your door.

Bottom 3 Photo Credit: An Eye Full Studio


What are some of your family’s favorite Thanksgiving traditions? Please share below!

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  1. JoAnne says

    Hi Monica,

    This sounds amazing! I have seen recommendations to cook a pasture raised bird at a much lower temp (275) for a looong time in order to prevent the meat from seizing, only raising the heat at the very end. I guess a pasture raised bird reacts to heat much differently than one not raised to roam. You have not found 325 to be too hot for a pastured bird? The last thing I want is to spend $80 on a pastured bird to have it turn out tough and gamey. Thanks!

  2. says

    Very intriguing …. I’m planning to use Mrs Dull’s recipe from Southern Cooking, a vintage cookbook from the 30’s. It calls for low heat and a long cook time. I may just modify it to butter under the skin. I think it just had a butter rub on the outside, if memory serves. I’m sharing on FB … Thanks for sharing this fab idea!

  3. says

    Hi @JoAnne
    I am so sorry to have taken a while to reply. Of course you’ve already served your bird by now. I guess I got wrapped up in the holiday myself. I hope you’re bird and holiday turned out perfectly.
    I am aware that many people adhere to a long low roast for pasture raised birds. I roasted quite a few using my butter rub method and have never once had anything but a moist, succulent, tender bird on the table. Whether I choose to brine or not. It’s a beautiful thing and not just on turkey. So easy too!
    My mouth is watering just thinking about it! xo

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