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Compound Butter for Turkey

Try this simple recipe to make compound butter for turkey this holiday season. If you want to make the juiciest most flavorful turkey for Thanksgiving or Christmas, try roasting it with this garlic herb butter under the skin or slathered on top. It’s also perfect served on cooked steak, chicken, and vegetables, or just served on a slice of bread. 

Herb compound butter on a wooedn board.
Herb compound butter for turkey.

How to make compound butter for turkey 

Compound butter is another name for herb butter. And while it may sound complicated to make, it is actually very simple. This recipe is made using fresh herbs, garlic, salt, and pepper. Oh, and butter. And that’s it.

Using herb compound butter for cooking turkey is the best way to ensure juicy and flavorful turkey with the crispiest skin. Whether you are cooking a whole turkey or just a turkey breast, try roasting it with some of this butter slathered on top, or stuffed under the skin. You won’t regret it.

A great thing about this recipe is that you can use it for so much more than herb butter roasted turkey. It can also be served on just about any meat, poultry or cooked veggies. Just pop a slice on top of anything fresh out of the oven and let it melt! So whip up a big batch because you are sure to find lots of ways to use it! 

For other herb butter recipes, try tarragon butter, rosemary butter, or lemon dill butter. 

Scroll down for the printable card for this turkey compound butter recipe, or read on for all the details! 

What do you need to make this turkey herb butter? 

Butter: Clearly this is the key ingredient in this recipe! I use unsalted butter as I like to add salt separately to get the balance just right, but you can use salted butter if you prefer (just skip the salt below, or only add a tiny bit). 

Salt: Try to use fine ground sea salt or kosher salt. Both of these types will dissolve quickly in the butter when mashed together to stop the butter from having a grainy texture (which you might find if you use table salt). 

Black Pepper: Use freshly cracked black pepper if you can. 

Garlic: Freshly minced garlic is best, but pre-minced garlic from a jar is ok.

Herbs: The recipe below uses fresh rosemary, thyme, and parsley (flat-leaved or curly), which is my favorite combination for roasting turkey. However, you can use any herbs you like to make this compound butter, so feel free to swap any herbs in or out to suit your taste (check out this list to see what herbs go with turkey). Fresh sage, lemon zest, or tarragon are all great additional flavors to add. You can use dried herbs if you want to, but fresh is best!

Tips to make this herb butter

Finely chop the fresh herbs. Pick the leaves off the stems first, for parsley you can just cut away the thick main stem, and chop the leaves along with the smaller leaf-stems. 

Hands chopping herbs on a board.
Finely chop the herbs.

Start with butter at room temperature. This makes it much easier to work with. Chop the butter into small cubes, and then mash it with a fork until it is soft. 

Begin adding in the salt, pepper, and herbs and mashing them into the butter. I find it easiest to work a bit at a time, but you can dump all the herb and pepper in the bowl with the butter and mash until combined. 

To use the compound butter for turkey, you can either slather it over the top of the bird at this point. Alternatively, if you want to stuff it under the skin you will need to roll it into a log shape and refrigerate it until it is firm and can be easily sliced. I usually stuff some under the skin and then slather the rest of it over the top. 

Hands scooping herb butter mixture onto plastic wrap.
Scoop the herb butter mixture onto a sheet of plastic wrap or parchment.
Hands rolling butter mixture in plastic wrap into a log shape.
Roll butter into a log shape and twist the ends of the plastic wrap to seal.

A herb-butter roll is also the best way to serve it with steak or veggies, you can just slice off a small section to use as you need it.  


The best part about making compound butter for turkey is that you can make it several days ahead of time and keep it ready in the refrigerator. It should last for up to a month in the refrigerator if it is sealed in a plastic wrap or parchment paper roll (or an air-tight container).  

You can also freeze this herb butter, it will keep for up to three months in the refrigerator in an air-tight freezer-safe container. 

Herb butter for turkey recipe card

Yield: 20 servings

Compound Butter for Turkey

Herb compound butter on a wooedn board.

How to make compound butter for turkey.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes


  • 2 sticks/ 1 cup / 250g unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon finely ground black pepper


  1. Wash and finely chop the herbs, then pat dry. Crush or finely chop the garlic cloves.
  2. Cut the sticks of butter into 6 or 8 pieces each, and place in a mixing bowl.
  3. Use a fork to mash the butter until it is softened.
  4. Slowly add the chopped herbs, garlic, salt, and pepper. Continue to mash the butter with each addition until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
  5. Spoon the mixture onto a large piece of plastic wrap/ cling film. Roll into a log and twist the ends closed.
  6. Place in the refrigerator until the butter is firm.
  7. To use the butter to season turkey: slice the roll of compound butter into slices ¼-inch thick, carefully lift up the skin on the breast of the turkey, and place slices of the butter between the meat and the skin before roasting the turkey.


Compound butter should be stored in the refrigerator, and should last up to a month. For longer storage you can keep in in the freezer for up to 3 months. Use an air-tight freezer-safe container.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 91Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 27mgSodium: 213mgCarbohydrates: 0gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 0g

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