Turkey Compound Butter

Turkey Compound Butter

The Spruce / Julia Estrada

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 15 mins
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
17988 Calories
763g Fat
12g Carbs
2,592g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Amount per serving
Calories 17988
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 763g 978%
Saturated Fat 253g 1,265%
Cholesterol 10132mg 3,377%
Sodium 11474mg 499%
Total Carbohydrate 12g 4%
Dietary Fiber 3g 9%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 2592g
Vitamin C 10mg 49%
Calcium 1366mg 105%
Iron 101mg 559%
Potassium 21858mg 465%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

A compound butter is a simple culinary term that refers to any butter to which other flavorings are added. This technique is wonderful for chicken as well. It really keeps the breast moist, adds flavor, and gives the skin a great crisp, shiny finish.

The "secret" ingredient is a small dash of Chinese five spice, which contains ginger, cinnamon, and star anise and gives the turkey a very subtle and delicious aroma. This recipe makes enough for a 20-pound Turkey.


  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme

  • 1/4 cup minced fresh sage

  • 1/4 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder

  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped

  • 1 (20-pound) turkey

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for turkey compound butter recipe

    The Spruce / Julia Estrada

  2. Combine of all ingredients in a small bowl and mash with a fork until completely mixed.

    Turkey Compound Butter ingredients mixed together in a bowl

    The Spruce / Julia Estrada

  3. Position the turkey so that the cavity is facing out, set up to work forward, moving towards the neck. Using a long, thin flexible rubber or silicone spatula, slowly slide the tool between the skin and the flesh of the breasts on both sides of the breastbone. The skin is fairly tough and won't tear when going slowly and carefully. Separate the skin all the way from the cavity to the front of the breast and down toward the wing joint. Do this on both sides of the breast, but leave the skin attached to the center of the breastbone itself.​

    Separate turkey skin from cavity

    The Spruce / Julia Estrada

  4. Divide the butter mixture in half and stuff it under the skin on both sides and massage it down toward the front of the bird. Spread as evenly as possible, but don't worry about getting it perfect, as it will melt and spread out as the turkey roasts. Discard any leftover compound butter that has come into contact with the raw meat. Roast the turkey using a preferred method or recipe.

    Turkey Compound Butter rubbed on the turkey

    The Spruce / Julia Estrada