Turkey Compound Butter

Perfect turkey butter compound recipe

The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 15 mins

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/1 stick unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme (minced)
  • 1/4 cup fresh sage (minced)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Chinese five spice
  • 1 clove garlic (finely crushed)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for turkey compound butter recipe
    The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt
  2. In a small bowl, combine of all ingredients and mash with a fork until completely mixed.

    The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt
  3. Position the turkey so that the cavity is facing you and you are working forward 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 if you go slowly and carefully. You can pretty much separate the skin all the way from the cavity where you started 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 breastbone itself.​

    Separate skin from cavity
    The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt 
  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.

    Divide the butter mixture
    The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt
  5. Roast the bird according to whatever recipe you're following and cover the breasts with a piece of foil if it's getting too brown towards the end of the cooking time.

    The Spruce Eats / Victoria Heydt