Recipe courtesy of Sunny Anderson

Sunny’s Butterflied Roast Turkey with Easy Orange Spice Rub

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 14 hr 15 min (includes brining and resting times)
  • Active: 45 min
  • Yield: 10 servings








  1. For the brine: Combine the salt, peppercorns, thyme, sage, orange and 1 1/2 gallons water in a large pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and cook until the salt is dissolved and the water is fragrant. Turn off the heat and let cool completely.
  2. For the turkey: To brine the turkey, place the turkey in a roasting bag, large plastic bag or bowl large enough to fit it with still more space for the brine. Pour in the brining liquid and seal or cover. If there's not enough room for all of the liquid in the brine, be sure to at least include the herbs, orange and peppercorns. Refrigerate at least overnight and up to 3 days.
  3. When ready to cook, remove the turkey from the brine and discard all of the brining liquid and solids. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels.
  4. To butterfly the turkey, using kitchen shears or a knife, cut out the backbone of the turkey. Break the breastbone to open up and flatten the bird by gently pressing down with the skin-side up. Flip over and pat dry. Using your finger, gently release the skin from the muscle of the turkey and insert the butter pieces between the skin and meat all over the bird.
  5. For the rub: In a medium bowl, mix together the cumin, paprika, chili powder, orange zest, a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the rub in a small bowl and set aside.
  6. Drizzle the turkey with olive oil and sprinkle with the rub. Gently rub into the skin. Place the turkey cavity-side down on a rack in a roasting pan and allow to sit on the countertop for about 2 hours to come to room temperature.
  7. For the glaze: To the reserved 1 tablespoon of rub, stir in the honey and orange juice until smooth. Set aside.
  8. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  9. Add 1 to 2 inches of water to the bottom of the roasting pan. Place the turkey in the oven, lower the heat to 350 degrees F and roast for 30 minutes. Remove the turkey from the oven and brush the glaze over the skin. Return to the oven and continue to roast, glazing every 30 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thigh reads 160 degrees F, 1 to 2 hours.
  10. Let the turkey rest at room temperature before carving, tented with aluminum foil, until it comes up to 165 degrees F, about 30 minutes. Plate the turkey and garnish with orange slices and sage and thyme sprigs.