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Herb Butter

Herb Butter is easy to make and is a great way to add flavor to roast turkey, steak, fish, or even pork. You can vary the herbs for different flavors. This recipe uses sage, thyme, and rosemary, as well as several different spices. 

A turkey rubbed with herb butter made from fresh herbs.

What is herb butter

Herb butter or compound butter is made of softened butter mixed with chopped fresh herbs and dried spices. You can make different flavor combinations by simply varying the herbs and spices.

Why use compound butter

Your Thanksgiving turkey will taste amazing if you cover it with this wonderful herb butter recipe.

The butter will help the turkey skin get crispy and brown, while keeping the meat underneath the skin from drying out.

Fresh herbs on a cutting board to use for herb butter.

One of the best things about this recipe is the way your kitchen smells while the turkey is roasting! The herbs and spices combined with the vegetables and herbs tucked inside the turkey leave your house fragrant and your mouth watering.


  • Fresh herbs - rosemary, sage, thyme
  • Unsalted butter
  • Black pepper
  • Cumin
  • Garlic powder
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Allspice
  • Ground cloves
  • Nutmeg

How to make herb butter

Step 1. Chop herbs.

Start by finely chopping 2 tablespoons each of fresh sage, thyme and rosemary.

Step 2. Add herbs and spices to butter.

Add the herbs to 2 sticks of softened, unsalted butter. Add freshly ground black pepper, ground cumin, garlic powder, crushed red pepper flakes, ground allspice, ground cloves, and freshly ground nutmeg.

Step 3. Mix well.

Use an electric mixer to thoroughly combine the ingredients. The mixed butter should be smooth and creamy.

**Pro Tip: The herb butter can be made a couple of days ahead and will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Here are some more Make-Ahead Tips to help your Thanksgiving go smoother!

Step 4. Rub butter on turkey.

When ready, generously slather the butter all over your turkey on the outside and under the skin (be very careful not to break the skin).

**Pro Tip: You may not need the entire batch of butter, so scoop out some into another bowl so you don't contaminate it all. I generally use all of it, but then I always cook at least a 20 lb. turkey.

A bowl of mixed herb butter for turkey.

Extra tips

  • Use fresh herbs! Dried herbs will not give the best flavor in this recipe.
  • Make this herb butter recipe several days ahead of time and store in the refrigerator.
  • Use good quality butter—no store brands!
  • The herb butter can be frozen in an airtight container.

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Herb butter slathered on a turkey ready for roasting.

Herb Butter for Turkey

4.38 from 29 votes
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A flavorful butter for rubbing on turkey or chicken before roasting.
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prep time: 10 mins
total time :10 mins
servings :10 servings
author: Lucy Brewer


  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt


  • Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Beat with electric mixer until thoroughly blended. Refrigerate and save up to 4 days.

Tips for Making Herb Butter

  • Use fresh herbs! Dried herbs will not give the best flavor in this recipe.
  • Make this herb butter recipe several days ahead of time and store in the refrigerator.
  • Use good quality butter—no store brands!
  • The herb butter can be frozen in an airtight container
Click here to save this recipe to your Pinterest board!
Serving: 10servings | Calories: 168kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 48mg | Sodium: 6mg
Course Thanksgiving
Cuisine American
Keyword herb butter

© Content and photographs are copyright protected. Sharing of this recipe is both encouraged and appreciated. Copying and/or pasting full recipes to any social media is strictly prohibited.

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Adapted from Martha Stewart Living's Spice Butter.

Update Notes: This post was originally published November 14, 2011, and on August 9, 2021, was updated with one or more of the following: step-by-step photos, video, updated recipe, new tips.

Recipe Rating


Tuesday 23rd of November 2021

Can you still cook with this recipe in the turkey bag?

Saturday 27th of November 2021


Yes absolutely!

Lucy Brewer

Wednesday 24th of November 2021

I have never cooked turkey in a bag so I really don't know.