Lemon-Pepper Turkey with Bacon Gravy


thanksgiving, turkey


From the 2015 FoodNetwork Thanksgiving edition


  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 12 to 14 pound turkey (thawed if frozen)
  • 2 stalks celery, cut into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely cracked black peppercorns
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 4 lemons
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 9 slices of bacon (about 8 ounces)
  • kosher salt


  1. Let the turkey sit at room temperature, 30 minutes. Position an oven rack in the lowest position (remove the other racks); preheat to 350.
  2. Remove the neck and giblets from the turkey; set aside for the gravy. Finely grate the zest from all 4 lemons; combine with the peppercorns and 1 tablespoon salt. Pat the turkey very dry with paper towels. Season the inside with about one-quarter of the lemon-pepper mixture, then rub the rest all over the skin. Cut one of the lemons into quarters; stuff inside the cavity along with the onion, celery, and thyme sprigs. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine. Put the turkey on a rack set in a large roasting pan and tuck the wings under the body.
  3. Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp, 7 to 8 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain, reserving the drippings in the skillet. Chop the bacon; set aside for the gravy. Add the butter to the skillet with the drippings and stir until melted, then pour into a bowl and stir in the juice of 2 lemons. Let the lemon butter cool slightly, then brush all over the turkey. Transfer to the oven and roast one hour. Meanwhile, make a classic gravy.
  4. After the turkey has roasted 1 hour, baste it with the drippings. Continue roasting, basting every 30 minutes, until the skin is golden brown and a thermometer inserted into the thigh registers 165, about 2 more hours.
  5. Transfer the turkey to a cutting board and let rest 30 minutes before carving; reserve the drippings for the gravy. Stir the bacon into the finished gravy.