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Shared by Tannaz Sassooni

Roast Turkey with Saffron and Quince 

Yield: 10-12 servingsTime: 5 hours (4 hours inactive cook time)

Shared by Tannaz Sassooni

Roast turkey on serving platter atop white linen tablecloth.
Photographer: Armando Rafael. Food Stylist: Judy Haubert. Prop Stylist: Vanessa Vazquez.

Roast Turkey with Saffron and Quince 

Yield: 10-12 servingsTime: 5 hours (4 hours inactive cook time)

Family Journey

Shiraz, Iran
Los Angeles

After Tannaz Sassooni’s family escaped Iran and moved to the United States, her mother Violet began making Thanksgiving dinner. Incorporating flavors from home, she bastes the turkey with saffron, roasting it over citrusy quince, plump prunes and dried apricots. Surrounded by fruit, with beautifully crisp, golden skin thanks to the saffron and turmeric, this turkey is a showstopper. If you’re defrosting your bird, make sure to give it enough time to fully thaw before beginning to cook. 

Read more about Tannaz Sassooni and her family in “How One Iranian Jewish Family Makes Thanksgiving Dinner Their Own” and try her recipes for cranberry almond tahdig, sabzi and a pomegranate-lime tequila spritzer.


  • 2 large onions, peeled and sliced into ½” rings 
  • 1 fresh turkey (10-12 lb), defrosted if needed 
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 large bunch fresh parsley
  • 2 large lemons, juiced and spent halves reserved
  • 1 large lemon, halved
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground saffron
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric 
  • 1 cup prunes
  • 1 cup dried apricots
  • 1 large quince, cut into eight slices
  • 1 large navel orange, quartered 


  • Step 1

    Preheat the oven to 350F. Place the sliced onion rings on the bottom of a large roasting pan. Blot the turkey dry and salt the turkey generously inside and out, rubbing the salt into the skin. Place the turkey on top of the onion.

  • Step 2

    Stuff the cavity of the turkey with the parsley, spent, reserved lemon halves, and the halved lemon. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine and affix the wings to the sides of the turkey with toothpicks.

  • Step 3

    Add the lemon juice, sea salt, black pepper, ground saffron, and turmeric in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Pour the liquid mixture over the turkey and cover loosely with foil.

  • Step 4

    Transfer to the oven and bake, basting the turkey every 30 minutes, using a large spoon or baster to gather the accumulated juices. Be sure to pay special attention to basting the breast meat.

  • Step 5

    After 2 hours and 4 rounds of basting, carefully add the prunes, dried apricots, sliced quince and orange to the perimeter of the roasting pan, laying the fruit in the juice. Bake for 1 more hour, basting twice more, for a total of 3 hours.

  • Step 6

    Remove the foil and move some of the onions on top of the turkey, so they get browned instead of simmering. Roast for another 30 minutes, or until the skin is golden brown and crisp. Remove from the oven; let rest for 30 minutes, then carve and serve.