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10 Perfect Turkeys 10 Different Ways

10 Perfect Turkeys 10 Different Ways

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Every turkey recipe you should consider using this year


What kind of turkey will you make?

Turkey will always be the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving meal. While there have been variations on the menu from time to time, whether to switch things up or because of a family's heritage, turkey remains the exemplary symbol of the holiday and represents Thanksgiving on the cover of every seasonal magazine, holiday card, or advertisement.

Click here to see 10 Perfect Turkeys 10 Different Ways

That being said, turkey wasn’t the only protein served that day by the pilgrims —dishes like lobster, deer, and game meats were reportedly in attendance as well — so it's unclear why the bird has taken center stage. There is much conflicting information — some say turkey was served at the first feast and yet others claim turkeys made their way to the American table because of practical and economic reasons.

The fact is, determining the origins of the Thanksgiving turkey will make your head spin. Although there are many different theories as to why it’s included, at the end of the day, all we really care about is how it tastes, right?

So the Cook editors at The Daily Meal decided that instead of trying to define turkey's role in the Thanksgiving meal, we’d celebrate it. To honor turkey in all of its glory, we’re not just covering basic roasted turkey recipes, but are sharing several different recipes for how you can treat the famed bird. From cooking methods to spices and brines, we’ve found 10 different ways to achieve turkey perfection this year. Whether you’re the adventure-seeker who won’t let the Allstate ads scare you away from to deep-frying or someone who just won’t stop searching for the most tender meat, there's a recipe on the list for everyone.

For more turkey talk, visit The Daily Meal's Guide to Thanksgiving!

How to Season a Turkey to Perfection

There&aposs no one way to season a turkey. In fact, the flavor combinations are truly limitless. Brine your turkey with cinnamon, brown sugar, and apple cider for a sweet, autumn turkey. Or baste your turkey with a lemon herb butter. Or turn up the heat with a Cajun dry rub! Feeling overwhelmed? Whichever spices and herbs you choose to go with this holiday season (or any season), there are a few tried and true methods for seasoning your turkey just right. Learn how to baste, rub, and brine for a turkey that&aposs tender and flavorful every time.

Baste Your Turkey to Lock in Moisture

Basting a turkey is an attractive option because it helps seal in moisture and leaves you with a nice and shiny finish. It involves brushing or pouring liquid over the turkey that will release fat as it cooks. This could mean using the juices in the roasting tin or applying your own mixture overtop the turkey.

How to Baste a Turkey for Optimal Flavor

If you prefer to use the juices from the roasting tin, use a turkey baster or a long-handled spoon to pour the juices from the tin over the turkey. This should be done every 30 to 45 minutes minutes while the turkey is in the oven. You may also baste by pushing a flavored butter under the skin of the turkey, or brushing it with an oil mixture before roasting.Test your basting skills with one of these top-rated recipes:

Use a Seasoning Rub

Using a seasoning rub, like a dry rub, liquid rub, or paste to season your turkey is another way to bring some serious flavor to your holiday dinner. Dry rubs are made up of powdered spices and dry herbs, while liquid rubs typically are mixed with broth or wine. Pastes are made by mixing spices with some type of oil.

How to Season Your Turkey with Seasoning Rubs

Make sure to get the rub under the skin and inside the turkey. To season the breast meat under the skin, use your fingers to pull the skin away from the meat, and massage the rub onto the meat. Be careful not to tear the skin while doing this. Make sure to apply the rub generously on the inside as well, so all parts of the meat are well seasoned. If you have time, place your seasoned turkey in the fridge for 24 hours to allow the seasoning to penetrate as much of the meat as possible. If using a rub is your method of choice for seasoning your turkey, try one of these recipes:

Try Brining

If you have a little more time on your hands, brining is the perfect way to keep your turkey tender and full of flavor. At the most basic level, brining involves submerging a turkey in a mixture of water and salt for around 24 hours before roasting. This process insures that the turkey is moist and seasoned throughout the cooking process. Of course, there are endless ingredients you can add to your brining mixture for a variety of flavor combinations.

This marinade is particularly good on poultry like a whole chicken for roasting or turkey breasts for grilling. Dill and garlic add a pungent flavor, and the power of lemon juice helps tenderize and flavor the meat.

Acid and citrus help break down the collagen in the meat, but remember that leaving the poultry in an acidic marinade for too long actually makes the meat too mushy. These types of marinades work best for brief periods of time.

10 Delicious Ways to Season a Turkey

It's never too early to begin planning the bird's big day. The Thanksgiving turkey is to a cook what a blank canvas is to a painter: Your roast will take on the vision you imagine for it its mild dark and white meat absorbing the essence of the seasonings you offer, and its acres of skin offering an opportunity to shine (literally, if you use a glaze), or crackle crisply. Choosing those seasonings is part of the joy and anticipation of this best of American holidays, and we have curated the pick of our recipes to highlight the different directions you might like to pursue.

Overlooked staples like salt and sugar bring out the best in a good quality bird. Deeper into spice territory, the warming aromas of cumin and chile create an unforgettably complex roast. After an overnight rub, toasted coriander and fennel seed are complimented by the sweetness of fennel bulb. On the other hand, fresh herbs add vivacity to compound butters and glazes. Seasonal produce like citrus, pears, chestnuts, and quince can be incorporated into basting juices, syrups, and stuffings.

The restrained but sophisticated combination of white wine and butter render pan juices you will want to spoon up. Maple syrup, brushed late over the roasting skin, or earlier in a concentrated glaze with mustard, adds its versatile and evocative warmth to the Thanksgiving centerpiece.

This gallery has made us very hungry. We hope it infuses you with ideas and confidence to make the most of your turkey's big moment.


When it comes to simple main dishes, the little details matter a lot. Make sure you take the right steps before you start the cooking– or even brining– process and you’ll be certain to have great results.

  • Know how much you need. Generally, you should have 1 pound of turkey per person you plan to feed. However, larger turkeys generally don’t cook as evenly as smaller ones, meaning you risk drying out the breast meat before the thighs are cooked to a safe temperature. If possible, it’s better to roast up 2 smaller (10-13 pound turkeys) over cooking a huge, 20-someodd pound turkey.
  • Picking your turkey. Because we are dry-brining the turkey, it’s important not to get a turkey that has been brined before packaging, or else you’ll wind up with a super salty turkey. Instead, look for natural turkeys, which will have no artificial ingredients, preservatives, or coloring added.
  • Don’t forget to defrost. If you’re wondering how long in advance you have to begin defrosting your turkey, remember that you need about 24 hours for every 4 pounds. That means that it will take three whole days to defrost a 12 pound turkey in the refrigerator, and that’s before factoring in the overnight dry brine. Don’t wait til the last minute!
  • Okay, I messed up and waited til the last minute. I’ve made this mistake many times, but not to worry. You can thaw your turkey in cold water and speed the process up. As a general rule of thumb, it should take 30 minutes per pound to thaw your turkey. To do a water-thaw, keep your turkey in the wrapping (or place in a leak proof bag) and submerge it in a large container or sink of cold water. Keep it submerged and change the water every 30 minutes.
  • I did the water thaw method but my turkey is still slightly frozen. Can I still dry-brine it? Yes. As long as the skin is defrosted and you have thawed most of the cavity (run cold water through it, if necessary), you can pat your turkey dry and dry-brine. It will finish thawing in the fridge overnight.

How to Cook Two Turkeys Together

Johnson says two smaller turkeys weighing between 9 and 12 pounds is ideal. Here are some tips to remember when cooking two turkeys together in one oven:

  • Choose the right roasting pan: For a 9- to 12-pound turkey, choose a shallow roasting pan no more than 3-inches deep with a rack placed in the bottom of the pan to elevate the turkey up off the pan and above the pan drippings. A small, 13x9 roasting pan ($18, Amazon) for each turkey should allow both to fit in the oven. If you do opt for one larger pan, Johnson says to place turkeys side by side, allowing 1-inch of space between each turkey.
  • Don&apost double the roasting time: Even though you&aposll have two birds cooking, this doesn&apost mean you should double the cooking time for your turkey. So if you have two 12-pound turkeys, you&aposll roast the required time as if you only had one, which is 2¾ to 3 hours at 325ଏ. And don&apost forget your thermometer ($15, Target)! Your turkey is done when it registers 175ଏ in the thigh and 165ଏ in the breast.

With so many different ovens out there, Johnson recommends planning ahead. Determine your roasting pan size by making sure the turkeys fit and the pans will work in the oven.

10 Perfect Turkeys 10 Different Ways - Recipes

1. Turkeys should be cooked within 2–3 days of processing.

2. Store turkey in the coldest part of your fridge (back lower corners). Double bag it to make sure there is no leakage.

3. A fresh bird should take 12–15 minutes per pound using an instant-read thermometer is the best way to tell if your bird is cooked.

4. Rub the entire bird with herb butter made with dry seasoning (we like dried sage that we pick from our garden, dry and grind), kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, fresh rosemary and softened unsalted butter. Sprinkle the inside cavity with salt and pepper.

5. Use a large roasting pan fitted with a rack. The rack elevates the bird and helps it cook evenly.

6. Don’t be a Peeping Tom! Do not keep opening the door to the oven to check the bird. It lowers the heat.

7. Start by cooking your turkey covered with aluminum foil for 25 minutes in a preheated 375°–400° oven. After 25 minutes, drop the temperature to 300° and continue to roast.

8. When half the total estimated cooking time has passed, check the temperature by inserting an instant-read thermometer between the thigh and breast, being careful not to hit the bone.

9. Baste every 15 minutes during the last 30–45 minutes of cooking time, using the juices accumulated at the bottom of the pan, which will be flavorful if you seasoned properly. (We don’t generally baste. Farm-fresh turkeys do not have the same tendency to dry out as a frozen bird.)

10. When the bird hits 160°, remove the foil and allow the skin to brown for the last 5° of cooking, which takes about 5–10 minutes (if the turkey is the only item in your oven). Remove the bird from the oven when the thermometer reaches 165°. Let rest, covered loosely in foil, for 15 minutes.

Tradition is Roasting Turkey in Pieces


  • 1 turkey (13-15 lbs and remove the giblets et al and reserve for gravy)
  • 3 tblsp minced fresh sage
  • 1 ½ lbs hearty French bread cut into ½ -1 inch cubes
  • 1 tblsp vegetable oil
  • 3 tblsp unsalted butter
  • 3 medium onions finely chopped
  • 6 celery ribs finely chopped
  • 1 cup dried tart fruit like cranberries or cherries
  • 4 large eggs

First you need to go to a good butcher. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been in San Diego for Thanksgiving the last few years, and we’ve been able to go to Iowa Meat Farms, a butcher my mother used take me to ever since I can remember. These days it’s an amazing butcher, with a fantastic beer selection, fresh produce, unique spices, delicious apple pie, and cooking tools, etc. But when I was little, the place was super industrial, and I remember going through the plastic curtains at the entrance of the walk-in fridge like a car goes through an automatic carwash.

A good butcher is not only going to have access to hormone-free pasture-raised turkeys, and they’ll hold one for you at whatever size you want so you’re not stuck without a turkey come the big day (Iowa Meats recommended Diestel turkeys so that’s what we got) but they’ll also have the skills and patience to butcher the turkey for you. You can definitely do it yourself, but if you can get the pro to do it for you (oftentimes for free) why not?

Ritchie ended up helping us. I gave him the Cook’s Illustrated article with the step-by-step instructions for how to butcher the bird and as I watched him and his skilled hands being I started a little banter.

“How long have you been working here?” I asked.

“Nearly 40 years now,” he said.

“Well then you probably helped my mother and I when I was growing up. We used to come here for your carne asada and chicken fajita mix. Do you remember me?” I asked.

He laughed me off politely, and commented on the stability of their customer base over the years as he went back and forth from the bird to the magazine. I cringed each time he leaned over to read the next step and touched his salmonella-coated knife to the article to see where he was reading. It was like a cantor using a yad (pointer) to read the torah, which was fitting, because for me, Cook’s Illustrated is a sacred text.

And while Ritchie sliced and cut, I explained my life story from when I left San Diego to present. To which Jonathan rolled his eyes.

How to store leftover turkey

These are the most common ways we use to store leftover turkey (or cooked chicken) in the refrigerator and freezer:

  1. In glass meal prep containers with locking lids (see image below)
    • refrigerate up to 5 days
    • freeze up to 3 months
  2. In silicone storage bags or zip-top freezer bags
    • refrigerate up to 5 days
    • freeze up to 1 month
  3. In plastic deli rounds or containers
    • refrigerate up to 5 days
    • freeze up to 1 month
  4. In vacuum-sealed storage bags
    • freeze up to 3 months

I swear by these glass meal prep containers and vacuum-sealer methods keep my food fresh to the fullest extent. The only downside is that the glass containers are heavier than the other options, but they tend to last the longest and are the most convenient to wash. A vacuum sealer isn't cheap, but it pays for itself over time with food that can be frozen.

How do to dry roast brine a turkey?

Dry Brined Turkey is the ultimate Thanksgiving dish! It can be tricky to prepare but with this easy recipe, you can never go wrong.

All you have to do is follow everything in this post and I can guarantee that you will have the best tasting poultry dish on your dinner table!

I adore this specific dish because it is easy to prepare without skimping on flavor. The whole preparation makes the meat super tender and moist at the same time.

Roasting can dry out the meat, especially when you are cooking a whole bird. It can be quite overwhelming, but this way it is simple. All you need is this recipe and proper planning to execute this dish!

What is a dry roast brine?

Brining is a technique wherein you allow the salt to infuse the meat. In so doing, the juices are sucked out and are replaced with flavors from the mixture.

But with dry brining, there is no water involved. Instead, the mixture is directly rubbed on the surface of the meat. It is more like a dry rub. But this kind of brining takes time.

Dry brining not only infuses flavor, but it also helps with tenderizing the meat. Also, as a bonus, this technique keeps the skin crispy upon cooking.

What is a wet brine?

This is the opposite of dry brine. It has water in the mixture and the meat is submerged in it. You have seen us do this for making BBQ Pork Chops.

Can you dry brine a pre-basted turkey?

No, because you cannot simply know how much salt it already has. It is best to use an unsalted bird for this recipe so always check the label. If it has salt in it, you cannot use it.

Healthy gnocchi recipes


  • 400g cabbage
  • 1 cup of lentils, cooked
  • 350g vegan gnocchi
  • handful of spinach
  • 2 tbsp spring onions, chopped
  • 1.5 cups vegan cream
  • 1/2 nutmeg, finely chopped
  • 2 cups vegan cheese
  • salt and pepper


  1. Melt some butter in a tray.
  2. Add all of the ingredients and toss to combine.
  3. Bake in the oven at 200°C for 25 minutes.

Gnocchi are absolutely delicious and you can try cooking them in many different ways

Add some pesto, tomatoes and arugula to gnocchi and you have got yourself a meal

Boiled or baked, doesn’t matter, they are still delicious


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