Get the most moist, juicy turkey you can anytime with these top tips on how to roast a turkey!
When it’s time for a turkey dinner, whether for the holidays or just because, you want to have the best flavor you can get. Sadly, more often than not, many turkeys wind up overcooked, dried out, or just plain “meh” in flavor.
However, there ARE some tips you can use to get the most flavorful turkey ever! Moist, tender, fall of the bone white meat and juicy, flavorful dark meat can grace your table. Can you just taste it? No more need for tons of gravy to make it all go down, you will want to make an additional turkey just for leftovers!
Of course, if you are like me, you try and make two turkeys at time anyway. When they go on sale, they are super affordable. Leftover turkey makes great soup, sandwiches, and casseroles. Each year, at Thanksgiving, I attempt to believe that my oven has magically grown 6 inches in width overnight and I STILL try and get two full turkeys in the oven at the same time.
Each year I fail.
Knowing how to roast a turkey properly means that I can get good results any time.
So that second turkey can wait an another day or two. It’s content to stay in the freezer until I am ready for it. Here’s my top tips for perfect turkey every time:
Tip #1-Thaw your turkey completely.
A half frozen turkey will create cause uneven cooking spots on your turkey. The parts that are thawed will also cook faster than the frozen parts, and you will end up with either raw parts, or overcooked parts. Thaw your turkey overnight in a cooler of icy water. This will keep your turkey in the “safe food zone” and avoid bacteria from rapidly growing.
If you don’t have a cooler, or you have a couple of days planned ahead, thaw your turkey in the fridge. This method can take 2-3 days for your turkey to completely thaw. You’ll know it’s completely thawed when you reach inside to remove the giblet bag and you see or feel no ice crystals.
Tip # 2-Marinade your turkey for at least 6 hours before roasting.
This infuses tons of flavor into your turkey. I use my cooler again for this purpose. It’s much easier to keep the turkey in a cool temperature while it’s marinading. My favorite marinade for turkey includes salt, sugar, pepper, garlic, onion, and bay leaf. (recipe included below) Allow your turkey to enjoy this bath for at least 6 hours.
Tip #3-Don’t be afraid of seasonings.
I love to layer on more seasonings before the bird goes into the oven. Equal parts of salt, pepper, garlic, and rosemary all play a part in our turkey’s flavor. Mix the seasonings together, and apply liberally to the skin, the insides and under the skin when you can.
Tip #4-Skip tradition and don’t stuff your turkey.
While many still stuff their turkey, and I can’t really blame you for that, I have found that NOT stuffing it leads to a more moist bird. This may have to do with the fact that the turkey doesn’t need quite as long to reach fully cooked stage when you have an open bird. There is also some thought that the stuffing in the bird may NOT be safe to eat, as it can be riddled with bacteria. However, the choice is yours.
I would suggest trying to NOT stuff your turkey this year and see if you don’t notice a difference in flavor and juiciness.
Tip #5-Roast your bird breast side DOWN.
This is also against “tradition”, but it’s a good way to get perfectly roasted turkey every time. Why? Because all the juices will run into the white meat that is normally drier due to less fat content. The dark meat has a bit of higher fat, so it’s naturally more moist. This way, the entire bird is juicy!
Don’t forget to add the giblets on the side to roast with the turkey-they will make delicious gravy!
Tip #6-Skip the bag and baste the bird.
Those turkey roasting bags were thought of to be a wonderful thing in our family. That is, until the year my mother forgot to poke holes in it and the thing exploded in the oven. It was a huge mess on a day when the kitchen was already a disaster.
Simply allow the bird to roast in the oven for the first few hours, then baste it with it’s juices for the last hour of roasting. There will be lots of juices, along with the butter to make a perfect basting “sauce” for the bird. Don’t forget to save those pan drippings for the gravy, too!
Tip #7- Use lots of butter.
When preparing your bird to go into the oven, be sure to add a couple Tablespoons of butter under the skin, in the inner cavity and rub some all over. This will help make pan juices to baste the turkey in, as well as keep the bird more moist. I typically use an entire stick of butter, but you can cut it back a bit, if you want to. But, do you really want to?
Tip #8-Allow the bird plenty of rest time.
Being roasted in the oven is hard work. Your bird needs some time out of the oven to just rest before being carved. This will allow the juices to redistribute into the meat, and you know what that means-more juicy turkey!
When you remove the pan from the oven, cover tightly with aluminum foil and set out of the way. Allow it to rest for at least 20 minutes. The bird will continue to cook a bit while resting, and this gives you the needed time to finish up the side dishes, get the coffee ready, and the table set.
I hope these top 8 tips of how to roast a turkey will help you get the best bird ever! What are some of your favorite tips for getting the most juicy turkey meat you can? Be sure to let me know if you try and love these ideas!
Side dishes you are sure to love with your turkey:
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup organic sugar
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 3 Tablespoons ground black pepper
- 1 whole head garlic, peeled and lightly smashed
- 2 whole onions quartered
- 5 dried bay leaves
- more water to cover
- Pour the water into a large cooler that has a lid.
- Add remaining brine ingredients, except bay leaves.
- Stir to mix and dissolve sugar and salt.
- Carefully place turkey in large bucket or cooler. Cover turkey with cold water and ice, so that it's completely submerged.
- Toss in bay leaves to the brine and turkey, and allow to sit for 24 hours.
- Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
- Carefully drain and pat the turkey dry. Stuff turkey with butter chunks in the breast, thigh, and leg areas.
- Roast breast side down for 14 minutes per pound.
- When finished, remove from oven, cover with aluminum foil and allow the turkey to rest for 20 minutes before carving.
Heather is a homesteading foodie who loves to bake, cook and create delicious things. After 20 years of working in the restaurant, she decided it was time to share her love of food with everyone!