5 Tips For The Best Turkey Your Table Has Ever Seen!

Basting, brining, and beauty up your turkey.

It’s the reason people celebrate Thanksgiving, the reason people deal with their weird relatives, the reason we all can’t fit into our pants the next day: TURKEY. What is Thanksgiving without an excellent, beautifully roasted bird in the middle of your table? (my apologies to all of the vegetarians) The issue comes when the turkey is not quite right: too dry, not seasoned enough… everyone has had one on their plate. Here are 5 solutions to the many turkey problems people seem to face.

THANKSGIVING TURKEY
PHOTO SARAH GRAHAM

5. Get the Right-Sized Bird

Too small and your family has no leftovers. Too big and you feel awful throwing the leftovers away! Look on the package and plan accordingly. If you have a small family get together like I usually have around 8-10 people, get a 16-20 pound turkey, depending on how many leftover you and your guests will want.

4. Stuffing is Crucial, But Not Everywhere that You Think

Stuffing is an important part of the Thanksgiving meal. While most people actually “stuff” the turkey with their stuffing, my family bakes our stuffing on the side, so it’s nice and crunchy on the top and not too soft. You can also make more this way! Instead, to give it a nice herb-and-vegetable-roasted flavor, we actually stuff and bake ours with various vegetables like carrots and celery (after removing the bag of giblets of course) just to give it that extra flavor. These are then thrown out before cutting the turkey

3. Low and Slow

Poorly-cooked turkeys are victims of the oven. The real key to a nicely-roasted bird is to cook it all day at a very low temperature. A 16-20 pound bird like my family usually gets should be cooked for three and a half to four and a half hours at 325 degrees F, but make sure to periodically check it. If the turkey looks like it’s getting too browned but has not cooked long enough yet, cover it with tin foil to keep the outside from burning and lock the moisture inside.

2. Garlic and Herb Butter – your key to a golden brown exterior

In order to make sure the turkey has enough flavor and the skin is crispy and golden brown, rubbing it with garlic herb butter is the key. Soften some sticks of butter and add some fresh rosemary to it. Mix it around to make a rosemary butter paste. When you have this, rub the outside of the bird with the butter. Here’s the kicker: then you reach in between the skin and the meat, without ripping the skin, to rub some butter in there as well. Then you put some fresh garlic cloves under the skin as well. This is a delicious way to spice your turkey and make it golden brown while keeping it moist.

And for the most well-kept secret of all…

1. Soaking it Overnight

The brine is possibly the most important part of the entire turkey-preparing experience. Since my mom found a brining her turkeys have never been so moist. Fill a large container (I use a cooler) with water—not totally covering the turkey, but not only touching the bottom. Then throw in some salt, oranges, carrots, celery, onion, whole sprigs of rosemary, and the most important part: brown sugar! Do this slightly less than 24 hours before you will be baking the turkey so that you don’t totally water-log the turkey, but keeping the turkey in the brine will ensure the most moist turkey you’ve ever made!

Wishing everyone a Thanksgiving filled with moist and delicious turkeys, family, and fun times in the kitchen.

Article written by Sarah Graham. 

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