Ahh, the holiday turkey! A whole bird, cooked (hopefully!) to perfection, that sits as the prestigious centerpiece upon many a holiday table across America and around the world. Though surrounded by delicious sides, salads, stuffing and sauces, the turkey is typically the undisputed star of the show. But all too often, the Thanksgiving turkey under-delivers — oh, what a shame!
If you think that turkey is by its nature dry and underwhelming, you are not alone! But it’s actually possible to cook turkey well. One problem is that most people only cook a whole turkey once, maybe twice a year at most. How do you expect Aunt Sue to perfectly cook a turkey on Thanksgiving when she hardly goes near the stove the other 364 days of the year?
If you need turkey inspiration, look no further! There are more ways to cook turkey than you may assume, from the traditional roasted to brined, fried, smoked or even bacon-wrapped birds. Of course, nothing screams tradition like an oven-roasted turkey, but if that doesn’t inspire you, there are plenty of outer routes to go down. So keep reading, take notes, choose one of these tasty recipes and try one of the five most popular ways to cook a turkey.
Roasting is without a doubt the most popular method used to cook a whole turkey. And what’s not to love? It’s easy and straightforward and yields delicious results. If you choose not to stuff your turkey (an increasingly common approach) you should expect to cook it for roughly 15 minutes per pound in a 325-degree F oven.
As this turkey roasts to a rich golden brown, it fills the kitchen with the enticing aroma of apples and leeks, which roast along with it. Cider, used to baste the bird and also in the scrumptious sauce, adds a fresh, fruity accent to this roasted fowl. The recipe calls for a 14-pound bird, perfect for serving eight with leftovers.
OK, so roasting a whole bird might not seem particularly novel, but have you ever tried roasting it with mayonnaise? If you are looking for something that is both classic and a bit avant-garde, try this recipe! Cooking with mayonnaise yields delicious results!
Do you find a whole roasted turkey boring? A simple but effective spice rub made with ground coriander, cumin, chili powder, crushed red pepper and garlic powder is an excellent way to up the ante this holiday season.
Perhaps bright and citrusy flavors are more your style? In that case, look no further than this rosemary and citrus-crusted turkey that takes simple ingredients — fresh rosemary, thyme, lemon zest and orange zest — and transforms them into a tasty rub.
Here’s another way to cook a whole turkey that falls under the roasting method, but has a bit of a twist. This recipe for roasted butterflied turkey is basically foolproof and will yield an evenly cooked turkey with plenty of crispy skin. All you need is a sharp set of kitchen shears, but if the thought of butterflying the bird yourself is too much, buy your turkey from a butcher and have them do that step for you.
OK, so brining might not be its own cooking method entirely, but is something more people should be doing and a trick that those in the know swear by! When done correctly, brining can produce a turkey that is juicy, well-seasoned and totally delicious.
The brine in this recipe gets its flavor from wonderful aromatics like fennel seed, white peppercorn, star anise, cloves and cinnamon sticks — a perfectly seasonal array of spices!
If you are brining a turkey for the first time, try this simple recipe and play around with the optional ingredients to find what works best for you. This recipe is meant for an 8- to 10-pound turkey, so if your bird is larger than that, this recipe may need to be doubled or tripled.
This turkey brine uses brown sugar, sage, thyme, salt, garlic, peppercorns and bay leaves — a combination that is sure to make any turkey totally delicious.
Did you know that not all brines are wet? Many people hear the word brine and immediately picture a giant vessel of liquid, but dry brines are also a great way to flavor your turkey and ensure it stays wonderfully juicy. This dry brine made with salt and smoked paprika couldn’t be easier!
Are you looking for the best turkey recipe ever? Well, look no further! In this recipe, the turkey is brined overnight in a mixture of sugar, salt, apple cider vinegar, sage, thyme, rosemary and black pepper before being roasted to perfection!
Deep- frying your Thanksgiving turkey is another option if you are looking for something a bit different — dinner with a show perhaps? Deep frying a turkey means the bird will cook faster, the skin should be incredibly crispy and the meat won’t dry out as easily. If that sounds too good to resist, just do your research and learn the safest way to fry a turkey before you light that giant deep-fryer!
Fried turkey is the answer to a Thanksgiving under the gun. There is no need to wake up at the crack of dawn to put the turkey in the oven. Let that bird brine for 36 hours, then pop it in a cauldron of hot fat (outside, of course). You’ll have turkey on the table in less than two hours.
This recipe gives you the option to brine or not to brine and calls for a syringe, which is used to inject hot sauce underneath the skin for even more flavor. Always make sure your turkey is as dry as possible before submerging it in a vat of hot fat, and always, always fry in a clear, outdoor space!
It is a popular opinion that anything is better when covered in bacon, so why not buy some extra rashers and try wrapping your Thanksgiving turkey in bacon? It is certainly a delicous way to get more bacon into your Thankgiving meal.
Nothing's better than bacon on its own — except when it's Thanksgiving Day and your turkey is wrapped in some. This recipe uses a seasoning and olive oil paste under the turkey's skin to add a subtle hint of flavor that pairs perfectly with the bacon.
If there’s one recipe you should trust Guy Fieri to make, it’s probably a bacon covered turkey, right?
If you haven’t tried smoking a turkey, then perhaps this is the year to do so! Cooking a whole turkey slowly in a smoker or on a grill results in a turkey that is delicately flavored, juicy and totally delicious.
You’ll find that a beer-can turkey is smoky, succulent, tender and, most of all, mind-blowingly delicious. It’ll instantly take the stage for many holidays to come, and you’ll finally believe us when we say that turkey is not just for Thanksgiving — you’ll want to make it all year round.
If smoking a whole bird seems like too much, then make things more manageable by smoking a few different pieces instead. In this recipe, the bird is broken down into much more manageable pieces, which is a great way to test the waters without a full-on commitment.
This smoked turkey recipe couldn’t be easier and is so delicious you may be tempted to make it even at a summertime barbecue.
Smoking is both exotic and wonderful as a spice for everything from meat and fish to vegetables and cheese. Experiment with different types of wood to find just the right balance. Here, applewood is used to complement and enhance the flavor of the turkey.
If you have time on your hands and want to cook the turkey in a few different ways, then this is the recipe for you! The drumsticks are smoked and roasted, the thighs and wings are braised, and the breasts are cooked with a mayonnaise marinade that will prevent any possibility of drying out. With a recipe as involved as this one, cut down on day-of prep and make sure your menu features some easy make-ahead Thanksgiving dishes!
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