Why You Should Never Baste Your Turkey

Resist the temptation

Standing in your kitchen on Thanksgiving Day, watching the prized turkey roast in the oven, it’s common to feel the need to do something. Just like with unnecessarily poking and prodding at burgers and steaks as they grill, it’s our natural impulse to want to be involved with our food as it cooks. So we open up the oven door, pull out the bird, admire the bubbling fat and the sumptuous scent, grab our trusty turkey baster and ogle as those liquids cascade down the bird. Then we close the door and smile, content in the knowledge that we’re doing our part to help it along.

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Except, in reality, basting a turkey doesn’t accomplish anything, except for making us feel good.

Just think about it: What exactly are you trying to achieve by basting a turkey? If you’re looking to make the meat juicier, drizzling fat over the skin (which is waterproof) won’t accomplish much. And if you want your skin to be crisp and crackly, adding moisture to it won’t accomplish much either.

And to make matters worse, every time you open the oven door, you let out heat, which means that it’ll take even longer for your bird to cook, causing it to dry out instead of becoming the beautiful bird you were hoping it would become by basting.


The simple act of just walking away and letting the magical combination of heat and time do its thing can be really difficult, and we understand that. But resist the urge to whip out that turkey baster; doing so is a common Thanksgiving mistake. Basting a turkey may be satisfying in the short term, but your turkey will suffer for it. Trusting in your skills as a cook and leaving the turkey alone until it’s done cooking is just one of the ways to make sure your turkey comes out absolutely perfect.