Everyone knows the importance of the turkey on Thanksgiving, and we also know it takes more than gravy to fix a dry, flavorless turkey. Here we share all the tips and techniques that will help you roast and carve a perfect, tender, and juicy turkey for Thanksgiving this year.
1. Don’t cook stuffing in your turkey
Stuffing will often take longer to heat than the turkey itself. By the time your stuffing comes up to a safe temperature, the breast will often be 180 or higher, i.e. jerky.
2. Smaller turkeys are better
I know it’s cool to deliver a giant turkey to the table for your guests, but large turkeys are more likely to dry out. Stick with smaller turkeys, between 12 and 14 pounds, and do more than one for large groups.
3. Brine your turkey
Brines not only add extra moisture to the turkey, but lots of flavor.
4. Use a turkey triangle
A turkey triangle is a triangle of tin foil placed over the breast for the majority of cooking, which slows the cooking of the breast meat and allows the dark meat to come up to a higher temperature with the breast meat drying out. I personally do not view the turkey triangle as “optional.”
We made a video showing the full process:
We also filmed a carving tutorial:
Equipment used (or similar):
|Pot||Meat Thermometer||Roasting Pan|
|Carving Set||Carving Board||Serving Platter|
A Perfectly Roasted Thanksgiving Turkey
For brining the turkey
- 3 inches fresh ginger
- 2 sprigs fresh oregano
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme
- 7 garlic cloves smashed
- 2 cinnamon sticks broken in half
- 2 pieces mace optional but encouraged
- 5 cloves
- 1/2 tbsp black peppercorns
- 1 tbsp allspice berries
- 1 tbsp juniper berries
- 1 gallon water
- 1 1/2 cups kosher salt
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 lemons
- 1 12-14lb turkey
- 2 7lb bags ice
For roasting the turkey
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 1 sprig thyme
- 1 sprig oregano
- 1 sprig sage
- 1 lemon cut in half
- olive oil
Brine the turkey
- Lay out a couple layers of cheesecloth. On top of it put the ginger, oregano, bay leaves, thyme, garlic, cinnamon, mace, cloves, black peppercorns, allspice berries, and juniper berries. Fold up the edges and tie some string around the top to form a packet.
- In a large pot, add the water, salt, sugar, lemons, and spice packet. Bring to a boil over high heat and simmer for 10-20 minutes.
- In a 5 gallon food grade bucket, add one bag of ice. Pour the hot liquid from the pot over the ice into the bucket. Add the turkey, breast side down, to the bucket, stuffing the packet of aromatics into the cavity.
- Add as much ice as can fit in the bucket while still being able to get the lid on tightly. Set in the fridge for 24-48 hours.
Roast the turkey
- Remove the turkey from the brine and discard the brine and packet of aromatics. Pat the turkey completely dry with paper towels, on the outside as well as the inner cavity.
- Place the turkey on a roasting rack in a roasting pan. Loosely place the cinnamon stick, herbs and 1 half of the lemon in the inner cavity. Stuff the other half of the lemon in the neck area.
- Truss the turkey by folding the wing tips back over themselves and tucking them in, and tying the ankles together.
- Make a large triangle out of tin foil. Form it over the breast with the top point of the triangle meeting the bottom of the breast. Fold any excess foil back so the wings are not covered. Remove the foil triangle, but keep its shape so it can be easily placed back on the turkey.
- Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Rub the turkey with a light layer of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Once the oven is heated, roast the turkey, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
- After the first 30 minutes is up, reduce the oven temperature down to 350 and remove the turkey from the oven. Using a meat thermometer with 2 wire leads, stick one lead into the breast meat and one to the inside of one of the thighs. Place the foil triangle back over the breast, and put the turkey back in the oven.
- Roast the turkey until the breast meat reaches 150 degrees. Remove the foil, turn the oven to 400 and roast until the breast meat reaches 160 (the thigh meat will likely be around 180 or even more - that's what you want).
- Remove the turkey from the oven and let rest, uncovered, for 60 minutes. After it has rested, carve and serve. Happy Thanksgiving!
Other helpful Thanksgiving posts:
• Savory Cornbread Stuffing
• Scratch-Made Asparagus Casserole (my version of green bean casserole)
• Country-Style Herbed Mashed Potatoes
• Dijon Country Gravy Made with Turkey Drippings
• Homemade Cranberry Sauce Worth Serving
• Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Maple and Bacon Vinaigrette
• Light and Airy Pumpkin-Ricotta Cheesecake
• How to Make an Entire Thanksgiving Meal In One Oven