Best Turkey Recipes

Ask someone how they like their turkey and you are likely to get some strong opinions.  Turkey tends to be deeply personal.  Whether its roasted, fried, or stuffed with two other meats, you will be hard pressed to find one cook who does not aspire to prepare the perfect turkey for Thanksgiving.  That is because everyone has a bad turkey memory, and it is something you never forget.  Or live down.

Fortunately there is a bounty of good turkey recipes, all of which guarantee a succulent bird, and almost none of which are easy to mess up (provided you follow the recipe).  They vary in terms of difficulty and some are quite adventurous.  My family is up for pretty much anything, but this year I opted for a garlicky-herby roasted turkey (the bird in the picture; recipe at the bottom of this post).  In prior years I have brined and roasted, deep fried, and smoked my turkeys, and used the leftovers for pot pies and turkey curry.  So rather than just posting a single recipe, I pulled together the best recipes I could find and grouped them by cooking technique to give you a a nice variety to look over and choose from.  Whatever you choose to do, try not to be too stressed out.  If I can give one piece of advice , it is to keep your bird moist while it is roasting and baste, baste, baste.  Do not forget it is in the oven or it will dry out.  One more piece of advice - if you get a bird with a pop up indicator, throw it out and rely instead on your meat thermometer. This is especially important if the turkey is a little frozen in the middle.  Those things tend to pop too early, which means an undercooked bird.

I love turkey and I love Thanksgiving, so this was a truly fun project. Grab a glass of wine and paper and pen, and have fun perusing these 30 turkey recipes!

Unbrined, Roasted

Herbs, Garlic and Lemons

Just butter.  Just awesomely turkey.

Hard cider and wine makes for a sweet, succulent bird

With herbed stuffing and gravy

No fuss, no muss!

Wine and butter soaked cheesecloth = perfectly brown bird

Technically delicious

Brined, Roasted

Classic brine = crisp skin and moist meat

Dry brined

Brown sugar in the brine

Beer brine, baby

Buttermilk brine, tender and juicy

Deep Fat Fried

First of all . . .

Classic Southern style

Peanut oil makes for potato chip crisp skin

A smokey rub

Nice and herby

Global Flavors

Jamaican Jerk Style

Moroccan Tagine Style

With Curry Flavors

Smoked and Barbequed

And now, my Thanksgiving 2017 turkey:

Garlic-Rosemary Roasted Turkey


18-20 pound turkey

2 sticks (19 tablespoons) unsalted butter

1/4 cup coarse kosher salt

1 tablespoon ground black pepper

1/2 bottle dry white wine

1 cup chicken stock

4 sprigs fresh rosemary

8 sprigs fresh thyme

2 fresh bay leaves

Several whole leaves of fresh sage

I small yellow onion, halved

1 head of garlic, the outer paper stripped away but kept whole

1 cheesecloth


1. Preheat the oven to 425F.

2. In a medium saucepan add the wine, broth, one stick of the butter, 2 of the rosemary springs, 4 of the thyme springs, a couple of the sage leaves, and one of the bay leaves.  Place over low-medium heat to melt the butter.

3.  Take your turkey out of its packaging and remove the giblets, neck, and what ever else is stuck inside.  Place the neck and giblets in medium saucepan with 4 cups of water and bring to a simmer, then lower to a shimmer.  (You will later use this for gravy.)  Dry the turkey thoroughly with paper towels inside and out.  Place the turkey on a rack inside a large roasting pan.

4.  By now the butter should be melted.  Fold the cheesecloth into a nice square and dunk the in the liquid and let sit until ready to use.

5.  Season the turkey inside and out with the salt and pepper.  Stuff the remaining herbs, head of garlic, and onion inside the cavity.

6.  Melt the other stick of butter and pour all over the turkey.  Using tongs, pick up the cheesecloth and squeeze slightly.  Spread the cheesecloth over the turkey, covering the entire breast and legs.  Keep the wine and butter basting liquid warm on the stove.

7.  Pop the shrouded turkey, legs first, in the oven and roast for 30 minutes.  

8.  After the 30 minutes, turn the temperature down to 350F.  Using a basting brush or mop, generously baste the cheesecloth covered turkey all over with the warm liquid on the stove. Close the oven door and roast the turkey like this for 2 1/2 hours, basting every 20-30 minutes.  If you run out of the wine butter liquid, start basting with the drippings in the bottom of the turkey pan.  

9. After the 2 1/2 hours, remove the cheesecloth from the turkey and discard.  Baste one more time, then return to the oven, this time breast side first.  Roast for another hour, basting every 30 minutes.  After the hour remove the turkey from the oven and insert a meat thermometer into the thigh, about 2/3 of the way in.  If the temperature reads done (160 degrees), you're done.  If not, remove the thermometer and return the turkey to the oven in 20 minute increments until it reads done.

10. When the turkey's done, remove it from the oven, and fish the onions and head of garlic out of the cavity.  Discard the onion and put the roasted garlic aside.  Place the turkey on a platter and rest the head of garlic alongside.

11.  Let your turkey rest, uncovered, for about 30 minutes.  When you serve, offer everyone a clove of the roasted garlic to spread on their turkey. 

For the gravy:

Take 1/2 cup of the turkey drippings and bring to simmer in a medium saucepan.  Whisk in 1/4 cup of all purpose flour until fully combined and bubbling.  Slowly pour in 2 -3 cups of turkey or chicken broth, whisking to keep from clumping, until you get a smooth gravy with medium consistency.  Remove from the heat and serve with the turkey.