50+ Ultimate Thanksgiving Turkey Recipes
When it comes to the big Thanksgiving feast, there's no better way to begin giving thanks than by starting off with a perfectly cooked bird. These turkey recipes have been tried and tested and are absolutely fabulous. If you need a new go-to turkey recipe, look no further than these wow-worthy turkeys that are sure to turn out just right. Whether you like your turkey roasted, grilled, or even smoked, you're bound to find your family's next favorite recipe right here.
Cider-Glazed Turkey with Roasted Apples
An overnight wet brine infuses and plumps up the meat so it stays moist. Line a roasting pan with the brining bag before adding the liquid and the turkey so everything stays in place.
Grilled Butterflied Turkey with Fennel Garlic Rub
After years of experimenting with different techniques in the Test Kitchen, we've landed on butterflying and grilling as the path to a better bird. Flattened out, the turkey cooks more evenly and quickly, keeping the meat moist, while grilling produces ultra-crisp skin. Plus, your oven is freed up for cooking sides.
Forget dry, tasteless turkey. A rub of roasted garlic and fresh sage permeates every ounce of the bird, while a Dijon mustard-and-white wine baste locks in moisture for juicy, tender meat. Save the giblets for our Classic Turkey Gravy.
Turkey with Shallot-Mustard Sauce and Roasted Potatoes
Your family and guests will love the classic turkey herb blend of thyme, rosemary and sage. The turkey breast starts in the slow cooker to develop rich flavors. Pair it with fingerling roasted potatoes and a mustard sauce for a complete meal.
Cherry-Smoked Turkey on the Grill
The time put into the cooking process of this turkey is what garners such a stellar flavor. The smokey char that the exterior gets from the grill gives it a golden color and an even better rustic flavor. This turkey truly shines as an alternative method for Thanksgiving fare.
Grilled Butterflied Turkey
A simple salt-and-pepper brine makes this grilled turkey one of the juiciest birds you'll ever taste.
Brown Sugar-Cured Turkey with Apple-Bourbon Gravy
From the Kitchen of…Hunter Lewis, Cooking Light Editor
"On the front end, I infuse flavor by rubbing a cut-up turkey and curing it overnight. A deconstructed bird doesn't need as long to roast as a whole bird. That gets me valuable oven time for casseroles and ensures the white and dark meat, which all cook at different rates, is roasted to perfection."
Rosemary-Orange Roast Turkey
From the Kitchen of…Khalil Hymore, Cooking Light Contributor
Khalil likes to give his bird a pretty finishing sheen by brushing on savory-sweet marmalade glaze.
If you don't like the slightly bitter flavor of marmalade, you can substitute currant jelly for tart, bright flavor.
From the Kitchen of…David Bonom, Longtime Cooking Light Contributor
"For one of my birthdays, all of my friends chipped in and gave me the smoker of my dreams, knowing that they would benefit from it. Ever since then, my suburban New Jersey neighbors have gotten to enjoy the smells of my Thanksgiving turkey as it smokes in the backyard."
Applewood chips lend a slightly sweet and fruity flavor to the meat. You can also try smoking the turkey with cherry or alder wood chips for more delicate smoked flavor.
Grilled Butterflied Turkey with Celery Herb Rub
Ultra-crispy skin and delightful, fresh flavor are the hallmarks of this grilled butterflied turkey. The homemade rub consists of chopped celery leaves, fresh rosemary, fresh sage, fresh thyme, and pepper, and perfectly complements the turkey's natural taste.
Spice-Brined Turkey with Cider Pan Gravy
You can use a double layer of turkey brining bags, then keep the bagged turkey in a stockpot in the refrigerator to guard against punctures. Garnish the turkey with fresh herbs and apples, if desired.
Dry-Brined-and-Marinated Smoked Turkey
To make this turkey ahead of time, dry-brine the turkey two days before Thanksgiving, and smoke it the next day. Cut the turkey into pieces (legs, breast, wings, etc.), and place in a zip-top plastic bag. Store in refrigerator. About an hour before dinner, place turkey pieces in a single layer on a baking sheet, and cover with aluminum foil. Warm in a 300° oven until heated.
Dry-Cured Roasted Turkey with Herb Butter
Pressed for extra fridge space for wet-brining? Try rubbing your turkey with salt two days before roasting to season it beautifully without the messiness of a brine. A flavorful herb butter adds juiciness. Pair with a Pinot Noir or dry Riesling.
Turkey pros swear by brining for tender, succulent meat. Line a disposable roasting pan with the brining bag before adding liquid and turkey. If it won't fit in your fridge, nestle in a cooler with ice--the temperature will stay in the safe zone until you're ready to roast.
Roasted Herb Turkey and Gravy
This classic turkey and gravy recipe features a bird rubbed down with herb butter and roasted in the oven alongside onions, carrots, and celery.
Juicy Roast Turkey with Herbes de Provence
There are two secrets to a succulent roast turkey. The first is not to overcook the turkey, and the second is to buy a fresh, free-range bird that has not been frozen.
Smoky Spatchcocked Turkey
Grill a spatchcocked turkey for a smoky, robust bird that's ready in half the time. The turkey won't have grill marks (it cooks skin side up over indirect heat) but will absorb that chargrilled flavor.
Sweet-and-Spicy Roast Turkey
Try a fresh, sweet and spicy twist on traditional Thanksgiving roast turkey with this simple recipe, which calls for basting the turkey with a honey-hot sauce mixture while it roasts in the oven.
Honey-Bourbon Spatchcocked Turkey
The brine is all the seasoning you need for this fantastic bird. While the amount of bourbon used in the brine may seem generous, it will impart a very subtle flavor to the meat once all the water is added, diluting it slightly. If you want a more intense smoke flavor, add a handful of soaked applewood chips to the grill. For a deeply bronzed, almost mahogany look, brush the skin with a mixture of water and honey each time you go to rotate the bird.
French Onion Turkey Breast
Thanksgiving guest list looking a little smaller this year? Consider roasting a turkey breast instead of the full bird. Caramelized onions become the base for a gravy that tastes like the best French onion soup ever, while the bone keeps the breast meat moist. If you leave the skin on, it adds 20 calories and 1g sat fat per serving.
Herb, Lemon, and Garlic Turkey
Instead of a wet brine, this bird uses an overnight dry salt-and-sugar cure, which concentrates flavor. If you want to leave the skin on, it will add 25 calories and 1g of sat fat per serving.
Maple-Cider Brined Turkey with Bourbon-Cider Gravy
This turkey recipe infuses the meat with rich fall flavors, such as maple syrup, apple cider, bourbon, allspice, cloves, and orange. Use your largest stockpot for brining the bird, or a brining bag.
This Asian-inspired turkey recipe calls for marinating and basting the bird with soy, sesame, honey and ginger, giving it superb flavor and a beautiful mahogany color.
Apple-Bourbon Turkey and Gravy
Apple slices and aromatic vegetables line the roasting pan, creating a colorful rack that adds terrific flavor to both the turkey and pan juices.
Grilled Butterflied Turkey with Rosemary Garlic Gravy
Butterflying the turkey—removing the back so it lies flat—makes it cook faster. Fresh garlic and rosemary give the homemade gravy a rich, full flavor.
Roasted Turkey with Béarnaise Butter
Bearnaise butter elevates the already beautiful flavor of roasted turkey for an impressive holiday dinner.
Pomegranate-and-Balsamic-Glazed Turkey brings seasonal flavor to the holiday table. Keep things simple by purchasing white and dark meat pieces, instead of a whole turkey. They can roast together on a sheet pan. Basting with the pomegranate-and-balsamic glaze adds a hint of tart sweetness to the meat.
Smoked Turkey Breast
Smoked Turkey Breast is a winning choice for your Thanksgiving table or any dining occasion. This turkey breast is bursting with smoky flavor, incredibly moist, and super tender too.
Hickory-Smoked Bourbon Turkey
We gave this recipe our highest rating, which says a lot for this delicious bird. This turkey recipe is sure to make waves at your next Thanksgiving gathering.
Heritage Turkey with Crisped Pancetta and Rosemary
Heritage turkeys are breeds (such as Bourbon Red and Standard Bronze) that predate the Broad-Breasted White, the ubiquitous grocery-store turkey. The thighs and legs have rich, amazing flavor, but can be tough. For best results, we braise the legs and thighs and roast the breast.
Dry-Cured Rosemary Turkey
Slow-Roasted Turkey with Cream Gravy
For this take on turkey, cut the bird into pieces (which helps ensure even cooking), salt overnight, and cook slowly for juicy, tender meat. If breaking down the turkey seems too advanced, have your butcher do it for you.
Farmhouse Roast Turkey with Rosemary Gravy
Basting promotes browning, and hot drippings help seal the skin to hold in juices and keep the turkey moist. You'll have plenty of Rosemary Gravy to go over the stuffing and potatoes, and to use on open-faced turkey sandwiches later.
Spicy Maple Turkey Breast with Quick Pan Sauce
If you don't want to spend your entire Turkey Day in the kitchen, this is the entrée for you. A bold spice rub gives the meat big flavor and gorgeous color.
This smoked turkey is sure to be a hit with anyone from the Northeast or Midwest, where grilling something in November would be next to impossible. You can find wine-infused wood chips on Amazon for approximately $12 for a 1.5-lb-plus bag. Or, soak mesquite or applewood chips in equal parts red wine and water and omit the water-soaking step.
Roast Spiced Turkey
You can roast the turkey with just a sheen of oil, or you can add spices for bolder flavor. We've adapted the seasoning rub that Gayle Pirie and John Clark, chef-owners of Foreign Cinema in San Francisco, use on chicken. You can prepare the turkey through step 1 up to 1 day ahead; cover and chill.
Roasted Beer-Brined Turkey with Onion Gravy and Bacon
Adding Guinness, or any dark beer, to the brine gives the turkey a toasty flavor and helps give the skin a dark brown color.
Apple-Poblano Whole Roast Turkey
A hint of Southwest spice and chile heat blend with sweet apples for a crowd-pleasing change from traditional turkey.
This delicious holiday turkey is rubbed with an oregano-coriander mixture and baked with garlic and lemon for moist, tender results.
Maple-Glazed Turkey with Onion-Cider Gravy
This delicious turkey gets a double basting treatment. Start with a blend of chicken broth and apple cider, basting every 30 minutes for about three hours. In the last half hour, remove the foil and baste with the reserved maple syrup for a sweet glaze.
Salt-and-Pepper Roast Turkey (Tacchino Arrosto con Sale e Pepe)
If desired, rub the turkey with the salt and pepper the night before roasting to slightly "cure" the meat.
Seasoned Roast Turkey
This gorgeous turkey is seasoned with nine spices for extra flavor impact. Note that it also releases lots of delectable drippings for some dynamite gravy.
Hawaiian-Portuguese Smoked Turkey
A wave of Portuguese came to Hawaii in the late 1800s to work the sugarcane fields, and over time their cooking traditions fused with those of other cultures in the islands, including Chinese and Japanese. Greg Boyer picked up this recipe from a Hawaiian-Portuguese acquaintance some 30 years ago. Prep and Cook Time: 4 to 5 hours, plus 2 days to marinate. Notes: Boyer starts with a frozen turkey and marinates it for 3 days; our version starts with a thawed or fresh bird. If your arms aren't strong, it's helpful to have a friend or relative help you ease the turkey on and off the grill.
Apple Cider-Brined Turkey with Savory Herb Gravy
This turkey is a pleasure to offer on your table. It's incredibly moist and flavorful, and it received our highest Test Kitchens rating. Brining is an overnight process, so if you're using a frozen turkey, be sure to thaw it well in advance. Choose turkey-sized plastic oven bags for brining the turkey. Use two bags to prevent brine from leaking, and place the turkey in a large stockpot as another precaution. This recipe goes with Savory Herb Gravy.
Dry Brined-Herb Roasted Turkey
Skip the cumbersome wet brines that call for soaking turkey and making the skin flabby. This classic overnight dry brine--a simple herb, salt, and sugar mixture--gives the turkey deep flavor and a crackly crust. Be adventurous and create your own signature dry brine using our sugar and salt ratios as a guide, or try one of our three variations.
Cajun Fried Turkey
With crispy, golden-brown skin, moist, juicy meat, and a little bit of heat, our Cajun Fried Turkey is an unforgettable holiday centerpiece. This beautiful, golden bird also puts off the most incredible aroma (Think KFC fried chicken, but better) while cooking, so don’t be surprised if you end up with some spectators. Seasoning the bird right after it comes out of the fryer will help the dry seasonings adhere better, making for a better-tasting bird.
Pellet Grill Smoked Turkey with Montreal Seasoning
Our Pellet Grill Smoked Turkey With Montreal Seasoning is so tender, the meat just falls off the bone. All you need to do to keep the bird steady while cooking is gently crack or spread out the rib cage—just don’t forget to be gentle with the breast meat. Montreal seasoning, a blend of black pepper, garlic, coriander, and dill, is typically used for steak, but it works magnificently on poultry. Don’t worry about getting the meat to 165°F (the food-safe temperature) in Step 4. The turkey will rise in temperature while you let it rest for 45 minutes.
Perfect Roast Turkey
First-time Thanksgiving hosts, don’t fear: We’ve got the perfect simple, yet doable turkey recipe that also happens to be super delicious. The bird comes out moist (Butterball turkeys are pre-brined, saving first-time roasters some serious time and cooking space) with a delectably crispy, brown skin. There’s a bit of butter involved, so wear disposable gloves while you’re rubbing it all over the outside of the bird. The turkey's temperature will rise as it rests, meaning that the entire bird will be at least 165°F by the time it's ready to eat.
Smoked Turkey with Herb Rub
This is the only smoked turkey recipe you will ever need. The herb brine highlights all the wonderful flavors of the holidays, balancing the best poultry spices (like thyme, rosemary and sage) with sweet light brown sugar and the perfect amount of salt to round it all out.
We tried wet-brining, dry-brining, and injection-brining techniques before landing on self-basting as the best method. To keep sodium down, we found that injecting the bird with fat and seasoned liquid gives you the most flavor and juiciest meat.