16 Ways to Cook a Turkey
Thanksgiving is a beloved holiday full of fun, family, and fulfilling food. One of the most relished staples of the holiday is Thanksgiving turkey! While the classic roasted Thanksgiving turkey recipe is sure to be a crowd-pleaser, there are other methods of cooking a turkey that could elevate your hosting game to a whole new level. How many ways can a turkey be cooked? You might be surprised! The team at TitleMax has created a festive guide showing 16 ways to cook a turkey. You will discover how to dry brine a turkey, how to roast a turkey, how to deep-fry a turkey, how to smoke a turkey, how to slow-cook a turkey, how to make a beer-can turkey, and more:
|Dry-Brining||Coat the turkey with a thick layer of salt, and then let it sit in the fridge uncovered for a few days. This yields far crispier skin than other methods. You can customize the dry brine with spices and herbs.|
Submerge the turkey in a saltwater solution and place in the fridge for about 24 hours before roasting. You can add spices, herbs, citrus peels, and other ingredients to customize the flavor. Brined turkeys cook a bit faster, so be sure to check the temperature halfway through the estimated
Place the turkey in a large roasting pan. Salt and pepper the inside of the turkey cavity. Stuff it with flavorful ingredients such as thyme, lemon, onion, and garlic. Brush the outside with butter and season as desired. Tie the legs together with string, and tuck the wing tips under the
body. Roast for 13-17 minutes per pound, depending on the oven.
Roasting can be done after other preparation methods, such as brining.
Follow the same method as roasting, but roast at a low oven temperature for 8-12 hours, depending on the size of the turkey. This creates a decadent, tender, and golden-brown bird. Bake at 350°F for 1 hour, then lower it to 250°F, basting it with pan juices every few hours until evenly brown
|Deep-Fried||Soak the turkey in a brine of hot water, salt, and brown sugar for 8 to 16 hours, storing it in a cool, dry place. Remove it from the brine, rinse, and allow it to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Fill a 30-quart pot with oil and set it over high heat on an outside propane burner with a sturdy structure. Bring the oil temperature to 250°F and slowly lower the bird into the oil, then increase it to 350°F. After 35 minutes, check if the turkey temperature has reached 151°F. Let sit for 30 minutes prior to carving.|
|Smoked||Stuff the prepared turkey with aromatic herbs and coat the outside with a rub of your choice. You can also brine it for extra moisture and flavor. Place it in the smoker. Typically, it takes around 6 hours to smoke an average-sized turkey at 250°F.|
|Grilled||Grilling can yield crispy skin and a charred flavor. Break down the bird into breast halves, wings, and leg quarters and grill. Be sure to season, butter, or brine as desired before grilling.|
Place the turkey in the slow-cooker and season with salt, pepper, and garlic. Then, pour a mixture of cooked bacon, gravy, flour, Worcestershire sauce, and sage over the turkey. Cover and cook for 8 hours on low.
Feel free to experiment with other gravy mixtures to achieve the flavor you want.
|Air Fryer||Small turkey breasts can be cooked in an air fryer in only about an hour. Season as desired, and air fry at 390ºF for 30 to 35 minutes. Then, coat it with a flavorful mixture (maple syrup, Dijon mustard, and butter is a great choice). Air fry at 330ºF until caramelized, about 2 minutes.|
Prepare and season the turkey as desired, making sure to rub it thoroughly with butter inside and out. Add 1 tbsp. of flour to the oven bag and shake (this is essential). Layer the bottom of the bag with celery, onions, and carrots and put the turkey on top. Place it on a roasting pan. Seal the bag and cut six slits across the top to release steam. Bake until the internal temperature reaches 165ºF.
Oven bags yield a juicy, tender turkey without needing to baste or brine.
|Mole-Roasted Turkey||Marinate turkey in a mole sauce (spices, nuts, hot peppers, and rich chocolate) overnight before cooking as desired. The mole sauce creates a rich, moist turkey.|
|Beer-Can Turkey||Get a 12- or 24-ounce can of beer. Baste the interior and exterior of the turkey and coat it with spicy mustard powder, garlic, dried chopped onion, paprika, onion, cumin, and pepper. Either pour the beer into a turkey sitter (ceramic stand that holds liquid), or pour out a few tablespoons and place it in a beer-can turkey stand. Prop the turkey over the can or stand. Bake or grill as desired.|
|Spatchcocked Turkey||This method allows for faster, more even cooking. Remove the spine, flip the turkey over, and press hard to splay the turkey out flat before popping it in the oven.|
|Bacon-Wrapped Turkey||Cover the turkey’s skin with bacon so that as it cooks, the bacon grease melts and imbues the flesh with incredible flavor and moisture. You can weave the bacon on top for a more aesthetically pleasing turkey.|
|Braised Turkey||First, cook the turkey in the oven with plenty of herbs and garlic, let it rest, and then slice it and remove the wings and legs. Then, braise the meat in chicken stock until tender. It will not look like a traditional Thanksgiving turkey, but it will be moist and delicious.|
|Sous-Vide Turkey||Remove the wings and legs, then cut the breast meat from the bone. Next, turn over one of the breasts and place them next to each other so the narrower part of one is next to the thicker part of the other. Tie them together into a cylinder and place it into a plastic bag that will be immersed in hot water for cooking. Cooking turkey slowly in hot water creates a juicy, tender texture and makes it difficult to overcook. The skin is cooked crispy separately.|
How Do You Cook a Turkey Without Drying it Out?
How do you keep a turkey moist? One way to cook a turkey without drying it out is to brine the turkey first. A turkey soaked in a saltwater solution will absorb both the liquid and the salt, imbuing it with moisture and seasoning the flesh both inside and out. Not only can you make a turkey more moist by brining it, but you can add seasonings to the brine to enhance the flavor. What should you add to a turkey brine? Besides salt, you can try spices, herbs, garlic, and citrus peels. Popular turkey brine ingredients include garlic, vegetable stock, fresh tarragon, bay leaves, cranberries, apples, brown sugar, maple syrup, soy sauce, or onions (not all together, of course!). One example of a Thanksgiving turkey brine recipe includes maple syrup, brown sugar, sea salt, soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and peppercorns. This results in a tender, juicy turkey with a decadent maple
How do you keep a turkey moist while roasting? After the bird is brined, you can generously rub the turkey inside and out with butter or olive oil. You should also either loosely tie up the legs or not tie them at all. This is because if you tie the legs too tightly to the sides of the turkey, it will take longer to cook, which risks drying out the meat. Make sure to not overcook the turkey. Stick a thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, avoiding the bone. You’re aiming for a temperature of 170°F. Using an oven bag for turkey provides an alternative to brining for moisture retention. The bag keeps all of the moisture, butter, juices, and flavorings within, thoroughly drenching the turkey with juicy goodness. Another turkey cooking method uses a can of beer. What does beer do to turkeys? As the turkey cooks, the beer evaporates within the turkey, pumping it full of moisture from the inside out.
What Can I Put in My Turkey for Flavor?
There are countless ways to season a turkey! One delicious and unique method for creating a flavorful and moist turkey is mole-roasting it. How do you make a mole-roasted turkey? Marinate the turkey overnight in a mole sauce, which includes spices, nuts, hot peppers, and chocolate. It may sound odd to use chocolate for turkey, but many swear by the deep, rich, classic Mexican flavor. Here are more detailed turkey recipes for each of the turkey cooking methods we summarized:
- How to Dry Brine a Turkey
- How to Brine a Turkey
- How to Roast Turkey
- How to Slow-Roast a Turkey
- How to Deep-Fry a Turkey
- How to Smoke a Turkey
- How to Grill a Turkey
- How to Slow-Cook a Turkey
- How to Air-Fry a Turkey
- How to Cook a Turkey in an Oven Bag
- How to Make Mole-Roasted Turkey
- How to Make Beer-Can Turkey
- How to Make a Roast Spatchcock Turkey
- Bacon-Wrapped Turkey Recipe
- How o Make a Sous-Vide Turkey
- How to Braise a Turkey
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