Ahh, the holiday turkey! A whole bird, cooked (hopefully!) to perfection, that sits as the prestigious centerpiece upon many a holiday table across America and around the world. Though surrounded by delicious sides, salads, stuffing and sauces, the turkey is typically the undisputed star of the show. But all too often, the Thanksgiving turkey under-delivers - oh, what a shame!
If you think that turkey is by its nature dry and underwhelming, you are not alone! But it's actually possible to cook turkey well. One problem is that most people only cook a whole turkey once, maybe twice a year at most. How do you expect Aunt Sue to perfectly cook a turkey on Thanksgiving when she hardly goes near the stove the other 364 days of the year?
If you need turkey inspiration, look no further! There are more ways to cook turkey than you may assume, from the traditional roasted to brined, fried, smoked or even bacon-wrapped birds. Of course, nothing screams tradition like an oven-roasted turkey, but if that doesn't inspire you, there are plenty of outer routes to go down. So keep reading, take notes, choose one of these tasty recipes and try one of the five most popular ways to cook a turkey. istockphoto.com
Roasting is without a doubt the most popular method used to cook a whole turkey. And what's not to love? It's easy and straightforward and yields delicious results. If you choose not to stuff your turkey (an increasingly common approach) you should expect to cook it for roughly 15 minutes per pound in a 325-degree F oven. istockphoto.com
Golden Cider-Roasted Turkey Recipe
As this turkey roasts to a rich golden brown, it fills the kitchen with the enticing aroma of apples and leeks, which roast along with it. Cider, used to baste the bird and also in the scrumptious sauce, adds a fresh, fruity accent to this roasted fowl. The recipe calls for a 14-pound bird, perfect for serving eight with leftovers.
For the Golden Cider-Roasted Turkey recipe, click here. istockphoto.com
Mayonnaise Roasted Turkey
OK, so roasting a whole bird might not seem particularly novel, but have you ever tried roasting it with mayonnaise? If you are looking for something that is both classic and a bit avant-garde, try this recipe! Cooking with mayonnaise yields delicious results!
For the Mayonnaise Roasted Turkey recipe, click here. istockphoto.com
Roast Turkey With Spice Rub
Do you find a whole roasted turkey boring? A simple but effective spice rub made with ground coriander, cumin, chili powder, crushed red pepper and garlic powder is an excellent way to up the ante this holiday season.
For the Roast Turkey With Spice Rub recipe, click here. Butterball
Rosemary-Lemon-Rubbed Turkey With Caramelized Onion and Garlic Gravy
Perhaps bright and citrusy flavors are more your style? In that case, look no further than this rosemary and citrus-crusted turkey that takes simple ingredients - fresh rosemary, thyme, lemon zest and orange zest - and transforms them into a tasty rub.
For the Rosemary-Lemon-Rubbed Turkey With Caramelized Onion and Garlic Gravy recipe, click here. Slimming World
Roasted Butterflied Turkey
Here's another way to cook a whole turkey that falls under the roasting method, but has a bit of a twist. This recipe for roasted butterflied turkey is basically foolproof and will yield an evenly cooked turkey with plenty of crispy skin. All you need is a sharp set of kitchen shears, but if the thought of butterflying the bird yourself is too much, buy your turkey from a butcher and have them do that step for you.
For the Roasted Butterflied Turkey recipe, click here. J.Kenji Lopez-Alt
OK, so brining might not be its own cooking method entirely, but is something more people should be doing and a trick that those in the know swear by! When done correctly, brining can produce a turkey that is juicy, well-seasoned and totally delicious. Shutterstock
5-Spice Wet Brine Roasted Turkey
The brine in this recipe gets its flavor from wonderful aromatics like fennel seed, white peppercorn, star anise, cloves and cinnamon sticks - a perfectly seasonal array of spices!
For the 5-Spice Wet Brine Roasted Turkey recipe, click here. Morton Salt
Basic Turkey Brine
If you are brining a turkey for the first time, try this simple recipe and play around with the optional ingredients to find what works best for you. This recipe is meant for an 8- to 10-pound turkey, so if your bird is larger than that, this recipe may need to be doubled or tripled.
For the Basic Turkey Brine recipe, click here. Shutterstock
This turkey brine uses brown sugar, sage, thyme, salt, garlic, peppercorns and bay leaves - a combination that is sure to make any turkey totally delicious.
For the Brined Turkey recipe, click here. istockphoto.com
Dry Brine Smoked Turkey With Barbecue Sauce
Did you know that not all brines are wet? Many people hear the word brine and immediately picture a giant vessel of liquid, but dry brines are also a great way to flavor your turkey and ensure it stays wonderfully juicy. This dry brine made with salt and smoked paprika couldn't be easier!
For the Dry Brine Smoked Turkey With Barbecue Sauce recipe, click here. Morton Salt
The Best Turkey Recipe Ever
Are you looking for the best turkey recipe ever? Well, look no further! In this recipe, the turkey is brined overnight in a mixture of sugar, salt, apple cider vinegar, sage, thyme, rosemary and black pepper before being roasted to perfection!
For the Best Turkey Recipe Ever, click here. Shutterstock
Deep- frying your Thanksgiving turkey is another option if you are looking for something a bit different - dinner with a show perhaps? Deep frying a turkey means the bird will cook faster, the skin should be incredibly crispy and the meat won't dry out as easily. If that sounds too good to resist, just do your research and learn the safest way to fry a turkey before you light that giant deep-fryer! Shutterstock
Fried turkey is the answer to a Thanksgiving under the gun. There is no need to wake up at the crack of dawn to put the turkey in the oven. Let that bird brine for 36 hours, then pop it in a cauldron of hot fat (outside, of course). You'll have turkey on the table in less than two hours.
For the Deep-Fried Turkey recipe, click here. istockphoto.com
Brined and Deep-Fried Turkey
This recipe gives you the option to brine or not to brine and calls for a syringe, which is used to inject hot sauce underneath the skin for even more flavor. Always make sure your turkey is as dry as possible before submerging it in a vat of hot fat, and always, always fry in a clear, outdoor space!
For the Brined and Deep-Fried Turkey recipe, click here. istockphoto.com
It is a popular opinion that anything is better when covered in bacon, so why not buy some extra rashers and try wrapping your Thanksgiving turkey in bacon? It is certainly a delicous way to get more bacon into your Thankgiving meal. istockphoto.com
Nothing's better than bacon on its own - except when it's Thanksgiving Day and your turkey is wrapped in some. This recipe uses a seasoning and olive oil paste under the turkey's skin to add a subtle hint of flavor that pairs perfectly with the bacon.
For the Bacon-Wrapped Turkey recipe, click here. Shutterstock
Guy Fieri's Bacon-Roasted Turkey
If there's one recipe you should trust Guy Fieri to make, it's probably a bacon covered turkey, right?
For Guy Fieri's Bacon-Roasted Turkey recipe, click here. Guy Fieri
If you haven't tried smoking a turkey, then perhaps this is the year to do so! Cooking a whole turkey slowly in a smoker or on a grill results in a turkey that is delicately flavored, juicy and totally delicious. istockphoto.com
You'll find that a beer-can turkey is smoky, succulent, tender and, most of all, mind-blowingly delicious. It'll instantly take the stage for many holidays to come, and you'll finally believe us when we say that turkey is not just for Thanksgiving - you'll want to make it all year round.
For the Beer-Can Turkey recipe, click here. Shutterstock
Brined and Smoked Thanksgiving Turkey
If smoking a whole bird seems like too much, then make things more manageable by smoking a few different pieces instead. In this recipe, the bird is broken down into much more manageable pieces, which is a great way to test the waters without a full-on commitment.
For the Brined and Smoked Thanksgiving Turkey John Valls
Myron Mixon's Smoked Turkey
This smoked turkey recipe couldn't be easier and is so delicious you may be tempted to make it even at a summertime barbecue.
For the Myron Mixon's Smoked Turkey recipe, click here. Shutterstock
Succulent Smoked Turkey Recipe
Smoking is both exotic and wonderful as a spice for everything from meat and fish to vegetables and cheese. Experiment with different types of wood to find just the right balance. Here, applewood is used to complement and enhance the flavor of the turkey.
For the Succulent Smoked Turkey recipe, click here. Shutterstock
Smoked and Roasted Thanksgiving Turkey
If you have time on your hands and want to cook the turkey in a few different ways, then this is the recipe for you! The drumsticks are smoked and roasted, the thighs and wings are braised, and the breasts are cooked with a mayonnaise marinade that will prevent any possibility of drying out. With a recipe as involved as this one, cut down on day-of prep and make sure your menu features some easy make-ahead Thanksgiving dishes!
For the Smoked and Roasted Thanksgiving Turkey recipe, click here.
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