33 Showstopping Thanksgiving Turkey Recipes
Turkey is often the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving table, so you want to have an impressive recipe in your back pocket. Luckily, we have plenty of different variations you can try. Clementine-and-Garlic Roast Turkey; Dry-Brined Spatchcocked Turkey; Vinegar-Brined Roast Turkey; Chipotle Mayonnaise-Roasted Turkey (trust us, slathering your turkey with flavored mayonnaise over and under the skin is the move). Want to try smoked turkey? We’ve got recipes for that, too. Read on for our best Thanksgiving turkey recipes.
Clementine-and-Garlic Roast Turkey
To make the tastiest, quickest, easiest jus for turkey, Food & Wine’s Justin Chapple includes juicy clementines and garlic in the roasting pan, adding excellent flavor.
Anthony Bourdain's Business Turkey
To make this simple recipe from Anthony Bourdain, all you need is unsalted butter, kosher salt, pepper, and of course, a turkey.
Food & Wine’s Justin Chapple soaks smoky chipotle butter in cheesecloth and drapes it over turkey while roasting, yielding super juicy, delicious meat and skin.
Porchetta-Spiced Turkey with Pan Gravy
Porchetta, the fennel-scented, crackly skinned Italian pork roast, is the inspiration for this spiced turkey.
Simplest Roast Turkey
The trick to this minimalist roast turkey is allowing it to air-dry overnight in the refrigerator, resulting in super crispy skin.
This super easy turkey is flavored with ras el hanout, a North African spice blend. The pan juices, flavored by the citrus-spice mixture that bastes the bird as it roasts, double as a sauce.
"Brining introduces flavor that penetrates to the bone," says chef Ken Oringer. "And, because brining adds moisture, the turkey can handle high heat."
Herb-Roasted Turkey with Wild Mushroom Gravy
For maximum flavor, David Tanis rubs the bird with butter seasoned with sage, thyme and garlic. Dried porcini give the wild mushroom gravy a woodsy flavor boost.
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.
Ancho-Scallion Roast Turkey Breast
Toasted ancho chiles, garlic and scallions flavor the butter that’s rubbed all over the turkey breast and bastes it as it roasts.
This simple, salt-based sage, pepper and paprika rub produces a turkey with crisp, golden-brown skin and incredibly moist and tender breast meat.
Cider-Glazed Turkey with Lager Gravy
Lots of people brine their turkeys. Not Michael Symon, who thinks brining makes the bird a little rubbery. He salts his bird well and refrigerates it overnight to season it. Before roasting, he covers the breast and legs with cheesecloth that’s been soaked in a cider-infused butter. For his beer-spiked gravy, Symon recommends the German-style Dortmunder Gold, made by Great Lakes Brewing Company, from his home state of Ohio.
Roast Turkey with Shallot Butter and Thyme Gravy
Shallots and thyme in both the turkey and the gravy provide double the flavor for this simple roasted bird.
"We never had turkey on Thanksgiving," says Joanne Chang, "only duck. I love turkey with sage and butter, but I crave the flavors I grew up with." Here, she marinates and bastes the bird with soy, sesame, honey and ginger, giving it superb flavor and a beautiful mahogany color.
Chef Jose Garces prepares this turkey in the same style as a traditional Yucatán dish called cochinita pibil, a slow-roasted pork marinated in citrus and annatto paste (made from achiote seeds, the condiment adds an orange hue to foods). Brining and marinating the bird make it especially succulent.
Mustard-and-Rosemary Roast Turkey
Because so many people are hesitant to make a whole turkey, cookbook author Melissa Clark suggests roasting the turkey in parts, separating the dark meat from the white meat to guarantee a perfectly cooked bird.
Chile-Roasted Turkey with Chorizo-Corn Bread Stuffing
This recipe is best paired with a spicy and fruity California Syrah.
Paprika-Glazed Turkey with Pumpkin Seed Bread Salad
Make sure the turkey is completely dry before rubbing its skin with the paprika butter.
Herb-Roasted Turkey with Maple Gravy
Even though he's lived in Los Angeles for years, Lee Hefter gravitates to people from the East Coast, who, like him, might have seen the fall foliage every year and watched maple syrup being tapped. "When you grow up with these memories," he says, "you want to share them." He thinks adding maple syrup to gravy makes it go better with all the traditional Thanksgiving side dishes.
Bourbon-Glazed Turkey with Pearl Onion Giblet Gravy
Chef Tanya Holland's secret for a turkey with juicy meat and nicely lacquered skin: Brine the bird overnight, and then baste it frequently with a bourbon-brown sugar glaze as it roasts.
Vinegar-Brined Roast Turkey
There are thousands of brine recipes out there, and this one from Top Chef winner Kristen Kish uses cider vinegar, giving the turkey a little bit of tang.
Turkey Leg Roulade
Dark meat fans know that the leg is often the most flavorful part of the bird. This preparation isolates the leg and ensures a perfectly cooked bird with a crackling bronze skin. The process can be started several days in advance, needing only a quick blast in a hot oven to crisp the skin before serving.
Chipotle Mayonnaise-Roasted Turkey
Food & Wine's Justin Chapple flavors mayonnaise with smoky chipotle chiles, then spreads it under the skin and all over the outside of a turkey before roasting. It yields super-juicy, delicious meat that's perfect for any holiday meal.
Salt & Pepper Spatchcocked Turkey
Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of this turkey from F&W’s Justin Chapple. Salt and pepper are all you need when the meat is juicy and tender. Because it’s spatchcocked (the backbone is removed and the bird is flattened before cooking), the skin is supremely crisp and it roasts in nearly half the time as traditional versions.
Dry-Brined Spatchcocked Turkey
A dry brine is not only an easier technique, but it also results in crispier skin and more flavorful meat than a classic wet brine. Those final six to 12 hours of drying will ensure crackling, crispy skin.
Simple Smoked Turkey
Smoking a turkey yields juicy and tender meat. The keys to success are seasoning the bird with a dead-simple saltwater brine, then controlling the temperature of the smoker for even cooking. The added bonus of smoking the Thanksgiving turkey? It frees up the oven for sides and pies.
Roast Turkey with Chestnut-Apple Stuffing
For this classic recipe, the turkey is rubbed with an aromatic shallot-sage butter, then stuffed with a nutty chestnut-apple stuffing.
Ancho-Rubbed Turkey Breast with Vegetables
To enhance turkey's flavor and moistness, and to create an exceptionally crisp skin, Food & Wine's Justin Chapple rubs the bird with a salt, sugar, and spice mix before roasting.
Food & Wine’s Justin Chapple soaks cheesecloth in citrus butter and drapes it over turkey while roasting, yielding super juicy, delicious meat and skin.
Roast Turkey with Polenta Stuffing
Spatchcocking is star chef Tyler Florence’s key to a super moist and evenly cooked bird; stuffing creamy polenta dressing under the skin makes it extra crispy.
Lemon-Pepper Roast Turkey
Getting the turkey on the table at the right time can be the most stressful part of Thanksgiving. Food & Wine’s Justin Chapple shares his solution: make it the day before. He simply flavors it with an aromatic butter that includes lemon zest, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. After that’s spread under and over the breast and leg skin, the turkey gets brushed with olive oil and seasoned with more salt and pepper. Halved garlic heads brushed with olive oil accompany it into the oven.
Essential Smoked Turkey
Smoke, spice, and acid team up to deliver the best smoked turkey you’ve ever tasted. This bird starts its flavor-building journey in a fragrant brine infused with ginger, cardamom, star anise, garlic, and lemon which penetrates and tenderizes the meat. After brining, an herb butter stuffed under the skin sets the turkey up for some beautiful self-basting action, introducing some much-needed fat to the typically lean meat. Finally, the heat and pressure from the smoker push all of these flavors deeper into the turkey, yielding a stunningly burnished bird that will be the talk of your table.