Everybody has their own version of how to prepare and cook a turkey for Thanksgiving. Turkey is not really hard to prepare. It is just a bigger version of roasting a chicken. It takes a little more time to roast it in the oven than a chicken but the technique of roasting is pretty much the same. Preparing the turkey before roasting is a whole different story. Some people rather bypass all that work and just deep fry the whole bird, which is also very yummy. Some would go to the expense of deboning and stuffing them in layers like a Turducken that consist of a layer each of deboned chicken, duck, and turkey with stuffing in between (absolutely heavenly but time consuming).

As for myself, what I would typically do is brine my turkey at least two days in advance. I drain and rinse the bird after brining, wipe it down, place it on a cookie rack with a sheet pan underneath and continue to let it “dry” in the refrigerator for 24 hours so that when I roast the turkey in the oven, the skin is nice and crispy and the meat is moist and tender from the brine.

One quick advice, if you are planning to feed a big crowd, say around 20 people or more, it may be best to buy two small turkeys instead of one big bird. This helps in getting the turkey to cook faster, freeing precious oven space for other dishes, and also getting the turkey on the table on time. If carving the turkey on the table is not that important, you can also break the turkey down initially before roasting (especially if you have a big bird) to speed up the roasting process. This also will ensure that all parts of the meat are cooked evenly and not get over or underdone as you can remove whichever part is done first and let the rest finish roasting longer in the oven. In addition, roasting a turkey without stuffing is much faster than with the bird stuffed. I usually just stuff the neck cavity (my hubby likes some of the stuffing in the bird).

So here are a few different recipes for you to try out this Thanksgiving. Hopefully one of them will be your all time favorite for years to come.

Brined Herb-Roasted Turkey


  • 2 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 2 tablespoon mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups kosher salt
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 4 lemons cut into slices
  • 8 quarts cold water or enough to cover the turkey
  • 1 16-pound turkey
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoon chopped sage
  • 2 tablespoon chopped thyme
  • pepper and 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1-2 cups turkey or chicken stock



In a large saucepan, combine the first seven ingredients in 1 quart of the water. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Transfer the mixture to a very large bowl or pot and add the remaining 7 quarts of cold water and sliced lemons. Add the turkey, breast side down. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 450°. *Drain and rinse the turkey and pat dry; discard the brine. Starting at the neck end of the bird, slip your hand between the skin and meat to loosen the turkey skin.

Combine the 2 sticks of butter with the parsley, sage and thyme and season with pepper and sugar in a bowl. Spread the herb butter mixture all over and under the skin of the turkey and set it on a rack in a roasting pan. Add 1- 2 cups of the stock to the pan and roast for 30 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 325° and roast the turkey for about 2 1/2 hours longer, basting occasionally; the turkey is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thigh registers **170°. Transfer the turkey to a cutting board and let rest for 30 minutes before slicing.

  • You can also brine the turkey and dry in the refrigerator as I mentioned above.

  • * Turkey continues to cook as you remove from the oven. I like to remove my turkey at around 162° and cover with foil. The turkey will continue to cook while resting.


Serves 10-12



Bacon and Herb Roasted Turkey Breast

For those of you who will only have a small family to feed on Thanksgiving, a whole turkey breast may suffice.

  • 5 thick cut bacon strips
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 4 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
  • salt, pepper, and sugar to taste
  • 1 51/2 to 6-pounds whole turkey breast



Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and line a shallow roasting pan with aluminum foil. Cook bacon until crisp, remove, drain and reserve at least 1 tablespoon of bacon drippings. Chop cooled bacon finely and mix it with the garlic, fresh chopped herbs, butter, salt, sugar and pepper to taste in a bowl to form a paste.

Loosen skin on turkey breast with fingertips. Season outside of turkey breast with salt, sugar and pepper. Rub paste all over under the skin of the turkey breast. Brush the bacon dripping all over the skin and place the turkey breast in the roasting pan. Roast turkey in the oven until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the breast registers 163°. This will take about 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. Remove turkey from oven and allow to rest at least 20 minutes before carving. Serve turkey with pan drippings.

Serves 6-8




Cajun Deep Fried Turkey

Taken from All Recipes

  • 2 cups butter
  • 1/4 cup onion juice
  • 1/4 cup garlic juice
  • 1/4 cup Louisiana-style hot sauce
  • 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 7 ounces fluid beer
  • 3 gallons peanut oil for frying
  • 1 12-pound turkey, neck and giblets removed



Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion juice, garlic juice, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, sugar, salt cayenne pepper and beer. Mix until well blended.

Use a marinade injecting syringe or turkey baster with an injector tip to inject the marinade all over the turkey including the legs, back, wings, thighs and breasts. Place in a large plastic bag or oven bag and marinate overnight in the refrigerator.

Bring turkey to room temperature, about 1 hour prior to frying. Meanwhile heat oil in turkey fryer. When it’s time to fry, measure the amount of oil needed by lowering the turkey into the fryer and filling with enough oil to cover it. Remove the turkey and set aside.

Heat the oil to 365 degrees F (185 degrees C). When the oil has come to temperature, lower the turkey into the hot oil slowly using the hanging device that comes with turkey deep-fryers. The turkey should be completely submerged in the oil. Cook for 36 minutes, or 3 minutes per pound of turkey. The turkey is done when the temperature in the thickest part of the thigh reaches 170 degrees F. Turn off the flame and slowly remove from the oil, making sure all of the oil drains out of the cavity. Allow to rest on a serving platter for about 20 minutes before carving.

Serves 12