10 Tips for a Tasty Turkey

The holiday season is officially here, with all the warmth of home, friendship, and family to stave off the increasingly cold weather. 

The holiday season is officially here, with all the warmth of home, friendship, and family to stave off the increasingly cold weather. 

Here at Almost Home, we will be taking Thanksgiving Day to enjoy our own families, but we wanted to help you have a successful feast at your own homes, and that means helping you tackle the Thanksgiving turkey. 

While much larger than what you may be used to cooking, turkey isn’t actually difficult to get right. You just need to follow a few tried and true steps. Consider using some of our favorite tips for getting a turkey that is as big on flavor as it is on size. 

Dry the turkey before seasoning and roasting. 

Crispy skin is a Thanksgiving delight. Ensure your chances of enjoying a delightfully crunchy skin by thoroughly drying the turkey before seasoning and roasting it. Dry skin will prevent moisture on the surface from steaming your turkey and dampening the exterior. 

Bonus Tip: Rub the skin with butter or oil to increase crispiness in the finished product. 

Season underneath the turkey skin. 

Rubbing oil or butter over the turkey skin can create a crispy and delicious exterior. In order to soak that same flavor into the turkey meat, try seasoning underneath the skin.

You can add your desired spices to butter or use it plain. Scoop the butter up with your hand, gently slide your hand under the skin of the legs and breast (without puncturing the skin), and massage it into the turkey. 

Bonus tip: Use frozen pieces of butter and/or fresh herbs for a less messy but still delicious way to season your turkey. 

Consider brining your turkey. 

Brining a turkey is the process of soaking it in a salt solution for 8-24 hours before roasting. The salt increases tenderness while adding moisture and seasoning for a juicy and delicious bird. Use 2 cups of salt to every 2 gallons of water. You can add half as much sugar as salt and a few teaspoons of spices such as garlic, rosemary, and pepper if you wish.

Bonus tip: Look up dry brine. Less messy than regular brine, all you do is mix it up and rub it on your turkey the day before roasting.

Season the inside of the turkey, but not with stuffing. 

In or out? Where does your stuffing go? For faster and more even roasting, leave the stuffing out of your bird. However, don’t neglect that cavity altogether. Add fresh, aromatic flavors, such as rosemary, thyme, sage, parsley, or onion. Add citrus like oranges and lemons for a nice contrast too. 

Bonus tip: Be bold and add delicious but less traditional seasonings like apples, ginger, celery, or fennel. Experiment and see which flavors you like best!

Add a glaze. 

If you want to add additional flavor to your turkey and even out the browning of your bird, add a glaze. Honey, butter, and brown sugar glazes are all popular and delicious choices. Typically, you brush the turkey with the glaze about halfway through roasting. Add extra glaze to underbrowned areas to speed up the process and ensure a perfectly golden turkey. 

Bonus Tip: You can add seasonings to the outside of your turkey before roasting and still glaze it for added flavor. 

Tent your turkey.

Moist, perfectly cooked meat and a golden brown skin is hard to get just right. Make it easier by adding an aluminum foil tent to your turkey. Tuck the ends of the foil tightly around the edges of your pan, but leave about one inch of space between the foil and the turkey itself. Alternatively, you can tent the breast alone. Doing so slows down browning and helps lock in moisture for a more tender turkey that is less likely to overbrown around the faster-cooking breasts. Remove the tent when you are ready to let the turkey brown up. 

Bonus Tip: Use bacon to wrap your turkey to get a similar, but definitely tastier, effect for your turkey. 

Skip the trussed up turkey. 

Is seasoning your turkey starting to sound like a lot of work? Don’t worry; you don’t have to follow every seasoning tip for a single Thanksgiving turkey. One or two ideas will suffice. You can also save yourself some work by skipping the traditional trussing of the turkey. Tying up your turkey can make it harder for certain parts of the turkey to cook all the way through, leading to dry turkey in the areas that do roast quickly. 

Bonus Tip: Simply tuck the wings under your turkey to keep it contained in the roasting pan. 

Skip the basting, too.

You can also save yourself time, and spend more time with your guests, by skipping the turkey basting. You can get the same moisture and flavor out of your turkey by brining or tenting your turkey. Plus, by not opening the oven as often, you keep your oven temp steady, which ensures even roasting and less drying out of your bird. 

Bonus tip: Roasting your turkey upside down also preserves moisture in the meat.

Elevate your turkey while cooking. 

Get your turkey up off the roasting pan to allow heat to circulate around the entire bird. This process ensures more even roasting so you end up with a flavorful and juicy finished product. You can use a roasting rack, or you can create circular supports using tin foil. 

Bonus tip: For more flavorful turkey and stock, elevate your bird on a bed of vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, onions, and celery. 

Let your turkey rest after roasting. 

The last step in a truly tasty turkey is to let it rest after it finishes in the oven. This will allow it to complete the last of its cooking, while allowing juices to sink back into the meat for maximum moistness. 

You don’t have to follow all of these tips for tasty turkey, but incorporating a few of them into your process this Thanksgiving can save you time and add to the flavor of your turkey. Experiment, have fun, and remember: Almost Home is here for any of your dining needs.