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The Best Ways to Cook Your Thanksgiving Turkey

The Best Ways to Cook Your Thanksgiving Turkey



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Whatever your favorite Thanksgiving dish may be, there’s one thing most everyone can agree on: the centerpiece of the Thanksgiving table is the turkey. The National Turkey Federation estimates that Americans eat as many as 46 million turkeys on Thanksgiving Day (weighing an average of about 16 pounds, for a total of 736 million pounds of turkey gobbled up at the big meal). Whether you roast it, fry it, or grill it, the odds are good that your friends and family are going to eat it; 88 percent of Americans surveyed have turkey on Thanksgiving Day. So, how do you make sure your bird is juicy, flavorful, and perfectly cooked for this important meal?

Click here to see the 25 Best Ways to Cook Your Thanksgiving Turkey (Slideshow)

In his book, Thanksgiving: How to Cook It Well, New York Times Food Editor Sam Sifton says, “there are literally hundreds of ways to cook a Thanksgiving turkey. You could boil a turkey if you wanted to. You could roast it upside down for a time and hope that this keeps the breast meat juicy. You could wrap the bird in moistened cheesecloth and cook it a convection oven. You could cut it into pieces and cook it in parts. You could smoke it. Fry it. Shred its legs into sauce. You could even put a turkey on a stick set under a clean tin garbage can in the backyard and cover the top with coals… you could stuff it and roast it or you could roast it and not stuff it… if the result tastes good, it is a correct way to cook the Thanksgiving bird.” With all of these possibilities, how do you decide how which cooking-method is best for the most important bird you’ll cook all year?

Though our list is far from exhaustive, we took on the task of reviewing just about every turkey recipe we could get our hands on to determine which ones would produce the most delicious Thanksgiving turkeys within a reasonable amount of time and without unreasonable difficulty. The recipes we considered were ranked based on several factors: the number of steps and amount of time required, the type and variety of ingredients needed, the creativity of the recipe, and how good the finished product tasted. Each recipe reviewed was judged on a 100-point scale, with up to 20 points possible in each of the following five categories: Steps, Ingredients, Time, Star Rating (rated by our community), and Editorial (judged by our editors — a combination of creativity, accessibility, taste, and miscellaneous factors like special equipment needed or potential safety hazards).

Our goal was to find a balance between effort and results. Sometimes you need a few extra ingredients or steps to achieve a truly delicious turkey, but other times too much stress ruins the experience. If you’re looking for a truly tasty Thanksgiving turkey recipe (without making yourself crazy hunting for ingredients or learning a special cooking technique), we’ve rounded up a few that we know you’ll love. Here’s a countdown of the top 25 Thanksgiving turkey recipes for 2014.

25. Honey-Glazed Turkey
24. Maple-Brined Turkey
23. Orange-Glazed Turkey
22. Golden Cider-Roasted Turkey
21. Succulent Smoked Turkey
20. Garlic-Smoked Turkey
19. Grill-Roasted Herbed Turkey with Chardonnay Gravy
18. Deep-Fried Turkey
17. Benny Sauce Marinated Turkey
16. Yogurt-Glazed Roast Turkey
15. Roasted Dijon and Apple-Glazed Turkey with Fruited Stuffing
14. Roast Turkey with Spice Rub
13. Beer-Can Turkey
12. Red Bull-Brined Turkey
11. Savory Grilled Turkey
10. Cider-Marinated Turkey
9. Barbecue Spice-Rubbed Turkey Breast
8. Tangerine-Glazed Turkey
7. Balsamic-Roasted Turkey with Apple Stuffing
6. Southwestern Rubbed Turkey
5. Sweet Tea Brined Turkey
4. Grilled Apple-Brined Turkey
3. Basic Brined Turkey
2. Bacon-Wrapped Turkey
1. Bay and Lemon-Brined Turkey

(Credit: Flickr/Kevin T)

This turkey has a perfect balance of sweetness from the maple syrup and heat from the chile flakes and chopped ginger. Brining a turkey takes a bit of advance planning (be sure to get your turkey into the brine at least two days before you want to roast it), but it’s well worth the extra effort. Click here for the recipe.


(Credit: Thinkstock)
This delicious roast turkey is stuffed with pears and aromatic vegetables like celery and onion and glazed with a reduction of orange marmalade, orange juice, and honey, making it flavorful throughout. It should come as no surprise that our online community has given this recipe a rating of five out of five stars! Click here for the recipe.

Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal’s Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.


How To Season a Turkey Perfectly for Thanksgiving

There&rsquos a reason gravy and stuffing are our favorite Thanksgiving side dishes: Turkey meat can be boring and bland, and it often needs a little help from the supporting stars at the table. But don&rsquot worry &mdash learning how to season a turkey for baking and what flavors go well with turkey is a foolproof way to add flavor to the preferred holiday protein. Try our top tips for what to season turkey breast with, what herbs and spices go with turkey and our tasty turkey rub (hello, spice butter!) recipes.

Our #1 secret to a well-seasoned turkey? The all-important (and oh so easy!) dry brine. The Test Kitchen turns to this method for maximum flavor, juicier meat and the crispiest skin. Here&rsquos how it's done: Rub herbs and 2 Tbsp salt all over the turkey, pop it in a plastic bag and refrigerate. You can season your turkey the night before or as far in advance as 2 days.

Salt is a great (and non-negotiable) place to start, but there are so many seasonings that really rev up the flavor of a bland bird. Try Cajun-style turkey rub inspired by the lively flavors of New Orleans (think smoked paprika, celery salt and onion powder) or a red rub with paprika, ground coriander and garlic powder.

Don't just sprinkle salt on the surface of the turkey, give your bird a big flavor boost by seasoning under the turkey's skin too. Stir your favorite spices and fresh herbs into softened butter, then rub it all over the turkey and under the skin. Try a combo of lemon zest and garlic with paprika and ground coriander, or something more traditional like folding chopped parsley, sage and rosemary into the butter. Not only does this help season the bird, but it also makes the meat extra juicy.

Glazes are a great way to add a subtle sweetness and shine to your bird. Try a combo of maple syrup, orange juice and fresh sage, brushing most of the glaze on before roasting and saving some to polish up the bird once it&rsquos out of the oven. Or to really amp things up, lay slices of bacon over the turkey breast before roasting, securing the ends with toothpicks so they don&rsquot curl. Brush the bacon with glaze before roasting, and once more after it's done. Trust us &mdash no one can resist a bacon-wrapped bird.

. and fill up the bird&rsquos cavity with herbs and aromatics. Instead of packing your bird with bread cubes that inevitably turn soggy (we prefer a crispy-topped stuffing cooked on the side), stuff the turkey with fresh whole herbs, lemon halves, shallots and smashed cloves of garlic that lend tons of flavor with zero mush.

Not just a pretty plate, garnishes can offer complementary or contrasting flavors to enjoy alongside your well-seasoned roast. Try roasted pears for extra juiciness or caramelized winter vegetables for earthy sweetness. Small, sweet champagne grapes are also fun to munch on in between bites of savory turkey.


How To Season a Turkey Perfectly for Thanksgiving

There&rsquos a reason gravy and stuffing are our favorite Thanksgiving side dishes: Turkey meat can be boring and bland, and it often needs a little help from the supporting stars at the table. But don&rsquot worry &mdash learning how to season a turkey for baking and what flavors go well with turkey is a foolproof way to add flavor to the preferred holiday protein. Try our top tips for what to season turkey breast with, what herbs and spices go with turkey and our tasty turkey rub (hello, spice butter!) recipes.

Our #1 secret to a well-seasoned turkey? The all-important (and oh so easy!) dry brine. The Test Kitchen turns to this method for maximum flavor, juicier meat and the crispiest skin. Here&rsquos how it's done: Rub herbs and 2 Tbsp salt all over the turkey, pop it in a plastic bag and refrigerate. You can season your turkey the night before or as far in advance as 2 days.

Salt is a great (and non-negotiable) place to start, but there are so many seasonings that really rev up the flavor of a bland bird. Try Cajun-style turkey rub inspired by the lively flavors of New Orleans (think smoked paprika, celery salt and onion powder) or a red rub with paprika, ground coriander and garlic powder.

Don't just sprinkle salt on the surface of the turkey, give your bird a big flavor boost by seasoning under the turkey's skin too. Stir your favorite spices and fresh herbs into softened butter, then rub it all over the turkey and under the skin. Try a combo of lemon zest and garlic with paprika and ground coriander, or something more traditional like folding chopped parsley, sage and rosemary into the butter. Not only does this help season the bird, but it also makes the meat extra juicy.

Glazes are a great way to add a subtle sweetness and shine to your bird. Try a combo of maple syrup, orange juice and fresh sage, brushing most of the glaze on before roasting and saving some to polish up the bird once it&rsquos out of the oven. Or to really amp things up, lay slices of bacon over the turkey breast before roasting, securing the ends with toothpicks so they don&rsquot curl. Brush the bacon with glaze before roasting, and once more after it's done. Trust us &mdash no one can resist a bacon-wrapped bird.

. and fill up the bird&rsquos cavity with herbs and aromatics. Instead of packing your bird with bread cubes that inevitably turn soggy (we prefer a crispy-topped stuffing cooked on the side), stuff the turkey with fresh whole herbs, lemon halves, shallots and smashed cloves of garlic that lend tons of flavor with zero mush.

Not just a pretty plate, garnishes can offer complementary or contrasting flavors to enjoy alongside your well-seasoned roast. Try roasted pears for extra juiciness or caramelized winter vegetables for earthy sweetness. Small, sweet champagne grapes are also fun to munch on in between bites of savory turkey.


How To Season a Turkey Perfectly for Thanksgiving

There&rsquos a reason gravy and stuffing are our favorite Thanksgiving side dishes: Turkey meat can be boring and bland, and it often needs a little help from the supporting stars at the table. But don&rsquot worry &mdash learning how to season a turkey for baking and what flavors go well with turkey is a foolproof way to add flavor to the preferred holiday protein. Try our top tips for what to season turkey breast with, what herbs and spices go with turkey and our tasty turkey rub (hello, spice butter!) recipes.

Our #1 secret to a well-seasoned turkey? The all-important (and oh so easy!) dry brine. The Test Kitchen turns to this method for maximum flavor, juicier meat and the crispiest skin. Here&rsquos how it's done: Rub herbs and 2 Tbsp salt all over the turkey, pop it in a plastic bag and refrigerate. You can season your turkey the night before or as far in advance as 2 days.

Salt is a great (and non-negotiable) place to start, but there are so many seasonings that really rev up the flavor of a bland bird. Try Cajun-style turkey rub inspired by the lively flavors of New Orleans (think smoked paprika, celery salt and onion powder) or a red rub with paprika, ground coriander and garlic powder.

Don't just sprinkle salt on the surface of the turkey, give your bird a big flavor boost by seasoning under the turkey's skin too. Stir your favorite spices and fresh herbs into softened butter, then rub it all over the turkey and under the skin. Try a combo of lemon zest and garlic with paprika and ground coriander, or something more traditional like folding chopped parsley, sage and rosemary into the butter. Not only does this help season the bird, but it also makes the meat extra juicy.

Glazes are a great way to add a subtle sweetness and shine to your bird. Try a combo of maple syrup, orange juice and fresh sage, brushing most of the glaze on before roasting and saving some to polish up the bird once it&rsquos out of the oven. Or to really amp things up, lay slices of bacon over the turkey breast before roasting, securing the ends with toothpicks so they don&rsquot curl. Brush the bacon with glaze before roasting, and once more after it's done. Trust us &mdash no one can resist a bacon-wrapped bird.

. and fill up the bird&rsquos cavity with herbs and aromatics. Instead of packing your bird with bread cubes that inevitably turn soggy (we prefer a crispy-topped stuffing cooked on the side), stuff the turkey with fresh whole herbs, lemon halves, shallots and smashed cloves of garlic that lend tons of flavor with zero mush.

Not just a pretty plate, garnishes can offer complementary or contrasting flavors to enjoy alongside your well-seasoned roast. Try roasted pears for extra juiciness or caramelized winter vegetables for earthy sweetness. Small, sweet champagne grapes are also fun to munch on in between bites of savory turkey.


How To Season a Turkey Perfectly for Thanksgiving

There&rsquos a reason gravy and stuffing are our favorite Thanksgiving side dishes: Turkey meat can be boring and bland, and it often needs a little help from the supporting stars at the table. But don&rsquot worry &mdash learning how to season a turkey for baking and what flavors go well with turkey is a foolproof way to add flavor to the preferred holiday protein. Try our top tips for what to season turkey breast with, what herbs and spices go with turkey and our tasty turkey rub (hello, spice butter!) recipes.

Our #1 secret to a well-seasoned turkey? The all-important (and oh so easy!) dry brine. The Test Kitchen turns to this method for maximum flavor, juicier meat and the crispiest skin. Here&rsquos how it's done: Rub herbs and 2 Tbsp salt all over the turkey, pop it in a plastic bag and refrigerate. You can season your turkey the night before or as far in advance as 2 days.

Salt is a great (and non-negotiable) place to start, but there are so many seasonings that really rev up the flavor of a bland bird. Try Cajun-style turkey rub inspired by the lively flavors of New Orleans (think smoked paprika, celery salt and onion powder) or a red rub with paprika, ground coriander and garlic powder.

Don't just sprinkle salt on the surface of the turkey, give your bird a big flavor boost by seasoning under the turkey's skin too. Stir your favorite spices and fresh herbs into softened butter, then rub it all over the turkey and under the skin. Try a combo of lemon zest and garlic with paprika and ground coriander, or something more traditional like folding chopped parsley, sage and rosemary into the butter. Not only does this help season the bird, but it also makes the meat extra juicy.

Glazes are a great way to add a subtle sweetness and shine to your bird. Try a combo of maple syrup, orange juice and fresh sage, brushing most of the glaze on before roasting and saving some to polish up the bird once it&rsquos out of the oven. Or to really amp things up, lay slices of bacon over the turkey breast before roasting, securing the ends with toothpicks so they don&rsquot curl. Brush the bacon with glaze before roasting, and once more after it's done. Trust us &mdash no one can resist a bacon-wrapped bird.

. and fill up the bird&rsquos cavity with herbs and aromatics. Instead of packing your bird with bread cubes that inevitably turn soggy (we prefer a crispy-topped stuffing cooked on the side), stuff the turkey with fresh whole herbs, lemon halves, shallots and smashed cloves of garlic that lend tons of flavor with zero mush.

Not just a pretty plate, garnishes can offer complementary or contrasting flavors to enjoy alongside your well-seasoned roast. Try roasted pears for extra juiciness or caramelized winter vegetables for earthy sweetness. Small, sweet champagne grapes are also fun to munch on in between bites of savory turkey.


How To Season a Turkey Perfectly for Thanksgiving

There&rsquos a reason gravy and stuffing are our favorite Thanksgiving side dishes: Turkey meat can be boring and bland, and it often needs a little help from the supporting stars at the table. But don&rsquot worry &mdash learning how to season a turkey for baking and what flavors go well with turkey is a foolproof way to add flavor to the preferred holiday protein. Try our top tips for what to season turkey breast with, what herbs and spices go with turkey and our tasty turkey rub (hello, spice butter!) recipes.

Our #1 secret to a well-seasoned turkey? The all-important (and oh so easy!) dry brine. The Test Kitchen turns to this method for maximum flavor, juicier meat and the crispiest skin. Here&rsquos how it's done: Rub herbs and 2 Tbsp salt all over the turkey, pop it in a plastic bag and refrigerate. You can season your turkey the night before or as far in advance as 2 days.

Salt is a great (and non-negotiable) place to start, but there are so many seasonings that really rev up the flavor of a bland bird. Try Cajun-style turkey rub inspired by the lively flavors of New Orleans (think smoked paprika, celery salt and onion powder) or a red rub with paprika, ground coriander and garlic powder.

Don't just sprinkle salt on the surface of the turkey, give your bird a big flavor boost by seasoning under the turkey's skin too. Stir your favorite spices and fresh herbs into softened butter, then rub it all over the turkey and under the skin. Try a combo of lemon zest and garlic with paprika and ground coriander, or something more traditional like folding chopped parsley, sage and rosemary into the butter. Not only does this help season the bird, but it also makes the meat extra juicy.

Glazes are a great way to add a subtle sweetness and shine to your bird. Try a combo of maple syrup, orange juice and fresh sage, brushing most of the glaze on before roasting and saving some to polish up the bird once it&rsquos out of the oven. Or to really amp things up, lay slices of bacon over the turkey breast before roasting, securing the ends with toothpicks so they don&rsquot curl. Brush the bacon with glaze before roasting, and once more after it's done. Trust us &mdash no one can resist a bacon-wrapped bird.

. and fill up the bird&rsquos cavity with herbs and aromatics. Instead of packing your bird with bread cubes that inevitably turn soggy (we prefer a crispy-topped stuffing cooked on the side), stuff the turkey with fresh whole herbs, lemon halves, shallots and smashed cloves of garlic that lend tons of flavor with zero mush.

Not just a pretty plate, garnishes can offer complementary or contrasting flavors to enjoy alongside your well-seasoned roast. Try roasted pears for extra juiciness or caramelized winter vegetables for earthy sweetness. Small, sweet champagne grapes are also fun to munch on in between bites of savory turkey.


How To Season a Turkey Perfectly for Thanksgiving

There&rsquos a reason gravy and stuffing are our favorite Thanksgiving side dishes: Turkey meat can be boring and bland, and it often needs a little help from the supporting stars at the table. But don&rsquot worry &mdash learning how to season a turkey for baking and what flavors go well with turkey is a foolproof way to add flavor to the preferred holiday protein. Try our top tips for what to season turkey breast with, what herbs and spices go with turkey and our tasty turkey rub (hello, spice butter!) recipes.

Our #1 secret to a well-seasoned turkey? The all-important (and oh so easy!) dry brine. The Test Kitchen turns to this method for maximum flavor, juicier meat and the crispiest skin. Here&rsquos how it's done: Rub herbs and 2 Tbsp salt all over the turkey, pop it in a plastic bag and refrigerate. You can season your turkey the night before or as far in advance as 2 days.

Salt is a great (and non-negotiable) place to start, but there are so many seasonings that really rev up the flavor of a bland bird. Try Cajun-style turkey rub inspired by the lively flavors of New Orleans (think smoked paprika, celery salt and onion powder) or a red rub with paprika, ground coriander and garlic powder.

Don't just sprinkle salt on the surface of the turkey, give your bird a big flavor boost by seasoning under the turkey's skin too. Stir your favorite spices and fresh herbs into softened butter, then rub it all over the turkey and under the skin. Try a combo of lemon zest and garlic with paprika and ground coriander, or something more traditional like folding chopped parsley, sage and rosemary into the butter. Not only does this help season the bird, but it also makes the meat extra juicy.

Glazes are a great way to add a subtle sweetness and shine to your bird. Try a combo of maple syrup, orange juice and fresh sage, brushing most of the glaze on before roasting and saving some to polish up the bird once it&rsquos out of the oven. Or to really amp things up, lay slices of bacon over the turkey breast before roasting, securing the ends with toothpicks so they don&rsquot curl. Brush the bacon with glaze before roasting, and once more after it's done. Trust us &mdash no one can resist a bacon-wrapped bird.

. and fill up the bird&rsquos cavity with herbs and aromatics. Instead of packing your bird with bread cubes that inevitably turn soggy (we prefer a crispy-topped stuffing cooked on the side), stuff the turkey with fresh whole herbs, lemon halves, shallots and smashed cloves of garlic that lend tons of flavor with zero mush.

Not just a pretty plate, garnishes can offer complementary or contrasting flavors to enjoy alongside your well-seasoned roast. Try roasted pears for extra juiciness or caramelized winter vegetables for earthy sweetness. Small, sweet champagne grapes are also fun to munch on in between bites of savory turkey.


How To Season a Turkey Perfectly for Thanksgiving

There&rsquos a reason gravy and stuffing are our favorite Thanksgiving side dishes: Turkey meat can be boring and bland, and it often needs a little help from the supporting stars at the table. But don&rsquot worry &mdash learning how to season a turkey for baking and what flavors go well with turkey is a foolproof way to add flavor to the preferred holiday protein. Try our top tips for what to season turkey breast with, what herbs and spices go with turkey and our tasty turkey rub (hello, spice butter!) recipes.

Our #1 secret to a well-seasoned turkey? The all-important (and oh so easy!) dry brine. The Test Kitchen turns to this method for maximum flavor, juicier meat and the crispiest skin. Here&rsquos how it's done: Rub herbs and 2 Tbsp salt all over the turkey, pop it in a plastic bag and refrigerate. You can season your turkey the night before or as far in advance as 2 days.

Salt is a great (and non-negotiable) place to start, but there are so many seasonings that really rev up the flavor of a bland bird. Try Cajun-style turkey rub inspired by the lively flavors of New Orleans (think smoked paprika, celery salt and onion powder) or a red rub with paprika, ground coriander and garlic powder.

Don't just sprinkle salt on the surface of the turkey, give your bird a big flavor boost by seasoning under the turkey's skin too. Stir your favorite spices and fresh herbs into softened butter, then rub it all over the turkey and under the skin. Try a combo of lemon zest and garlic with paprika and ground coriander, or something more traditional like folding chopped parsley, sage and rosemary into the butter. Not only does this help season the bird, but it also makes the meat extra juicy.

Glazes are a great way to add a subtle sweetness and shine to your bird. Try a combo of maple syrup, orange juice and fresh sage, brushing most of the glaze on before roasting and saving some to polish up the bird once it&rsquos out of the oven. Or to really amp things up, lay slices of bacon over the turkey breast before roasting, securing the ends with toothpicks so they don&rsquot curl. Brush the bacon with glaze before roasting, and once more after it's done. Trust us &mdash no one can resist a bacon-wrapped bird.

. and fill up the bird&rsquos cavity with herbs and aromatics. Instead of packing your bird with bread cubes that inevitably turn soggy (we prefer a crispy-topped stuffing cooked on the side), stuff the turkey with fresh whole herbs, lemon halves, shallots and smashed cloves of garlic that lend tons of flavor with zero mush.

Not just a pretty plate, garnishes can offer complementary or contrasting flavors to enjoy alongside your well-seasoned roast. Try roasted pears for extra juiciness or caramelized winter vegetables for earthy sweetness. Small, sweet champagne grapes are also fun to munch on in between bites of savory turkey.


How To Season a Turkey Perfectly for Thanksgiving

There&rsquos a reason gravy and stuffing are our favorite Thanksgiving side dishes: Turkey meat can be boring and bland, and it often needs a little help from the supporting stars at the table. But don&rsquot worry &mdash learning how to season a turkey for baking and what flavors go well with turkey is a foolproof way to add flavor to the preferred holiday protein. Try our top tips for what to season turkey breast with, what herbs and spices go with turkey and our tasty turkey rub (hello, spice butter!) recipes.

Our #1 secret to a well-seasoned turkey? The all-important (and oh so easy!) dry brine. The Test Kitchen turns to this method for maximum flavor, juicier meat and the crispiest skin. Here&rsquos how it's done: Rub herbs and 2 Tbsp salt all over the turkey, pop it in a plastic bag and refrigerate. You can season your turkey the night before or as far in advance as 2 days.

Salt is a great (and non-negotiable) place to start, but there are so many seasonings that really rev up the flavor of a bland bird. Try Cajun-style turkey rub inspired by the lively flavors of New Orleans (think smoked paprika, celery salt and onion powder) or a red rub with paprika, ground coriander and garlic powder.

Don't just sprinkle salt on the surface of the turkey, give your bird a big flavor boost by seasoning under the turkey's skin too. Stir your favorite spices and fresh herbs into softened butter, then rub it all over the turkey and under the skin. Try a combo of lemon zest and garlic with paprika and ground coriander, or something more traditional like folding chopped parsley, sage and rosemary into the butter. Not only does this help season the bird, but it also makes the meat extra juicy.

Glazes are a great way to add a subtle sweetness and shine to your bird. Try a combo of maple syrup, orange juice and fresh sage, brushing most of the glaze on before roasting and saving some to polish up the bird once it&rsquos out of the oven. Or to really amp things up, lay slices of bacon over the turkey breast before roasting, securing the ends with toothpicks so they don&rsquot curl. Brush the bacon with glaze before roasting, and once more after it's done. Trust us &mdash no one can resist a bacon-wrapped bird.

. and fill up the bird&rsquos cavity with herbs and aromatics. Instead of packing your bird with bread cubes that inevitably turn soggy (we prefer a crispy-topped stuffing cooked on the side), stuff the turkey with fresh whole herbs, lemon halves, shallots and smashed cloves of garlic that lend tons of flavor with zero mush.

Not just a pretty plate, garnishes can offer complementary or contrasting flavors to enjoy alongside your well-seasoned roast. Try roasted pears for extra juiciness or caramelized winter vegetables for earthy sweetness. Small, sweet champagne grapes are also fun to munch on in between bites of savory turkey.


How To Season a Turkey Perfectly for Thanksgiving

There&rsquos a reason gravy and stuffing are our favorite Thanksgiving side dishes: Turkey meat can be boring and bland, and it often needs a little help from the supporting stars at the table. But don&rsquot worry &mdash learning how to season a turkey for baking and what flavors go well with turkey is a foolproof way to add flavor to the preferred holiday protein. Try our top tips for what to season turkey breast with, what herbs and spices go with turkey and our tasty turkey rub (hello, spice butter!) recipes.

Our #1 secret to a well-seasoned turkey? The all-important (and oh so easy!) dry brine. The Test Kitchen turns to this method for maximum flavor, juicier meat and the crispiest skin. Here&rsquos how it's done: Rub herbs and 2 Tbsp salt all over the turkey, pop it in a plastic bag and refrigerate. You can season your turkey the night before or as far in advance as 2 days.

Salt is a great (and non-negotiable) place to start, but there are so many seasonings that really rev up the flavor of a bland bird. Try Cajun-style turkey rub inspired by the lively flavors of New Orleans (think smoked paprika, celery salt and onion powder) or a red rub with paprika, ground coriander and garlic powder.

Don't just sprinkle salt on the surface of the turkey, give your bird a big flavor boost by seasoning under the turkey's skin too. Stir your favorite spices and fresh herbs into softened butter, then rub it all over the turkey and under the skin. Try a combo of lemon zest and garlic with paprika and ground coriander, or something more traditional like folding chopped parsley, sage and rosemary into the butter. Not only does this help season the bird, but it also makes the meat extra juicy.

Glazes are a great way to add a subtle sweetness and shine to your bird. Try a combo of maple syrup, orange juice and fresh sage, brushing most of the glaze on before roasting and saving some to polish up the bird once it&rsquos out of the oven. Or to really amp things up, lay slices of bacon over the turkey breast before roasting, securing the ends with toothpicks so they don&rsquot curl. Brush the bacon with glaze before roasting, and once more after it's done. Trust us &mdash no one can resist a bacon-wrapped bird.

. and fill up the bird&rsquos cavity with herbs and aromatics. Instead of packing your bird with bread cubes that inevitably turn soggy (we prefer a crispy-topped stuffing cooked on the side), stuff the turkey with fresh whole herbs, lemon halves, shallots and smashed cloves of garlic that lend tons of flavor with zero mush.

Not just a pretty plate, garnishes can offer complementary or contrasting flavors to enjoy alongside your well-seasoned roast. Try roasted pears for extra juiciness or caramelized winter vegetables for earthy sweetness. Small, sweet champagne grapes are also fun to munch on in between bites of savory turkey.


How To Season a Turkey Perfectly for Thanksgiving

There&rsquos a reason gravy and stuffing are our favorite Thanksgiving side dishes: Turkey meat can be boring and bland, and it often needs a little help from the supporting stars at the table. But don&rsquot worry &mdash learning how to season a turkey for baking and what flavors go well with turkey is a foolproof way to add flavor to the preferred holiday protein. Try our top tips for what to season turkey breast with, what herbs and spices go with turkey and our tasty turkey rub (hello, spice butter!) recipes.

Our #1 secret to a well-seasoned turkey? The all-important (and oh so easy!) dry brine. The Test Kitchen turns to this method for maximum flavor, juicier meat and the crispiest skin. Here&rsquos how it's done: Rub herbs and 2 Tbsp salt all over the turkey, pop it in a plastic bag and refrigerate. You can season your turkey the night before or as far in advance as 2 days.

Salt is a great (and non-negotiable) place to start, but there are so many seasonings that really rev up the flavor of a bland bird. Try Cajun-style turkey rub inspired by the lively flavors of New Orleans (think smoked paprika, celery salt and onion powder) or a red rub with paprika, ground coriander and garlic powder.

Don't just sprinkle salt on the surface of the turkey, give your bird a big flavor boost by seasoning under the turkey's skin too. Stir your favorite spices and fresh herbs into softened butter, then rub it all over the turkey and under the skin. Try a combo of lemon zest and garlic with paprika and ground coriander, or something more traditional like folding chopped parsley, sage and rosemary into the butter. Not only does this help season the bird, but it also makes the meat extra juicy.

Glazes are a great way to add a subtle sweetness and shine to your bird. Try a combo of maple syrup, orange juice and fresh sage, brushing most of the glaze on before roasting and saving some to polish up the bird once it&rsquos out of the oven. Or to really amp things up, lay slices of bacon over the turkey breast before roasting, securing the ends with toothpicks so they don&rsquot curl. Brush the bacon with glaze before roasting, and once more after it's done. Trust us &mdash no one can resist a bacon-wrapped bird.

. and fill up the bird&rsquos cavity with herbs and aromatics. Instead of packing your bird with bread cubes that inevitably turn soggy (we prefer a crispy-topped stuffing cooked on the side), stuff the turkey with fresh whole herbs, lemon halves, shallots and smashed cloves of garlic that lend tons of flavor with zero mush.

Not just a pretty plate, garnishes can offer complementary or contrasting flavors to enjoy alongside your well-seasoned roast. Try roasted pears for extra juiciness or caramelized winter vegetables for earthy sweetness. Small, sweet champagne grapes are also fun to munch on in between bites of savory turkey.