Holiday Season Preparation | Top Five Whole Turkey Recipes

Turkeys have been a holiday recipe for quite some time, but you like to have a little variety once in a while right, try something new? Most people shy away from veering away from the tried and true when preparing a whole turkey. Since I moved out I like everyone else go back to my parents or where ever the family is having Christmas or thanksgiving but one thing I do that not a lot of people do is go out the day after and buy a turkey that’s one sale for cheap.


This has allowed me to test the waters and challenge my cooking abilities. Since the turkeys are affordable I am not fearful of trying a new turkey recipe and having it go wrong, even more I am not afraid of ruining my family dinner. After all variety is the spice of life. I figure this will allow me to fine tune my skills and make sure that when it comes time for me to host, my turkey will turn out great. Here’s what I have learned this far from thanksgiving and Christmases past.

Whole Turkey Cooking Tips

Before you buy the turkey, figure out how many people you would cook for. When I buy my cheapies the day after I try to find one that is either ½ or ¼ of the amount needed, trust me the sale turkey are not the big ones, those are already gone. I do this so the recipe can be easily increased when needed. Your next choice will be selecting either a frozen or fresh turkey. A fresh turkey is more expensive, even when on sale but it saves you time. Now keep in mind you wont be buying and cooking the same day. There’s been times where I bought a frozen turkey because of a sale and kept it in my freezer until the following week.


All frozen turkeys needs to be defrosted thoroughly. I prefer to defrost it in the fridge. Another way is to defrost the turkey in water. Allow 30 minutes per pound. I learned when I am in a rush I’ll use both

This is the best turkey tip I can give to anyone! Actually let the turkey sit for fifteen to thirty minutes before slicing it up. And yes actually that long. This step allows the turkey meat to relax after being tightened in the cooking process. Why do this and not serve right away? This allows the juices to be redistributed throughout the whole turkey and the meat stands up to carving better. The result, nice slices of juicy turkey… or in your case not enough slices cause it’s so good your family grabs them all.

So here are my top five whole turkey recipes, a few are easy recipes and other take a bit of time but all five a great to have in your turkey cooking repertoire, I didn’t number them because each one is great.

What your Whole Smoked Turkey may look like

Whole Smoked Turkey

One time during a reasonably warm thanksgiving I still had my barbecue out and had a lot of time to kill. I decided to try smoking a whole turkey. Smoking is a patient process of indirect heat cooking. Because you are smoking the turkey at such low temperatures, it never becomes overdone. It's an entirely different way of cooking (remember spice of life) and may not be suitable for family events but it was fun to try and turned out great

Preparation Time: 20 minutes Cooking Time: 10 hours

Ingredients


  • 1 whole turkey of course, neck and giblets removed (estimate the size of your Barbecue when picking out your bird, you want it to fit.)
  • 2 tablespoons seasoning
  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 2 cans pepsi or coke (cooks choice)
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 1 apple, quartered
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of freshly ground black pepper
  • Hickory or your choice of smoking chips (if your using a BBQ)

Cooking Directions


  1. Preheat barbecue or smoker to 225 to 250 degrees F (110 to 120 degrees C).
  2. Rinse the thawed turkey under cold water, and pat dry. Rub the crushed garlic over the outside and shake over the seasoned salt. Place in an aluminum disposable roasting pan. Fill turkey cavity with butter, cola, apple, onion, garlic powder, salt, and ground black pepper. Cover loosely with foil.
  3. Smoke at 225 to 250 degrees F (110 to 120 degrees C) for roughly 10 hours, or until internal temperature of the turkey is 180 degrees F (80 degrees C)
  4. Baste the bird every 1-1/2 to 2 hours with the juices from the bottom of the roasting pan.
  5. Remove your turkey from the oven, cover with a two sheets of aluminum foil, and allow to sit in a warm area 15 minutes before slicing.

Rosemary Roasted Whole Turkey

The easy turkey recipe tastes great when I made it I had a lot of the broth left over, so I used it inside the cavity and on coated the top of the skin with it. This recipe leaves the meat juicy and tastefully infused with all the herbs and seasonings.

Preparation Time: 25 Min Cooking Time: 4 Hrs

Ingredients


  • 1  whole turkey
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 3/4 cup of olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons of chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
  • A dash of salt

Directions


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
  2. Mix in a small bowl the olive oil, rosemary, garlic, basil, italian seasoning, fresh pepper and salt. Set this aside for now.
  3. Rinse the thawed turkey under cold water, and pat dry. Loosen the skin from the breast. You do this by carefully working your fingers between the breast and the skin. Work your way to the end of the drumstick, going slow will make sure there are no tears in the skin
  4. Using your hand, spread a healthy amount of the rosemary mixture under the breast skin and down the thigh and leg.
  5. Spread the remaining mixture over the outside of the turkey. Use toothpicks to secure the skin over any exposed breast meat.
  6. Place your turkey in a roasting pan. Add roughly 1/4 inch of water to the bottom of the pan. cook in the preheated oven 3 to 4 hours, or until the internal temperature of the turkey reaches 180 degrees F (80 degrees C).
  7. Remove your turkey from the oven, cover with a two sheets of aluminum foil, and allow to sit in a warm area 15 minutes before slicing.

Traditional Whole Turkey

I have hosted one thanksgiving, which was when I first moved out. It was just my parents, brother and girlfriend but enough to put a little pressure one. So the tried and true traditional turkey recipe came out. For my first Thanksgiving I wanted a turkey for my meat-eating family that was nice and tender and juicy. My family loved this turkey; they described it the way I wanted it to turn out “moist it was falling off the bone”


Ingredients


  • 1 whole turkey
  • 6 tablespoons of butter
  • 3 tablespoons of chicken bouillon
  • 4 cups of luke warm water
  • 2 tablespoons dried minced onion
  • 2 tablespoons of dried parsley
  • 2 tablespoons seasoning salt

Directions


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Rinse the thawed turkey under cold water, and pat dry.
  2. Loosen the skin from the breast. You do this by carefully working your fingers between the breast and the skin. Work your way to the end of the drumstick, going slow will make sure there are no tears in the skin
  3. Put 3 tablespoons of the butter on both sides between the skin and breast meat. This makes for very juicy breast meat.
  4. Place your turkey in a roasting pan.  
  5. Mix the water with the bouillon, and sprinkle in the parsley flakes and minced onion. Pour over the top of the turkey. Sprinkle seasoning salt over the turkey.
  6. Cover with foil and bake for 4 to 5 hours. To make your turkey golden remove the foil for the last 40-45 minutes
  7. Remove your turkey from the oven, cover with a two sheets of aluminum foil, and allow to sit in a warm area 15 minutes before slicing.

Maple and Orange Glazed Whole Turkey

For this recipe I was disappointed I bought such a small turkey I remember wishing I had of bought a large one since the left over’s were so tasty. If I was to change one thing about this recipe it would be to use a little more maple syrup. Do not use the store bought aunt jemima’s type of syrup, fresh and seasonal maple syrup is the best, and that’s why I would have used more.

Preparation time: 20 minutes Cooking Time: 3 hours

Ingredients


  • 1 whole turkey
  • 1/2 cup of maple syrup (based on recipe not my preference)
  • 1/4 cup of orange juice
  • 1 cup of chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup of dry vermouth
  • 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup of butter
  • 3 tablespoons of chopped fresh thyme
  • 3 tablespoons of chopped fresh sage
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil

Directions


  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C)
  2. Mix together the butter, thyme, and sage in a small bowl.
  3. Loosen the skin from the breast. You do this by carefully working your fingers between the breast and the skin. Work your way to the end of the drumstick, going slow will make sure there are no tears in the skin
  4. Brush the outside of the turkey with the olive oil, spread the salt and pepper over top.
  5. Whisk together the orange juice, maple syrup, and half of the chicken broth, and set aside.
  6. Place the turkey into the prepared roasting pan
  7. Bake the turkey for about 3 hours. Basting every 30 minutes with the maple syrup mixture.
  8. Remove your turkey from the oven, cover with a two sheets of aluminum foil, and allow to sit in a warm area 15 minutes before slicing.

Whole Deep Fried Turkey Recipe

I will admit this is one of the fattest and messiest turkey recipes I have tried, in saying that it’s one of the tastiest! I wouldn’t do it for a family gathering myself but I think everyone needs to not only try it but cook one for themselves so they can say that have deep fried a turkey.

Preparation Time: 30 minutes Cooking Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients


  • 1 whole turkey
  • 3 gallons peanut oil for frying, or as needed
  • 1/4 cup Creole seasoning
  • 1 white onion

Directions


  1. In a large stockpot heat oil to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Do not fill it and leave room for the turkey, or the oil will spill over.
  2. Loosen the skin from the breast. You do this by carefully working your fingers between the breast and the skin. Work your way to the end of the drumstick, going slow will make sure there are no tears in the skin
  3. Rub Creole seasoning over turkey inside and out. Make sure the hole at the neck is open at least 2 inches so the oil can flow freely through the bird.
  4. Place the whole turkey and onion in drain basket. The turkey should be placed in basket neck first. Slowly lower basket into hot oil to entirely cover turkey. Maintain the temperature of the oil at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C), and cook turkey for 3 1/2 minutes per pound, about 45 minutes.
  5. Carefully remove basket from oil, and drain turkey. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh; the internal temperature must be 180 degrees F (80 degrees C). Finish draining turkey on the prepared platter.

Cooking a Whole Turkey

I know you love these whole turkey recipes and can use some of them as holiday recipe having a little variety once is good for a change, so try something new and go out the day after thanksgiving or Christmas and buy a turkey that’s on sale for cheap. This way you can benefit from an affordable trail and error method of cooking a whole turkey. Remember that frozen turkeys needs to be defrosted thoroughly and let your turkey sit for 15 minutes after cooking to make sure that your turkey comes out juicy and spectacular.

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Comments 2 comments

rls8994 profile image

rls8994 6 years ago from Mississippi

These are some great tips and really good sounding recipes! I have had fried turkey and you are right, it is so very tasty! I will have to try one of the others!


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 6 years ago from Wales

Reading this has made me feel very hungry. Thank you for sharing and giving me some new recipes to try out. I look forward to reading more of your work and I am bookmarking this one. Take care.

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