How to Cook a Thanksgiving Turkey

How to Cook a Thanksgiving Turkey

How to cook a thanksgiving turkey!  You have to try these different recipes for cooking a turkey even if you are veteran!

Thanksgiving time is the one time a year the majority of people make plans to cook a whole turkey. When you only cook something once a year it isn't always easy to have it come out completely perfect!. In this post I'm going to talk about a few different ways to prepare turkey. There isn't one way that is right or wrong but more of a preference. Now if you are having turkey you have to try this cranberry sauce with candied ginger, it's absolutely delicious!

Turkey Brine

Brining the turkey normally insures a turkey that is a little more moist and full flavored. This process does take a little planning but also lends itself to a better bird. There are all different ways to season, stuff, and flavor the turkeys. I'll give you a few different options here as well. Here is how to cook a turkey multiple ways, you choose what works the best for you. I hope you enjoy these thanksgiving recipes!

How to Cook a Whole Turkey

Whole Turkey

  • 1 15-17 lb turkey


  • 2 gal water
  • 2 cups apple cider or juice
  • 1 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp coriander
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 3 whole bay leaves
  • 1/2 onion


  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 each carrots (and Celery chopped)
  • 1 whole onion (chopped)
  • 2 whole lemons or oranges (cut in quarters)
  • 1/3 cup herbs chopped (parsley, thyme, rosemary, sage)
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 salt (and pepper )

For the Brine

  1. Place 1 gallon of water and the rest of the ingredients into a pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 5 minutes until the salt and sugar completely dissolve. At this point you can add a bunch of ice to cool down the brine quickly or simply allow it to cool completely. Place your turkey either in a brine bag or in pot that is large enough to hold it along with the brine. Add the rest of the water to cover the thanksgiving turkey completely. Brine overnight (12 hrs) then take our and rinse off your bird.

    I'm going to give several options for cooking your turkey from this point

Fried Turkey

  1. Typically the fried turkey in my opinion is one of the easiest and tastiest. You normally need a burner, propane tank, a large pot for frying, oil, and some cardboard. This is something you want to do outside. Place a few broken down cardboard boxes on the ground. Place your burner on top of the cardboard boxes (this helps with any grease that might spill, also this burner should have legs and should be raised off the ground a few feet). Fill the pot about 1/3 of the way full. When you go to put your bird in the oil will rise almost to the top of the pot, so you never want to fill your pot more than half full.

    A good rule of thumb when frying a turkey for cooking time is 3 minutes per pound. So if you have a 15lb turkey you would want to cook it about 45 minutes in the fryer, and of course you want to rest the turkey 20-30 minutes after that.

    That is basic instructions for frying a turkey.

Roasting a turkey

  1. Take the turkey out of the brine and rinse off. Then place in a roasting pan. I like to chop up carrots, celery, onion, citrus, garlic, and stuff them inside the cavity of the bird. Whatever is leftover I place in the bottom of the pan. I like to add 8 cups of water to the bottom of the pan.

    note: sometimes the best things come from mistakes. My sister in-law one year was cooking a turkey and had the turkey in roasting pan with a rack and she literally didn't know what side of the turkey was the back and the front (breast side) She put the breast side down so that the bird was cooking in the water/juices at the bottom of the pan. The back or bottom of the turkey got brown but the breast and the legs didn't because obviously it was face down in the juices. Crazy thing that happened was that the turkey was really moist and juicy because the breast and some of the legs were in the pan dripping or juices. When I told her it was upside down in the pan she was shocked, but she flipped over the turkey and the skin didn't look brown like a typical turkey would, but the flavor of the turkey and moistness was actually fantastic! So you if you don't care about the aesthetics of the bird you might want to give this way a go!

    Butter:some options from here can be adding some cubed butter underneath the skin of the breast and thighs of the turkey to give moisture and flavor to the bird. Use your fingers to carefully loosen the skin underneath the breast and thighs of the turkey without tearing it. Then add the cubed butter and the skin will hold the butter in place.

    Olive oil: I like to drizzle the outside of the turkey with olive oil and then season with a little salt and pepper and chopped herbs all over.

    note: If your turkey comes with a popup tester that tells you when it is done I would toss that unless you don't have a meat thermometer. They typically pop when your turkey is around 170 or more and that is way over done at that point. You want to take your turkey out when the temperature is 165 degrees maybe even 163. The turkey is going to continue to cook for at least another 30 minutes once you take it out of the oven which if you take it out at 163 degrees it will easily carry over cooking another 5 degrees which would take you to 168 degrees which is completely done for poultry.

    Oven temperatures: I don't typically start at a really high temperature for 20 minutes and then turn it down. I normally roast my turkey at 375 degrees and try to baste it every 30 minutes or so. Normally the turkey has good color by the time it has reached the 163 degrees. If it doesn't have the color you desire towards the end of the your cooking process then you can raise the temperature to 425-450 for the last 10-15 minutes of cooking to get the desired color.

    Big Green Egg

    You can also use your big green egg as an oven or you can smoke your turkey as well. If smoking you want your temperature around 275 degrees and if roasting just use the temperature just like your oven 375-400 degrees.

Back to blog

Leave a comment