Gone are the days where there was only your mother’s way to cook a turkey. Today, there are so many options that it’s hard to know which is right for both the chef and the guests. To organize the myriad of choices, our list of the best Thanksgiving turkey recipes breaks down some of our favorites into common categories. With recipes that are easy, spicy, or gourmet, there’s a turkey for every taste and cooking ability.
The Best Thanksgiving Turkey Recipes and What Makes Them Great
While some Thanksgiving cooks delight in enhancing traditional recipes, others are turkey novices or love to experiment with bold flavors. The best Thanksgiving turkey recipes have easy-to-follow steps or innovative ideas that make preparing the turkey as rewarding as eating it.
Easy Turkey Recipes for Thanksgiving
No Fuss Thanksgiving Turkey
Easy turkey recipes show that keeping it simple can still yield rich, complex flavor. What are the common beginner’s mistakes to avoid? Basting and overcooking. The turkey in this recipe is simply stuffed with quartered apples, lemons, and herbs before the outside is slathered with herb butter. After placing on a bed of root vegetables, let the turkey roast uninterrupted to retain heat and moisture.
1 12-20lb turkey
Ranch-Seasoned Roast Turkey
The best Thanksgiving turkey recipes don’t get any easier than this one with just three ingredients…and one of them is the turkey. Simply mix 2 sticks of butter with 2 packets of dried ranch seasoning, spreading it both under and on top of the skin. Place in a roasting pan and cover with foil, removing the foil halfway through cooking to crisp and brown the skin.
1 whole turkey
Dried ranch seasoning
Spicy Turkey Recipes for Thanksgiving
Sweet-and-Spicy Roast Turkey
Adding some heat to almost every food has become a big flavor trend, and Thanksgiving turkey is no exception. But balance is key to let the turkey’s natural flavor shine through. This recipe tempers the cayenne in its dry brine with brown sugar, while the hot sauce basting liquid is mitigated by honey.
1 12lb turkey
This spicy turkey recipe gets its Cajun heat from a dry rub consisting of cayenne, oregano, paprika, garlic powder and thyme. After an overnight stay in the fridge, stuff the turkey with “the trinity” of chopped celery, onion and green bell pepper before roasting. One bite and you’ll be be ready to laissez les bons temps rouler!
1 12-14lb turkey
Green bell pepper
Gourmet Turkey Recipes for Thanksgiving
Bourbon and Brown Sugar Glazed Turkey
Gourmet turkey recipes have extra steps, but their nuanced flavor can make it worth the effort. This recipe disassembles the breast and legs before applying a dry brine to sit overnight. While the breast roasts the next day, the legs and thighs are cooked confit in olive oil before being added to the oven. All the turkey components are then brushed with a bourbon and brown sugar glaze that is a showstopper in and of itself.
While you may need to clean your oven after roasting and glazing this turkey, avoid self-cleaning oven dangers. We recommend cleaning your oven with vinegar steam for a safe but effective technique.
1 12-14lb turkey
Porcini Mushroom Turkey with Mushroom Gravy
Earthy mushrooms bring out turkey’s wild flavor in both a flavored butter and rich gravy in this recipe. Rehydrate dried porcini mushrooms before adding them to butter and herbs, coating the bird on and under the skin. While the turkey sits after roasting, add reserved mushrooms and their liquid to turkey juice, wine, cream, and turkey stock. The combination forms a decadent gravy to complement the richly-flavored bird.
1 14-16lb turkey
Dried porcini mushrooms
Whether you’re a seasoned home cook or a novice holiday host, the best Thanksgiving turkey recipes are those enjoyed with family and friends. Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Mid America Service!