Top 10 Ways to Cook a Turkey

Food & Drink

Thanksgiving Turkey
There are hundreds of ways to cook a turkey, thanks to the fact that it’s a versatile meat for many different flavors and treatments. Of course, everyone strives to avoid cooking a turkey until its dry, and a number of trendy methods for cooking turkeys have emerged in the past few years to keep turkeys tender and moist. Here are the top 10 ways to cook a turkey for perfect and delicious results, especially handy for Thanksgiving meals!

Unstuffed Turkey

10. Unstuffed Roasting

Simply roasting a turkey under a tent of aluminum foil with, if desired, basic basting is a timeless method of cooking the bird. Cooking the bird without stuffing is considered by many to be a safer alternative to traditional stuffed roasting, since the stuffing may not reach an ideal internal temperature, and can expand in the turkey during cooking, which causes its own set of problems if the cavity is overstuffed. Check out these unstuffed roasting directions for more information.

Stuffed Turkey

9. Stuffed Roasting

Although the aforementioned arguments against stuffing the turkey before roasting exist, many prefer to stuff the bird’s cavity and allow the natural juices of the turkey to permeate the stuffing while it cooks. This method is similar to unstuffed roasting in technique; the only difference is the presence of stuffing which makes the turkey take longer to complete. Check out these stuffed roasting directions for more information.


8. Turducken

Argued by some to be an unsafe method of cooking a turkey, the turducken method is time-consuming and can indeed cause meats to spoil if any one of the birds used is left out unduly long while the others are prepared. In a nutshell, turducken is a turkey with a boned duck inside, and inside the boned duck is a boned chicken. The whole lot takes 12-15 hours to cook, and involves a painstaking amount of work before it ever hits the oven. But if you’re feeling ambitious, try Paula Deen’s recipe for turducken.

Oven Cooking Bag

7. Oven Cooking Bag

Oven cooking bags are available in most grocery stores, and are a method almost guaranteed to produce good results if the instructions are followed carefully. Oven cooking bags are large, high-temperature resistant bags that with a few simple steps to vent produce a moist heat environment for a turkey. For more information, check out the Reynolds Oven Bags Cooking School.

Braised Turkey

6. Braised Roasting

Braising a turkey involves cooking in a small amount of liquid such as water in a covered roasting pan. It’s a moist heat method like the oven cooking bag. The cavity of the turkey can be filled with vegetables that are friendly to moist cooking like carrots, onions, and celery, to enhance the flavor. The liquid left over in the pan can be used as a base for gravy or a delicious dressing. Try this technique for braising the turkey in parts from The New York Times.

Fried Turkey

5. Deep Frying

Deep fried turkey is a southern delight, made very popular across the United States in recent years. It involves frying a turkey whole in a vat of hot oil. The turkey may first be stuffed with onions, peppers, and other vegetables and spiced to taste. Frying produces a moist result. Turkey deep fryers are still quite en vogue to purchase. For more information about frying turkeys, try this page from Fabulous Foods.

Grilled Turkey

4. Grilling

That’s right – you can grill a turkey. It’s best done with a covered kettle style grill and hot coals, with the inclusion of a dripping pan for the juices and oils that emit during cooking. This method is best for a small, unstuffed turkey, breast down. Check out this recipe on for information about grilling a turkey.

Smoked Turkey

3. Smoking

Smoked turkey is something very familiar to fans of deli meats, but it’s entirely possible to smoke a turkey in your own home. The results are superbly flavorful. For fans of the smoky taste common to barbecues and preserved meats, this preparation is second to none. Try this recipe for honey smoked turkey for a bird that will delight not only on Thanksgiving but in leftover sandwiches.

Brined Turkey

2. Brining

Brined turkey isn’t a very common preparation, but it’s a great way to achieve moist meat that’s well seasoned. Brining involves pre-treating the turkey by submersing it in saltwater. The process should be started the day before you plan to cook the bird, but the majority of the work in brining is done by the brine itself, and requires little intervention. For more information, try this page about brining turkey.

Rotisserie Turkey

1. Rotisserie

Rotisserie turkey, or turkey that’s been slowly rotated over a heat source, makes for a very flavorful bird. Usually moist, juicy, and evenly cooked, rotisserie cooking requires special appliances, but the results for particular eaters and turkey aficionados are worth the investment. The skin on a rotisserie bird gets brown and crispy, a great counterpoint to the texture of the meat. For more information visit this page on

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