10 Secrets to the Most Flavorful Turkey Ever

This Thanksgiving, make your turkey more flavorful than ever with our top turkey tips. In no time you'll know how to cook a turkey that guests will crave.

Roasted turkey on a nice platter beside a bowl of stuffing and gravyPhoto: Taste of Home

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, you’re sure to have your menu planned from the best sides to perfect pies. And of course, you’ve got the traditional turkey lined up. But before you pop that bird into the oven, consider giving it an extra boost of flavor. We’ve got ten techniques to help you get your tastiest turkey ever. Now, let’s talk tips:

1. Brine your bird

To add extra flavor and tenderness to your Thanksgiving turkey, try a basic brine. Soaking the turkey in this saltwater mixture helps to tenderize the meat while adding flavor and moisture throughout the entire turkey. The simplest of brines is plain ol’ saltwater, but we love to add herbs and spices to give the turkey as much flavor as possible—this recipe is a good place to start for an herb-based brine. But take heed, brining is a plan-ahead trick. Your bird should sit in the brine for at least four hours (though overnight is best, so start a full day ahead).

2. Opt for aromatics

Instead of filling your bird with stuffing, fill it with aromatics. (News flash: Cooking stuffing inside of a turkey can be dangerous.) The basics, like onion, garlic, thyme, rosemary and sage, help lend that traditional Thanksgiving flavor. Take your aromatics up a notch by adding halved lemons or oranges. The citrus will add a nice brightness and acidity to your turkey.

Whole roasted turkey on a platterTaste of Home

3. Season under the skin

It can be tempting to sprinkle your seasonings right on top of the turkey like you’d do with any other protein, but to get the most flavor, it’s best to season under the skin. This puts those spices in direct contact with the meat for maximum impact. Plus if you don’t like the skin you can peel it off after cooking without losing all the herby goodness. Go further than the traditional salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary with this show-stopping cranberry orange turkey.

4. Try a marinade

Marinades aren’t just for the grill! Try marinading your turkey in a mixture of broth, spices and lemon juice, like in this five-star recipe, for a turkey that’s flavorful through and through. Similar to brining, your turkey should sit in the marinade for a few hours to soak up all the delicious flavors.

Sliced and grilled turkey on a plate whitePhoto: Taste of Home

5. Give the grill a go

We love a classic roast turkey, but there are so many other cooking options for the big day! If the snow’s not flying, fire up the grill! This method is a little less traditional, but the grill provides a whole new flavor to your bird. The smokiness can give this Thanksgiving standard a new life. We love this recipe for you Turkey Day grill-masters.

6. Go and glaze

Layer on the flavor with a bright and aromatic glaze. Brushing on a glaze takes an already tasty turkey skin to the next level. Glazes are an easy and quick way to give your main course an extra boost. This recipe only has four ingredients and takes ten minutes to prep!

7. Baste, baste, baste

Come Thanksgiving, we all have our turkey basters at the ready. But why settle for just basting the bird with its own juices? Try basting your turkey with wine or even beer to add extra flavor. As these basting liquids cook, they help caramelize the outside of the turkey for exceptionally tasty and crispy skin.

Five different flavors of butters in separate cupsPhoto: Taste of Home

8. Coat with compound butter

When hasn’t butter made something better? Rub compound, or flavored and seasoned, butters underneath the skin of your turkey to add another layer of flavor to your traditional turkey while also crisping up the skin. Best of all–any leftover butter makes a great spread for your bread basket. Want a few flavor ideas for your better butter? We’ve got some!

9. Inject flavor

This method might seem a little intimidating, but it packs a serious punch when it comes to boosting your turkey’s flavor. Flavor injectors work by pumping extra ingredients (think broth and melted butter) right into the center of your bird for extra moisture and an extra tasty turkey. Looking for a flavor injector? We’ve got you covered.

Person pressing down on the raw breast of a turkeyPhoto: Taste of Home

10. Try a new technique

Want all these flavorful techniques to really shine? Try spatchcocking your turkey this Thanksgiving. Spatchcocking, or butterflying, your whole turkey exposes more of the meat inside the bird. This extra surface area allows you to add even more herbs and seasonings, meaning that there will be more flavor in every bite. New to this technique? Our experts break it down step-by-step in this tutorial.

With these ten tips in your cooking arsenal, you’re ready for an extra tasty Thanksgiving.

Check Out Our Best Turkey Recipes Ever!
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Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is an editor at Taste of Home where she gets to embrace her passion for baking. She pours this love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.