Turkey is the bird to eat on Thanksgiving, but honestly it is not my favorite. It is often so dry! However, my mother-in-law makes the best, amazingly moist turkey.
This summer I requested that she teach me how to cook a moist turkey. She has perfected her recipe over the past several years and it was a honor to have her walk me through the process.
The best part about my mother-in-law’s method, besides how moist the turkey turns out, is the fact that the bulk of the work and mess is done the day before!
How to Cook an Amazingly Moist Turkey
1. If your turkey is frozen, thaw it in the fridge according to the directions on the package. Typical thawing time for an average size bird is 3-5 days.
2. On cooking day, take out all the extras (the gizzards) and rinse the turkey.
3. Put the turkey in a large roasting pan and prepare the butter rub.
Turkey Butter Rub – Mix together:
- 1 pound softened butter (or less if using a smaller bird)
- 1 Tbsp sage
- 1 Tbsp marjoram
- 1 Tbsp ground thyme
- 1 Tbsp oregano
- 1 packet Lipton Savory Herb with Garlic mix
4. Gently put some of the butter rub under the skin on the breast of the turkey. Spread the remaining butter rub all over the outside and inside of the bird.
5. Add 1 inch of water to the bottom of the pan, put the lid on the pan (with all vents closed), and put it in the oven at 350 degrees.
6. Let the turkey bake for 1 hour and then baste it (squirting liquid from the bottom of the pan all over the turkey). Continue to baste the turkey every 30 minutes until it is done. You’ll know the turkey is done when the legs start to break away from the bird. For an average size bird (about 15 pounds) this will take 4-5 hours.
At this point, you could serve the turkey if you wanted to eat it the same day. However, it will still be fairly dry. I recommend that you cook the turkey the day before you want to serve it and follow the remaining steps.
7. Let the turkey sit until it is cool enough to handle. Then take the meat off the bones.
8. Put all the meat in a pan and cover the meat with drippings and liquid from the roasting pan, thin gravy, or just plain water if needed. Refrigerate until the next day.
9. On eating day, pull out the pan and bake it covered until the turkey is hot. It will be amazingly moist turkey!
I love that you can really take your time cooking the turkey without needing to worry if it will be done too early or too late for the start of your big meal. Plus, you can take care of all the bones and mess the day before.
Don’t be so quick to throw away the bones! This past year I started making my own broth/stock and you could get a lot of broth/stock out of those turkey bones. I freeze my broth and then use it in soups or in replace of water when making rice.
Are you hosting a Thanksgiving meal this year? Have you ever tried to cook your turkey the day before?