Traditional Turkey Recipes

If a majestic bronzed bird is something your guests have been looking forward to since last Thanksgiving, these classic recipes are the way to go. Try one of the traditional whole roast turkeys below, or zhuzh things up with a roast turkey with stuffing. Either way, you’ll be met with a chorus of oohs and ahhs!

An old-fashioned roast turkey on a white platter, with gravy in a boat beside it.
Keller & Keller
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Old-Fashioned Roast Turkey and Gravy

This old-fashioned roast turkey and gravy shows why covering turkey with cheesecloth while you roast it is the perfect trick to ensuring tender meat and shatteringly crisp skin. And there’s no need to stuff, truss, brine, or otherwise fuss with it.

I tried this old-fashioned roast turkey and gravy recipe for the first turkey I ever made. I had my parents and in-laws over. It was so awesome. I can’t thank you enough for this recipe.

A whole roast turkey on an oval serving platter with cranberries, fresh herbs, and orange slices tucked around it.
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Simple Roast Turkey

Simple roast turkey is an easy way to cook the perfect bird for Thanksgiving. And by that we mean the best, most juiciest roast turkey imaginable. A failproof technique, even for beginner cooks.

Turkey Recipes for a Small Gathering

If you’re planning an intimate celebration, consider this small bird whipped up in an Instant Pot or, perhaps, this elegant stuffed turkey breast. They’re easy to make, and you won’t have mountains of leftovers.

Instant Pot Thanksgiving turkey on a platter garnished with figs, oranges, grapes, and sage, beside a carving set.
Sterling Publishing Co.
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Instant Pot Thanksgiving Turkey

A 6- to 7-pound (2.75- to 3.25-kg) turkey—the perfect size for an intimate dinner party—will easily fit in your six-quart multicooker, and will produce the juiciest, most tender turkey your guests have ever had. To give the turkey a beautiful golden-brown finish, pop it under the broiler for about five minutes.
A partially sliced pancetta and herb stuffed turkey breast on a serving platter with a serving fork on the side.
David Leite
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Pancetta and Herb Stuffed Turkey Breast

Whether you're hosting a small Thanksgiving gathering, or don't have the space, time, or inclination to wrestle with a whole bird, this pancetta and herb stuffed turkey breast makes for an easy holiday main course.

Non-Traditional Turkey Recipes

Are you passing on the traditional Norman Rockwell bird but still need your turkey fix? Try deep-frying the gobbler or roasting pieces separately. You’ll be rewarded with marvelously cooked, juicy turkey everyone will be clamoring for.

A whole deep-fried turkey, garnished with sage, bay, and thyme leaves on a wooden cutting board.
Peter Frank Edwards
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Deep-Fried Turkey

This deep-fried turkey, which requires no brine and no injection, is the juiciest and most tender we’ve ever tried and has just the slightest Cajun lilt. Here’s how to (safely) make it.

Very thorough guide and recipe for deep-fried turkey. It was the best turkey I’ve ever had. Not oily at all, and the meat was incredibly juicy and tender. You can’t beat the color of the turkey when deep-fried, either. Highly recommend.

Fryin’ ryan
An oval platter with roasted and braised turkey, a dish of stuffing, a bowl of cranberry sauce, a bowl of chestnuts, two glasses of wine, and a small pot of gravy on a wooden table.
Christopher Hirsheimer
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Roasted and Braised Turkey

Roasted and braised turkey makes certain that both the white and dark meat is cooked perfectly and with tons of flavor. Cooking them separately ensures that everything is succulent.

This roasted and braised turkey is the best turkey I have ever eaten in my life, and I am 72 years young! The breast doesn’t dry out, and the rest of the bird is tender, flavorful, and mouthwateringly good! If you don’t try it this way, you’re missing out on delicious!


Turkey on the Grill

While cooking turkey on the grill or smoker might seem unusual, it’s actually nothing short of brilliant. It takes the biggest, most oven-hogging part of the meal entirely out of the kitchen. What’s left is premium cooking real estate for all the other important stuff, like crispy stuffings and creamy gratins.

If you want something really different and don’t want to deal with all that pomp and circumstance of carving, try this brined boneless turkey breast. It gets soaked in a woozy, boozy brandy-infused brine and smoked to perfection. All you have to do is slice it.

A Texas style smoked turkey cut into breast and leg pieces on a cutting board with a knife.
Johnny Autry
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Texas Style Smoked Turkey

This Texas style smoked turkey, which is smothered with a bold spice rub and slowly smoked on the grill, is welcome any time of the year, whether on your Thanksgiving table or your annual backyard shindig.
Three smoked turkey legs on a plate with a bowl of coleslaw in the background.
Angie Zoobkoff
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Smoked Turkey Legs

Can smoked turkey legs you make at home possibly be as good as the ones at the carnival or theme park? Actually, they're even better. All it takes is a simple brine and a little patience. Here's how to make them.

These smoked turkey legs were absolutely yummy and tasted like we went to the fair. We used pecan pellets on our Traeger Grill. We’ll be saving this recipe!!

Shantrice M.

Helpful Tips for Making a Showstopper of a Thanksgiving Turkey

  • Always start with a fully thawed turkey. Using a partially frozen turkey can result in uneven cooking. If your bird is still somewhat frozen, follow these tips for quickly thawing a frozen turkey.
  • Use an instant-read thermometer to check for doneness. Measure the temperature in several spots, including the breast and the thickest part of the thigh. You’re aiming for a temperature of 165°F (74°C). But pull it out of the oven at 160°F (71°C)–it will continue while it rests.
  • Let your turkey rest for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour before carving.
  • Leftover turkey should be refrigerated within 2 hours of serving.
  • Store leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 6 months.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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  1. No Spatchcocked turkey recipes!? I was looking forward to seeing and trying one of these as I love how this works for chickens, etc.

  2. I am picking up my boneless turkey breasts (3 of ’em) tomorrow to dry brine. After that I’ll sear the skins and sous vide them. On the Wed night before I’ll bring them back up to temp in the sous vide rig and then give them a brief roast on T-day.

    I’ve ordered backs, necks and wings as well to make broth and gravy well in advance..

    This is a big departure from our conventional Normal Rockwell turkey but we did a test run several weeks ago and all our taste testers agreed they’d never had such moist turkey. The difference was nothing short of remarkable! I’d venture to say you could even make a cold turkey sandwich without the mayo with that juicy white meat.

    I’ll miss the dark meat (but I’d need a second sous vide pump to prepare it to a different temp) and I’ll miss the in-the-bird stuffing but I know it’s gonna be good and I suspect it’s going to be calmer in those last 30 minutes on T-day.

    1. Rainey, this sounds wonderful! I suspect you are correct; you will have a much calmer meal preparation and will be able to enjoy the experience rather than the sheer panic of the final half-hour. Do let us know how your meal turns out and what your favorite dishes were this year.