Thanksgiving Recipes: How to Cook a Turkey

If you need a new recipe for your Thanksgiving turkey, give one of these non-traditional twists a try.

There are many ways to cook everyone’s favorite holiday bird. Each family has its own special technique for cooking a turkey, whether it's using an old family recipe, adding a secret ingredient, or shopping at a certain store in town that helps make the turkey taste all the better.

If you're hosting Thanksgiving this year, you can try any of the recipes below to add a new kick to your feast. If you're attending someone else’s dinner, hopefully their turkey will taste as good as one of these!

Just the name of this recipe makes my mouth water. An Allrecipes.com user contributes this Greek take on turkey, which combines ground beef and pork with tangerine juice, rice and other ingredients for an in-bird stuffing. This one requires no pre-made brine.

Emeril Lagasse’s recipe for a Cajun-spiced turkey is not for those looking for a simple roast bird this Thanksgiving. It calls for the equipment and safety precautions necessary to deep-fry a good-sized bird, but for those looking for a little extra flavor and adventure this year, this may be the perfect alternative to the oven. The results will undoubtedly be delicious, but be sure to heed the safety tips at the bottom of the recipe before attempting. If you want the Cajun flavors without the hassle, risk and calories of deep-frying, try this recipe from Jimmy Bannos.

This recipe calls for the use of a turkey breast roast, but variations can be worked out fairly easily for a smaller whole bird or even diced meat for a stir-fry or bake. I’ve made chicken dishes with a very similar yogurt marinade to this one and the key is letting the meat soak up the sauce overnight. The flavors are intense and aromatic, and will definitely lend themselves to a unique Thanksgiving meal.

This recipe’s name—and its use of whiskey—intrigued me. A flavorful blend of unconventional ingredients make this dish sound delicious and feasible, and it requires fairly simple preparation. Check out the chef’s note to see how you can use a crock pot for a quicker, easier version of this recipe. Some of the user comments also have great ideas for stuffings that use the same components.

If you're in the mood for something more traditional this year, try this recipe:

The Food Network’s Alton Brown brings us this fairly simple (for a whole turkey) and by-the-book recipe, which uses a brine peppered with allspice berries and candied ginger. It takes about 10 hours of total cooking time, not including defrosting.

TELL US: What is your favorite way to cook a turkey on Thanksgiving? Do you use any special ingredients? Write your comments in the comment section below. 

Michael November 21, 2012 at 01:29 AM
These sound complicated, I use melindalee.com recipes. You really MUST brine a turkey because it is so bland to start with. You have to make your brine tonight because it needs 24 hrs. Most people dry-out a turkey; cook it upside down for the first half so the breast meat doesn't dry out. Most people over cook it too, it's about time & temperature. Don't forget to "tent it" for 20 minutes before serving to redistribute the juices. Do NOT cook stuffing inside the bird, "perfume" the bird with an onion and/or oranges in the cavity. http://www.melindalee.com/recipes/brine-ultimate-brine-for-turkey/
Melanie C. Johnson (Editor) November 21, 2012 at 01:37 AM
You should write a blog on turkey cooking. Sounds like you know your turkey.
Michael November 21, 2012 at 02:27 AM
I'm not smart enough for that, all the things I learned are from that website/professional cooks, I just follow directions. But, it sure beats family-folklore of "350 for 4 hrs, or 400 for 4 hours" drying out the bird. The best thing is, it takes some prep time here-and-there, but when it comes to cooking, you place it in the oven, go drink beer/wine/vodka or whatever you do, come back in 90 min or so, turn it, then you are done- a whopping 7 minutes. Don't need to baste because the juices stays in the bird due to brining. Besides, I go crispy with the skin and basting tends to make it soggy. One "downside"- there are no turkey drippings because it all stays in the meat- like it should! So find a substitute for your gravy recipe- just get a packet of McCormick's. Maybe I should start a turkey blog!
Wayne Breitkreutz November 21, 2012 at 11:43 AM
i have used the malinda lee recipe above for brined turkey and it is very good. last time i used an alton brown brine recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/videos/altons-turkey-brining-secrets/866.html?vpid=tbla|searchresults and now have four 11 pound turkey's using alton's brine recipe again this year. i do several turkey's because i fry them in peanut oil and it is just too expensive to only fry one turkey using peanut oil. i make dressing on the side and use a costco pre cooked chicken saving the white meat to go in the dressing and we have the dark meat for an early dinner. i save the bones and skin from the costco chicken to make a broth to use in a gravy and also add the turkey necks slow cooking all those parts for several hours. after the four turkey's are fried the left over peanut oil makes the best steak fries. this year i am going to try injecting one of the four brined turkey's with butter and spices to see how that comes out. it may be overkill to both inject, and brine because brining already keeps the juices in the bird so well.
Michael November 21, 2012 at 04:19 PM
That sounds great, maybe I'll just invite myself over to your place! Sounds like a lot of work though (which is not a good fit for me). I'll check out the Alton Brown recipe, he's an awesome food chemist.
Melanie C. Johnson (Editor) November 21, 2012 at 06:06 PM
Sounds awesome Wayne. I say we all head to your house for Thanksgiving!


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