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. 

diana hartman November 19, 2012 at 03:15 PM
I like to keep things simple. Thanksgiving is not the time to experiment with a new recipe. I brine my frozen or partially thawed turkey overnight in a large bucket of cold water, an entire container of salt, and ice cubes. I replenish the ice cubes as needed. I then pat the turkey dry inside and out before stuffing it. I coat the turkey using sticks of softened butter before placing it breast side down on a rack in a roasting pan. I also use a piece of foil to form a tent over the turkey for the first hour or so of cooking. By cooking breast side down, the meat will be juicer. If you want a darker skin, you can flip the turkey over during the last hour of cooking. Make sure you let the turkey rest for about a half hour before carving. I use a meat thermometer to make sure the turkey is fully cooked. I prefer a simple stuffing consisting of cubed dried white bread, along with melted butter, parsley, and sauteed chopped onions and celery. I also add plenty of Bell's Seasoning to the stuffing mixture. The Bell's Seasoning is my secret ingredient to make the stuffing tasty. I make extra stuffing that I place in a separate casserole dish to put in the oven for a half hour or so to heat up. Everyone loves my simple stuffing recipe. It is yummy. It was also the recipe that my mother used.


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