No holiday spread is complete without a turkey. Well, at least in my household. The turkey is a given menu staple. And it HAS to be right! No dry bird allowed! Turkey gets a bad rap. Because, it’s very easy to dry out if not prepared correctly. If juice, flavorful turkey is your goal, you’ve come to the right place! Keep reading, babe.
When to Thaw the Turkey?
If you’re like me, you’re not about to pay extra for a fresh turkey. Frozen bird me, please! But, we have to thaw that thang well before roasting, of course. There are two ways to do so. You can thaw in the refrigerator or thaw in cold water. Whichever option you choose is up to you. See charts below for timing:
- 4 lbs: 1 day to defrost
- 8 lbs: 2 days to defrost
- 12 lbs: 3 days to defrost
- 16 lbs: 4 days to defrost
Make sure you don’t just throw the bird in the fridge. Place it in a large bowl to prevent leaks. The ice has to go somewhere. You don’t want to ruin your fridge with this bird. Trust me.
Cold Water Thawing:
- 4 lbs: 1 hours to defrost
- 8 lbs: 4 hours to defrost
- 12 lbs: 6 hours to defrost
- 16 lbs: 8 hours to defrost
This method is great if you forget to take the turkey out of the freezer. However, it takes a little more babysitting. You have to refresh the water every hour or so to ensure that the water stays cold and fresh. You’ll need approximately 30 minutes of cold water soaking per pound of turkey.
Now, that our turkey is thawed and ready. Let’s get to business.
Coop, No Brine??
No, baby. No brine. I’m lazy. I rely on injectable marinades. They have never failed me and they won’t fail your bird either. My preference is pictured. It can be hard to find, so if you have to go with another brand, it’s cool. Or, you can just use my homemade marinade recipe provided below.
I’m a serial “stuffer”. I jam pack my birds with goodness. Onions, garlic, peppers, herbs, and an orange. Yes, an orange. I use oranges instead of lemons, because I love the subtle citrusy, sweetness they add to the flavor of the turkey.
Butter or Oil?
Both. I need crispy skin on my turkey. Oil is the key to that. I chose olive oil. It’s light tasting, but still gets the job done. Both oil and butter will give you that beautiful brown color. But, butter burns. However, I still want that butter flavor. So, what can we do? Load that butter up with fresh herbs and spread it under the skin of the breasts. Then, massage that oil over the turkey and sprinkle on your favorite seasoned salt and dried herbs. A win for all!
The roasting timing of the turkey depends on its size. Don’t throw away the packaging of the turkey before removing and saving the little price tag. This will tell you the size of the turkey for accurate timing. I estimate that it takes about 13 mins of roasting per pound of the turkey. But, don’t quote me. Use the chart below as a guide. And don’t forget to grab a meat thermometer.
|Size of Turkey||Timing at 325°F|
|10-12lbs||3 – 3 ¼ hours|
|12-16bs||3 ¼ – 3 ¾ hours|
|16-20lbs||3 ¾ – 4 ¼ hours|
|20-24lbs||4 ¼ – 4 ¾ hours|
I also cover the breasts and legs with aluminum foil to prevent early browning. I remove the breast covering halfway through the roasting time right before the first basting. I leave the foil on the legs throughout the duration of roasting time.
Let it Rest:
This is the hardest part. Waiting on this beautiful bird to rest before carving. Resting is imperative if you want a juicy turkey. Cover it with foil and allow it to rest for at least 1 hour. 2 hours is best, but I won’t torture you like that. Be patient and enjoy the best turkey you’ve ever had!
Cajun Butter Roasted Turkey Recipe
- 10-14 lb turkey fresh or thawed
- Lemon juice for washing
- 16 oz Cajun Butter injectable marinade*
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 onion
- 1/2 bell pepper
- 1 orange
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 celery stalk
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 1 sprig thyme
- 1 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1 TBS Herbes de Provence
- Cajun or Creole seasoning
- Olive oil
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1 sprig fresh chopped rosemary
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme removed from stem
- 1 tsp salt
Homemade Marinade (ONLY use if you can’t find the injectable marinade above)
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 2 Tbs Cajun or Creole seasoning
- 1 Tbs onion powder
- 1 Tbs garlic powder
- 2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 tsp cracked black pepper
- 2 tsp Accent seasoning optional
- 2 cups chicken stock
Mix all ingredients together and set aside.
Remove all contents of the turkey cavity (save it for gravy)
Rinse the turkey with lemon juice and water
Pat dry very well.
Inject the every part of the turkey with the marinade
Cover with foil or place in a large marinating bag and refrigerate for 24 hrs.
Preheat oven to 325°F
Place the turkey in a roasting pan
Pat dry again with paper towels
Rub olive oil all over the skin of the turkey
Gently push the herb butter until the skin of the breasts.
Sprinkle 1 tsp of salt into the turkey’s cavity
Stuff the onion, bell pepper, orange, garlic, celery, rosemary, and thyme into the cavity.
Sprinkle a thin, even layer of Cajun or Creole seasoning all over the skin of the turkey
Do the same with the Herbs de Provence seasoning
Tuck the wings behind and under the turkey
Tie the legs together with kitchen twine or dental floss
Cover the ends of the legs with foil and lay a piece of foil over the breasts to prevent early browning and burning
Pour the chicken broth into the bottom of the roasting pan under the turkey.
Place the turkey in the center of the oven and roasted according to the instructions on the turkey packaging. (Approx: 13 mins per pound)
Halfway through the roasting time, carefully remove the turkey and baste it with the turkey drippings.
Place it back into the oven, but rotate it in the opposite direction from the last time you placed it into the oven. (See tutorial for a visual.)
When there is about 30 minutes left in the roasting time, remove the turkey from the oven , baste again, and remove the foil from the breast.
Continue roasting until a meat thermometer stuck between the leg and the breast registers 165°F. To ensure an accurate read, be careful not to poke bones with the thermometer.
Remove the turkey from the oven, cover with foil, and allow it to rest for at least 1 hour before carving.
Melt the butter
Add the remaining ingredients
Stir and simmer for 5 minutes.
Strain the marinade using a mesh strainer
Allow marinade to cool completely before injecting.