The best Thanksgiving turkey has no crispy skin

Low and Slow Roast Turkey With Maple-Mustard Glaze
Roasting a whole bird low and slow for hours yields incredibly moist, tender meat, which is bolstered by a spicy-sweet maple and mustard glaze. Prop styling by Samantha Margherita.
(Leslie Grow / For The Times)

This year for your turkey, forgo the complicated salting and under-the-skin rubs necessary to achieve crispy skin and, instead, prioritize what truly matters: moist meat. You get that by steaming the turkey low and slow for hours while upside down so all the juices flow into the breast, keeping it moist while the dark meat gets super tender. (You can get moist meat by brining too, of course, but do you really want to deal with vats of turkey water when this method is far easier?) You finish the turkey with a shellacking of maple glaze spiked with mustard and chile flakes to give it that classic centerpiece brownness. Any glaze that drips into the stock below also flavors it for the gravy, which is super simple to whisk together at the last minute and is what you’ll be drowning your turkey in anyway.

Make your life easy and finally buy a fat separator — it can always be used as a liquid measuring cup during the rest of the year — and meat lifters or shredding claws; they help stabilize the heavy, scorching hot turkey better than anything else so it’s no sweat maneuvering it from pan to cutting board. OXO makes great versions of both, available at

Low and Slow Roast Turkey With Maple-Mustard Glaze
A ham-style glaze of maple syrup with mustard and chile flakes helps burnish the skin of this supremely moist turkey so it gets that classic holiday sheen. Prop styling by Samantha Margherita.
(Leslie Grow / For The Times)

Low and Slow Roast Turkey With Maple-Mustard Glaze

4 hours. Serves 8.


  • 1 whole turkey (12 to 14 pounds), thawed, giblets removed, dried thoroughly
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • ½ cup maple syrup, plus more
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons whole-grain Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
  • Finely grated zest of ½ lemon
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour


  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the turkey on a rack in a large roasting pan and season the cavity and outside generously with salt and pepper. Tie the turkey’s legs together with kitchen twine, if you like, then position the turkey breast side down on the rack and pour the stock in the pan. Cover the whole turkey and pan with a large sheet (at least 26 by 18 inches) of heavy-duty or double-thick foil and crimp it around the edges to seal. Bake, rotating the pan halfway through cooking, for 3 hours.
  2. Meanwhile, make the glaze: Combine the maple syrup, sugar, mustard, chile flakes and lemon zest in a small saucepan, bring to a simmer over medium heat, and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.
  3. Remove the turkey from the oven and increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Discard the foil and rotate the turkey so it’s breast side up. Return the turkey to the oven and roast, brushing it all over with the glaze every 5 minutes, until shiny and burnished, 40 to 45 minutes more. Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the turkey on its rack to a cutting board or rimmed baking sheet; let rest for 20 minutes before carving.
  4. While the turkey rests, pour the pan drippings into a fat separator or tall glass and allow the fat to separate from the juices. Pour 2 cups of the juices into another measuring cup and discard the rest or save for another use. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the fat into a small saucepan and place it over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, whisking often, for 1 minute. Pour in the pan juices, whisking constantly, and cook until they thicken and create a smooth gravy. Season the gravy with salt and pepper and pour it into a warm bowl. Serve the gravy alongside the turkey.