A process rife with decisions, making a Thanksgiving turkey is an endeavor that can take anywhere from two hours to seven days. It starts with what size and what kind of turkey to buy Once you get the bird home, the decision tree expands. To brine or not to brine? Wet brine or dry brine? Stuff it or just “dress” it? Start high and finish low; start low and finish high; or cook it low and slow all the way? Baste it or let it be? Roast in the oven or on the barbie? Grill it? Smoke it? Deep-fry it?
Of course, the answer to each question is, “it depends.” Truth is, each method will elicit the tender, juicy meat every Thanksgiving cook aspires to serve. The real trick is knowing how much time, energy and attention each method requires and how much of each you have and want to put into making your turkey — and being really honest with yourself about that last one.
Never cooked a turkey before or only have a few hours? Try the Easy Thanksgiving Turkey. Want to spend four days brining, air drying, tracking down obscure ingredients, basting and the like? You will love Ray Garcia’s Thanksgiving Turkey. Are you somewhere in between — looking for something different but don’t want to kill yourself doing it? Try the Ultimate Turkey, a Soy-Brined Turkey or perhaps an Herb-Roasted Spatchcocked Turkey.
Below are a dozen recipes from our food writers and editors over the years. They feature best practices at every level of the game. Whatever your skill set, however much time you want to spend, you’re bound to find one that’s just right for you.