The easiest and possibly one of the best ways to season a turkey (large or small bird). Here’s how to do it right.
We all love seeing a festive dinner on our dinner table during the holidays. Now, if you want to cook a delicious turkey, you need to spend some time preparing it. A turkey should never be cooked with salt, pepper, and butter only. Common’! Take time to live; take time to prepare meals that are healthy and full of wonderful flavors. Trust me; you will enjoy it.
The word formal is a word you should ignore totally when cooking during the holidays. I like the word fancy! Much more exciting and full of surprises. It just sounds better for a wonderful dinner at home with family and friends.
When thinking about the word formal, it automatically comes with a reaction – worrying about spending too much money. Fancy is defined by how you make it happened, in my opinion.
If you’re thinking about buying an expensive turkey, don’t. If you do not celebrate or celebrate Thanksgiving, here’s the secret: turkeys are much cheaper after Thanksgiving and even 2 days prior. You can still make it for Christmas.
Now, if you’re thinking about how the heck am I going to season this bird, don’t worry. We need to go through a few steps before we get to seasoning.
What is all the fuss about proper seasoning
It is always about the way you season your food – the simplicity for enjoyment.
Bland food is never appetizing and will never be. You can indeed season your meat with dry seasoning and wet seasoning. Both methods are great, and the flavors from the herbs and spices are absorbed into the meat. The flavors of the marinade or seasoning will penetrate the meat if time is allowed. The longer the meat stays marinated, the better and more flavorful it will.
It is always true that you can brine your turkey before using a dried seasoning or dry rub. This seasoning method we’re about to use also requires time and no time.
For example if you’re using:
- Slow-cooker: there’s no need to season the turkey because it will be slow-cooked.
- Slow-roaster: it is a choice to marinate the turkey overnight or for a couple of hours.
- Oven: marination time is recommended if you want a super flavorful turkey.
How much seasoning mixture do I need to season a turkey?
Our recipe depends on how many pounds your turkey is, whether whole or cut-up. We used 1 ½ cup of seasoning mixture for a 14-pound turkey.
- If you’re using a larger turkey, for example, up to 20 pounds, I recommend using 2 cups of seasoning.
- A smaller turkey will require about 1 cup.
- The remaining seasoning can be used to cook the neck and giblet to make a creole sauce.
What type of seasoning and spices should I use to create my seasoning blend?
Let me share my secret with you. It is an effortless and no-fail seasoning blend. You only need a few ingredients and time. I use the following:
- Noubess Hot Sauce
- Paprika (is used so the turkey could have a nice brown color)
- Noubess Poultry Seasoning, salt-free or chicken bouillon seasoning.
- Salt, if I am using Noubess Poultry Seasoning, salt-free
- Lemon Juice
- Olive oil
How to make sure that I add enough salt?
That’s a good question. As you might already know, Turkey needs salt. The flesh is dense and additional salt is needed. Your taste bud must play a huge part while mixing the ingredients. So get ready to taste, double taste, and triple taste your mixture.
The amount of salt to add will depend on how much salt you want in your turkey. My siblings and I do not eat a lot of salt because hypertension runs in our family. So we take lots of precautions not to add too much salt to our food.
Okay, great, so how do I season a turkey with a wet seasoning?
Before seasoning your turkey you actually need to follow these simple steps:
- Defrost your turkey. The Serious Eats has a wonderful guide on how to defrost and prep a turkey. It is usually recommended to defrost the bird by placing it on the last shelf of your refrigerator. After defrosting, remove the packaging and the giblets (set aside to make a creole sauce or stock).
- This is an essential step for anyone who cleans their meat with lemon or vinegar. We understand that the turkey is a large bird, and we do our best and use the proper tool or bowl to make sure that we clean it to our liking. A large bowl is required at this instant. Rubbing lemon or limes all over the turkey and rinsing with water is one way. The other way is to rinse the turkey in a water and vinegar solution. With both methods, you will need to pat dry the turkey thoroughly with paper towels.
- Mix up your seasoning blend. Mix all the ingredients (green seasoning, Noubess Hot Sauce, dried seasoning, lemon juice, and oil in a bowl.
- Apply the mixture all over, inside the cavity, and under the skin (wherever you can) of the turkey.
- Either roast the turkey after seasoning or place it in a large bowl or baking pan for refrigeration. (Cover with plastic wrap and not aluminum foil – the acidity from the seasoning will tear the aluminum foil). Ensure the bird is also placed breast side down during the first day or few hours of marination).
- When it is time for cooking, and if the bird is in the refrigerator, remove it from the refrigerator and bring room temperature before roasting.
- If you prefer to cup-up your turkey or make spatchcock turkey, follow the same seasoning instructions. There’s no need to remove any excess seasoning from the skin – just oil and roast!
- Cook your turkey. Roast, slow-cooked in a slow cooker. I have not tried to deep fry a turkey, so I cannot advise or make any recommendation.
This is my own personal way. I have to admit that I am a bit paranoid when I see feathers. So I inspect the entire turkey for any leftover feathers or anything else that shouldn’t be on the skin.
You may marinate the turkey up to 3 days before cooking day!
How to thaw a frozen turkey?
We made the recommendation to follow Serious Eats but just in case if you prefer our way, here it is. (it is quite similar)
- I prefer a slow thawing method: Make sure you have enough space in your fridge. Place the turkey in its packaging in either a large bowl or a large baking pan (to avoid any mishaps) on the last shelf. It will take approximately 24 hours for every 5 pounds of turkey.
Can you dry season and cook a turkey in one day?
Yes! you can. I would suggest doing so for a small turkey, between 5 – 10 pounds only.
What if I don’t have time to let the turkey marinate for a long time?
If you have a slow-cooker or a slow-roaster, don’t worry. You still can have a delicious turkey. Just remember that the longer the marinating time, the more flavorful your turkey will be.
What’s the best type of roasting pan, slow-cooker or baking pan for cooking a turkey?
Have you checked out my Amazon Shop yet? You will find tons of helpful tools, pots, pans, etc., for all your cooking needs.
Can you stuff a seasoned turkey?
I would not recommend stuffing a seasoned turkey with stuffing. It is not recommended to mix raw meat with stuffing. Always make the stuffing separate from the bird. You may place the cooked stuffing inside the cavity of the cooked turkey if you want after.
I like a simple bread salad or panzanella as stuffing.
Do I need to cover the turkey while it is roasting in the oven?
You do need to cover the turkey while cooking in the turkey for the first few hours. If your roasting pan has its own cover, that is better. I use aluminum foil – it works very well.
If cooking a whole turkey how do I know that it’s fully cooked?
If your turkey comes with a pop-up thermometer (usually inserted in the breast by the manufacturer), I would recommend not trusting it. The reason is that it does not read the entire turkey temperature. So do the following:
- If using an instant-read meat thermometer: insert it in different parts of the turkey. You want the meat’s internal temperature (not near the bone) to reach 180°F with an instant-read thermometer. Some people prefer 160°F, but I do not. I like my turkey fully cooked.
- The Leg wiggle test: Carefully hold the leg with a clean towel or a kitchen tong, and wiggle—the joint should feel very loose, as it will come apart if pulled with a little force.
Seasoning your turkey is the proper way and the best way to enjoy your dinner. It is fulfilling and rewarding to eat delicious meals. You’ve always taken a long time to shop; why not enjoy the fruit of your labor the right way.
Here’s the marinade mixture for your next turkey dinner. You can use the same recipe for any poultry or red meat dishes. Adjust the ingredients for the weight of the poultry or meat.