Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey Feature
Food and Wine

6 Easy Steps to Prepare the Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

Due to popular demand, we are bringing back this recipe for the perfect Thanksgiving turkey by Glenda Kemple, originally posted in November 2016. We have also incorporated a few links to additional recipes to help complete this year’s Thanksgiving meal.

Gobble Gobble: Instructions for the Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Are you prepared for the biggest family meal of the year? Preparing a turkey can be daunting, resulting in a dry bird. Here are six easy steps to make the perfect Thanksgiving turkey!


1 tom turkey (12-20 pounds)

4 cups chicken broth

2 tablespoons cooking sherry and/or red wine

1 teaspoon kitchen bouquet

¼ cup flour or cornstarch

Marinade Ingredients

3 ounces frozen orange juice concentrate

2 ounces water

1-1/2 ounces honey

1 ounce cooking sherry


1. Purchase your turkey. Generally, 12-20 pounds so you have plenty of meat for the big meal and leftovers for sandwiches, other recipes and adding to homemade soups. If you have a frozen turkey, defrost in the original plastic wrapping in the refrigerator, never at room temperature. Allow 24 hours for each five pounds of turkey to thaw. If you are in a hurry, defrost in a large sink of cold water, turning the turkey and adding fresh cold water often.

2. Remove the wrapping on the turkey and remove the neck and gizzards from inside the turkey. Do not rinse the bird. Instead, wipe the bird inside and out with a damp paper towel. Loosen the skin under the breast and thigh and legs to prepare for the marinade.

3. Prepare the marinade and mopping mixture. The ingredients are: 3 oz. of canned frozen orange juice concentrate, 2 oz. water, 1-½ oz. honey, 1 oz. cooking sherry and mix ingredients. Smear the marinade on the inside loosened skin. (I usually do this with kitchen gloves so I don’t have the marinade up to my elbows). Use a food syringe and fill the bulb with the mixture. Inject the mixture into the breast and thighs, under the skin. Truss the turkey with the legs tied together using kitchen string.

4. Place the turkey in a large roasting pan with a dripping rack. Add at least 1 cup of liquid, such as chicken broth, to the bottom of the pan so it does not burn. Keep plenty of broth on hand to periodically replenish the liquid, as needed, throughout the cooking.

5. Preheat oven and bake at 325 F for at least 20 minutes per pound until the meatiest part of the thigh, not touching bone, reads 180 degrees or the breast registers 165 F. Mop the outside skin with the marinade every 30 minutes and add drippings to the marinade as needed. Tent the turkey with foil to keep the skin from burning. If the turkey is taking longer to cook at these temperatures, be patient and continue to cook. Remove the foil during the last 30 minutes of cooking for the skin to brown. To test whether the turkey is done, cut into the leg joint to make sure there is no red meat.

6. The gravy is the last step. Gravy mixes are sold in packets or jars, but I prefer to make it from scratch. Move the turkey to a cutting board and keep covered with foil to keep warm. Next, pour the drippings into a fat separator glass cup. If you not have this type of cup, pour the drippings into a large measuring cup and put in the freezer for 15 minutes. This will allow you to spoon off the fat from the top and discard.

Place the roasting pan on the stove top to cover 2 burners back to back. Pour the dripping from the spout of the separator cup and be careful to not let the fat at the top mix into the drippings. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of flour into the pan. Whisk mixture and bring contents to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons of cooking sherry and/or red wine, and 1 teaspoon of kitchen bouquet. Taste and continue to add wine/sherry and seasonings as necessary. Add additional broth as needed. Cook until thickened, adding more of the flour mixture if needed.

That’s it! Six steps to the perfect Thanksgiving turkey. Now, slice and enjoy. Save the extra meat for sandwiches and soup. Never toss the carcass. Store in a plastic bag in your freezer until you are ready to prepare stock. This forms the perfect base for making homemade turkey broth for soups and cooking.

Don’t miss these recipes that will put the finishing touch to your perfect thanksgiving turkey dinner:

Enjoy, and Happy Thanksgiving!

6 Steps for achieving the perfect turkey.How to Make a Perfect Turkey


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