Keep Your Bird Juicy: 5 Tips From the Pros

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5 pro tips for a juicy turkeySo you got stuck making the turkey this Thanksgiving huh? I don't know about you, but the threat of having to make the bird always makes me think of that awful dried out carcass from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. Remember how it just cracked open, and everyone stared? Don't let that be you! A juicy turkey is easier than you think.

And you don't have to trust me (why would you; I'm a vegetarian!). I always turn to the pros when I'm on holiday dinner duty. Here's what the experts have to say about keeping the bird nice and moist!

Gordon Ramsay -- The Hell's Kitchen chef doesn't require a single f-word to get his bird to stay moist. He simply takes it from the oven when it's done, then creates a tent of tin foil over the turkey and lets it sit for about half an hour. This allows the juices to redistribute themselves throughout the bird.

Paula Deen
-- There's no sticking the bird in the oven and heading off to watch the parade in Paula's kitchen. She suggests drizzling the turkey in its own juices, get this, once every 30 minutes!

Tyler Florence -- You can tell this chef has young kids at home. He speeds up the whole Thanksgiving cooking process by cutting the turkey in half! It cooks in half the time, and Florence says it won't destroy the "texture" of the bird ... so it's a whole lot juicier.

Ree Drummond -- The Pioneer Woman is all about the brine before you roast your bird, which she says guarantees a "juicy, fantastic turkey" every time. You can buy a pre-made brine or mix up her recipe!

Ina Garten
-- If you've never seen a stick of butter you didn't want to cook with, you'll love Ina's trick for a juicy bird. She uses slices of an herbed butter stuck beneath the skin to keep the meat moist.

What's your tried and true trick for keeping the bird nice and moist? Will you be trying one of the pros' tips this year?


Image via Jon Edwards Photography/Corbis

thanksgiving, chefs & cookbooks


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Rushn311 Rushn311

Great tips, thanks!

butte... butterflyfreak

I haven't done a turkey in awhile but one trick I found when it comes to roasting a whole chicken (and I think the same could be applied to a turkey or other fowl) is to put it in your roasting pan breast-side down. This allows all the juices from the thighs and leg to soak down into the breast. Then we allow the chicken to sit for about 15 minutes (no foil tent, just set it out) which allows the juices to re-distribute through the bird. I have had guests tell me it was the moistest, most flavorful chicken they ever had. In addition to the breast-side down, I stuff the cavity with some kind of fruits or veggies, usually citrus like lemons and oranges and/or an onon, celery, whatever. Then I coat the outside of the bird with olive oil and spices and seasoning, try to get some of those spices under the skin on the breasts to add more flavor. The olive oil makes the skin nice and crisp and the seasonings make the whole bird flavorful.

Torra... TorranceMom

Exactly butterfly! When you roast the bird breast down, the juices simmer in the breast making it the most moist white meat ever. Take the bird out, flip it (so he's breast up) for the last 30-45 minutes to brown it off and you're done!

LuLuRex LuLuRex

I do the drizzle trick that Paula Deen does!

Some.... Some.Beach

I braise my bird which I think makes it juicier to start with, but I also baste it regularly like Paula Deen suggests.

gacgb... gacgbaker

My husband wants to try wrapping it in bacon this year!  We usually do the turkey bags too, which seem to help.  

Jaimy Bisbee

My dad's still in charge of cooking our turkey, but every year we put about a cup of water in the pan with the bird, pat butter on it, then cover in foil. We crimp the edges so that it steams. Then at least 30 minutes until the bird's done we take off the foil so it can brown. It's always been super juicy and so is our stuffing.

Kaina... Kainalu55

my mom usually cooks the turkey, so i have no idea how it's done!

amonk... amonkeymom

Yum! I like to brine my turkey, but this year we're going to my parents and they don't like it brined.  However, like Paula my mom bastes her turkey every 30 minutes or so and it's so good, so brown and gorgeous!

Miche... MichelleK41

Ohhhh I am going to try Gordon and Ina's way. YUMMY!

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