Do you avoid cooking a turkey because they always turn out dry and bland? Brining and marinating your turkey are two ways to make your bird juicier, very tender and most importantly loaded with flavor. You could over spend and buy a marinade at the grocery store or you can make your own.
Brining, Marinating and Seasoning Your Bird:
If you're deciding if brining is right for you here are some resources to help your decision - Is Turkey Brining the Best Way to Seasoning Your Bird
? and What are the Secrets to Turkey Brining?
Looking for some marinating recipe ideas? Then try these- Lemon and Rosemary Turkey Marinade
, Mexican Turkey Marinade
, Creole Turkey Marinade
and Chinese Five Spice Turkey Marinade
And if you want a good turkey rub - Cajun Turkey Rub
(ideal for deep frying), Texas Smoked Turkey Rub
(if you're looking to smoke your bird) and our Caribbean Turkey Rub
for a taste of the islands.
Turkey marinades need three things:
• An acidic (like vinegar, wine or a citrus)
• Oil (simple olive oil will do)
• Spices and seasonings (this is where the turkey rubber hits the road or maybe the turkey crosses the road...)
How Much Marinade Do You Need?
There are two schools of thought on this. One group believes that you don’t need that much marinade (you don’t have to completely cover you bird the entire time it is marinating) as long as you are flipping your turkey from time to time.
We like the second method which is closer to the brining method where the entire turkey is submerged in the marinade during the entire marinating process. Does this mean you need more marinade?
Will your bird be more flavorful?
The easiest way to determine how much total marinade you are going to need is to put the turkey in the clean container that you are going to use. Fill the container with water until the bird is completely submerged. Remove the turkey and measure the water. That’s how much you’ll need.
How Long Does It Take?
Well even a little marinating will be better than no marinating at all. So if you only have time for a couple of hours – fine. We prefer to marinate our turkey for at least 8-12 hours and frequently go as many as 24. Any longer and we don’t notice any more flavor being achieved.
What Kind of Container Should You Use?
Since refrigerator space is limited, especially during the holidays, you can use a brining bag
and a square cooler filled with ice. Select a cooler that’s big enough for both the turkey and the marinade. Before using clean your cooler with soap and water, sanitize with bleach and water and then air dry your cooler.
If you are using your refrigerator you need a food grade container that is big enough for the turkey and the marinade. Be sure that the container you select will fit in the fridge.
Keep Your Cool
Whether you choose to use a cooler or your refrigerator during the marinating process you want to be sure to keep it below 40°. We’ve all heard the horror stories of salmonella and poultry and the two ways to combat this are during the marinating (keep it cold) and the cooking (get it hot) processes.
Choosing the Ideal Turkey
When selecting the ideal turkey to marinating, look for a natural turkey with “natural” or “no preservatives added” on the outer package. Otherwise you’re probably getting a self-basted bird that's already been injected with a salt solution (and other flavorings).
We like turkeys in the 12 to 20 lb. range best. If you decide to go the frozen turkey route, thaw according to the package instructions. Your turkey should be completely thawed before you begin marinating.
Using Turkey Rubs
19 Turkey Brines, Marinades and Rubs
Should You Cook Your Stuffing Inside the Turkey?
Turkey Brining Guide