How to baste a turkey

How to baste a turkey

The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
52 Calories
6g Fat
0g Carbs
0g Protein

×

Nutrition Facts
Servings: 16
Amount per serving
Calories 52
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 7%
Saturated Fat 4g 18%
Cholesterol 15mg 5%
Sodium 46mg 2%
Total Carbohydrate 0g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 5mg 0%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 6mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

Whether you are grilling or smoking a turkey, this baste keeps the meat moist, adds a delicious flavor, and helps to brown the skin. Simply made with butter, lemon juice, and a few herbs, this turkey baste recipe is quick to make, and adds a delicious flavor to your turkey.

It is best to forego the usual method of basting the turkey with pan drippings, which are mostly turkey juices and fat. Instead, using seasoned butter will add flavor and help the skin crisp up nicely at the end of cooking. Remember to begin basting about an hour after you start cooking and to apply the baste in thin layers every 30 minutes thereafter.

When basting it is easiest to use a pastry brush as this will allow you to give a light baste to all areas. You could use a turkey baster with a bulb, but that kind of baster works better for the pan drippings and is much harder to clean.

Ingredients

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Steps to Make It

Gather the ingredients.

How to baste a turkey

Melt the butter in a small saucepan.

How to baste a turkey

Pour in lemon juice and add the remaining ingredients. Let the mixture simmer on low for about 3 minutes.

How to baste a turkey

Remove from heat and let stand at room temperature for 5 minutes before using.

How to baste a turkey

Baste your turkey.

How to baste a turkey

  • Lightly baste the turkey every 30 minutes after the first hour of cooking. Apply the baste warm to the turkey. Stop basting during the last 30 minutes of cook time.
  • If making the baste ahead of time, follow instructions for preparation and store it in an airtight container for up to seven days in the refrigerator. Warm the baste on the stovetop or in the microwave before using.
  • You don’t want to baste your turkey too often as every time you open the oven door you are allowing heat to escape. Your oven will have to come on to heat back up, and this temperature variation interferes with getting your turkey done.

To Baste or Not to Baste?

Most turkey experts will tell you that basting is optional. It’s not the best way to season your turkey, but it will work in a pinch when you don’t have time for methods that require more prep work. For example, you may have wanted to brine your turkey, but you didn’t get started soon enough, or you lacked the refrigerator space and brining bag to do it right. Rubbing your turkey with a spice mix is another alternative to basting. Many cooks also inject their turkey with liquid seasonings to keep it moist and add flavor.

Basting can help you feel like you are doing something while waiting for heat and time to turn the pale bird into a golden centerpiece of your feast. But if you have seasoned your turkey in other ways, you can skip the basting.

All of the juicy details, including how often to baste a turkey.

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How to baste a turkey

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There are certain time-honored traditions around cooking a turkey. Like brining it. Or basting it. But what exactly is the point of basting? How, precisely, do you baste a turkey — and how often? We get into all the juicy details (har har) below so that you’re completely prepared come turkey day.

What’s the point of basting?

Basting has a two purposes. First, it ensures the juiciness of your bird’s chicken breasts. How? When you baste the breasts with the liquid in the bottom of the roasting pan, the liquid slows down the rate at which the breasts cook so they’re not done before the thighs. Second, the fat in the cooking liquid caramelizes and turns the skin evenly golden brown and crispy. To be clear, you don’t have to baste your turkey. You can still get juicy meat and crispy skin without basting. Basting just scores you extra quality points. More juiciness + crispy skin = win, win.

How to baste a turkey

Now that you’re all intrigued, here’s how to do the deed. Open your oven, carefully remove the roasting pan, and close the oven quickly so too much heat doesn’t escape. Then use a baster (or a spoon, but more on that below) to drench the breast meat in the cooking liquid. Place the roasting pan back into the oven. In the last hour of cooking, you can baste the turkey in additional melted butter or olive oil instead of the pan juices to really make sure that skin turns golden brown.

How often to baste a turkey

Most recipes will tell you to baste your turkey every thirty minutes. But our rule of thumb is actually every forty minutes, and here’s why. You don’t want to open the oven too many times, or else the whole bird will take much long to cook, and that’s a huge inconvenience. Basting every forty-five minutes is just the right balance between reaping the benefits of basting but not cooling the bird down too much.

What you need to baste

Traditionally, you baste a turkey with a turkey baster. But if you don’t have one, or you don’t want to use up drawer space with a tool that you only break out once a year, you can also baste with a large spoon or ladle. Carefully spoon up those juices and pour them back onto the bird.

How to baste a turkey

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How to baste a turkey

Standing in your kitchen on Thanksgiving Day, watching the prized turkey roast in the oven, it’s common to feel the need to do something. Sauces needs whisked, potatoes need mashed, heck, even vegetables roasting in the oven need turning every once in a while. It’s our natural impulse to want to be involved with our food as it cooks. So, what do we do on Thanksgiving? We open up the oven door, pull out the bird, admire the bubbling fat and the sumptuous scent, grab our trusty turkey baster and ogle as those liquids cascade down the bird. Then we close the door and smile, content in the knowledge that we’re doing our part to help it along.

Except, in reality, basting a turkey doesn’t accomplish anything, except for making us feel good. It’s one of the common mistakes home cooks make.

If you’re looking to make the meat juicier, drizzling fat over the skin (which is waterproof) won’t accomplish much. It will just drip back down into the pan. And if you want your skin to be crisp and crackly — adding moisture to it will make that crackling skin less likely.

And to make matters worse, every time you open the oven door, you let out heat, which means that it’ll take even longer for your bird to cook, causing it to dry out instead of becoming the beautiful bird you were hoping it would become by basting.

So, resist the urge to whip out that turkey baster; doing so is a common Thanksgiving mistake. Basting a turkey may be satisfying in the short term, but your turkey will suffer for it. What should you do instead?

Brine your turkey, pat your turkey’s skin dry with paper towels before roasting it, season the inside and outside of your turkey generously with salt and pepper, stuff the cavity loosely with aromatics and let the oven do the rest of the work for you. Trusting in your skills as a cook and leaving the turkey alone until it’s done cooking is just one of the ways to make sure your turkey comes out absolutely perfect.

Find the right method for seasoning your holiday turkey.

There’s no one way to season a turkey. In fact, the flavor combinations are truly limitless. Brine your turkey with cinnamon, brown sugar, and apple cider for a sweet, autumn turkey. Or baste your turkey with a lemon herb butter. Or turn up the heat with a Cajun dry rub! Feeling overwhelmed? Whichever spices and herbs you choose to go with this holiday season (or any season), there are a few tried and true methods for seasoning your turkey just right. Learn how to baste, rub, and brine for a turkey that’s tender and flavorful every time.

Baste Your Turkey to Lock in Moisture

Basting a turkey is an attractive option because it helps seal in moisture and leaves you with a nice and shiny finish. It involves brushing or pouring liquid over the turkey that will release fat as it cooks. This could mean using the juices in the roasting tin or applying your own mixture overtop the turkey.

How to Baste a Turkey for Optimal Flavor

If you prefer to use the juices from the roasting tin, use a turkey baster or a long-handled spoon to pour the juices from the tin over the turkey. This should be done every 30 to 45 minutes minutes while the turkey is in the oven. You may also baste by pushing a flavored butter under the skin of the turkey, or brushing it with an oil mixture before roasting.Test your basting skills with one of these top-rated recipes:

  • Chef John’s Roast Turkey and Gravy
  • Easy Herb Roasted Turkey
  • Perfect Turkey

Use a Seasoning Rub

Using a seasoning rub, like a dry rub, liquid rub, or paste to season your turkey is another way to bring some serious flavor to your holiday dinner. Dry rubs are made up of powdered spices and dry herbs, while liquid rubs typically are mixed with broth or wine. Pastes are made by mixing spices with some type of oil.

How to Season Your Turkey with Seasoning Rubs

Make sure to get the rub under the skin and inside the turkey. To season the breast meat under the skin, use your fingers to pull the skin away from the meat, and massage the rub onto the meat. Be careful not to tear the skin while doing this. Make sure to apply the rub generously on the inside as well, so all parts of the meat are well seasoned. If you have time, place your seasoned turkey in the fridge for 24 hours to allow the seasoning to penetrate as much of the meat as possible. If using a rub is your method of choice for seasoning your turkey, try one of these recipes:

  • Herb Turkey Rub
  • Deep Fried Turkey Rub
  • Sweet and Spicy Turkey Rub

Try Brining

If you have a little more time on your hands, brining is the perfect way to keep your turkey tender and full of flavor. At the most basic level, brining involves submerging a turkey in a mixture of water and salt for around 24 hours before roasting. This process insures that the turkey is moist and seasoned throughout the cooking process. Of course, there are endless ingredients you can add to your brining mixture for a variety of flavor combinations.

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How to baste a turkey

No-Baste Turkey is the easiest turkey recipe you’ll make and it’s guaranteed to make you a crispy, moist unfussy holiday main course!

If you tried my recipe for Roast Turkey last year and want to make the easiest Thanksgiving turkey ever that you don’t have to babysit, try this delicious No-Baste Turkey. That’s right, you don’t actually have to baste it, and this turkey turns out moist and tender with crispy skin.

NO-BASTE TURKEY

Is it necessary to baste a turkey? Absolutely not, if you know what you’re doing. If you want a juicy turkey for this year’s Thanksgiving dinner, but hate having to baste it every few hours? This Thanksgiving turkey recipe takes the hard work out of roasting the bird, which frees you up to get the rest of the house ready for your dinner guests. You also don’t have to worry about brining the turkey days head of time, all you’ve got to do is thaw it out ahead of time.

Something that you may notice about this recipe is the cooking time. Instead of roasting the turkey at a lower temperature for a long time, you bake the turkey on a very high temperature for a short cook time, then turn off the oven and leave the turkey inside with the door closed until the oven completely cools down. The oven will take around 6 hours to fully cool, which makes for a moist turkey that has plenty of pan drippings to make turkey gravy out of.

HOW TO MAKE NO-BASTE TURKEY

MORE HOLIDAY MAIN DISH RECIPES

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Baked Ham (with Brown Sugar Glaze)

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Perfect Garlic Prime Rib

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HoneyBaked Ham (Copycat)

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Roast Turkey

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VARIATIONS ON NO-BASTE TURKEY

  • Spices: Try adding in a dash of black pepper, paprika, Cajun seasoning, Italian seasoning or garlic to give the turkey a different flavor without having to worry about changing up the entire recipe.
  • If you want to make this a one pan meal, try adding in vegetables around the base of the turkey. Be sure to leave the chunks of these vegetables quite large. Using root vegetables like sweet potatoes, carrots and russet potatoes would be a good fit.

NO-BASTE TURKEY FAQS

  • Should you put water in turkey roasting pan? Yes, you should. Add boiling water to the turkey pan, then put it in the oven to roast.
  • How do I keep my turkey moist? If you’re not basting the turkey, it’s essential to keep the oven door shut to keep the meat moist. Opening the door releases the moisture.

HOLIDAY SIDE DISH RECIPES

How to baste a turkey

Spinach Gratin

How to baste a turkey

Candied Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallows

How to baste a turkey

Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes

How to baste a turkey

Baked Mac and Cheese

HOW LONG IS NO-BASTE TURKEY GOOD?

  • Serve: Never leave a No-Baste Turkey out at room temperature for longer than about 2 hours.
  • Store: Let the turkey completely cool down to room temperature, then cover it in plastic wrap or cut it off of the bones and store the meat in an airtight container. The turkey will stay good in the fridge for up to 3 days before it goes bad and you need to throw it out.
  • Freeze: You can freeze a fully cooked No-Baste Turkey for up to 3 months before you should eat it or throw it out.

WHEN IS NO-BASTE TURKEY SAFE TO EAT?

According to the USDA’s official website, turkey is considered safe to eat when the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F (73.8 degrees C). Always check the thickest part of the turkey with a meat thermometer before you serve to be certain that it has cooked through.

How to baste a turkey

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How to baste a turkey

  1. Home
  2. Cook
  3. Seasonal
  1. Home
  2. Cook
  3. Seasonal

How to baste a turkey

Standing in your kitchen on Thanksgiving Day, watching the prized turkey roast in the oven, it’s common to feel the need to do something. Sauces needs whisked, potatoes need mashed, heck, even vegetables roasting in the oven need turning every once in a while. It’s our natural impulse to want to be involved with our food as it cooks. So, what do we do on Thanksgiving? We open up the oven door, pull out the bird, admire the bubbling fat and the sumptuous scent, grab our trusty turkey baster and ogle as those liquids cascade down the bird. Then we close the door and smile, content in the knowledge that we’re doing our part to help it along.

Except, in reality, basting a turkey doesn’t accomplish anything, except for making us feel good. It’s one of the common mistakes home cooks make.

If you’re looking to make the meat juicier, drizzling fat over the skin (which is waterproof) won’t accomplish much. It will just drip back down into the pan. And if you want your skin to be crisp and crackly — adding moisture to it will make that crackling skin less likely.

And to make matters worse, every time you open the oven door, you let out heat, which means that it’ll take even longer for your bird to cook, causing it to dry out instead of becoming the beautiful bird you were hoping it would become by basting.

So, resist the urge to whip out that turkey baster; doing so is a common Thanksgiving mistake. Basting a turkey may be satisfying in the short term, but your turkey will suffer for it. What should you do instead?

Brine your turkey, pat your turkey’s skin dry with paper towels before roasting it, season the inside and outside of your turkey generously with salt and pepper, stuff the cavity loosely with aromatics and let the oven do the rest of the work for you. Trusting in your skills as a cook and leaving the turkey alone until it’s done cooking is just one of the ways to make sure your turkey comes out absolutely perfect.

Step away from the turkey baster.

You’ve bought your Thanksgiving turkey, dutifully defrosted it a few days in advance, brined it, dried it, rubbed it with butter, tucked some fresh herbs inside the cavity, and nestled it snug in its roasting pan. Into the preheated oven it goes! About halfway through the cooking process, you start to smell the unmistakable aroma of Thanksgiving: buttery, herby turkey juices bubbling away in the oven. Time to find your trusty turkey baster, which has inevitably been unused since last Thanksgiving. (Hint: it’s shoved all the way in the back of your cutlery drawer, wedged in between your unused garlic press and those fondue forks.)

After so much careful planning and cooking, this is where you go wrong. I know, your mother always basted her turkey, and so did her mother, and her mother before that, all the way back to the very first Thanksgiving. Before they even served pumpkin pie. But I’m here to break the cycle. At best, basting is an unnecessary waste of time and energy. At worst, it might slow down the cooking process. Or burn your knuckles on the oven door.

A perfect Thanksgiving turkey has tender, juicy meat and crisp, golden skin. Basting, or pouring hot pan juices over the turkey, adds moisture to the skin, which prevents it from crisping up nicely. Basting doesn’t add any flavor to the meat either. The juices usually run right off the bird back into the roasting pan. And every time you open the oven door—which, for obsessive basters is often—you let heat escape, which lowers the oven temperature and can affect the overall cooking time. As any seasoned Thanksgiving host knows, timing is everything on this food-focused holiday. No one wants to sit down for a turkey dinner at 9 PM because the bird took too long to cook.

This year, resist the urge to baste. There are plenty of other cooking tasks to keep your hands busy. Chop some celery for our best-ever cornbread dressing, whip some heavy cream for the apple pie, or force yourself to sit down with a glass of wine and enjoy that heavenly turkey aroma.

How to baste a turkey

How to baste a turkey

It’s Thanksgiving morning, and you’ve probably been up since the crack of dawn getting your turkey prepped and into the oven. You’re about to baste that baby for the first time when you realize you forgot to buy that thing you need exactly once a year: a turkey baster. Don’t scream. Don’t panic. We have two easy ways to finish your bird without a baster.

Use a Pastry Brush or (New) Paintbrush

Either one will work just like a basting brush (emphasis on the new part, as we don’t want any paint chips or bristles getting on the turkey). Dip the brush into the turkey drippings and “paint” an even coating over its exterior.

A photo posted by Sevy (@sevyimport) on Jul 19, 2015 at 12:19pm PDT


Grab a Ladle or Long-Handled Spoon

These are excellent to scoop up turkey drippings and pour them back over the top of the bird. Make sure the ladle has a long handle, so you don’t burn yourself when crouched near the oven.

See? No baster, no problem. Your bird will never know the difference.

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