How to Avoid a Flavorless, Dry Turkey??

Updated on December 01, 2010
M.M. asks from San Pablo, CA
21 answers

Hello ladies,
do any of you know how to avoid a dry, flavorless turkey? Last year I made it for Thanksgiving, and it turned out a bit dry, even with gravy, it didn't help. I have tried wrapping it up in foil (to make the turkey sweat...hahaha, sound funny, but true) but it only works with chicken, not Turkey.

Any ideas????

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So What Happened?

Wow!!! Thank you for all the GREAT recipes and tips. I grabbed a little bit of each of your comments and I will be using it tomorrow.
Than you soooo much

More Answers


answers from San Francisco on

Roast it upside down.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Put it in a Reynolds oven bag, for turkeys. Add your favorite seasonings generously, and even some broth and it will turn out juicy and delicious. Works for me everytime.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Last year I cooked my first ever turkey and was TERRIFIED (even thought it was just for hubby and the kids). I used this recipe:

Hubby and I agreed it was, by far, the best turkey we had EVER had, and this comes from someone whose family is filled with amazing cooks (professionals).

I am making it again this weekend.

I didn't even have a roasting rack, so instead, I propped the turkey up on multiple stalks of celery which I laid across the bottom of the roasting pan.

Good luck!!!

Bottom line is - majority of the time in the oven the turkey should be breast side DOWN.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

use the Reynold's Oven bag (they will tell you how long to cook it, how to add olive oil and seasoning). Oh and I roast EVERY chicken and turkey I make up-side-down. Results in very juicy breast.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Barnstable on

I have brined a turkey before but to be honest, I have great luck with turkey unbrined too. I usually roast at 325 at 18 to 20 minutes a pound.

I also use a deep roasting pan, add garlic, onion, potato, celery and carrot into the pan with about 2 cups of broth. I then stuff the bird, put it the pan (tummy side up).

I blend softened butter (2 sticks) with salt, pepper, paprika, dried parsley and basil and rub this all over the turkey but do it UNDER the skin (it is a bit of a pain, but you have to slowly use your hand and separate the skin from the meat, then rub in the butter mixture).

I roast initially, uncovered at 375 for about 40 minutes, basting the bird with pan juice / broth every 8 minutes. I then tent the bird with aluminum foil and turn down the oven to 325. I baste every 30 minutes.

DO NOT OVERCOOK THE BIRD. I usually test with a thermometer in the thigh which should read 170 /175. Pull the bird from the oven and let rest with the thermometer left in the thigh. The temperature will RISE another 5 to 10 degrees to 180 / 185 over 30 minutes. Stuffing in center should be 165.

Never fails! Happy Gooble Gooble Day!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

I've got a turkey sized Spanek vertical roaster. I started cooking turkey (chicken, duck, goose, etc) this way 20 yrs ago and it comes out so well I won't do it any other way. The turkey stands up on the roaster (looks a little like the Eiffel tower - it's more stable than a beer can and the moist air circulates up through the center of the bird) ) in a large pan that has 1/2 inch of water in it( you can also add 1/4 cup sherry and/or fruit juice). You cook it at 350 degrees for 12 minutes per pound. I rub the skin with my favorite rub and shove a few cloves of garlic under the skin. You have to cover the wings/legs with foil (so they don't burn) and take the foil off for the last 1/2 hour so they brown up just enough. Because it stands up, the skin comes out crispy all over and the grease drips down into the pan. It's steamed by the water (it's impossible to over cook it as long as the water hasn't evaporated away) and the meat comes out moist every time. It fairly falls off the bones. Once you're finished, you can skim the grease off any remaining liquid in the pan (or chill it and remove the congealed grease) and it makes a wonderful soup or gravy base.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

The single most important thing is internal temp. No matter how you cook it (roast, braise, steam, deep fry) or how you prep it (brine, marinate, butter, salt, oil, stuffing)... if you cook it past 180 degrees for very long (like 5 or 10 minutes past much less an hour or two)... it will be dry... because the cells just keep bursting and giving up their juices. Poultry HAS to be 180 in order to be "done" (aka not still have blood and pink flesh). HOWEVER... the internal temp will continue to rise during "resting" (see below)... so it's ALWAYS safe to pull meat out 10 degrees early. It will heat up to "done" while it sits.

The second most important thing is letting it "rest" (true of all meats). If you cut into meat right out of the oven all the trapped juices escape with the heat in the form of steam and dripping. Bare minimum... let any cooked meat over 2lbs rest for 10 minutes. This allows it to cool somewhat (it will still be hot), but the juices are BURSTING out the moment you cut into it. For a big ole turkey I let it rest for about 20 minutes. (Because the golden skin gets moist during the resting I snitch some while it's still crispy).

I cook turkeys in about 6 different ways on a regular basis (I buy a lot of them while they're on crazy sale and use them for lunch meat throughout the year)... out of all the ways they are ALL moist and delicious and wonderful because of a $2 investment in a meat thermometer.

((Hint... if you make cream dressing out of the drippings... do NOT use a brine with dried fruit in it. Yucky yucky yucky.))

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Put it in an oven bag! And don't over-cook.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I put the turkey in the pan (a good deep one) baste it really good with olive oil. put it in the oven for about 15 minutes at a high heat about 400. this gives it a solid skin that keeps the juices in. pull it back out. wrap it around with cheese cloth. put it back in the oven and bake according to package directions. till the turkey is done. we always do it this way and the turkey is nice and moist. and the gravy is spectacular.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chattanooga on

My grandma's trick was to rub the entire outside with salt, and put a few slabs of butter on the top under the skin. Stick it into an oven bag, and cook it up. (I'm not sure about spices or anything like that)



answers from New York on

I was watching Food Network the other night and they said the best way to ensure juicy, flavorful meat is to brine the turkey before cooking. It was also mentioned that dark and white meat have 2 different cooking times, so usually by the time the dark meat registers the proper temp on your cooking thermometer, the white meat is overdone. They suggested removing the legs and thighs and cooking them separately, which I guess would work if you don't care about presenting the whole bird at the table. Either way, just keep in mind that the internal temp of the turkey will continue to rise after it is removed from the oven and is resting.


answers from Los Angeles on

Yeah...the turkey bag helps a lot but I never thought about the upside down thing. Thanks moms, I'm doing that next year.


Yeah...the turkey bag helps a lot but I never thought about the upside down thing. Thanks moms, I'm doing that next year.



answers from Erie on

I'm with Abbie, we roast ours upside down.



answers from Philadelphia on

I am brining my turkey as we speak. I've never done this before, but I've been assured by various friends that it will result in THE MOST delicious turkey EVER. We'll see...



answers from San Francisco on

I have cooked mine in the microwave oven for 20+ years. A large oven will hold up to a 17 lb. bird which cooks in about 1 hour 45 minutes (stuffed). Cooking time is 7 minutes per pound. "Brown" the bird with a mixture of melted butter and Kitchen Bouquet brushed over the surface. For even cooking start cooking breast side down, then turn the bird over about halfway through the cooking time. Cover wings and legs with foil if necessary to prevent over browning. The bird always comes out nice and juicy AND doesn't take all day to prepare.


answers from Chicago on

You don't want to steam the turkey, you want to roast it. So don't cover it. If it gets to be a little brown in places (which happens if it's big) then cover those parts with foil. Roast at 325 at about 11 minutes per pound unstuffed or an internal temp. of 170. Put a few cans of chicken broth in the pan as it roasts. That will keep it moist. Maybe you just got a crummy bird last year. I've been cooking T-giving for about 25 years now, and maybe once or twice had a dry bird. I haven't had one in a long time since I started roasting it like I mentioned above. Good luck!



answers from Fort Wayne on

Not overcooking it is the first step. I've found that the turkeys with the pop out thing usually are overcooked.Get a meat thermometer, if you don't have one, and check the temperature that way. Baste, Baste, Baste! When it's done, take it out and let it sit in the pan with all the juices for at least 30 mins. We sit ours out for an hour. I cover it with foil, but I don't wrap the whole thing. I just cover it. Just leave it alone. The juices will reabsorb into the meat over time. Only cut what you're going to serve immediately. Leave the rest on the bones, in the pan, covered.



answers from San Francisco on

Probably too late - buy crab legs :) We deep fry our turkey, it's quick and tastes great. An added bonus - like BBQing, the men usually take over.



answers from San Francisco on

Little too late but maybe for Christmas or next year - I always use a turkey /cooking roasting bag (just like the ones for chicken and roasts), instructions are on the box! this year I added the recommended vegetables and it was awesome, made gravy from the drippings that was to die for, and I had so much liquid I froze it for later in the year when I want mashed potatoes!



answers from Sacramento on

Too lAte to brine but cook it breast side down for the first half.

Next question: How to Cook a MOIST Turkey??!!

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