a thanksgiving dinner spread including roasted carrots and spatchcocked roasted turkey

10 Thanksgiving-Worthy Turkey Recipes to Prove to Your Family That You're an Adult

From a classic, brined roasted turkey to perfectly smoked turkey breast, here's everything you need to know.

So, you've finally done it: You've grown up enough to be tasked with cooking the Thanksgiving meal. As you read through the overwhelming number of Thanksgiving recipes in books and the internet, you might be thinking a lot of things, including "help." But if you've roasted a chicken, you can roast a turkey—and if you haven't done either, well, good thing you ended up here.

The golden, crispy-skinned turkeys you remember from Thanksgivings past aren't as hard as you think. And if those birds were bad and dry, then now's really your chance to shine. We'll help you make sure that the turkey is the best thing on the table, not just something you feel obligated to cook. Sides are called that for a reason; let your perfect turkey be the star.


Remember, no matter how you decide to cook your bird, make sure you let everyone see it first. They'll be impressed, of course, but also did you really have a holiday if it didn't end up on the 'gram?

Classic Roast Turkey Recipe

Perfect Turkey Recipe

Of course, you might be a holiday traditionalist. In that case, we've got a recipe for the perfect turkey to make your Thanksgiving feast feel fresh out of a Normal Rockwell painting. With no brine necessary, this recipe requires a little less planning—just make sure to dry it as much as possible to ensure crispy, crispy skin.

Spatchcock Turkey Recipe

Spatchcock Turkey Recipe

Try saying the name of this technique to your relatives with a straight face. More than just a fun word to say, spatchcocking is a useful technique that ensures moist meat and crispy skin, all while cutting down your roasting time. Follow along with this how-to video to learn how to spatchcock a bird, or just ask a trusted butcher to do it for you.

Brined Turkey with Truffle Butter Recipe

The theory of brining—a process typically started the night before—is to infuse the meat with as much flavor as possible thanks to our good friend salt, but not everyone's convinced. We're not gonna tell you that there's one right way to cook a turkey, but what we can tell you is that this brined bird is so moist and flavorful that you'll sure as heck be thankful for that heap of leftover meat.

Roasted Turkey with Sticky Rice and Sausage Stuffing Recipe

Roasted Turkey Stuffed with Sticky Rice Recipe

This roasted turkey recipe is pretty standard, save for its choice of stuffing. Bread doesn't have to have a monopoly on the Thanksgiving stuffing market, so why not swap it out for something new? This sticky rice stuffing is just as buttery, savory, and infused with thyme as the classic bread-based stuff, but Chinese sausage makes it more interesting.


Turkey Galantine with Mole Recipe

Putting a turkey on the table doesn't mean having to follow tradition completely. In this galantine recipe, marinated turkey meat is stuffed with bacon and even more turkey, and topped off with a flavor-packed mole sauce. This recipe is a little more involved than simply tossing a turkey in the oven, but Thanksgiving only comes once a year.

Smoked Turkey Breast Recipe

Smoked Turkey Breast

When you're cooking Thanksgiving dinner for a small crowd, a whole turkey will certainly be overkill. There are better ways to serve it. This smoked turkey breast is flavorful and surprisingly juicy, and if you pre-slice it and save some leftovers, your day-after-Thanksgiving sandwiches will come together even easier.

Thanksgiving Turkey Meatballs Recipe

Thanksgiving Meatballs Recipe

This turkey meatball recipe is a little unconventional, sure, but it keeps the Thanksgiving spirit alive in a much faster way than roasting a bird for the whole damn day. Whether you don't feel like hauling a whole turkey, or you just want something a little simpler, this simple dish of meatballs and gravy will still ensure the savory holiday flavors you know and love.

Turkey Meatloaf Recipe

Turkey Meatloaf Recipe

Maybe you're going to Friendsgiving, where it's a little more appropriate to shake things up than at dinner with your 90-year-old grandma. For that, try Meyhem Lauren's turkey meatloaf recipe, which puts the whole meal into one dish. This mix of ground turkey, aromatics, and cranberry is baked in one big tray, making it perfect to take to a potluck. Watch Meyhem make it here.


Deep-Fried Turkey Balls Recipe

Fried Turkey Balls Recipe

Deep frying a whole turkey is risky business, so fry these tasty turkey balls instead. The turkey is braised in duck fat to make it tender and flavorful, mixed with aromatic herbs, and then fried in, yes, even more duck fat. Crispy finger food definitely isn't your classic Thanksgiving turkey main, but this recipe will take your holiday to a whole new level of decadence. Come on, live a little.

Simple Roast Chicken Recipe

Simple Roast Chicken Recipe

Alright, we'll say it: It's okay if you don't love turkey. The big bird isn't for everyone, and neither is a week full of turkey leftovers. If that's the case for you, make a perfect roast chicken instead. As long as you've got a nice roasted bird on the table, we doubt anyone's really going to complain, especially if you nail that crispy golden skin.

BONUS: The Visual Guide to Cooking the Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

It's okay if you haven't done this before; we've all been Thanksgiving turkey novices at one point. Whether you're a complete newbie or an old pro, take a little stress off the holiday preparation by following alone with this visual guide. With tips and pictures at every step of the way, we promise you can cook a perfect Thanksgiving dinner.

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