Tips for Preparing a Moist Turkey

Nov 21, 2017

On the fourth Thursday in November, the American tradition of Thanksgiving has continued since the early 1600s. This is a special time to reflect on life with a grateful heart and celebrate the provisions given to each family. This gathering has been handed down for generations, but the ill-prepared turkey is one tradition that should remain in the past.

Let’s define a few terms commonly thrown around when discussing a Thanksgiving turkey. A brine is a solution of water, salt, sugar, and seasonings used to preserve foods. This method will impart flavors for about 16-24 hours, but be careful to rinse your bird before you bake or the turkey will be extremely salty. This method can be used with frying turkeys, roasting turkeys, and smoking turkeys.  Paula Dean recommends “frying turkeys for 3 minutes per pound plus 5 minutes for each turkey.” This is a favorite for our Louisiana family. This year we will try our hand at a smoked turkey! “A smoked turkey should be cooked on a low temperature at 220-250 degrees for 10 hours,” as recommended by Allrecipes.

For more than 13 years I have prepared hundreds of turkeys baked in the oven, breast down, at a temperature of 325 degrees for approximately 3 hours. I generally use the same seasoning blend consisting of olive oil, fresh garlic, rubbed sage, salt, pepper, sugar, lemon juice, and paprika. All of the ingredients are combined to form a paste and rubbed under the skin of the turkey.

Whether you choose to brine, fry, smoke, or bake, the turkey should always be moist with the perfect internal temperature between 165-180 degrees. With each method, the chef’s goal should be to impart flavor while retaining the moisture.

I want to encourage you to enter this season with Thanksgiving in your heart.

Psalm 9:1 “I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.”


Brine: defined from the “Food Lover’s Companion” by Sharon Tyler Herbst, pg. 69

Fried turkey cook time information taken from:

Smoked Turkey temperature and cook time information taken from:

Bible verse from:


Jenifer PasosJennifer Pasos

Jennifer has been teaching online for the past four years. She is a career chef/pastry chef with twenty plus years of experience in the hospitality industry. She received dual Associate’s degrees from Sullivan University in Louisville, KY. She is a mother of three children, two of which are homeschooled.

The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the author and should not be taken to represent the views of Excelsior Classes, LLC or the consortium of teachers.