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How to Marinate Turkey?

One of the finest ways to make turkey soft and juicy is to marinate it when cooking. Some recipes call for marinating overnight, but two to four hours would suffice. If you leave the turkey out for longer, the meat will turn tough and stringy. Turkey can also be marinated for as little as two hours and still be excellent. Finding a balance of tart acids, rich oil, and sugar is the secret to successful marinating. The sour acids help tenderize the meat by breaking up harder muscle fibers. Don’t go overboard with the salt if you want a luscious, moist dish.

Marinated Turkey

Use a plastic bag or a turkey bag to make the greatest roasted turkey marinade. Baking bags work wonderfully because you can keep the turkey marinating in them, close them tightly, then turn the bag over every time you open the refrigerator. This ensures that all of the turkeys are marinated.

Turkey Nutrition Facts

Turkey Nutrition facts

What is Marinating?

A marinade is a liquid solution where foods are soaked before cooking, especially meats. By starting the breakdown process of cooking, a marinade adds flavor to meals and makes them more tender. Acidic elements like vinegar, wine, fruit juice, and enzymatic components like pineapple, papaya, guava, or ginger can cause this activity. The breakdown allows liquids and seasonings to penetrate the meat, retaining moisture and not drying out as rapidly while grilling.

Because of the high, intense heat grills create, marinades are especially vital and effective for grilling. These can cause hazardous compounds to develop on the pan’s surface while cooking. The development of these compounds is slowed by using an acidic marinade.

Meats that are more inclined to dry out on the grill, such as chicken breasts and pork loin, will benefit from a marinade to keep them moist. Italian Dressing is a wonderful example of a simple marinade. Marinades are readily available in stores or can be easily produced at home.

Food Safety and Marinade

When a marinade comes into touch with raw meat, fish, or seafood, it takes up any bacteria present on those items. It’s critical to marinate the marinating item in the refrigerator rather than at room temperature. Avoid marinating in aluminum foil, non-stainless steel metal dishes, or pottery since the acid in the marinade may react with the metal or glaze, releasing lead or other undesired components.

Using a disposable zip lock bag, glass, or food-safe plastic vessel is better. Any marinade that has come into touch with the food you’re marinating should be discarded. Any marinating containers should be washed or thrown away if they are disposable.

If you haven’t adequately washed them, don’t use them for serving or keeping prepared foods. Do not baste the dish while cooking with the marinade that has come into touch with the raw meat. You should save a bit that hasn’t come into contact with uncooked food for basting or as a sauce.

How to Marinate Turkey?

Here are the best ways to marinate turkey:


  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • One teaspoon of lemon zest
  • One teaspoon of orange zest
  • 1/2 cup parsley leaves finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chives thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup sage leaves finely chopped
  • Two tablespoons of rosemary leaves finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup thyme leaves chopped
  • One tablespoon garlic minced
  • Two teaspoons of smoked paprika
  • One teaspoon of sweet paprika
  • Two teaspoons salt
  • One teaspoon of black pepper


  • Place all of the ingredients in a medium bowl. Whisk until well combined.
  • Pour the marinade over a whole thawed turkey. Rub the marinade to coat all over the outside, then loosen the skin and rub some of the marinades under the skin.
  • Let the turkey sit in the marinade for 12-24 hours.
  • Scrape any large pieces of herbs and garlic off the marinated turkey so that they won’t burn when cooked.
  • Roast, smoke, or grill the turkey as desired, then serve and enjoy.


  • Be sure to rub the marinade all over the entire bird, including under the skin. You can store the turkey as it marinates in a baking dish covered with plastic wrap, a bringing bag, or a large pot.
  • This is almost like a wet rub, so the marinade will sit on the skin and flesh of the turkey and penetrate it with flavor, but there’s not a lot of messy liquid to deal with.
  • A marinade is not the same as a turkey brine, and Turkey brine is a liquid solution of salt, sugar, and water. You can use my turkey brine recipe if that’s the technique you’re looking for.
  • This marinade can be prepared up to 2 days before you plan to use it. Store it in the fridge until you’re ready to coat your turkey.
  • You can roast, smoke, or grill your marinated turkey. However, if you choose to cook it, use a thermometer to gauge when the turkey is cooked through and ready to eat. A meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast or thigh should register 165 degrees F.
  • This marinade makes enough to cover an average 12-14 pound turkey. If you’re using a larger turkey, you may need to double the marinade.

What Herbs Go Inside Turkey?

Roasted turkey is a traditional holiday dish that has become a Christmas and Thanksgiving staple. Getting the seasoning right is one of the most important aspects of roasting a turkey. Because fresh herbs add to the meat’s mild flavor, turkey is best when seasoned with many.

Because turkey has a mild flavor, it goes well with various herb combinations. Make your flavorful turkey seasoning or homemade turkey rub using fresh or dried herbs. Use a traditional herb mix recipe, such as herbs de Provence, or get creative and create your unique blend.

Best Herbs for Turkey

What Can I Put in My Turkey for Flavor?

Here are our top selections for flavorful and moist ingredients for your greatest turkey yet.

  • Seasoning your Thanksgiving turkey abundantly is the key to amplifying its flavor. Stuff a tiny bundle of your preferred herbs into the turkey cavity to ensure that they permeate every inch of your bird. The mix of thyme, sage, parsley, and a pinch of rosemary is delicious, but feel free to tweak it.
  • Onions, shallots, and garlic are essential components of many of our favorite dishes, so incorporate them on Thanksgiving Day. A delectable turkey can be made using a few garlic cloves and a quartered onion and herbs or any other stuff on this list.
  • Suppose you’re stuffing your turkey quarter of an apple or two. They’ll add a little extra moisture to the turkey during the cooking process and a mild flavor that’ll make you think of fall.
  • Include a few celery ribs if you want a traditional roast turkey flavor. This item is traditional for any roast, especially when mixed with herbs and onions.
  • Lemon, orange, lime, and even grapefruit wedges can add another layer of flavor to your turkey. As the turkey cooks, these fruits provide moisture, resulting in a luscious Thanksgiving centerpiece.
  • This lesser-known aromatic is an excellent choice for stuffing your chicken. It pairs beautifully with apples and nuts and other seasonal flavors (like in this tasty salad). If you’re not a lover of black licorice, stay clear from this one because it has a slight anise flavor.

Should You Marinate Turkey Overnight?


Yes, it would help if you marinated the turkey the night before you wanted to cook it. It will still taste good if you forget and marinate it the next day, but the meat will not have absorbed the flavors to the same extent.
Allowing the turkey to rest for twelve hours or more with whatever herbs, spices, and other flavorings you’ve added is the best approach to ensure that it’s excellent.

Additionally, by this stage, the outside of the turkey should be entirely defrosted, resulting in less water residue, and allowing the flavors to absorb more effectively. The best way to prepare a turkey is to marinate it overnight. It’s pointless to marinade a half-frozen bird because the tastes will not penetrate, but marinating it right before roasting it will also result in poor flavor absorption. The finest of both worlds is overnight!

What Other Options are There for Your Turkey?

If you don’t want to marinade your turkey, season it or brine it instead. Brining produces a moist and succulent turkey, while marinating aids in absorbing liquid flavors into the flesh (seasoning tends to be dry). Glazes and alcoholic basting are other viable alternatives. Brining, which is soaking the turkey in saltwater to tenderize it, should also be done ahead of time. Spices and herbs can be added, and they will soak in with the salt.

This doesn’t have to be difficult, but it can be quite tasty! This should be done at least four hours ahead of time, but it’s best to do it overnight. You can baste your turkey with alcohol to caramelize the skin while it cooks or makes a glaze to drizzle over the flesh once it’s done – either way, your meal will be flavorful and memorable.


The verb “marinate” refers to steeping something in a marinade. A marinade is a flavorful combination of oil, acid (vinegar, lemon juice, wine, etc. ), and spices. The acid and oil in the mixture transmit the savory taste of the spices to the turkey as it stands in the mixture. Tenderizing is another benefit of acid. The meat will become stringy and rough if the marinade contains too much acid. Make use of a recipe. According to the Food Safety and Inspection Service, Turkey can be marinated in the refrigerator for two days before cooking. Of course, the bird should be flipped during the marinating phase so that all portions benefit from the seasoning.

One to two days before you plan to prepare the turkey, get a fresh bird. Some labels provide a sell-by date, which can be useful. The sell-by date is the last day the turkey can be sold as fresh in the store. One to two days after that date, the turkey will be at its best quality and safety. Select a turkey that is not stacked higher than the top of the refrigerator case in the supermarket. Remember to refrigerate your fresh turkey as soon as you get it home and utilize it within one to two days. It’s a good idea to call the supermarket to reserve your fresh turkey ahead of time.