Useful Tips

Step by step: how to marinate a whole turkey for baking in the oven


Have you ever ordered a turkey in a really good restaurant? If so, then they probably wondered how the cook manages to keep the meat so tender and moist. Is it a secret ingredient or special and incredibly expensive equipment? In fact, neither one nor the other. The bird is soaked in brine with spices, herbs, fruits and vegetables. The brine contributes to the deep penetration of moisture, and that is why the turkey is not dry. In this article, you will find step-by-step instructions for preparing turkey marinade.

Why and how to marinate a whole turkey for subsequent baking in the oven - the essence of the matter

  1. The turkey meat is rather lean, especially the breast, and the weight of the average bird is 5-6 kg. From this circumstance the following follows.
  2. Such a carcass is being prepared according to the classic recipe for a rather long time. The result is almost always the same - dry harsh meat, including boiled breasts.

It’s a sin to hide, how to marinate a turkey for baking in the oven as a whole, I myself didn’t think about it before, preferring to cook baked duck or goose. Apparently, this would have continued further until she accidentally saw Elton Brown's culinary show "Good Eats" on the Food Network channel.

Some people think that soy sauce and honey are important here, others - honey mustard marinade. In fact, we need brining technology, in other words, pickling in brine. A short time will be enough to make the carcass soft and juicy.

The reception was vigorously discussed among English-speaking reputable bloggers. I trusted their recommendations and did not regret it: firstly, the cooking time was almost halved, and secondly, the meat turned out to be tender and tasty.

What is the magic of brine?

It's not about the brine with which people are actively improving their health after a riotous feast. Let's talk about the solution for soaking the product before subsequent heat treatment. To understand how to marinate a whole turkey for baking in the oven, a brief excursion into the school curriculum in physics and chemistry is enough. To whom it is not interesting - we skip the theory and begin to practice.

All the magic of a simple pickle rests on three pillars:

  • Diffusion - the process of interpenetration of microparticles of one substance between the molecules of another, which leads to spontaneous equalization of their concentrations throughout the volume. In our case, turkey marinade entirely ensures the penetration of salt molecules into meat cells.
  • Osmosis - a variant of one-sided diffusion, when the microparticles of the solvent enter through the membrane towards the most concentrated solution. In our company, water acts as a solvent, which saturates the cells of meat along with salt. A carcass left in brine overnight will weigh 7-8% more of its initial weight.
  • Protein denaturation - violation of the unique protein structure. Initially, the protein in meat has a twisted configuration; after exposure to saline, the polypeptide chain unfolds. In other words, before baking, a matrix is ​​formed in the meat that retains moisture inside the cells, thereby preventing dehydration of the carcass during heat treatment.

How does it work in the process

Now I will briefly describe the essence of the operation of the marinade. I repeat once again - this is not pickling with vinegar, as is customary for us, but rather soaking in brine. The technology for implementing the briefing is not rocket technology, everything is simple here. The whole process can be described by the axiom that nature does not tolerate emptiness.

When we were going to pickle the whole turkey for baking in an electric oven, we immerse the turk into a solution of water, salt and sugar, thereby upsetting the balance of things in nature. An imbalance is created when the concentration of components around the carcass is much higher than inside it.

Through osmosis and diffusion, the cell moves salting matter in and out, trying to restore balance with the surrounding solution. Of course, meat aromatization also occurs. When the concentration of salt in the cells increases, the protein structure tightly wound into a ball gradually unwinds. Some types of proteins are almost completely denatured and liquefied.

At the beginning of the process, meat is dehydrated. With the diffusion accumulation of brine elements in carcass tissues, a gradual transition from the phase of its dehydration to the phase of hydration occurs. Due to the fact that the meat picks up moisture, it will be tender and juicy, and no mayonnaise or wine vinegar is needed here.

Practice: how to marinate a whole turkey for further baking in the oven

Friends, I hope I’m not tired of my theoretical research, so let's get down to business! Honestly, the recipe for the marinade from Elton Brown alerted me, as the classic technology of salting contains slightly different proportions of the components. Nevertheless, she did everything according to his recipe and did not regret it.

The dish was ready in two and a half hours, and this is almost two times less than with traditional cooking without pre-treatment. The meat turned out to be tender and with a rich taste. Now I know how to marinate a whole turkey for baking in the oven at home, and I can recommend the secret to preparing a gourmet dish.

For brine:

  1. Distilled pure water 5 liters
  2. Salt 1 cup - (capacity 250 milliliters)
  3. Sugar brown half a glass
  4. Dried rosemary, ground 1 tablespoon
  5. Black peppercorns 1 tablespoon
  6. Dried ground thyme 1 tablespoon
  7. Ground sage, dried 1 tablespoon
  8. Paprika 1 tablespoon
  9. Laurel leaf 2-3 pieces

Inappropriate products? Choose a similar recipe from others!

Recipe Tips:

- - If there is absolutely no time for cooling the brine, then you can boil the brine in 2.5 liters of water and dilute it with 2.5 kilograms of ice, as well as boiled or chilled water in the same amount. But do not forget that the total mass of ingredients for the preparation of brine is indicated for marinating turkeys weighing no more than 6.5 - 7 kilograms.

- - If desired, butter can be mixed with spices that are suitable for poultry dishes and then applied to the idea after the first baking step.

- - Before baking, the turkey can be stuffed with vegetables, fruits or citruses, such as onions, oranges, garlic, apples, plums, and many others.

- - If the turkey is ready, but you are not going to serve it on the table at this time, in order to keep it warm, cover the bird with aluminum foil and put it in a warm oven.

- - If you don’t soak the turkey in brine, it will cook longer, because the meat of such a bird is tougher. It will take about 5 to 6.5 hours to cook the turkey without brine, 4 of which it should be baked under the foil and the rest of the time without it until golden brown and fully cooked.


For the preparation of turkeys weighing 6.5-7.5 kg

  • 6.5-7.5 kg frozen young turkey
  • 1 cup (300 g) sodium chloride
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) light brown sugar
  • 3.8 L vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon (9 g) black pepper
  • 1.5 teaspoons (1.5 g) allspice
  • 1.5 teaspoons (6 g) of crushed candied ginger
  • 3.8 liters of ice water

Vegetable broth

They say that this "happiness" in America is sold ready-made in boxes, I have not seen this with us, so I prepared the broth myself. Nothing complicated here - no more complicated than cook brawn or aspic. So, before you whole marinate the turkey in the oven for baking in the oven, prepare a vegetable broth:

  • Water - 4 l.
  • Onion - 1 pc.
  • Carrots - 2 pcs.
  • Celery petiole - 3 pcs.
  • Garlic - 3 cloves.
  • Tomato - 1 pc.

As a matter of fact, the traditional ingredients for vegetable broth are carrots, onions and celery. But other components can optionally be used. Suitable cabbage, broccoli, zucchini, bell peppers. And anyway - put what is at hand and fits your taste. For example, I did not take garlic, because its flavor is not to our taste.

Cooking a decoction does not take much time. Pour all the ingredients with water, bring to a boil and cook for 40 minutes. After filtering and use as intended.

Brine preparation

  • In a large saucepan, add strained marinade to spices, salt, sugar and cook for 10 minutes. Then remove from heat and cool to a temperature of 20-25 ° C.
  • We place the turkey in a bucket, fill with broth, add cold water and ice. The amount of water must necessarily be the same as the amount of brine, otherwise the salt concentration will be increased.

Important! The carcass must be completely immersed in the marinade, if it does not work out, turn it over every 5-6 hours. Keep meat in brine - two hours for every kilogram of weight, i.e. a six kilogram bird will be salted 12 hours. It is not necessary for a day or two - so just salt the product, it is better not to contain it.

We close the closed container with meat in the refrigerator or some cold place. I will not discuss the chemistry of the process, just remember - the optimal temperature of the solution should be at the level of -2 ... + 2 ° C.

Briefly about cooking meat

Well, now you know how to marinate a whole turkey for baking in the oven with your own hands, there is nothing particularly complicated here, and the result is excellent. It’s not a question - you can use lemon or pomegranate marinade, but believe me - this simple pickle can work wonders. A pomegranate will make a good sauce.

Before baking, remove the bird from the solution, rinse well in running water both outside and inside. Then we stuff, put the carcass on the back in a baking sheet, pour a glass of water into it - and in the oven warmed up to 220 ° C.

Keep this temperature for 30 minutes. Then bake until cooked at a temperature of 175 ° C. My 6 kg bird was cooking for 2 hours and 20 minutes, so decide whether it makes sense to salt the meat or not.