13 unique ways to cook your Thanksgiving turkey


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Whether you’re a newbie on the verge of a nervous breakdown because you’re in charge of the turkey for the first time this year or you’re just tired of doing the same old thing every holiday, we have a recipe for you that’s sure to impress even the crankiest family member this Thanksgiving.

For the traditional cooks, a perfect roast turkey recipe. For the experimental, black pepper-pomegranate molasses glazed turkey. For the adventurous, the turducken. Read on for more, including beer-can turkey, Cajun-injected spicy turkey and the world’s simplest Thanksgiving turkey.



Photo: James Merrell, BarefootContessa.com

Perfect roast turkey

If you’re looking for a classic turkey — the kind you think belongs in one of those old-fashioned wholesome Thanksgiving photos — try this recipe from Barefoot Contessa. Perfectly seasoned with lemon juice, lemon zest, fresh thyme, onion and garlic, this turkey is surprisingly simple to make and will be sure to make your parents proud.


Beer-can turkey 



Photo: Kana Okada; Food stylist: Cyd Raftus McDowell; Prop stylist: Mary Ellen Weinrib

There’s a reason this isn’t called beer turkey or beer-marinated turkey — you literally stick the entire can of beer inside the bird. (This strategy is sometimes referred to as “beer-in-the-rear turkey” or “beer butt turkey.” We don’t recommend calling it this at the dinner table.) There’s even a gadget for it: the beer can turkey rack. (You can also use a turkey sitter — a ceramic stand that holds liquid.) This Cat Cora recipe for beer-can turkey uses mustard powder, garlic powder, dried onion, paprika, garlic and cumin for seasonings — we recommend rubbing the spice mixture under the skin of the turkey. Don’t try to get fancy with the beer — most recipes we’ve seen use Foster’s or Heineken.



Photo: Williams-Sonoma

Buttermilk-brined turkey

The reviews on this recipe from Williams-Sonoma convinced us to include it — reviewers swear by it because of the flavor and melt-in-your-mouth tenderness. Brining — if you’re not familiar with it — is a method in which the turkey is soaked in salt water, ensuring moist, juicy meat when you’re finished cooking. Not only is this turkey easy to make, but it also only requires five ingredients: turkey, salt, water, buttermilk and butter.


Citrus-glazed turkey with chipotle gravy

Photo: Brian Leatart

For an all-in-one unbelievable turkey-gravy recipe, use this Southwestern-inspired one from Bon Appetit. The glaze combines traditional flavors, like honey and orange, with contemporary ones, like cumin and chilies, for a flavorful turkey with a kick. The glaze and gravy provide a citrus-y, spicy flavor to the juicy meat.