We all want a delicious turkey with that golden brown crispy skin.
With juicy meat from the breast and succulent dark meat from the thighs.
Achieving this requires some basting during the cooking process.
The basting technique allows you to enjoy a perfect turkey with ease.
But how often should you baste?
Is it always necessary?
Let’s find out.
What Do We Mean by Baste?
Basting is defined as;
“Pouring fat or cooking juices over (meat) to keep it moist.”
This is primarily done through stages during the cooking process.
But this can be applied when you reheat leftover turkey.
How Often to Baste a Turkey
Apply the basting process every 40 minutes during the cooking time.
The cooking time for roasting a turkey is worked out through the weight and temperature.
Cook your turkey at a pellet grill or oven temperature of 350°F.
At this temp, a fresh turkey will cook at 15 minutes per pound.
So a 10-pound turkey would take 150 minutes.
For this example, you would baste roasting turkey around 4 times.
Use a meat thermometer in the breasts and legs to measure the internal temperature accurately.
165°F for the breast meat.
175°F for leg and thigh meat.
Note: Have a frozen turkey? Make sure you defrost before cooking!
Turkey Basting – Why Do We Do It?
Basting the skin and meat of the turkey during cooking has many benefits.
It Keeps the Meat Moist
Introducing loss of moisture back into the meat proteins will ensure a juicy turkey!
It Helps to Form a Crisp Turkey Skin
Basting rendered fat from the turkey juices will caramelize the skin.
This helps form crisp golden skin that is the quintessential image of roasted turkey.
You can also additional melted butter or oil.
It Slows Down The Cooking Process
The legs and thighs take longer to cook than the breasts.
Adding the basting liquid over the breasts will protect and slow down the cooking time, so your turkey isn’t done too early.
This ensures that the breast stays moist while you wait.
It Adds Extra Flavor
The cooking liquid from your turkey is packed with natural flavor.
Plus any seasonings or rubs you have decided to use or if you left the giblets in the cavity.
Get your holiday bird back in action by developing layer after layer of extra flavor.
Especially if you are roasting vegetables.
Do You Baste a Stuffed or Unstuffed Turkey?
You can baste if your turkey has stuffing or not.
Just bear in mind the levels of kosher salt you are using in your recipe.
Which Parts of a Turkey Do You Baste?
Baste the whole turkey on the top of the breast and let the natural juices fall.
So it coats every part.
Invest in a basting brush or turkey baster.
This makes it easier and less likely to burn yourself if you were using another apparatus.
Tip: Make sure you use an oven tray so you don’t lose any juices through the grill grates!
Step by Step Guide & Basting Tips
Follow this simple guide and tips to ensure you are getting the maximum effect when basting.
– Set a basting timer every 40 minutes from when you started cooking the turkey.
– Clean and prepare your turkey baster and brush.
– At the basting intervals, spoon or suck up the juices in the oven tray that your turkey is in.
– Carefully baste the turkey from the top of the breasts with the hot pan juices.
– Ensure that every part of the turkey is covered.
– 10 minutes before your last baste, take a saucepan and add the following;
- 200g Unsalted butter
- Chopped fresh herbs
- 1 tspn brown sugar
– Heat this mixture up until the butter and sugar has melted.
– Finish off by basting the turkey with your herb butter mixture.
Tip: Focus on the legs and thighs with the butter mixture as the skin is thicker.
Note: Removing the turkey from the oven while basting?
Make sure you close the door!
This will minimize the heat leaving.
Are There Basting Alternatives?
Basting is not imperative to get a perfectly moist turkey.
There are some other techniques if you don’t have the time.
Wrap the Turkey Breasts in Tin Foil
Want to still keep the breast meat moist while waiting for it to finish cooking?
Putting a layer of foil on top of the turkey will help lock in moisture.
And protect the meat from going dry or burning.
Use Brown Sugar in Your Turkey Spice Rub
Another alternative to basting.
Having brown sugar in your turkey rub will help with forming crisp skin.
Through the Maillard reaction and caramelization.
Be creative and choose your favorite spices and aromatics in your rub.
This also will add extra flavor.
Wet Brining Before Cooking
A brine is a salt concentration to add and helps the proteins retain moisture.
1 cup of water (230ml) to a tablespoon (14 grams) of salt.
Make enough to submerge the turkey and brine while refrigerating for up to 12 hours.
The salt will permeate the proteins and help retain the moisture while cooking.
How Long Does a Turkey Take to Cook?
This depends on the size of the turkey and the temperature you are cooking at.
I always recommend that you cook your turkey at 270°F – 275°F for smoked turkey. At 275°F it takes around 25 minutes per pound to cook. So make sure you find out how much your turkeys weights., If your using an oven and want to get crispy skin, you want to roast your turkey at 350°F.
Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)
You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling adventures with you!
You can read more on our About Us page.
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