How to baste a turkey

All of the juicy details, including how often to baste a turkey.

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How to baste a turkey


Photo by: Tetra Images/Getty Images

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There are certain time-honored traditions around cooking a turkey. Like brining it. Or basting it. But what exactly is the point of basting? How, precisely, do you baste a turkey — and how often? We get into all the juicy details (har har) below so that you’re completely prepared come turkey day.

What’s the point of basting?

Basting has a two purposes. First, it ensures the juiciness of your bird’s chicken breasts. How? When you baste the breasts with the liquid in the bottom of the roasting pan, the liquid slows down the rate at which the breasts cook so they’re not done before the thighs. Second, the fat in the cooking liquid caramelizes and turns the skin evenly golden brown and crispy. To be clear, you don’t have to baste your turkey. You can still get juicy meat and crispy skin without basting. Basting just scores you extra quality points. More juiciness + crispy skin = win, win.

How to baste a turkey

Now that you’re all intrigued, here’s how to do the deed. Open your oven, carefully remove the roasting pan, and close the oven quickly so too much heat doesn’t escape. Then use a baster (or a spoon, but more on that below) to drench the breast meat in the cooking liquid. Place the roasting pan back into the oven. In the last hour of cooking, you can baste the turkey in additional melted butter or olive oil instead of the pan juices to really make sure that skin turns golden brown.

How often to baste a turkey

Most recipes will tell you to baste your turkey every thirty minutes. But our rule of thumb is actually every forty minutes, and here’s why. You don’t want to open the oven too many times, or else the whole bird will take much long to cook, and that’s a huge inconvenience. Basting every forty-five minutes is just the right balance between reaping the benefits of basting but not cooling the bird down too much.

What you need to baste

Traditionally, you baste a turkey with a turkey baster. But if you don’t have one, or you don’t want to use up drawer space with a tool that you only break out once a year, you can also baste with a large spoon or ladle. Carefully spoon up those juices and pour them back onto the bird.

How to baste a turkey

Whether you are grilling or smoking a turkey, this baste keeps the meat moist, adds a delicious flavor, and helps to brown the skin. Simply made with butter, lemon juice, and a few herbs, this turkey baste recipe is quick to make, and adds a delicious flavor to your turkey.

It is best to forego the usual method of basting the turkey with pan drippings, which are mostly turkey juices and fat. Instead, using seasoned butter will add flavor and help the skin crisp up nicely at the end of cooking. Remember to begin basting about an hour after you start cooking and to apply the baste in thin layers every 30 minutes thereafter.

When basting it is easiest to use a pastry brush as this will allow you to give a light baste to all areas. You could use a turkey baster with a bulb, but that kind of baster works better for the pan drippings and is much harder to clean.


1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Steps to Make It

Gather the ingredients.

How to baste a turkey

Melt the butter in a small saucepan.

How to baste a turkey

Pour in lemon juice and add the remaining ingredients. Let the mixture simmer on low for about 3 minutes.

How to baste a turkey

Remove from heat and let stand at room temperature for 5 minutes before using.

How to baste a turkey

Baste your turkey.

How to baste a turkey

  • Lightly baste the turkey every 30 minutes after the first hour of cooking. Apply the baste warm to the turkey. Stop basting during the last 30 minutes of cook time.
  • If making the baste ahead of time, follow instructions for preparation and store it in an airtight container for up to seven days in the refrigerator. Warm the baste on the stovetop or in the microwave before using.
  • You don't want to baste your turkey too often as every time you open the oven door you are allowing heat to escape. Your oven will have to come on to heat back up, and this temperature variation interferes with getting your turkey done.

To Baste or Not to Baste?

Most turkey experts will tell you that basting is optional. It’s not the best way to season your turkey, but it will work in a pinch when you don’t have time for methods that require more prep work. For example, you may have wanted to brine your turkey, but you didn’t get started soon enough, or you lacked the refrigerator space and brining bag to do it right. Rubbing your turkey with a spice mix is another alternative to basting. Many cooks also inject their turkey with liquid seasonings to keep it moist and add flavor.

Basting can help you feel like you are doing something while waiting for heat and time to turn the pale bird into a golden centerpiece of your feast. But if you have seasoned your turkey in other ways, you can skip the basting.

How to baste a turkey

Cooking one turkey is a relatively easy process, but sometimes you are forced to cook two turkeys at the same time, in one oven. In order to cook two turkeys in one oven, you must use specific preparations and a cooking process to ensure the meat is cooked properly, so it is moist and flavorful. Numerous variables contribute to the cooking time of two turkeys including the cooking temperature, size of the turkey and thickness of the meat. Despite all of these variables, the most important factor to cooking two turkeys in one oven is using a meat thermometer to monitor the internal temperature of the turkey.

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Step 1

Select two turkeys that are approximately the same weight. This allows you to use the same basic preparations and cooking temperature so the cooking time is also about the same.

Step 2

Preheat the oven temperature to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 3

Dry each turkey with paper towels and place breast-side up on separate wire racks inside separate roasting pans.

Step 4

Tuck the wing tips under the shoulder of each bird. This helps to cook the turkeys evenly, as well as conserve space inside the oven.

Step 5

Fill the bottom of each roasting pan with 1/2 cup of water and place both pans in the oven.

Step 6

Rotate the position of the turkeys every 15 minutes.

Step 7

Cook the turkeys for a total of about 2 to 4 hours. A 10-lb. turkey in a convection oven requires about 2 hours of cooking, while the cooking time increases to 3 hours in a conventional oven.

Step 8

Check the internal temperature of each turkey by inserting a separate thermometer probe into the deepest portion of the thigh. Make sure the probe is in the middle of the meat and not touching any bones.

Step 9

Remove each turkey when the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 10

Wait at least 15 minutes before carving so that the natural juices settle into the meat making it more tender.

Things You’ll Need

2 10- to 14-lb. turkeys

2 roasting pans

2 meat thermometers

Always cook each turkey to the appropriate internal temperature before removing it from the oven. Add 1 hour to cooking times for stuffed turkey. The cooking time for two turkeys depends on the internal temperature of the meat. If the heat inside the oven is maintained throughout the entire cooking process, the total cooking time for two turkeys will be similar to cooking only one turkey.

How to baste a turkey

To baste is a term used in the kitchen, and it’s a skill that is applied when cooking especially meat. To baste is the act of pouring juices on the flesh to keep it moist while still cooking the meat.

How to baste a turkey

How to baste a turkey? @Pinterest

A turkey is a type of bird that is edible to humans. Moreover, it is found mainly in the northern part of America. When slaughtered, its body looks exactly like that of a chicken, but it’s big and powerful.

We have four types of turkeys:

  • Ocellate turkey
  • bourbon Red
  • broad-breasted turkey
  • Wild turkey.

Among all the four types of turkey, only is best known to be nutritious and healthy for human consumption, which is the broad-breasted white turkey.

Below is an image of the turkey.

How to baste a turkey

See how beautiful it looks when it opens up its wings.

The bird is powerful, and when it comes to butchering it, you need much more preparation than that of a chicken. It is on-demand due to its lean meat.

This bird is used in America during the Thanksgiving celebrations. Families shop for this bird meat and prepare a delicious meal as they merry together at the dinner table.

These birds feed on insects, seeds, worms, and also plants. They keep themselves clean by dustbathing on the sand.

Benefits of turkey meat

It has low saturated fat. That is why it’s best to consume it because no fat will accumulate in your body.

Turkey meat has an anti-cancer component. Selenium is a component found in turkey meat that reduces the risk of cancer in the body.

Turkey has tryptophan which improves the moods of the human body. It triggers the hormones that control the feelings/attitudes in your system.

  • Niacin compound from the turkey’s meat enhances energy production in the body.
  • Turkey meat helps to lower down bad cholesterol, thus encouraging good healthy cholesterol in the body.
  • Turkey contains vitamin B.This aids in lowering cholesterol. There is a limit to which a certain level of cholesterol is needed in the body. This vitamin plays a significant role in controlling the levels.
  • Turkey has calcium and vitamin D, which help in strengthening the bones and preventing Osteoporosis. It is a disorder of the bones to become weak due to a lack of calcium.
  • Turkey’s breast is very rich in iron. Iron plays a role in blood production and also energy. Insufficient iron in the body may cause fatigue or even headaches.
  • Turkey meat helps In increasing metabolic reactions in the body, thus promoting weight management.
  • Meat promotes hair growth and makes it strong due to protein components in the body.
  • Turkey meat has a carnosine compound which is known to have anti-aging components in it.
  • Turkey meat has zinc which helps in boosting the immune system.
  • The caregivers advise pregnant women to include turkey meat in their diet as it contains folate, which plays a role in forming the red blood cells.
  • Consumption of this meat promotes healthy blood cells.
  • Turkey has arginine that helps in the opening and relaxation of the arteries.

These benefits are health benefits, and it encourages you to eat turkey meat often.

To embark on basting a turkey,


  • Butter.
  • Salt.
  • Black pepper
  • Chopped parsley.
  • Garlic
  • Lemon
  • Olive oil.


  • Put the butter on a clean bowl
  • Add salt and black pepper.
  • Add lemon juice.
  • Put in some chopped garlic
  • Add in finely chopped parsley.
  • Mix everything.

This mixture you will use on the turkey.

  • Take the turkey meat and start the season.
  • Put in some salt and pepper inside the turkey.
  • Put inside two half big onions. It adds flavor to the meat as it continues to cook.
  • Add inside one lemon.
  • Add dried bay leaves and rosemary for more flavor.
  • Slowly open up the bird’s skin.
  • Take the mixture of the butter and the seasoning that you had prepared in a bowl.
  • Scoop some and fix inside the opened skin of the bird. Spread it evenly to all the parts for the meat to retain the moisture.
  • Use the remaining butter to spread on top of the turkey’s breasts, thighs, and wings.

The turkey meat usually dries up quickly, so you need to keep it very moist around for it not to dry up as it is cooking.

  • Using a baking tray, place the turkey inside the tray and pour some olive oil to prevent the butter from burning and give the skin a crispy taste.
  • Put it inside the oven at 220 degrees
  • After an hour, the turkey should be ready.

At this point is where you do the basting process.

How to baste a turkey?

Earlier on, we had seen that the term basting is the process of keeping the meat moist as it cooks.

Turkey meat dries up quickly when cooking, so to baste it is a suitable method of keeping it moist.

You need to remove the turkey from the oven and place it on the kitchen top.

Thanksgiving is fast approaching and you know what that means.

Turkey! Lots and lots of turkey. Even if the bird isn't your favorite part of the meal, it's important to know how to baste it properly, so you can focus on baking pumpkin pie or whipping up the perfect buttery mashed potatoes. We've got all your basting questions answered to make your Thanksgiving feast as seamless as possible.

What is basting?

Basting is the process of making turkey delicious. Just kidding (kind of), but basting a process that moistens the surface of roasted meat with either stock, butter, leftover drippings from the pan or another type of liquid.

Why baste a turkey?

Basting can enhance the taste of the meat by keeping the roast moist or adding flavor the the meat's surface.

What ingredients does turkey basting require?

Basting doesn't require any specific tools — besides an oven and a roasting turkey! — but you may use liquids like butter, liquids from the meat or a combination of the two to baste the turkey.

Which tools does turkey basting require?

Using specific tools like a bulb baster or a basting brush will make basting easier, but you can always use a spoon or cup. Keeping a timer or clock handy will help you to keep track of how long the turkey.

How much basting does a roast turkey need?

Basting the turkey every 30 minutes is a safe bet to keep the bird from overcooking.

How to baste a turkey

Turkey basting seems like an easy enough process. However, there are definite ways to ‘screw it up’’ and create a kitchen disaster, create fear and panic in your holiday guests, and end up with dried out turkey meat for sandwiches for the next 10 days. Let’s follow Bumbling Bubba around in the commercial kitchen as he prepares turkeys in different ways, attempting to discover how to baste a turkey.

Turkey #1. Bumbling Bubba remembers that when a turkey is cooked in a cooking bag, he doesn’t need to baste it. The juices of the turkey stay sealed in the bag as if there’s a little mini sauna there cooking the bird and keeping it moist. He buys the correct cooking bag, washes the turkey, puts the turkey in the bag, and places the bag in the roasting pan that is 2 inches deep. Bumbling Bubba sets the turkey roasting pan on the top shelf of the oven close to the heat.

Hours later, the turkey is done and Bubba is horrified when he opens the oven. The bag has broken and is sticking to the sides of the oven and to the turkey!

What did Bubba do wrong? Why did the bag stick to the turkey and cook into the skin. When a cooking bag is used, the directions say you must allow for the expansion of the bag. Placing it too close to the sides of the oven will result in the bag bursting.

Turkey #2. Bumbling Bubba thinks he can mix chicken broth and Italian dressing together for a very flavorful basting mix with low calories and low fat. He gets out his stainless steel bowl, mixes a cup of each, making sure he uses the low fat Italian dressing. Then Bubba brushes the turkey with the basting mix, making sure he doesn’t miss the part where the wings attach to the body of the bird. The bird goes into the 325 degrees Fahrenheit oven in a roasting pan, covered with tinfoil.

Bubba believes that he knows the process of how to baste a turkey: every 30 minutes, saturate the bird with the juices in the pan. He grabs his turkey baster and a potholder and pulls the rack out fast when the timer goes off. Oops! A lot of that liquid sloshed out of the roasting pan into the oven! Oh no! Bumbling Bubba sees smoke and flames! He grabs a fire extinguisher and puts out the fire but now the turkey is full of chemicals from the fire extinguisher. Bubba goes home for the rest of the day since the kitchen is in shambles.

What did Bubba do wrong? In his quest for learning how to baste a turkey, Bubba did almost everything right with this turkey. He had a great basting mixture and he knew how often to baste. His process was perfect up until the point where he was in a hurry to get the basting over with. All he needed to do was take his time in cooking, and he could have prevented this disaster.

Turkey #3. Bumbling Bubba wants to grill the turkey like a real man would out on the backyard griller/barbecue. Bubba fires up the grill and gets the wood chips going for a great smoke flavor. He knows that when you grill a filet mignon, you seal in the juices with a strip of bacon around the meat, held together with toothpicks. He gets out the bacon, rubs herbs such as basil, sage, thyme, salt and pepper into the skin, wraps the top of the turkey with bacon and places the turkey over the heat, closing the grill.

After a few minutes, Bubba’s wife screams, ‘fire! Fire!’” it’s Bubba’s turkey and the grill on fire. When Bubba put the turkey on the rack, he placed it right over the fire that hadn’’t died down to the appropriate temperature. The bacon started to cook and the bacon grease began basting the breast meat like it was supposed to but the excess grease dripped down into the direct fire and Bubba had a grease fire on his hands. Had Bumbling Bubba waited for the heat source temperature to be appropriately lower and had he placed the turkey off to the side of the heat source, this turkey would have been basted just right and had the best flavor of all.

Bumbling Bubba learned how to baste a turkey the hard way. If he had just done them right, he would have been sitting down to a fancy holiday meal with the turkey prepared just right with the meat juicy enough even for leftovers. Know what you’re doing in the kitchen before you do it. Read up on it and you’ll avoid Backward Bubba types of kitchen disasters.

Oven roasting is all kinds of yum! Tune in to our video to learn how to roast a turkey in the oven. This classic turkey technique is perfect for a first-time cook or a seasoned pro.

Turkey roasting cook-time varies by weight, so there’s also a handy turkey cooking calculator to help you plan. Don’t forget the foil tent when you’re ⅔ of the way through cooking to prevent dryness!

How to baste a turkey

How to Roast Fresh or Frozen Whole Turkeys

Roasting a whole turkey is easier than you think. Just follow these simple instructions for a fresh or thawed turkey:

  1. Preheat oven to 325° F. Drain juices and pat dry with clean paper towels.
  2. Place turkey breast side up on a flat rack in a shallow roasting pan 2 to 2½ inches deep.

Roasting Tip

If you don’t have a roasting rack, crunch aluminum foil into a coil or use vegetables like carrots to keep your turkey off the bottom of the pan.

  1. Turn the wings back to hold the neck skin in place. (Tucking the wings will help stabilize the turkey in the pan and when carving) Brush or spray skin lightly with vegetable or cooking oil for best appearance.
  2. Insert an oven-safe meat thermometer deep into the lower part of the thigh without touching the bone. When the thigh is up to temperature, and if the turkey is stuffed, move the thermometer to the center of the stuffing.
  3. Place your turkey in the oven.
  4. When the turkey is about ⅔ done, loosely cover the breast with a piece of foil to prevent overcooking.
  5. Your turkey is done when the temperature with a meat thermometer is 180° F in thigh and 170° F in breast or stuffing.
  6. Lift turkey onto platter, and let stand for 15 minutes before carving.

How to Roast Fully Cooked Whole Turkeys

Fully cooked turkeys are an easy way to get a great tasting turkey on the table in less time. Follow these special directions for a delicious meal:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Remove wrapper.
  2. Place thawed turkey, breast side up, on flat rack in shallow roasting pan 2 to 2½ inches deep. DO NOT stuff.
  3. Brush or spray skin lightly with vegetable or cooking oil for best appearance.
  4. Insert oven-safe meat thermometer deep into the thigh without touching the bone.
  5. Begin checking the turkey for doneness about 30 minutes before the recommended cook time.
  6. Your turkey is done when the meat thermometer reaches 140°F in thigh.
  7. Carve and serve immediately.

How to Roast Whole Turkey Breasts

Turkey breasts cook up tender and delicious, and are easy to roast when you follow these instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325° F.
  2. Remove whole breast from bag. Drain juices and pat dry with clean paper towels.
  3. Place breast, skin side up, on a flat roasting rack in a 2-inch deep roasting pan. Do not add water to pan.
  4. Brush or spray skin lightly with vegetable or cooking oil for best appearance.
  5. Roast uncovered according to Cooking Schedule or until meat thermometer in thickest part of breast reaches 170° F. If breast is stuffed, center of stuffing should be 165° F.
  6. Roasting time will vary if turkey is covered or placed in an oven-cooking bag.
  7. Before you remove the stuffing and carve, let your turkey breast stand for 15 minutes to allow the juices to set.

You can roast a frozen turkey breast too. Just follow these steps:

  1. Roast skin side down, uncovered, on a flat rack in a 2-inch deep open roasting pan at 325° F for the first hour.
  2. Remove from oven and carefully remove gravy packet and refrigerate packet for future use.
  3. Turn breast skin side up, and brush or spray skin lightly with vegetable or cooking oil for best appearance. Return to oven.
  4. Roast uncovered according to Cooking Schedule or until meat thermometer in thickest part of breast reaches 170° F. If breast is stuffed, center of stuffing should be 165° F.
  5. Let breast stand for 10 minutes before carving.

How to Roast Boneless Turkey Roasts

For smaller groups that love that roasted turkey taste, try a boneless roast. It’s easier than ever with these directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325° F.
  2. Remove outer plastic netting and packaging. Leave inner string netting on the roast.
  3. Drain juices and pat dry with clean paper towels. Refrigerate gravy packet.
  4. For easier net removal before serving, lift string netting and shift position on roast.
  5. Place roast, skin side up, on a flat roasting rack in 2-inch deep roasting pan. Do not add water to pan.
  6. Roast uncovered according to Cooking Schedule or until meat thermometer in center of breast roast reaches 170° F and in center of turkey roast reaches 175° F.
  7. Roasting time will vary if turkey is covered or placed in an oven-cooking bag.
  8. For easier net removal after roasting, wrap roast in foil and let stand 10 minutes. Remove netting and slice roast.

Roasting Tip

Since you can’t adjust the string netting when roasting from frozen, be sure to wrap the roast in foil after it comes out of the oven.

No guessing: here’s a go-to guide for turkey roasting times for a perfect Thanksgiving dinner.

Related To:

How to baste a turkey


Photo by: Victoria Pearson/Getty

By Leah Brickley for Food Network Kitchen

Roasting a turkey doesn’t have to be an intimidating task if you have a good game plan. We consulted the USDA — the authority on turkey talk — and here is a handy guideline for cooking success.

Quick Turkey Tips:

  • Plan on 1 1/2 pounds of (uncooked) turkey per person.
  • Budget enough time for thawing your bird: here’s our thawing guide.
  • Remember to remove the giblet packet and turkey neck (and make gravy!).
  • It’s safer to cook stuffing in a separate baking dish but if in-the-bird is what you prefer, pack it in loosely — it should register at 165 F with an instant read thermometer before serving.
  • Use an instant read thermometer to check your turkey’s temp: insert the probe in the deepest part of the thigh — it should register 165 F.
  • Let turkey turkey rest 20 minutes before carving.

How Long to Roast a Turkey:

These times all based on roasting a turkey at 325 F.


  • 4 to 8 pounds (breast only): 1 1/2 to 3 1/4 hours
  • 8 to 12 pounds: 2 3/4 to 3 hours
  • 12 to 14 pounds: 3 to 3 3/4 hours
  • 14 to 18 pounds: 3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hours
  • 18 to 20 pounds: 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours
  • 20 to 24 pounds: 4 1/2 to 5 hours


  • 6 to 8 pounds (breast only): 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours
  • 8 to 12 pounds: 3 to 3 1/2 hours
  • 12 to 14 pounds: 3 1/2 to 4 hours
  • 14 to 18 pounds: 4 to 4 1/4 hours
  • 18 to 20 pounds: 4 1/4 to 4 3/4 hours
  • 20 to 24 pounds: 4 3/4 to 5 1/4 hours

It’s safe to cook a completely frozen turkey but it will take at least 50 percent longer than a fully thawed bird. If cooking from frozen, remove the giblet packet with tongs about halfway through. Cook until the deepest part of the thigh registers 165 F with an instant read thermometer.

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