Christmas Turkey Recipe

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If a mouthwatering roast turkey is what you have in mind for your upcoming Christmas dinner, and you’re in charge of getting it from beautiful thought to on the table and ready to eat. Look no further than my easy and full-proof Christmas turkey recipe!

Christmas Turkey Recipe

Say goodbye to the dry turkey meat and hello to succulent and tender meat, savored with a beautiful homemade brine and poultry seasoning blend for the perfect roast turkey!

How do you roast a turkey and keep it moist?

Apple cider brine is the secret to a juicy Christmas turkey every time.

There’s something inherently festive about a roasted turkey on Christmas Eve or a succulent bird nestled next to old-fashioned Southern cornbread dressing on Christmas Day. 

Love crispy skin on roast turkey at Christmas?

Over the years, the Christmas turkey’s remarkable flavor and texture have made it a holiday favorite amongst chefs and home cooks.

More than merely a replacement for traditional meats, turkey has an appeal of its own. 

A Christmas turkey recipe can stand up to the boldest of spices or the sweetest of flavor combinations, plus it delivers everyone’s favorite part – a roasted and seasoned to perfection outer skin.

Should you brine your turkey?

Should you brine your turkey?

A savory holiday turkey will leave your taste buds begging for more!

And credit for that goes to the turkey brine, creating the most tender and juicy Christmas turkey, bursting with flavor from the tangy apple cider brine and the subtle sweetness of brown sugar. The nuttiness of ginger and aromatic notes of cinnamon in the meat.

If you’re only planning on roasting a chicken or cooking a turkey breast, you can still use apple cider brine! Due to the light flavor of this brine, the meat doesn’t taste too “cidery.” 

Perfect for your Christmas turkey recipe!

What is an apple cider turkey brine?

Apple cider turkey brine brings a new level of flavor and juiciness to your holiday bird. 

This brine is easy to prepare because it’s simply homemade apple cider with apples and notes of citrus, pomegranate, cinnamon, brown sugar, and cloves. 

And like any brine, the result is tender, juicy, and the most flavorful turkey meat!

Christmas turkey Recipe - How do you roast a turkey and keep it moist?

What is brining?

Brining is a method of soaking meat in salt water or other liquids like beer or apple cider before cooking to add moisture and intensify the flavor of the meat.

Apple Cider Turkey Brine
Apple cider turkey brine brings a new level of flavor and juiciness to your Thanksgiving or holiday bird.
This brine is easy to prepare because it’s simply homemade apple cider made with apples and notes of citrus, pomegranate, cinnamon, brown sugar, and cloves. The result is tender, juicy, and the most flavorful turkey meat!
Check out this recipe!
Southern Apple Cider Turkey Brine

What’s the best way to roast a turkey?

In a roasting pan in the oven. Only after it’s been brined, tho.

Follow the step-by-step instructions below for the best Christmas turkey recipe with an apple cider brine.

Kitchen equipment for a Southern Christmas turkey recipe

Kitchen equipment for a Southern Christmas turkey recipe

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Instant Pot Duo Nova  |  Amazon roasting pan with lid  |   Famous Dave’s Country Roast Chicken Seasoning   |   Weber Roasted Garlic & Herb Seasoning  |  Amazon reusable straining bag  |  Amazon mesh strainer with handle  |  Courtly Check relish dish  |  Courtly Check similar dish towel  |  Pyrex measuring glass  |  Kate Aspen heart-shaped measuring spoons  |  Courtly Check spoon rest  |  Amazon large spoon & slotted spoon set  |  Courtly Check stockpot  |

Ingredients for a Southern Christmas turkey recipe

Ingredients for a Southern Christmas turkey apple cider brine

  • 8 cups of water
  • 5 apples, quartered – and another apple or two to garnish (You can use a mix of tart and sweet if you like (i.e., Granny Smith, Gala, Red Delicious)
  • 1 orange, with the peel on, quartered (and another orange or two to garnish)
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh ginger minced
  • 1 ½ tablespoons of whole cloves
  • 1 pomegranate, quartered 
  • ½ a cup of brown sugar
  • 3 cinnamon sticks

Ingredients for the Christmas dry brined turkey rub

  • 10–15-pound turkey
  • 2 tablespoons of Famous Dave’s Country Roast Chicken Seasoning (or similar – This seasoning contains soulful flavors such as salt, black pepper, paprika, mustard seed, garlic powder, onion powder, bell pepper, and lemon zest all in one!)
  • 2 tablespoons of Weber Roasted Garlic & Herb Seasoning (or similar)
  • ½ a cup of fresh parsley, finely chopped to garnish
  • 4 fresh herb sprigs (rosemary, parsley, and thyme to garnish)
Instructions for a Southern Christmas turkey recipe

Instructions for a Southern Christmas turkey recipe

Pro tip: An Instant Pot and reusable strainer bag are super helpful for this recipe!

  1. Remove the Instant Pot lid and turn on the sauté setting for 30 minutes. (30 minutes is the most you can sauté, so you’ll add more time when this time is up.) 
  2. Add the water, apples, and brown sugar to the stainless-steel inner pot with the lid off. 
  3. Place the cloves, ginger, cinnamon sticks, pomegranate, and orange into the strainer bag, tighten the bag’s strings, and place the strainer in the inner pot.
  4. Allow the cider to simmer.
  5. When the 30 minutes is up, turn on the sauté setting for an additional 10 minutes.
  6. When cook time is finished, remove the straining bag and scoop the apples out with a slotted spoon.
  7. Mix the Famous Dave’s seasoning and the roasted garlic & herb spice in a small bowl to create a Southern spice rub for the turkey.
  8. Place the turkey in a deep-dish roasting pan.
  9. Spoon onto the turkey a bit of the apple cider brine, so it’s not dry, then rub on and coat the whole chicken with the Southern spice rub mixture.
  10. Lift the turkey to rub the seasoning on the bottom of the bird.
  11. Transfer the apple cider by pouring it into the deep-dish pan with the turkey in it for roasting.
  12. You may want to add a little more of the seasoning rub in the places where it may have rinsed off when the apple cider was poured into the pan.
  13. Then place the turkey on the lower rack in the oven, uncovered.
  14. Oven-roast the turkey at 350 degrees F for 1 hour and 30 minutes in the apple cider brine.
  15.  Baste the turkey with the brine every 20-30 minutes during the roasting.
  16. When the cooking time is finished, remove the turkey from the oven.
  17. Baste the bird again with the pan juices brine.
  18. Let the turkey sit for 20-30 minutes before carving.
  19. Garnish this Southern Christmas turkey recipe with fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, and parsley, and apple and orange slices. 
  20. Serve this Christmas turkey recipe with giblet gravy or turkey broth on top, and enjoy!

*The stovetop method for making this apple cider turkey brine is HERE.

 

Pro tip: You can make baked apple slices with the leftover apples from the apple cider brine. Add melted butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar.

What sides go with turkey?

What sides go with turkey?

For the best Christmas sides to go with the best herb-roasted turkey, you should include the following:

What sides should you serve with turkey?

Christmas turkey recipe FAQs

How long does it take to defrost a turkey?

It can be a headache to thaw a frozen whole turkey – if you haven’t planned for this process!

So I always recommend planning ahead to avoid the frustrating part. 

If you find yourself stuck with a frozen whole turkey shortly before Thanksgiving Day, you have 3 options to thaw it.

  • Slow – Place your frozen turkey in the refrigerator for 24 hours before cooking it for a slow thawing.
  • Medium – If you have a large enough pot, you can fill it with water and place the whole turkey in it. After about an hour, the ice will start to melt, and you can safely remove the bird from its icy confines.
  • Fast – A quicker solution is to use your oven to thaw it out rapidly.

Can you cook turkey straight from the fridge?

Cooking turkey straight out of the fridge is fine. 

However, cooking a turkey brought to room temperature first is recommended. 

Why? The cooking process is faster, more even, and the meat is moister. 

So, start it out at room temperature and then put it in the oven to cook.

Can you prepare the turkey the night before?

Can you prepare the turkey the night before?

Yes, you can do anything you want with your bird! Although you don’t have to brine it overnight. 

Brining your bird for more than 24 hours will only cause the meat to soak up too much salt or other flavorings in the brine and may alter the texture and taste.

This Southern turkey recipe is easy. The homemade apple cider brine is used on the turkey as it cooks!

Would this recipe work with a Butterball turkey?

Yes, simply start with the turkey brine.

How much turkey should you plan per person?

A good rule of thumb is 1 pound of turkey per person. 

Planning for at least 1 pound per person could also leave you with turkey leftovers for your next day’s brunch or after Thanksgiving dinner – Yum!

Do you cover a turkey when roasting in the oven?

Do you cover a turkey when roasting in the oven?

If you are roasting your turkey in the oven, there is no need to cover it unless you want to keep the browning from going too far. 

Covering your turkey while roasting will only make the skin soggy, and the drippings will burn in the oven. 

Should you cover your turkey with aluminum foil?

Covering the breast will not help it cook faster or more evenly. Covering the whole turkey with foil will cause the turkey legs to cook too quickly and the breast to dry out.

To achieve a Christmas turkey with that desired crispy skin, cook your turkey uncovered on the lower rack of the oven.

Should you roast your turkey at 325 degrees F or 350 F?

Roast at 350 degrees F.

How long should you roast your turkey?

Roast for 1 hour and 30 minutes for this Christmas turkey recipe.

Do you turn the turkey in this recipe?

It’s not necessary to turn the turkey for this recipe. 

Should you baste your turkey?

Should you baste your turkey?

While roasting the turkey, baste it with the brine from the pan every 20-30 minutes to keep it moist. 

After the bird has roasted, baste it with the pan juices again once it’s removed from the oven.

How do you tell when a turkey is done?

While there are several ways to tell when your turkey is done, the most accurate is to use a meat thermometer

Set the thermometer in the thickest part of your thigh, making sure not to touch any bone. 

The optimal temperature for poultry should be 165°F. For even more accurate temperature readings, use a digital probe to measure temperatures in about two seconds! 

What temperature should you take your turkey out of the oven?

Ideally, the bird should be removed at 155° F because it continues to cook while it settles.

How long should a turkey rest after cooking?

The turkey should always rest after cooking because the meat loses juice when heated. So resting is a great way to redistribute the juices. 

After cooking, the turkey should rest for 20-30 minutes before carving. It will let the juices redistribute evenly and make for a juicy Christmas turkey!

Which is easier and better for cutting turkey, hot or cold?

As soon as your turkey has cooled down, its texture will become stiffer, making it easier to cut into thin serving slices. 

Transfer your turkey from the roasting pan to a carving board, and wait until the last minute to carve it since slices of turkey will cool off faster than the whole turkey.

Love crispy skin on roast turkey at Christmas?

How do you carve a roast turkey?

The Kitchn offers these great tips for how to carve a turkey:

  1. Separate the leg and thigh from one side.
  2. Separate the drumstick from the thigh bone.
  3. Remove the breast and wing from the same side.
  4. Repeat with the other side.
  5. Slice up the breast and thigh pieces.

Which herbs do you suggest?

Garnish this Christmas turkey recipe with fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, and parsley. And apple and orange slices!

How do you store turkey leftovers?

How do you store turkey leftovers?

Store in an airtight container, and turkey leftovers are good in the refrigerator after Christmas for 3-5 days.

Instant Pot Leftover Pulled Turkey Recipe
What can you make with leftover turkey after Thanksgiving?
Make a pulled turkey meal with holiday leftover turkey in your Instant Pot!
Check out this recipe!
Instant Pot Thanksgiving Leftover Recipe

What do you think of this Southern Christmas turkey recipe?

There’s a lot to look forward to when it comes to the Christmas menu!

My signature Southern Christmas turkey recipe involves an easy-to-make turkey brine and straightforward cooking for a moist, juicy, and flavorful bird every time!

This recipe may seem complex by name and at first glance.

But it’s an old-fashioned Southern brine recipe with flavorful hints of spicy apple cider and savory soul food seasonings! 

Get ready to win Christmas with the best bird year after year!

Have you had it?

Would you make it? 

Comment below and lemme know. 

Then subscribe HERE for all the soul food!

The Ultimate Soul Food Recipes Guide
What is soul food? Soul food recipes are African-American recipes full of flavor! A legacy of Southern cooking the Black way. Check out this collection of the best soul food recipes!
Check out this recipe!
The Ultimate Soul Food Recipes Guide

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Christmas Turkey
Christmas Turkey Recipe

Christmas Turkey Recipe

Is a mouthwatering roast turkey what you have in mind for your Christmas dinner?
Then look no further than this full-proof Christmas turkey recipe!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Boiling The Apple Cider Turkey Brine: 40 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Soul Food, Southern Food
Keyword: apple cider turkey brine, Black folks recipes, Black folks Southern turkey recipe, Christmas turkey, Christmas turkey recipe, southern food, Southern turkey recipe, Thanksgiving turkey, Thanksgiving turkey recipes
Servings: 10
Calories: 595kcal
Author: Shaunda Necole

Equipment

  • Instant Pot electric pressure cooker
  • Reusable straining bag (for the brine) – or a mesh strainer with handle
  • Deep-dish roasting pan with lid 

Ingredients

Ingredients for Black folks’ Southern turkey brine

  • 8 cups water
  • 5 apples quartered – and another apple or two to garnish (You can use a mix of tart and sweet if you like (i.e., Granny Smith, Gala, Red Delicious)
  • 1 orange with the peel on, quartered (and another orange or two to garnish)
  • 2 tablespoons ginger minced
  • 1 ½ tablespoons whole cloves
  • 1 pomegranate quartered
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 3 cinnamon sticks

Ingredients for the Southern Thanksgiving rub

  • 10 pound turkey This recipe works for a 10-15 pound turkey
  • 2 tablespoons seasoning Famous Dave’s Country Roast Chicken Seasoning, or similar
  • 2 tablespoons seasoning Weber Roasted Garlic & Herb Seasoning, or similar
  • ½ cup parsley fresh & finely chopped to garnish
  • 4 sprigs herbs fresh herbs like rosemary, parsley & thyme to garnish

Instructions

  • Pro tip: An Instant Pot and reusable strainer bag are super helpful for this recipe!
  • Remove the Instant Pot lid and turn on the sauté setting for 30 minutes. (30 minutes is the most you can sauté, so you’ll add more time when this time is up.)
  • Add the water, apples, and brown sugar to the stainless-steel inner pot with the lid off.
  • Place the cloves, ginger, cinnamon sticks, pomegranate, and orange into the strainer bag, tighten the bag’s strings, and place the strainer in the inner pot.
  • Allow the cider to simmer.
  • When the 30 minutes is up, turn on the sauté setting for an additional 10 minutes.
  • When cook time is finished, remove the straining bag and scoop the apples out with a slotted spoon.
  • Mix the Famous Dave’s seasoning and the roasted garlic & herb spice in a small bowl to create a Southern spice rub for the turkey.
  • Place the turkey in a deep-dish roasting pan.
  • Spoon onto the turkey a bit of the apple cider brine, so it’s not dry, then rub on and coat the whole chicken with the Southern spice rub mixture.
  • Lift the turkey to rub the seasoning on the bottom of the bird.
  • Transfer the apple cider by pouring it into the deep-dish pan with the turkey in it for roasting.
  • You may want to add a little more of the seasoning rub in the places where it may have rinsed off when the apple cider was poured into the pan.
  • Then place the turkey on the lower rack in the oven, uncovered.
  • Oven-roast the turkey at 350 degrees F for 1 hour and 30 minutes in the apple cider brine.
  • Baste the turkey with the brine every 20-30 minutes during the roasting.
  • When the cooking time is finished, remove the turkey from the oven.
  • Baste the bird again with the pan juices brine.
  • Let the turkey sit for 20-30 minutes before carving.
  • Garnish this Southern Christmas turkey recipe with fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, and parsley, and apple and orange slices.
  • Serve Christmas turkey with giblet gravy or turkey broth on top, and enjoy!

Video

Notes

You can make baked apple slices with the leftover apples from the apple cider brine. Add melted butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar.

Nutrition

Calories: 595kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 71g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 232mg | Sodium: 380mg | Potassium: 1032mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 26g | Vitamin A: 658IU | Vitamin C: 18mg | Calcium: 177mg | Iron: 6mg
Save it so you can make it!Pin this recipe to remember it later.
Nutrition Facts
Christmas Turkey Recipe
Amount per Serving
Calories
595
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
19
g
29
%
Saturated Fat
 
5
g
31
%
Trans Fat
 
1
g
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
5
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
6
g
Cholesterol
 
232
mg
77
%
Sodium
 
380
mg
17
%
Potassium
 
1032
mg
29
%
Carbohydrates
 
36
g
12
%
Fiber
 
7
g
29
%
Sugar
 
26
g
29
%
Protein
 
71
g
142
%
Vitamin A
 
658
IU
13
%
Vitamin C
 
18
mg
22
%
Calcium
 
177
mg
18
%
Iron
 
6
mg
33
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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