Black Folks Southern Turkey Recipe

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Meet my family’s favorite Thanksgiving dish – Black folks Southern turkey recipe!

Black Folks Southern turkey is a soul food treat that will have your mouth watering from the first bite.

It has all the qualities of a great soul food dish. Especially for a soul food Thanksgiving menu or a fantastic Christmas dinner feast. And bonus – this Southern turkey is easy to make! 

The flavor of this bird rivals any other you’ve tried. This festive recipe has always been the star of our holiday table!

Black Folks Southern Turkey Recipe

What is a Black folks’ Southern turkey recipe?

Crispy skin and moist, juicy, flavorful meat – that’s what embodies a Black folk turkey recipe. Atlanta folks might call it a soul food “dirty bird!”

My signature recipe for Black folks Southern turkey will have your hungry bunch gobbling up this Southern specialty in no time! 

It’s one of our family’s favorites that gets devoured in minutes at Thanksgiving dinner

Warning: There will be no turkey leftovers for the next meal!

 

What is the secret to a moist turkey?

The secret to a flavorful, juicy Southern bird is all in my signature apple cider brine!  It’s the beautiful fragrant marinade the turkey is roasted in. 

My family loves my Southern turkey recipe because it’s so moist, juicy, and flavorful. It’s also simple for anyone to make – so don’t be afraid of cooking the turkey yourself this year! (I might make the dish, but my husband still does the carving!)

Famous Dave’s Country Roast Chicken Seasoning and Weber’s Roasted Garlic & Herb Seasoning are two of my favorite seasonings that’ll make your life easier when making this recipe. These two seasonings are among the best to yield an authentic Southern soul food flavor boost.

What always surprises me about this recipe is how it keeps getting better every time we eat it! 

So don’t let November go by without making this easy, mouthwatering recipe! 

Southern Turkey Recipe

 

Kitchen equipment for Black folks’ Southern turkey recipe

Shop my kitchenware HERE!

Southern Turkey Brine Ingredients

Ingredients for Black folks’ Southern turkey 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
Apple Cider Turkey Brine
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!
Black Folks Southern Turkey Recipe Southern Thanksgiving Rub and Brine

Ingredients for the Southern Thanksgiving 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, 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)

 

Black Folks Southern Turkey Brine Recipe

Instructions for Black folks Southern Thanksgiving 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 the cooking time is finished, remove the straining bag and scoop out the apples 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 that 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 as well. 
  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 soul food recipe, Black folks Southern Thanksgiving turkey with fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, or parsley and apple and orange slices. 
  20. Serve Black folks Southern roasted turkey with giblet gravy or turkey broth on top, and enjoy!

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

🎙 Listen to The Soul Food Pod episode: Black Folks Southern Turkey Recipe

Or, if you don’t need a whole turkey, try this delicious turkey leg recipe HERE, soul food turkey wings recipe HERE, or my Southern turkey breast recipe 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 do you serve with this Black folks' Southern turkey recipe?

What do you serve with this Black folks’ Southern turkey recipe?

A soul food Thanksgiving menu traditionally includes Black folks Southern candied yams (sweet potatoes ), or Southern mashed potatoes. Or maybe a sweet potato casserole.

You’ll definitely find Black folks Southern baked mac and cheeseSouthern green beansSouthern cornbread dressing, or Black folks chicken and dressing.

Plus, Black folks cranberry sauce, soul food collard greens, and baked apple slices.

And Black folks homemade skillet cornbread (or sweet cornbread), creamed corn puddingsweet potato pie, and even purple sweet potato pie!

Don’t forget the hot sauce!

Soul Food Southern Turkey Recipe

Southern turkey recipe the soul food way FAQs

Should you salt a brined turkey?

Even though store-bought turkeys are often pre-brined with salt for tenderness, seasoning with salt or seasoning salt is still necessary.

Turkey meat has no spectacular flavor on its own. So, it’s essential to pump up your roast turkey with complementary flavors. 

While most brines are salt brines, not all of them are. Salt is still needed (even in the poultry seasoning) to season the turkey for this recipe.

Southern Turkey

What kind of turkey should you cook?

While all turkeys can be cooked to turn out well, there’s a difference between them. Frozen turkeys from regular grocery stores have often been treated with preservatives. 

It would be best to go for heritage turkey or a turkey from an ethically-sourced store to have minimal processing and no added preservatives. 

Can you inject the turkey?

Reviews of the best turkey recipes seem to indicate that injecting a turkey with broth and spices is an excellent way to make your holiday meal delicious. It’s not needed for this recipe because you cook this Southern bird directly in the beautiful apple cider brine!

How do you keep the turkey warm?

You can use a deep dish that has a lid for your turkey. So once it’s out of the oven, you can place the top on it after serving to keep the heat trapped inside. 

If you don’t have a dish with a lid, use aluminum foil to cover the roast turkey.

Should you cover the turkey when cooking?

To achieve crispy skin, cook your turkey uncovered on the lower rack of the oven.

How To Make A Southern Thanksgiving Turkey The Black Way

What size turkey do you need?

This recipe is for an average size turkey of 10-15 pounds.

How do you thaw a whole turkey?

It doesn’t have to be a headache to thaw a frozen whole turkey! Especially with planning ahead to avoid the defrosting 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 to finish thawing.

Fast – A quicker solution (but not the most preferred choice) is to use your oven to thaw it out rapidly – although this will require a lot of checking in on the turkey!

Black Folks Turkey Recipe

How much turkey per person?

A good rule of thumb is 1 pound of turkey per person, so you know you have enough on hand and don’t run out too early in the evening. 

Planning for at least 1 pound per person will also possibly leave you with turkey leftovers for your next day brunch or dinner – Yum!

How do you know when your 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 the thigh, making sure not to touch any of the turkey’s bones.

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

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

What type of Southern seasoning is best to use?

There are many different types of Southern and soul food seasonings that you can use on a turkey. But which one will be most flavorful: Creole seasoning, Cajun seasoning, salt and black pepper, or an all-purpose season-all?

The seasoning for this recipe was carefully selected.

It’s tried and true – exactly what I use in my house year after year because of the soulful flavors: Paprika, mustard seed, garlic powder, onion powder, bell pepper, lemon zest, apple cider essence, and dried herbs.

How to season a turkey for the best flavor?

Soul food cooking tipsWhat can you put in your turkey for flavor?

  • The first thing you should know about cooking with soul: garlic is not a substitute for flavor. Dahhlinggg, you need salt or seasoning salt!
  • Most soul food recipes are Southern, but not every Southern recipe is soul food! So, combinations of fresh or dried herbs, salt & pepper, paprika, mustard seed, garlic powder, onion powder, bell pepper, lemon zest, apple cider essence, or your favorite season-salt are all great for a flavorful turkey.
What is the best way to cook a turkey without drying it out?

What is the best way to cook a turkey without drying it out?

Cooking the turkey in this apple cider brine is an easy and efficient way to avoid a dry turkey because the turkey cooks in the brine, and you baste it every 20-30 minutes during the roasting.

What will happen if you brine your turkey for 24 hours?

Can you brine a turkey for 24 hours? 

Yes, you can do anything you want with your bird! Although I wouldn’t recommend brining it for this long. 

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!

How long do you cook a turkey in a conventional oven?

For this recipe, oven-roast the turkey at 350 degrees F for 1 hour and 30 minutes, basting it every 30 minutes. 

Can you use this Southern turkey recipe with chicken instead of turkey?

Yes, and the chicken recipe is HERE.

Along with a few more chicken recipes you may love:

Instant Pot whole chicken the Southern way

Instant Pot lemon herb chicken the Kamala Harris way

Also…

This apple cider hot toddy recipe

What can you put in your turkey for flavor?

What do you think of this Black folks’ Southern turkey recipe?

There’s a lot to look forward to when it comes to a Thanksgiving turkey!

My signature Southern Thanksgiving 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 Thanksgiving 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
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!

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Southern Turkey Recipe The Soul Food Way
Black Folks Southern Turkey Recipe

Southern Turkey Recipe The Soul Food Way

Crispy skin and moist, juicy, flavorful meat – that's what embodies a Black folks Southern turkey recipe!
An exceptional addition for your soul food Thanksgiving menu.
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
Servings: 10
Calories: 595kcal

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 the cooking time is finished, remove the straining bag and scoop out the apples 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 that 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 as well.
  • 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 soul food recipe, Black folks Southern Thanksgiving turkey with fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, or parsley and apple and orange slices.
  • Serve Black folks Southern roasted 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.
Black Folks Southern Turkey Recipe Card

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
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10 Comments

  1. How I wish we have Thanksgiving Day too, to gather and eat mouth watering recipes likes this one!

  2. 5 stars
    Yes right! There’s always something to celebrate.

  3. elizabeth says:

    5 stars
    Just wondering how 1.5 hours is enough when the time on the bird calls for 2.5-3hours

    1. 5 stars
      Thanks for asking! A reminder that this recipe & cook time works for a 10-15 pound turkey.

    2. My turkey says 4 hours at 14lbs, I was wondering the same thing! I’ll check it at 1.5 hrs and if the thermometer pops up, I’ll eat it

  4. Roger Graben says:

    5 stars
    Is the turkey hot (as in spicy hot)?