What kind of herbs and spices do you use when you are cooking a turkey? Thank you.

  • Posted by: Irina
  • November 4, 2019


PHIL November 4, 2019
Sage, Rosemary and thyme. I spatchcock my turkey so the herbs mixed with butter get chopped and put under the skin
Mrs B. November 4, 2019
I like fresh thyme, and marjoram if I can get it (not so easy in this climate, where the frost decimated my marjoram a few weeks ago) - whether using this simple method https://food52.com/recipes/19394-spatchcocked-roast-turkey or any other. (I have been doing this since discovering it when Virant's book came out - https://food52.com/recipes/74224-paul-virant-s-make-ahead-roasted-turkey-with-smothered-gravy ).

Either way, I always use a bay leaf in the turkey stock I make for gravy and soup, and often roast the bird with a few bay leaves as well, to scent the drippings. Best gravy around, the recipe for which also features a turkey stock recipe, is this one: https://food52.com/recipes/7530-make-ahead-turkey-gravy.

I figure, you've got other outstanding opportunities for showcasing herbs, e.g., stuffing with sage, thyme and rosemary, so why not just keep the bird somewhat simple?

I'm looking forward to seeing other members' answers.
Nancy November 5, 2019
Mrs Beryl Patmore - I very much like this idea of keeping the herbs more or less separate, to highlight flavors (and not have all dishes tasting similar). I can see a menu of:
• Brussels sprouts with black pepper.
• cranberry sauce or chutney with sage;
• potatoes with garlic and/or parsley.
• stuffing with onion and thyme
• turkey roasted with lemon or orange in the cavity and some rosemary.
AntoniaJames November 5, 2019
+ bay leaf in cranberry sauce: https://food52.com/recipes/24974-bay-scented-cranberry-sauce

Bay is a wonderful crossover herb - it goes nicely with certain flavors generally considered sweet, such as vanilla (that combination goes back many centuries).

Bay doesn't really taste like an herb with cranberries. It just makes the sauce taste better. ;o)
Nancy November 5, 2019
AJ - yes, agree. N
Gammy November 5, 2019
I MUST try this! Never head of bay leaves and cranberries, but use bay all the time. Thanks for the tip!
AntoniaJames November 5, 2019
If you use bay all the time, you will love this. Let me know what you think! (please) ;o)
AntoniaJames November 6, 2019
Gammy, I just looked at the recipe again. In recent years, I've taken a few shortcuts. I'll edit the recipe when I have time, but in case I don't get to it, any time soon, here are updated instructions, using the same quantities of ingredients:

Note: Like any cranberry sauce, this tastes best if it has a chance to sit for at least three or four days. I’ve drafted this to require a minimum of two days before serving. In a pinch, you can make it the night before, but it won’t be quite as tasty.

Put the dried fruit and bay leaves in a medium-sized, heavy, non-reactive saucepan with 1 ½ cups of filtered water. Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce the heat and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover the pan, and let it sit for at least another 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, wash and coarsely chop half of the cranberries. A few pulses in a food processor, or simply rough chopping with a knife, will do.

When the soaking dried fruit have sat for at least 10 minutes, add the chopped cranberries and sugar. Simmer for 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently, to prevent scorching and to ensure that the sugar dissolves. Cool, cover and refrigerate overnight, or up to 4 days.

A day or so before you want to serve it, bring the sauce to a boil, add the remaining cranberries, turn the heat down and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Test for sweetness, adding more sugar if necessary, simmering for another 5 minutes if do, stirring frequently.

Cool, remove the bay leaves, cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.

If there are any leftovers, store in a tightly lidded container. This will hold for another week or so in the fridge.

I use a few tablespoons of this as the base for one of my favorite vinaigrettes, adding red wine vinegar, olive oil and salt to taste. It's perfect for Thanksgiving weekend salad - especially a Waldorf-y turkey salad made with celery, apple, parsley and toasted walnuts., and a small dollop of mayo to hold it all together.

Recommended by Food52