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Food Hacks

You’ve Been Basting Your Thanksgiving Turkey Wrong! Try Using This Liquid Instead


The mouthwatering smell of roasted turkey wafting through my home on Thanksgiving day is something I look forward to every year. I love checking on it as it’s cooking and pouring stock, melted butter, and meat juices over the golden brown skin. As a home cook, this is the only way I’ve ever basted a turkey. But I recently learned that if you use wine instead, you’ll get an extra moist bird with a sweet, caramelized glaze.

Basting is a key step in the turkey roasting process to ensure that the meat stays juicy and moist. Usually this means grabbing a turkey baster or pastry brush and spreading the cooking liquid from the bottom of the roasting pan across the skin. Recipes often call for doing this step a few times as it’s roasting.

While basting the turkey throughout the cooking process is meant to keep the meat from drying out, constantly opening the oven causes the heat to escape. This can result in the bird needing more time to cook than suggested in the recipe and the turkey losing some of its juiciness. A little counterintuitive, no?

Now we’re not saying that you shouldn’t baste your upcoming holiday meal. However, consider basting it once with wine as a “one-and-done” glaze that’ll leave the skin with a brown finish. This way you’ll have a picture perfect Thanksgiving turkey that tastes delicious and wows your friends and family!

What do you baste turkey with when baking?

Wine professional, Tali Dalbaha shared with Insider that she recommends ditching traditional basting liquid like stock or butter and going for a sweet wine instead. Sweeter wines such as rosé and moscato contain sugar, which will caramelize as it’s roasting due to the heat from the oven. You’ll be left with a yummy turkey that she describes as having a golden, honey-like glaze.

If you’re looking to not only add sweetness but also citrusy and aromatic notes to your turkey, she suggests using an ice wine. These wines are considered dessert wines and include Vidal blanc and riesling. She adds that they offer a sugary yet complex taste, which makes them ideal for basting your turkey and enjoying with dessert.

Whichever sweet wine you choose, Dalbaha says you should pour half a bottle of it over the turkey skin when it’s halfway done cooking. Then, place the bird back in the oven and allow it to finish roasting. Cooking times will vary depending on how big your turkey is. But, the editors at Allrecipes highlight that unstuffed turkeys should cook at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 13 minutes per pound and stuffed turkeys need 15 minutes per pound at the same oven temperature. Once it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, remove it from the oven and let it rest for at least 30 minutes before carving. 

This simple trick saves you lots of time and energy so that you’re not frequently basting the turkey. Plus, it produces tasty results that’ll make you want to gobble up any extra turkey the next day. Especially if you’re looking to pile those leftovers high to make a killer Thanksgiving sandwich!

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