Cider Glazed Turkey

Preparing a turkey is not nearly as difficult as you would think.  Seriously people, don’t be afraid of the turkey.

This was my first time making the turkey for thanksgiving.  I’ve prepared turkey breasts, and thighs before.  Never before had I roasted an entire turkey.  This one was just shy of 20 pounds.  And the oven I roasted it in was not the best in the world.  However, that didn’t matter.

When it was pulled from the oven and sat waiting for carving, people who poked their heads in the kitchen oohed and ahhed.  R even commented that he was pleasantly surprised by how tasty this turkey was.

So, what is the key?  From this experience I would say it’s basting and buttering.  Before the turkey went in I rubbed about2 sticks of butter under and over the turkey’s skin.  The butter that was rubbed under the skin had a bit of sage and thyme incorporated in, which roasted the flavoring right into the meat.  In the cavity I put some of the stuffing and a ladle of the cider glaze.  The turkey sat on a bed of carrots and celery, so it stayed out of the juices and didn’t get soggy.

For the first two hours I basted just with the turkey’s own juices about every half an hour.  At the 2 hour mark I poured two ladles full of the cider glaze over the turkey and used that to bast it.  Every 15 minutes I basted with a combination of the turkey drippings and the cider glaze.  Initially the turkey sat on it’s breasts, allowing the breast to absorb a good portion of the turkey drippings.  For the final hour I flipped over the turkey (well, R flipped it) to allow the skin around the breast to crisp up.

Some tips for next year:

Make sure you have string.  The turkey I bought had a small packet that included instructions and what I thought was a bit of string.  It was string, but it was made to wrap around the turkey to help lift it from the roasting pan to the carving board.  So I got inventive and double tied it around the legs to keep them in place.

Prep the veggies for the stuffing the evening before.  I chopped all of the vegetables for the pan and the stuffing just before prepping the turkey.  I panics for a few minutes that the turkey wouldn’t get into the oven in time.  Cutting veggies is something that could be done the night before to take some stress out of the day.

Overall it was a great first time making a turkey, and a great techs-giving.

Cider-Glazed Turkey
adapted from Real Simple

7 cups apple cider
3 1/2 Tbsp cider vinegar
7 Tbsp butter, at room temperature
6 stalks celery, halved crosswise
6 carrots, halved crosswise
1 20 pound turkey, thawed, giblets removed and patted dry
8 Tbsp butter
10 sprigs sage
10 sprigs thyme
3 cups stuffing
1 apple, diced

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Make the cider glaze (can be done in advance and refrigerated): In a pot, boil the cider until reduced to 2 cups.  Add the vinegar, 7 tbsp butter, 2 tsp salt, and 1 tsp pepper and stir until the butter has melted.

At the same time, in a large roasting pan, scatter the celery and carrots; add 2 cups water.  Stuff the turkey cavity with stuffing, apple, and 4 sprigs each of sage and thyme.  Rub under and over the skin of the turkey with 8 tbsp butter mixing in the remaining sage and thyme.  Tie the legs together with twine and the wings to the body.  Place the turkey, breast side down, on top of the vegetables.

Roast the turkey, basting every 30 minutes with the pan juices for the first 2 hours.  After 2 hours, bast every 15 minutes with the cider glaze.  Continue roasting until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees F.  (If the bird begins to brown too much, tent loosely with foil.  If vegetables begin to scorch add additional water to the pan.)

Once the bird is full cooked, remove from oven.  Carefully tilt the turkey to empty juices into the pan.  Transfer to a cutting board, let rest under a loose foil tent for 30 minutes to an hour before carving.  Cut up vegetables and reserve the juices for gravy.  Enjoy!

Leave a comment


  1. Well – isn’t that a delicious looking turkey! Congratulations on your first roasted bird – I’d say it was a rousing success! I keep a ball of kitchen twine at all times – like duct tape – it’s darn handy to have around!

  2. hiddenoffstage

     /  December 6, 2011

    Kitchen twine is getting added to my must have kitchen list.


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