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It wouldn’t really be a true Thanksgiving without turkey. Unfortunately, it’s often cooked poorly and is not that delicious, but if there isn’t a bird on the table there will be mutiny. So if you’re looking for something new to do to the turkey—or for a fool-proof classic recipe—we’ve got you covered with these 11 turkey recipes from traditional to trippy.

Some add flavor, some cut down the oven time, and some are just fun to try. Just keep it classic for the first year with the in-laws. Then you can fly free and focus on the Thanksgiving sides.

As for the best place to buy your bird? Depends on what you want, but here are a few options: order online (including pasture-raised turkeys); snag a free turkey through BJ’s or ButcherBox; or if you’re an Amazon Prime member, get turkey discounts at Whole Foods.

1. Classic Roast Turkey

how to cook a turkey roast turkey recipe


This is the bird that is perfect to present to your table of guests. It looks great, you get to admire it through the oven glass, and no one will be disappointed. Total crowd-pleaser. Just don’t forget to leave enough time to thaw it. Get our Classic Roast Turkey recipe.

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Related Reading: 11 Kitchen Gadgets That Make Thanksgiving Dinner Easier

2. Smoked Turkey

smoked turkey recipe (smoking tips)


No, not the turkey disaster of ’98, this one is supposed to taste smoky. A great way to get some flavor into the bird and free up oven space, but it’s a strong statement to your guests. Also requires an outdoor grill. Get our Smoked Turkey recipe, and see some pitmaster tips on how to smoke meat, plus suggestions on what to serve with smoked turkey.

3. Turkey Two Ways (Roasted Breast and Confit Turkey Legs)

Thanksgiving turkey recipe

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Why cook a turkey one way when you can do two? A gourmet’s alternative to a plain old roasted bird: brined, roasted breast and the legs cooked confit-style. Guaranteed to impress those in-laws. Get our Turkey Two Ways (Roasted Breast and Confit Turkey Legs) recipe.

4. Easy Brined Turkey with Cream Gravy

easy brined turkey with cream gravy


Brining a turkey yields consistently juicy, perfectly seasoned results, but the method can seem like an ordeal, hoisting the turkey into a chest cooler to cure out in the garage. Our recipe suggests using your refrigerator’s crisper drawer which makes brining virtually hassle-free. Get our Easy Brined Turkey with Cream Gravy recipe. (Or try our Dry-Brined Turkey recipe instead and avoid dealing with gallons of sloshing liquid.)

5. Bacon-Wrapped Turkey

bacon wrapped turkey recipe


Bacon has jumped the shark in the food-verse, but probably not in your parents’ house. So why not—on a day dedicated to eating allofthethings—just go for it. Get our Bacon-Wrapped Turkey recipe.

6. Deep-Fried Turkey with Southern Rub

Succulent and juicy, with a perfect crispy skin, this one is worth the trouble. It’s fun, it gets everyone outside (and out of the way!) for a bit, and it’s drop-dead easy. It is also a little dangerous if you don’t pay attention, so be sure to read all our tips and rules! Get our Deep-Fried Turkey recipe.

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Related Reading: Tips & Tricks for Deep Frying Turkey Safely

7. Buffalo Roasted Turkey with Blue Cheese Sauce

Buffalo Turkey recipe


Like wings writ large, this buffalo-sauce-slathered turkey with creamy blue cheese sauce in place of gravy is an unexpected and delicious twist that may shock traditionalists but should delight anyone who thinks this bird is boring. Get our Buffalo Roasted Turkey with Blue Cheese Sauce recipe.

8. Turchetta

porchetta style turkey roulade recipe


You know who you are, craft queens and cooking chemistry dynamos. This one’s for you. If you think you might end up with a #nailedit joke, have a backup plan. But if you do pull it off? Heroic and delicious. Get our Turchetta recipe. (Also great for an Italian themed Friendsgiving.)

9. Turkey Cake

Thanksgiving Turkey Cake


I am obligated by my editors to include this one, but please, do not make this. Some creations cannot be unwrought. Have mercy. Get our Turkey Cake recipe. If you dare.

10. Spatchcocked Turkey with Butternut Squash Stuffing

Spatchcocked Turkey recipe


For the is-it-done-yet crowd, this is the fastest way to cook your bird in the oven. And the breast stays unfathomably moist while the legs cook through. Pro tip: Get thee some kitchen shears. Get our Spatchcocked Turkey recipe (there’s a video at the link to walk you through it).

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11. Instant Pot Turkey

It is one of the ur-appliances, after all (and most air fryers can’t fit an entire turkey). If you pick a smaller bird, you can prepare a whole turkey in a pressure cooker, and while it’s not pretty straight out of the pot, it is tender, juicy, and delicious. Broiling helps brown and crisp the skin before serving. Get the Instant Pot Turkey recipe.

Related Reading: Be Thankful for These Keto Instant Pot Thanksgiving Recipes

No matter which you choose, the leftovers will be the best part. Happy Thanksgiving.

For more Thanksgiving tips, hacks, and recipes, check out our Ultimate Thanksgiving Guide.​

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Vanessa W. Simmons is a former cook living in San Francisco, helping to run a food business. She’s probably hungry, but if not she could eat.
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