Turkey Basting Ideas

Pampering your bird with basting.

I find it hard to simply put the turkey in and leave it alone.  I’d rather create some flavorful basting and check in on the bird periodically and give it ‘touch up.’ Not only does basting keep the bird moist and add a variety of flavors, but it also sets the stage for some incredible gravy.  Over the years, I’ve tried a few ‘recipes’ and techniques. And, there are many more I’d like to try. As you prepare for Thanksgiving Week, the LivePretty team wanted to share some of those thoughts, and ask what your favorite basting techniques are.


A beautiful basting foundation

A beautiful basting foundation


Butter and Herbs – For the Traditionalists.
With no exact measurements in hand, I simply combine butter and savory herbs with salt and pepper. Melt with chicken stock and set aside.  Now you have a rich, buttery basting juice to add throughout the cooking process.  The butter keeps the skin brown and crisp.


Add a Basting Blanket
Further pampering – and additional deliciousness – can be achieved by covering your bird with a soaked cheese cloth. With the basting sauce above, I add a cheese cloth to the mixture – let it soak up all the goodness for about 15 minutes.  Then, I baste the bird once (to get all the spices directly on the bird) cover the bird with the ‘blanket’ and use the remaining sauce to baste throughout the cooking process.  NOTE:  If you find yourself running low on basting sauce, simply add more butter, herbs and broth.  It’s a no fail approach.


Orange Marmalade and Chardonnay
A friend shared this approach and I used this basting sauce for years. It’s one of those recipes that just happens, and then becomes a ‘make-again.’

Make a 2-1 combo of marmalade and chardonnay. 1 cup marmalade to 2 (or 3) cups chardonnay will work.  Don’t worry about exact measurements.  Simply create a thick basting sauce to use throughout the day. Add salt and pepper to your liking. This basting sauce creates a not-too-sweet gravy foundation. Note: our rule, use the chardonnay you would drink.


Kickin’ Chicken Cocktail
Throughout the years I’ve experienced with adding a bit of bourbon here and there (in recipes…).  While I have not yet written an exact recipe, this might give you some ideas.

Cup of Wild Turkey (aka Kickin’ Chicken)
Tablespoon honey
Cup of apple juice
2-3 cups chicken broth
Salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients and use throughout the cooking process. Again, as I usually do, I don’t have a recipe, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t mess it up using these ‘safe’ ingredients. Sounds like some great gravy is going to happen with this one.


A Christmas Story Basting Sauce
Favoring Asian flavors is something I do quite a bit while cooking. Often I will add the following ingredients as marinades and cooking sauces. I know it’s not Ralphie’s Christmas duck, but worth a try for our turkey.

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup honey
1 cup orange juice
Tsp grated ginger
2-3 cups chicken broth

By combining these ingredients, you’re going to create a rich sweet basting sauce that will nicely brown the bird.

I know a lot of pressure comes with this day, but you can have fun. If you’re not comfortable experimenting on this day (which I can understand), try it while baking a chicken – you have some time.  Or, try many throughout the year and you may just have a new approach for Thanksgiving.


Your Thanksgiving Turkey.

Your Thanksgiving Turkey.

Check out these other tips while cooking your turkey this year.

Enjoy! Happy Thanksgiving.





Combining his love of food and communications, Rod is a marketing guru with extensive experience in the healthcare, restaurant and luxury services industry. Rod’s special talent is cooking. He makes magic in the kitchen by relying on fresh foods and unique flavors. He is married to Beth, and together they have two little girls. Rod and Beth have the perfect Live Pretty partnership: he cooks fabulous dishes and she creates the beautiful ambiance that combines to make their events special and unforgettable.

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