Whole roasted turkey with crispy skin, basted with olive oil and herbs, ready for a holiday feast.

Revitalize Your Turkey: Olive Oil Basting Recipe

Basting a turkey with olive oil can transform your holiday dinner into a juicy, delicious feast that guests won't soon forget. Not only can olive oil provide incredible flavor and crispy skin, but it also stands as a heart-healthy alternative to traditional fats like butter or lard.

The technique of basting, which involves periodically spooning, brushing, or pouring juices over the turkey as it cooks, not only helps brown the skin but also infuses it with a rich, herbaceous flavor.

Despite common belief, basting does not necessarily keep the turkey moist; the key to succulence lies in the careful monitoring of cooking times to prevent overcooking.

In this article, you will discover how to prepare your turkey for olive oil basting, crafting the perfect basting mixture, and various techniques to ensure you achieve the perfect roast. We will also cover cooking times, temperatures, and some expert tips for serving and presentation.

Unlock the secrets to a showstopping turkey! Grab your bottle of extra virgin olive oil and get basting! 

Whether you are questioning if it's better to use olive oil or butter on your turkey, or pondering over the best oil to rub on turkey, this olive oil turkey recipe guide aims to answer your queries and more. Dive into the world of basting a turkey with olive oil, a method that promises to elevate your turkey from simply good to absolutely memorable.

Preparing Your Turkey for Basting

A step-by-step image showing a turkey being rubbed with olive oil and herbs for a flavorful and moist roast.

Before you embark on the journey of basting your turkey with olive oil, preparing it correctly is crucial for achieving that perfect blend of flavors and textures. Here's how to get your turkey ready for a memorable feast:

Brining Your Turkey:

  • Wet Brine: For a succulent turkey, consider a wet brine. You'll need:
    • A large brining bag
    • Water, salt, and sugar as the base
    • Aromatics: peppercorns, fresh herbs (like rosemary and thyme), onion, garlic
    • Citrus: lemon slices for a zesty touch
    • A splash of white wine for depth
    • Submerge your turkey in this mixture overnight in the refrigerator. This process helps infuse flavor and moisture.
  • Dry Brine: If you prefer a less messy option, dry brining is your go-to:
    • Mix kosher salt with a little baking powder.
    • Rub this mixture all over your turkey, including under the skin.
    • Let it rest in the fridge, uncovered, for 1-2 days. This method enhances flavor and helps achieve crispy skin.

Preparing for Roasting:

  • Spatchcocking: Consider spatchcocking (removing the backbone) your turkey before dry brining. This allows for faster and more even cooking.
  • Stuffing: Instead of traditional stuffing, fill the cavity with:
    • Orange and lemon pieces
    • Green onions
    • Fresh thyme and sage leaves (about 1 tbsp each) This approach ensures even cooking and infuses the meat with aromatic flavors.
  • Coating: Before roasting, coat your turkey with a mixture of:
    • Herbed butter or olive oil for richness
    • Salt and pepper for seasoning This layer adds flavor and helps achieve that coveted golden-brown skin.

Additional Tips:

  • Turkey Selection: Opt for a fresh, free-range turkey over a frozen one for better moisture retention.
  • Preparation: Let the turkey sit at room temperature for 30 to 60 minutes before roasting. Pat it dry with paper towels to promote even caramelization.
  • Roasting Pan: Use a roasting pan with a rack to ensure heat circulates evenly around the turkey.
  • Avoid Overstuffing: Cooking the turkey unstuffed allows for a more even cook and better taste. If you prefer stuffing, consider cooking it separately.

By following these preparatory steps, your turkey will be perfectly primed for basting with olive oil, ensuring a roast that's not only flavorful and moist but also beautifully presented.

Crafting the Perfect Olive Oil Basting Mixture

Crafting the perfect olive oil basting mixture is a crucial step in ensuring your turkey is both flavorful and moist. Here's how to prepare various mixtures that will elevate your turkey to the next level:

Garlic-Infused Olive Oil

  • Preparation: Begin by placing olive oil in a small bowl. Add crushed garlic to the oil and let it sit for a few minutes to infuse the flavors.
  • Cooking: Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and simmer over low heat for about 5 minutes. This process will deepen the garlic flavor in the oil.
  • Cooling: Allow the oil to cool completely before using it to baste your turkey. This garlic-infused oil adds a rich, garlicky flavor that complements the natural taste of the turkey.

Herb and Citrus Basting Mixture

  • Ingredients:
    • Olive oil
    • Fresh orange juice
    • Fresh thyme leaves
    • Fresh sage
    • Minced garlic
    • Salt and pepper
  • Method: Combine all ingredients in a bowl, adjusting quantities to taste. The citrus from the orange juice adds a bright note to the turkey, while the herbs and garlic provide depth and aroma.

Lemon and Herb Basting Mixture

  • Components:
    • Lemon juice
    • Chicken broth
    • Olive oil
    • Dried herbs (such as thyme, sage, and parsley)
  • Application: Mix these ingredients in a bowl. Baste the turkey every 30 minutes with this mixture. The acidity from the lemon juice helps to break down the fats, allowing the olive oil and herbs to penetrate deeper into the meat, ensuring a juicy and flavorful roast.

Remember, for a crispier skin, olive oil can be rubbed under the turkey's skin before roasting. This method not only flavors the meat from the inside but also helps in achieving that golden-brown, crispy exterior that is highly sought after in a perfectly roasted turkey.

Basting Techniques for the Perfect Roast

To achieve the perfect roast with your turkey, employing proper basting techniques is essential. Basting not only contributes to a juicy breast but also provides a golden-brown, crispy skin that is visually appealing and delicious. Here are some techniques to ensure your turkey is basted to perfection:

  • Hourly Basting with Juices:
    • Start by basting your turkey with the juices collected at the bottom of the pan at least every hour. This process helps maintain moisture on the surface of the turkey, contributing to a crispy skin.
    • Use a turkey baster or a large spoon to collect and distribute the juices evenly over the turkey, focusing on the breast area which tends to dry out more quickly.
  • Intensified Basting in the Final Hour:
    • In the last hour of cooking, increase the basting frequency to every 30 minutes. If you've been using a cheesecloth, this is the time to remove it to allow the skin to crisp up.
    • Consider basting with additional melted butter or olive oil during these intervals for an extra layer of flavor and to encourage a beautifully bronzed exterior.
  • Techniques for Effective Basting:
    • Using a Baster or Spoon: While a turkey baster is traditionally used for this task, a large spoon or ladle can be equally effective. The key is to gently drench the turkey in its cooking liquids without disrupting the skin.
    • Loosening the Skin: For deeper flavor infusion, carefully loosen the skin of the turkey at the breast and apply your olive oil herb mixture directly onto the meat. This technique allows the flavors to penetrate more deeply and helps keep the meat moist without puncturing the skin.
    • Confit Preparation: For a unique twist, consider the method of confiting part of the turkey, such as the legs. Season and cook these pieces in olive oil at a low temperature before roasting at a high heat for a crispy finish.

Remember, the goal of basting is not only to enhance flavor but also to achieve the ideal texture in both the meat and skin of your turkey. By following these techniques and adjusting based on the size and type of your turkey, you'll ensure a moist, flavorful, and visually stunning centerpiece for your holiday feast.

Cooking Times and Temperatures

To ensure your turkey is cooked to perfection, understanding the cooking times and temperatures is crucial. Here's a breakdown to guide you through the process:

Optimal Cooking Temperatures:

  • Preheat the Oven: Start by preheating your oven to 425°F. After placing the turkey in the oven, lower the temperature to 325°F. This initial high heat will help to sear the exterior, contributing to a crispier skin.
  • Safe Internal Temperature: The turkey is considered safely cooked when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 165°F. For stuffed turkeys, ensure the stuffing also reaches this temperature.

Cooking Times Based on Turkey Size:

  • Unstuffed Turkey:
    • 8-12 pounds: 2.75-3 hours
    • 12-14 pounds: 3-3.75 hours
    • 14-18 pounds: 3.75-4.25 hours
    • 18-20 pounds: 4.25-4.5 hours
  • Stuffed Turkey: Add an additional 30-60 minutes to the cooking times listed above.

Additional Tips for Perfect Roasting:

  • Roasting Pan: Use a good roasting pan with a rack to ensure even cooking. Adding 1 cup of chicken stock to the pan can aid in gravy making and prevent the turkey from drying out.
  • Covering: To prevent the skin from burning, cover the turkey with cheesecloth or foil during the initial stages of cooking. Remove the cover in the last hour to allow the skin to become golden and crispy.
  • Monitoring: Begin checking for doneness after 2 ½ hours of cooking. Use a reliable oven thermometer to monitor the oven's temperature and adjust as needed.
  • Resting: Always let the turkey rest for at least 15-30 minutes before carving. This allows the juices to redistribute, ensuring your turkey is moist and flavorful when served.

By following these guidelines, you'll achieve a turkey that's not only safe to eat but also deliciously juicy and beautifully presented.

Serving and Presentation Tips

After your turkey has been basted to perfection with olive oil and cooked with careful attention to temperature and timing, presenting it in a way that enhances its appeal is crucial. Here are tips to ensure your turkey not only tastes delicious but also looks inviting on your dinner table:

  • Letting the Turkey Rest:
    • Always allow the turkey to rest for 20-30 minutes before carving. This step is essential for the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, ensuring every slice is moist and flavorful.
    • Use this resting time to prepare your garnishes and sauces, and to give your roasted vegetables a final touch-up.
  • Carving and Serving:
    • Start by removing the legs and thighs, using a sharp knife to cut through the joints. This method makes it easier to manage and serve.
    • When slicing the breast meat, carve parallel to the bone to get even slices. A sharp knife is key here for clean cuts, making the presentation more appealing.
    • Serve the carved turkey on a large platter. Garnish with fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, and parsley to add a pop of color and enhance the aroma. Roasted vegetables or a fresh salad can accompany the turkey on the same platter for a cohesive presentation.
  • Sauces and Gravy:
    • Use the drippings from the roasting pan to create a flavorful gravy. Place the pan over two burners, bring to a simmer, and then strain the contents to remove any solids.
    • Thicken the liquid with a cornstarch slurry, simmering until it reaches the desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
    • Offer a variety of sauces on the side, such as cranberry sauce, gravy, or a homemade aioli, allowing guests to customize their plate.

By following these serving and presentation tips, your olive oil basted turkey will be the highlight of the meal, impressing your guests with both its flavor and its presentation.


What is the recommended substance for basting a turkey?

To ensure your turkey's skin achieves a golden-brown hue, consider basting it with additional melted butter or olive oil in the last hour of cooking, rather than using the pan juices. 

How can I make my turkey moist once again?

To re-moisturize your turkey, you can try basting it with its juices or a broth to reintroduce moisture. Another method is covering the turkey with foil and gently reheating it in the oven with added liquid to prevent it from drying out.

Should I use butter or olive oil for basting my turkey?

For achieving juicy turkey meat, consider dry-brining with salt. If your goal is crispy skin, allow the turkey skin to dry out in the refrigerator prior to cooking. Olive oil is an excellent choice for basting due to its mild flavor and ideal fat content, and it also keeps the pan drippings clear for making gravy.

What is the key to effective basting?

The secret to successful basting lies in the regular application of liquid over the cooking meat, which helps to maintain moisture and add flavor. This can be done using a baster or a spoon to coat the turkey with its own juices, a marinade, or a sauce of your choice.


Through the preparation, understanding of cooking techniques, and the crafting of the perfect olive oil mixture, we've journeyed together to elevate the humble turkey into a centerpiece worthy of any holiday table.

The utilization of olive oil, not just as a healthier fat but as a medium for infusing flavors and achieving the desired texture and moisture in the turkey, showcases its versatility and importance in creating a memorable feast.

These culinary endeavors not only promise a delectable meal but also emphasize the importance of methodology in cooking—an art and science that, when mastered, yields marvelous results.

In closing, the significance of this article transcends the mere steps and ingredients listed; it embodies the essence of holiday cooking—a blend of tradition, innovation, and the joy of sharing with loved ones.

The implications of these culinary practices stretch beyond the dinner table, influencing our perspectives on healthy eating, the importance of quality ingredients, and the joy of cooking.

As we move forward, let these insights not only guide our holiday cooking but also inspire us to explore, innovate, and cherish the meals we prepare and share. Embracing the art of cooking with olive oil basting, we not only revitalize the traditional holiday turkey but also our enthusiasm for creating flavorsome, health-conscious cuisine.

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