This turkey marinade is a combination of olive oil, fresh herbs, spices and citrus, all blended together to make the most tender and juicy turkey ever! A quick and easy way to infuse flavor into your holiday turkey with minimal effort.
There are so many different ways to prepare a Thanksgiving turkey, whether it’s a smoked turkey, deep fried turkey, or this marinated turkey. A foolproof way to end up with a beautiful and delicious bird each and every time! Serve your turkey with my favorite Instant Pot cranberry sauce for a memorable meal.
I’ve made turkey dozens of different ways, but one of my favorite ways to flavor this classic holiday dish is with a turkey marinade. This blend of olive oil, herbs and spices gives the turkey a rich and complex flavor, and helps to prevent it from drying out in the oven.
How do you make turkey marinade?
Whisk together olive oil, soy sauce, lemon juice, orange juice, fresh herbs, garlic and seasonings. Pour the mixture over a thawed turkey. Let the turkey sit in the marinade until you’re ready to cook it. Remove the turkey from the marinade, cook as desired, then slice and serve.
Turkey marinade ingredients
This recipe calls for simple ingredients that you may already have on hand.
- Olive Oil: This forms the base of the marinade. Any type of olive oil will work just fine, although I typically use extra virgin olive oil.
- Soy Sauce: While soy sauce may seem like an unusual thing to add to turkey, it adds a complex, savory flavor, along with some needed salt.
- Citrus Juice: I use a combination of both lemon and orange juice, and fresh squeezed juices are best.
- Citrus Zest: Use a microplane or grater to remove the zest from one orange and one lemon.
- Herbs: I use an assortment of fresh herbs including chives, sage, parsley and thyme. While fresh herbs have the best flavor, in a pinch you can substitute 1/3 of the amount of dried herbs.
- Garlic: Add a generous amount of freshly minced garlic to accentuate the flavor of the turkey.
- Spices: I add salt, pepper, smoked paprika and sweet paprika to finish off the marinade.
Tips for the perfect marinated turkey
- Be sure to rub the marinade all over the entire bird, including under the skin. You can store the turkey as it marinates in a baking dish covered with plastic wrap, a brining bag or a large pot.
- This is almost like a wet rub, so the marinade will sit on the skin and flesh of the turkey and penetrate it with flavor, but there’s not a lot of messy liquid to deal with.
- A marinade is not the same as a turkey brine. Turkey brine is a liquid solution of salt, sugar and water. You can use my turkey brine recipe if that’s the type of technique you’re looking for.
- This marinade can be prepared up to 2 days before you plan to use it. Store it in the fridge until you’re ready to coat your turkey.
- You can roast, smoke or grill your marinated turkey. However you choose to cook it, just be sure to use a thermometer so that you can gauge when the turkey is cooked through and ready to eat. A meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast or thigh should register 165 degrees F.
- This marinade makes enough to cover an average 12-14 pound turkey. If you’re using a larger turkey, you may need to double the marinade.
How long should you marinate turkey?
I recommend letting your turkey sit in the marinade for at least 12 hours, or up to 24 hours. It’s best to use a completely thawed turkey, as the marinade will not be able to infuse flavor into a frozen turkey.
Marinated turkey is the best way to turn out a great meal that is sure to get rave reviews!
SIDE DISHES TO PAIR WITH YOUR TURKEY
Turkey Marinade Video
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1/2 cup parsley leaves finely chopped
- 1/4 cup chives thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup sage leaves finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons rosemary leaves finely chopped
- 1/4 cup thyme leaves chopped
- 1 tablespoon garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- Place all of the ingredients in a medium bowl. Whisk until well combined.
- Pour the marinade over a whole thawed turkey. Rub the marinade to coat all over the outside, then loosen the skin and rub some of the marinade under the skin.
- Let the turkey sit in the marinade for 12-24 hours.
- Scrape any large pieces of herbs and garlic off the marinated turkey so that they won't burn when cooked.
- Roast, smoke or grill the turkey as desired, then serve and enjoy.
Used this for a turkey breast. Halved the recipe and marinated for 8 hours. Absolutely divine. The flavor was classic and delicious. I subbed powders and dried spices for all the fresh (kids were running around…) and it worked just fine.