How to Make a Test Run Turkey

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test run turkey

Under pressure to prepare the perfect turkey for Thanksgiving? I’ve been thinking about Thanksgiving for months now, trying to decide on the best way to cook the bird – instead of waiting until the big day to make a decision, I decided to take T-day on a test run.

Last year, I did my first ever test run turkey and tried out a cayenne honey glaze. This year I decided to up the ante and cook THREE different marinades, especially because this is the first year where Thanksgiving will be held in my own home!

If you really want to to a practice turkey from start to finish, I recommend brining the turkey overnight – my favorite brining recipe is from the Pioneer Woman and I’ve used that recipe every year I’ve made a turkey, without fail. Time time around, however, I really wanted to get a good idea of how the glaze would taste, so I marinated the legs in their respective glazes for an hour at room temperature prior to cooking.

Spicy Cranberry Apple Glaze

My first glaze was a cranberry apple glaze – it had a tangy sweetness that paired oh so well with the savory turkey meat. Plus – you pretty get bonus cranberry sauce on the side with you cook the turkey on a bed of cranberries.

Classic Garlic Herb

Of course, if you are looking for a more traditional turkey, you can’t go wrong with a traditional garlic and herb blend. I pulled most of my herbs out of my slowly dying outdoor herb garden, so I’m trying to use up as many as I can!

Honey Ginger & Soy

If you really want to try something different, marinate your turkey in a simple honey, ginger and soy sauce mixture. It’s sweet and salty, which is how I think turkey should always be served. This marinade turned out to be Nick’s and my favorite, so I think we’ll be making a less-than-traditional bird this year.

The last step is to pick your favorite. When you decide which you want to use, multiply the amount of ingredients by how many pounds of turkey you’ll have to get the right amount of marinade.

How do you guys cook your birds? Have another marinade you like to use? Let me know about it in the comments!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

turkey trial

How to Make a Test Run Turkey

The Starving Chef
instead of waiting until the big day to make a decision, I decided to take T-day on a test run.
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours
Course Thanksgiving
Cuisine American, Holidays
Servings 3



  • 8 oz turkey leg
  • 4 tablespoons butter melted
  • 2 tablespoons cranberry juice
  • 4 tablespoons apple cider
  • 2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • ½ cup fresh cranberries optional
  • salt & pepper to taste


  • 8 oz turkey leg
  • 4 tablespoons butter melted
  • 3 teaspoons thyme
  • 3 teaspoons parsley
  • 3 teaspoons basil
  • ½ cup stuffing mix


  • 8 oz turkey leg
  • 4 tablespoons butter melted
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon Chinese five spice
  • salt & pepper to taste


  • Preheat the oven to 425°F. Use a shallow roasting dish and line it with foil so there are three separate sections that allow enough room for each turkey leg. If using, pour the cranberries in one pocket and the stuffing and water in another pocket. Place the turkey legs in each section, avoid touching the sides, if possible.
  • In three separate bowls, whisk together each marinade. Pour the marinades over the turkey legs so they are completely covered. Reserve one tablespoon of butter for each leg.
  • Roast the legs, uncovered, for 45 minutes, pour on the remaining butter, and continue to cook until the legs internal temperature reach 160°F and the skins are golden brown. Let legs rest for ten minutes prior to serving.
Keyword marinade, turkey
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