Cheesecloth turkey is covered in herb butter and roasted to perfection. A butter-soaked cheesecloth covers the turkey and keeps it moist and flavorful—no brine required! It’s the perfect way to cook a juicy, golden brown turkey for your Thanksgiving table.
Why KJ Loves
A turkey that’s covered in a butter-soaked cheesecloth and roasted until golden brown? Sounds like my kind of turkey! I love how effortless this method was for roasting a turkey – all while producing a juicy, flavorful, golden brown turkey for your Thanksgiving table. No turkey blues over here!
Cheesecloth Turkey Ingredients
This cheesecloth turkey recipe is best for a 12-15 pound turkey. See “Turkey Tips” below for more on how to prepare your turkey. A 12-15 pound turkey will generally feed between 10-12 people.
Garlic & Onion
Rosemary and thyme are mixed into the butter and smeared on the turkey. I highly recommend fresh herbs for this recipe to let the flavors shine. If you are using dried herbs instead, use 2 teaspoons of each.
You can use salted or unsalted. I personally like the salted butter!
Chicken stock gets poured into the bottom of the roasting pan to keep the turkey moist. You’ll use it to baste the turkey during the cooking process.
Cheesecloth Turkey Equipment:
Roasting pan with a wire rack
This roasting pan is a great size for a 12-15 pound turkey and comes with a wire rack. A good roasting pan is a solid investment. It’s not just for turkey—you can use it for everyday cooking. Try it out with a chicken or pot roast!
Turkey is cooked through when it reaches 180°F in the thigh and 170°F in the breast. I typically insert my thermometer into the deepest part of the leg/thigh and breast to see where I’m at.
Steps To Make Cheesecloth Turkey
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Spray the wire rack of the roasting pan with cooking spray and place the turkey in the center of the rack in the pan. Pat the turkey dry with a paper towel, and evenly season the turkey with salt and pepper.
Make the herb butter by melting a stick of butter in a saucepan and adding rosemary, thyme, and garlic. Evenly spread the herb butter over the whole turkey.
Use the same saucepan to melt the remaining butter. Completely submerge the cheesecloth into the melted butter. Gently lay the butter-soaked cheesecloth over the turkey so that it covers it completely, tucking in the edges.
Arrange the onion around the bottom of the roasting pan and pour in the chicken stock. If the turkey hangs over the pan a bit, you can put a cookie sheet underneath to catch drips.
Roast and baste.
Roast the cheesecloth turkey for about 3 hours, basting the turkey with the drippings from the bottom of the pan every 30 minutes to keep the cheesecloth from drying out and burning.
Remove the turkey from the oven, peel off the cheesecloth, baste and put back into the oven to get the skin golden brown and to finish cooking the turkey (about another hour). Baste the turkey a couple of times during this final hour.
The turkey is cooked through when a thermometer reads 180°F in the thigh and 170°F in the breast. Make sure to check the thickest part of the turkey and ensure it is at least 165°F.
Carve and serve!
Allow the turkey to rest for 10-15 minutes before carving and serving. Use the drippings on the bottom of the pan to make gravy. Enjoy!
Make sure to properly defrost your turkey! This part requires a little extra planning.
According to the USDA, it’s safest to thaw your turkey in the refrigerator. Allow 24 hours for every 4-5 lbs of turkey. Once your turkey is thawed, you’ll want to use it within two days.
So if you want to serve a 12-pound cheesecloth turkey on Thursday at lunch, you’ll need to put it in the fridge to thaw the weekend before Thanksgiving. (It’s like a grade-school story problem IRL)
The day you plan to serve your cheesecloth turkey, make sure to give yourself lots of breathing room and extra time!
You can always have your turkey done early and keep it warm. It’s better than having a bunch of starving guests!
Cheesecloth Turkey FAQs
What does cheesecloth do for turkey?
The cheesecloth keeps your turkey moist. Plus, it helps keep your bird from browning too early on in the process.
Can cheesecloth go in the oven?
Cheesecloth is safe to put in the oven. You’ll want to regularly baste your turkey to make sure the cheesecloth stays moist and doesn’t burn.
What do you soak cheesecloth in?
For this recipe, we’ll soak the cheesecloth in melted butter. But you can also soak cheesecloth in other liquids like wine.
Don’t dump the droppings from the bottom of the pan! The drippings from the juicy turkey are packed with flavor and will help you achieve a rich, delicious gravy.
Making homemade gravy is surprisingly easy. Here’s what you’ll need to do:
- Melt some butter in a skillet and whisk in some flour until golden roux forms.
- Whisk in the turkey drippings and chicken stock.
- Simmer and allow to thicken, whisking occasionally.
- Skim off the fat and impurities that rise to the top from the turkey drippings. Use a ladle to help you skim it right off the top.
- Serve and enjoy!
Check out my Easy Turkey Gravy recipe to get the details.
Serve it up!
Choose your favorite large serving platter to share your cheesecloth turkey with your family and friends.
You can place the whole turkey on the serving platter or arrange the carved turkey on the platter to serve.
I love to garnish my cheesecloth turkey with fresh sage and cranberries for a simple, festive look!
Did you make this recipe?
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