“A Thai-style roasted turkey? That sounds like a turkey I’d actually want to eat on Thanksgiving!” my friend replied after I told her I was going to make a Thai roasted turkey this year for Thanksgiving.
Four years ago someone gave us a turkey, and I was grateful, but I had not a clue how to roast even a regular turkey, much less make a Thai-style roasted turkey.
Plus I had just had a baby three weeks ago, and was a sleep-deprived zombie (as you can tell from my dazed expression in the pic below), but I really wanted a roasted Thai turkey for Christmas dinner. So I was going to make that Thai roasted turkey happen no matter what even if I fell asleep while marinating it.
I got my courage up, and decided that I would take on the challenge of not only roasting my first turkey weeks after just having my third baby, but making a Thai-Style roasted turkey.
I searched to see if my favorite Thai cooking expert Leela from SheSimmers had one, and of course she did have an amazing roasted Thai turkey recipe, which is what my recipe is based on.
This Thai roasted turkey recipe involves getting more up close and personal with the turkey than I ever thought possible, so I was grossed out a bit, but braved it all for the sake of what I hoped would be my favorite turkey ever.
All the, “Eww, this is weird!” work was worth it, because I came out with a golden, juicy, flavorful turkey that had my Thai Hubby and friends talking about how much they actually wanted to eat the turkey, just on its own, and not hide it under a blob of gravy.
And now, four years later, it’s the turkey we make every year for Thanksgiving, and now it’s even more fun since I’m not recovering from birth with a newborn!
I know you are thinking, um, what makes an ordinary roasted turkey become a Thai one? I’d say it’s the simple, classic Thai paste of cilantro, oyster sauce, garlic, oyster sauce and brown sugar, which is used for marinating lots of meats in Thai recipes, that you rub all over the flesh, so UNDER the skin, NOT on the skin.
The trickiest part is of course getting the paste under the skin without breaking the skin. But even if the skin does burst open a bit, it’s fine and the turkey still tastes amazing. The main reason you put the paste under the skin is you don’t want the herbs exposed to high heat for so long because then it can have a funky, bitter taste.
Are you ready to take on the challenge of making the best turkey you have ever made, no matter how messy and eww it gets?
YES!!! You are so hardcore and amazing!
And reminder, if I can roast my first turkey after just having a baby three weeks ago in a zombie state, you have no excuse to not give it a try!
Ok! Here are the step by step instructions for making a flavorful, moist Thai roasted turkey! And please comment on the post, message me @thaifoodie on Instagram, or through my contact page if you have any questions!
You are a Thai cooking rockstar! You can do this!Print
Want to eat a flavorful, moist turkey you actually enjoy eating? Try our Thai Roasted Turkey, marinated with a classic Thai paste of garlic, oyster sauce, cilantro and white pepper and basted with butter and soy sauce! The star of Thanksgiving is here!
- 1 turkey thawed,12-15 lb
- 10 garlic cloves
- 3/4 cup cilantro stems, minced
- 1 tbsp ground white pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup oyster sauce
- 1/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup melted butter
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- Make the paste by adding the garlic, cilantro stems and white pepper to a mortar and pestle, until a paste is formed, or add to a food processor. If using a food processor, you might need to add a few tablespoons of water to help blend it.
- Add the oyster sauce and brown sugar to the paste, and mix it all together.
- Remove the neck and giblet pouch from the turkey’s cavity.
- This part is messy, so get ready. You are going to rub the marinade under the skin, but you don’t want the skin to break, so be gentle.
- Find the area of the turkey, where the neck and breast meet, aka near where you just removed the giblet pouch.
- Add some paste to your hand.
- As shown in the pics in this post, pull the skin up just enough, so you can stick your hand under the skin, and rub the paste all over the turkey up to the narrow end of the breasts. If you come into skin that is stuck to the flesh, push gently with your fingers, and it should unstick.
- Turn the turkey over, and slip your hand in again to add paste to the back of the turkey up to the tail end and into the legs as much as you can. No worries if you can’t go too far into the legs. They will still get the soy sauce butter basting and taste amazing.
- Once you’ve added all the paste to the flesh, pull the skin over, so the flesh is covered up again.
- Wipe off any extra paste that might be on the outside of the skin.
- Either let paste marinate on the turkey overnight in the fridge (my preferred method so the flavor soaks in some and less to do the next day), or go ahead, and bake it right away (tastes great either way!).
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees, and place the turkey breast-side up on a roasting rack pan.
- If the legs have a plastic clasp holding them together, keep it on (my turkeys always do). If not, tie the legs together with twine.
- Roast the turkey for 30 minutes uncovered to help it get crispy, brown and beautiful.
- Mix the butter and soy sauce together, and brush it all over the turkey.
- Lower the temperature to 375 degrees.
- Put a tent of greased aluminum foil over the turkey, and bake for another 3-4 hours or so, depending on the size of your turkey while brushing the butter and soy sauce every 15 minutes or so.
- Once a thermometer put in the thickest part of the breast measures 160 degrees, your turkey is done! I start checking the temperature at around 3 hours or sooner, just to see how it’s going and how much longer it might need.
- Let the turkey rest about 30 minutes before carving. Enjoy!
- We like to serve it with our Spicy Thai Garlic Lime sauce! Sooo good!
I know this recipe is long and scary, BUT I had never ever roasted any kind of turkey, and then I tried it, while sleep deprived with a 3 week old newborn, and it turned out great the first time. That means you can so do it!
If your turkey is smaller than 12-15 pounds, I recommend still making the paste with the same measurements, and if you have leftover paste, using it to marinate chicken or pork for another night, just because it’s easier that way.
If your turkey is bigger, like ours often is, add a few more garlic cloves, an extra few tablespoons of cilantro stems, oyster sauce and brown sugar, and a little more white pepper and a little more salt. Or just double the recipe if it’s a lot bigger, but I don’t normally double the salt, instead I just make it 1.5 tsp.
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
- Serving Size: 8-10