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Tandoori Turkey

Tandoori TurkeyOur recipe is a delicious twist on the traditional Thanksgiving meal. Fragrant and well-seasoned tandoori turkey pairs perfectly with Basmati Rice and tender-roasted vegetables. I know departing from a traditional turkey recipe for the holidays can be nerve-wracking, so don’t do that to yourself. Instead, try our Baked Tandoori Chicken first!

Tandoori turkey on a platter with roasted potatoes.

Roasting a turkey can be stressful and time-consuming, so follow these steps for juicy, crispy-skinned tandoori turkey flavored with homemade tandoori masala.

WHAT IS TANDOORI TURKEY?

Like our Karahi Gosht recipe, tandoori-style cooking gets its name from the equipment used, a tandoor. A tandoor is a cylinder clay pot heated by open flame- resulting in robust chargrilled meat or vegetables packed full of flavor from the masala and marinating process. Since a tandoor is something few people have in their kitchens, like our Tandoori Chicken, this turkey tandoori recipe delivers the same flavor to your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner table.

WHAT YOU NEED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE

  • Tandoori Marinade: Make a homemade tandoori paste using yogurt, garlic, ginger, salt, turmeric, cayenne, paprika, Garam Masala, and Kashmiri chili powder.
  • Turkey: I used a 15-pound turkey to make this recipe; professionals recommend buying 1-1½ pounds of turkey per person. Whatever size turkey you choose to make, don’t rely on a timetable to be your guide. The best way to know when a turkey has finished cooking is to check the internal temperature at the thickest point in the breast and adjust the cooking time accordingly; the safe internal temperature for a turkey is 165° F (73° C).

HOW TO MAKE TANDOORI TURKEY 

Combine the ingredients for the tandoori masala apart from the lemon and red onion in a food processor and blend until smooth. Set it aside.

Tandoori masala ingredients in a food processor.

Remove the neck and giblets, and set them aside. Place the turkey onto a rimmed baking sheet and separate the skin from the breast. Then, rub the masala evenly over the bird and under the skin. Cover the baking sheet with plastic and marinate in the fridge for 6-24 hours.

A uncooked turkey slathered in tandoori masala.

Remove the turkey from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 450° F (232°F) for one hour. Meanwhile, add flour, sliced onion, and lemon wedges to an oven bag, followed by the turkey.

Add flour, lemon, and onions to the bottom of a turkey bag.

Secure the bag according to the package and cut several slits in the bag.

The turkey added to a turkey bag.

Adjust the oven rack to the lowest position. Place a wire rack into a rimmed baking sheet; set the turkey in a roasting bag onto it, careful to tuck the ends of the bag underneath the turkey.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300° F (148° C) and roast until the thickest part of the turkey breast reads 165° F (73° C), for about 3-4 hours.

The turkey stuffed into a turkey bag on a baking rack.

Remove the turkey from the oven and let it rest for 15-20 minutes before carving. Carve the turkey and garnish with cilantro, red onion, and lemon wedges. Serve with Raita or Serrano Crema.

A roasted tandoori turkey resting on a wire rack.

HOW TO CARVE A TURKEY

Begin by removing the wings, thighs, and breast meat. Now you can separate the thighs and legs and slice the turkey breasts. I don’t think I can cover this any better than Serious Eats. Kenji Lopez-Alt does an incredible job of breaking down the steps for How to Carve a Turkey.

COOKING TIPS

  • Add flour to the bottom of the bag to prevent it from bursting; it also prevents any fat from accumulating at the bottom of the turkey.
  • Tuck the roasting bag underneath the turkey to prevent it from touching the rimmed baking sheet or the oven.
  • Many factors cause a turkey to cook quickly or require more time. I recommend checking the temperature halfway through the cooking process.

SEARCHING FOR MORE LIKE THIS? 

If you love this recipe, try one of these Thanksgiving-inspired meals and sides!  

Tandoori turkey on a platter with roasted potatoes.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS 

WHAT TO DO WITH THE LEFTOVERS 

  • FRIDGE – Store leftovers in an airtight container; they will keep for 4 days.
  • FREEZER – Allow the meat to cool, then add it to a freezer-safe container or bag. Turkey will freeze for 2-3 months.
  • REHEAT – Warm leftovers in the oven or microwave.
  • REPURPOSE – If you’re interested in Indian cuisine, I recommend using turkey to make biryani or pulao. The leftovers also make a great filling for enchiladas or Leftover Turkey White Chili.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS 

How long to thaw a turkey?

A frozen turkey requires 24 hours of thawing time for every 5 pounds of turkey. Once you’ve fully thawed the turkey, cook it within three days.

What’s the best way to thaw a turkey

Give yourself plenty of time to defrost it; this is not a thaw-the-day-before kind of deal. Loosen the wrapping on the turkey and set it on a rimmed baking sheet; defrost in the refrigerator.

How do I know when my turkey is done?

Go ahead and throw out the timing charts because the best way to know when a turkey is done is to use a food thermometer to check the thickest part of the breast. The safe cooking temperature is 165° F (73° C). 

Should I let the turkey rest before carving it?

Yes, just like Roasted Chicken and other meat, resting allows the turkey to rehydrate as it sits. Allow 15-20 minutes before carving, just enough time to set the table.

YOU SHOULD ALSO TRY: 

Tandoori turkey on a platter with roasted potatoes.

Tandoori Turkey

Tressa Jamil
Our fragrant and well-seasoned Tandoori Turkey is a delicious twist on the traditional Thanksgiving dish that pairs perfectly with basmati rice and tender-roasted vegetables.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs
Marinating Time 1 d
Total Time 1 d 3 hrs 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Indian, Pakistani
Servings 16 People
Calories 655 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup plain yogurt, full fat
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 2-3 taps liquid smoke
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon homemade garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons Kashmiri chili powder
  • 1 lemon quartered
  • flour, all purpose
  • ½ medium red onion, roughly chopped, plus sliced onion to garnish
  • 15 pound turkey

Instructions
 

  • Combine the ingredients for the tandoori masala apart from the lemon and red onion in a food processor and blend until smooth. Set it aside.
  • Remove the neck and giblets, and set them aside. Place the turkey onto a rimmed baking sheet and separate the skin from the breast. Then, rub the masala evenly over the bird and under the skin. Cover the baking sheet with plastic and marinate in the fridge for 6-24 hours.
  • Remove the turkey from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 450° F (232°F) for one hour. Meanwhile, add flour, sliced onion, and lemon wedges to an oven bag, followed by the turkey. Secure the bag according to the package and cut several slits in the bag.
  • Adjust the oven rack to the lowest position. Place a wire rack into a rimmed baking sheet; set the turkey in a roasting bag onto it, careful to tuck the ends of the bag underneath the turkey.
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 300° F (148° C) and roast until the thickest part of the turkey breast reads 165° F (73° C), for about 3-4 hours.
  • Remove the turkey from the oven and let it rest for 15-20 minutes before carving. Carve the turkey and garnish with cilantro, red onion, and lemon wedges. Serve with Raita or Serrano Crema.

Notes

Cooking Tips:
  • Add flour to the bottom of the bag to prevent it from bursting; it also prevents any fat from accumulating at the bottom of the turkey.
  • Tuck the roasting bag underneath the turkey to prevent it from touching the rimmed baking sheet or the oven.
  • Many factors cause a turkey to cook quickly or require more time. For that reason, I recommend checking the temperature halfway through the cooking process.
 
Nutrition Disclosure:
  • The nutritional information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for professional advice.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 ServingCalories: 655kcalCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 79gFat: 35gSodium: 827mg
Keyword tandoori turkey
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