Marinating turkey is a great way to add flavor and moisture to a large piece of poultry. A marinade gets into all those places that a dry rub can't and it brings a layer of moisture that helps prevent drying and produce a golden and flavorful skin.
These marinade recipes are perfectly suited to turkey but remember that with a marinade, there is no need to brine or add a dry rub, so this is the only step before cooking.
Watch Now: Our Top Chicken (and Turkey) Marinade Recipes
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Grilled Turkey Marinade
This basic turkey marinade is perfect for turkey because it doesn't overpower the flavor of the bird, but adds flavor and a protective layer for the grill. Enough to marinate a 16-pound bird, this blend of spices uses Worcestershire sauce, balsamic vinegar, and lemon juice to provide a tangy and salty base. Oregano and black pepper add a mild flavor to the meat. Choose a light oil with no flavor like canola, vegetable, or safflower.
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Lemon Pepper Marinade
This marinade is particularly good on poultry like a whole chicken for roasting or turkey breasts for grilling. Dill and garlic add a pungent flavor, and the power of lemon juice helps tenderize and flavor the meat.
Acid and citrus help break down the collagen in the meat, but remember that leaving the poultry in an acidic marinade for too long actually makes the meat too mushy. These types of marinades work best for brief periods of time.
03 of 10
Deep Fried Turkey Marinade
When you make a deep-fried turkey, you want to get as much flavor as you can into the bird before it goes into the oil. This classic Cajun-inspired marinade will tenderize the turkey as it adds flavor. White vinegar, tabasco, cayenne, pepper, and Cajun seasoning dilute in vegetable oil. Rub the paste inside and out of your turkey and save some to run between the skin and the meat.
Remember that when you deep-fry a turkey, the oil temperature is key, between 350 F to 325 F depending on the size of the bird. The right temperature will cook your bird without it soaking up too much oil.
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Chinese Five Spice Marinade
Any meat that you want to grill will benefit from this Chinese-inspired marinade. Aromatic cloves, cinnamon, fennel seeds, star anise, and Szechuan peppers make the flavorful spice blend, and soy sauce, sesame oil, sherry, chili oil, and green onions add heat and flavor. Make this marinade a day in advance to get the most out of the flavors and use on turkey, chicken or beef.
Adjust the heat to your liking by mixing all the ingredients but the chili oil and tasting it before adding the full amount.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
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This sweet marinade has the fruity power of pineapple and cider vinegar to work its way into the meat, tenderizing it while adding flavor. Soy sauce, honey, vinegar, cloves, garlic, and ginger make a sharp blend that goes well with poultry and pork.
Because of the sugar content in the marinade, both from the fruit and the honey, this marinade will make a delicious outer crust on the meat, but it also could burn easily if the heat is too high.
06 of 10
Sun-Dried Tomato Marinade
Using sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil is a great way to start a marinade. The thick texture of blended sundried tomatoes makes a wonderful paste to coat any kind of meat. For a whole turkey, double the amounts and marinate for at least 12 hours, or overnight.
Red wine, basil, garlic, and pepper add an Italian flavor profile. Let the mixture rest for 30 minutes before using.
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Jamaican Jerk Marinade
You've heard of jerk seasonings and jerk rubs, and our jerk marinade gets that great jerk flavor deep into the meat. Usually a paste made out of spices, garlic, and peppers is considered to be a jerk flavoring, but true jerk marinades use Scotch bonnet peppers, so find the spiciest of peppers available to you.
Onions, scallions, sugar, spices, peppers, thyme, Jamaican pimiento, nutmeg, cinnamon, oil, and vinegar make a thick paste that you can use to marinate any kind of meat. For small cuts of turkey use for two hours, and for a whole bird use overnight in a resealable bag.
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Lemon and Rosemary Marinade
This quick and easy marinade uses lemons to tenderize the meat and adds a tangy flavor. Use fresh rosemary for a fragrant result. Add the lemon juice and herbs to olive oil, garlic, salt, and white pepper and use on poultry for at least 2 hours.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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Smoked Turkey Marinade
This 24-hour marinade is guaranteed to please every time, producing a turkey that is always moist and tender after the smoking process. Use 1/2 recipe for chicken or a full recipe for a turkey of any size.
Mix fresh herbs like chives, sage, and oregano, with garlic, olive oil, soy sauce, lemon juice, and mustard. This marinade has to coat the meat for a day for the best results and the recipe suggests to fill the turkey cavity with oranges and apples to add more flavor from the inside.
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Honey Mustard Turkey Marinade
This marinade is thick enough to stick to the surface of the turkey. Made out of oil, lemon juice, coarse mustard, garlic, and honey, the paste will infuse the turkey meat with a mild but definite flavor.
Inside of a big resealable bag, coat the turkey, inside and out, with the marinade and leave to rest for 20 hours, turning it upside down occasionally.