Turkey Baste

Baste being brushed on turkey with a silicone brush

The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 5 mins
Cool:: 5 mins
Total: 20 mins
Servings: 16 servings
Yield: 1/2 cup
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
52 Calories
6g Fat
0g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 16
Amount per serving
Calories 52
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 7%
Saturated Fat 4g 18%
Cholesterol 15mg 5%
Sodium 1mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 0g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 6mg 0%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 6mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Whether you are grilling or smoking a turkey or chicken, this baste keeps the meat moist, adds a delicious flavor, and helps to brown the skin. Simply made with butter, lemon juice, and a few herbs, this baste recipe is quick to make, and adds a delicious flavor to your bird.

It is best to forego the usual method of basting the turkey with pan drippings, which are mostly turkey juices and fat. Instead, using seasoned butter will add flavor and help the skin crisp up nicely at the end of cooking. Remember to begin basting about an hour after you start cooking and to apply the baste in thin layers every 30 minutes thereafter.

When basting it is easiest to use a pastry brush as this will allow you to give a light baste to all areas. You could use a turkey baster with a bulb, but that kind of baster works better for the pan drippings and is much harder to clean.

"This baste recipe is super-flavorful, and whether you make a turkey or a whole chicken, works great. This is a great alternative for when you don’t have time to brine your turkey. It makes the skin extra-crispy. I used fresh thyme and I would add more lemon juice next time." —Tara Omidvar

Turkey Baste Recipe/Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 1/2 cup ( 4-ounces) unsalted butter

  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, more to taste

  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning

  • 1 teaspoon dried basil

  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 1 teaspoon dried sage

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for turkey baste recipe gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan.

    Melted butter in a saucepan on the burner

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Add the lemon juice, poultry seasoning, dried basil, thyme, and sage. Let the mixture simmer on low for about 3 minutes.

    Foaming melted butter and seasonings in a saucepan on the burner

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Remove from heat and let stand at room temperature to cool slightly before using, about 5 minutes. Baste the turkey or chicken every 30 minutes after the first hour of cooking. Stop basting during the last 30 minutes of cook time.

    Deep brown turkey baste in the saucepan next to a basting brush

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck


  • Lightly baste the turkey every 30 minutes after the first hour of cooking. Apply the baste warm to the turkey. Stop basting during the last 30 minutes of cook time.
  • If making the baste ahead of time, follow instructions for preparation and store it in an airtight container for up to seven days in the refrigerator. Warm the baste on the stovetop or in the microwave before using.
  • You don't want to baste your turkey too often as every time you open the oven door you are allowing heat to escape. Your oven will have to come on to heat back up, and this temperature variation interferes with getting your turkey done.

To Baste or Not to Baste?

Most turkey experts will tell you that basting is optional. It's not the best way to season your turkey, but it will work in a pinch when you don't have time for methods that require more prep work. For example, you may have wanted to brine your turkey, but you didn't get started soon enough, or you lacked the refrigerator space and brining bag to do it right. Rubbing your turkey with a spice mix is another alternative to basting. Many cooks also inject their turkey with liquid seasonings to keep it moist and add flavor.

Basting can help you feel like you are doing something while waiting for heat and time to turn the pale bird into a golden centerpiece of your feast. But if you have seasoned your turkey in other ways, you can skip the basting.