Roast Butterflied Turkey with Cranberry-Molasses Glaze

Glazed Roast Turkey
Glazed Roast Turkey photo by America's Test Kitchen
Prep time: 2 hrs 15 mins
Cook time: 3 hrs 0 min
Calories: 244

Glazing a roast turkey takes your holiday bird to the next level. When the remaining glaze is reduced and finished with butter, it becomes a silky sauce that’s served alongside. Avoid turkeys that list anything other than “turkey” on their ingredient label. If you’re using a self-basting turkey (such as a frozen Butterball) or a kosher turkey, check labels carefully for gluten and other allergens—and omit the salt in step 1.

Why This Recipe Works

Glazing a roast turkey is great way to bring your holiday centerpiece to the next level,
especially if the glaze enhances an already stellar bird. Butterflying the turkey, though an untraditional step, flattened it, creating a more level surface so the glaze wouldn’t slide off. It also promoted even cooking. A dry rub of salt and baking powder dehydrated the skin and encouraged browning, while an hour rest at room temperature air-dried the turkey, further wicking away moisture from the skin. Halved onions made a makeshift roasting rack for the turkey, propping it up in a large roasting pan so it would brown properly. Starting the turkey roasting low and slow created moist, tender meat and allowed maximum fat to render from the skin. Waiting to apply the coats of glaze until the turkey was fully cooked allowed the skin to crisp up first.

Cranking the oven to 450°F thickened and concentrated the glaze. As an added bonus, the remaining glaze, reduced along with some of the drippings and finished with butter, produced a silky serving sauce.

Recipes and photographs reprinted with permission from How to Roast Everything: A Game-Changing Guide to Building Flavor in Meat, Vegetables and More from the editors at America’s Test Kitchen.

Yields 12 servings


  • 1 (12- to 14-pound) turkey, neck and giblets discarded
  • 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 2 teaspoons pepper, divided
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 large onions, peeled and halved
  • 3 cups apple cider
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh cranberries
  • ½ cup light or mild molasses
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (omit for dairy-free)


1To “butterfly” turkey, place turkey breast side down on a sturdy cutting board and use kitchen shears to cut through bones on both sides of backbone; discard backbone. Flip turkey over and press on breastbone to flatten. Using your fingers or handle of spoon, gently loosen skin covering breast and thighs. Using metal skewer, poke 15 to 20 holes in fat deposits on breast halves and thighs. Rub underside (bone side) of turkey evenly with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Flip turkey skin side up and rub 1 tablespoon salt evenly under skin. Tuck wings behind turkey. Push legs up to rest on lower portion of breast and tie legs together with kitchen twine. Combine 1 tablespoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper and baking powder in small bowl. Pat skin side of turkey dry with paper towels. Sprinkle surface of turkey with baking powder mixture and rub in mixture with your hands, coating skin evenly. Transfer turkey to large roasting pan, skin side up. Place 1 onion half under each side of breast and each thigh to elevate turkey off bottom of pan. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour.

2Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 275°F. Roast turkey until breast registers 160°F and thighs register 175°F, 2½ to 3 hours. Remove pan from oven and let turkey rest in pan at least 30 minutes or up to 1½ hours. Thirty minutes before returning turkey to oven, increase oven temperature to 450°F.

3For glaze, bring cider, cranberries, molasses, vinegar, mustard and ginger to boil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat while turkey rests. Cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced to 1½ cups, about 30 minutes. Strain mixture through fine-mesh strainer into 2-cup liquid measuring cup, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard solids (you should have about 1¼ cups glaze). Transfer ½ cup glaze to small saucepan and set aside.

4Brush turkey with 1/3 of glaze from measuring cup, transfer to preheated oven and roast 7 minutes. Brush turkey with half of remaining glaze from measuring cup and roast 7 minutes longer. Brush turkey with remaining glaze from measuring cup and roast until skin is evenly browned and crispy, 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer turkey to carving board and let rest 45 minutes.

5While turkey rests, remove onions from roasting pan and discard. Strain liquid from pan through fine-mesh strainer into fat separator (you should have about 2 cups liquid) and let settle 5 minutes. Pour liquid into a saucepan with reserved glaze, discarding any remaining fat. Bring mixture to boil over medium-high heat and cook until slightly syrupy, about 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat and whisk in butter. Carve turkey and serve, passing sauce separately.

4 oz. contains 244 calories, 11g total fat, 4g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 95mg cholesterol, 81mg sodium, 3g carbohydrates, 0g fiber, 2g sugars, 32g protein.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.