How to Marinate a Turkey

Marinades are a great way to add a burst of flavor to perfectly cooked Butterball® turkey breasts, tenderloins and other turkey cuts. Whether you want a tangy twist or a spicy surprise, marinades are simple to prepare and don’t require days of preparation.


Here are some time-tested tips for marinating:

  1. If the marinade recipe requires you to heat the ingredients, be sure to let the heated marinade cool to room temperature before pouring it over your turkey.
  2. For recipes that call for a short marinating time, make the marinade several hours in advance so it can develop its full flavor.
  3. Keep your marinating meat covered and in the refrigerator.
  4. Use a sealable container or large plastic bag to position the food in a single layer, and turn to coat all sides.
  5. Use ¼ to ½ cup of marinade for every 1 to 2 pounds of meat.
  6. Marinate meat for 2 to 8 hours. The longer you marinate the stronger the flavor.
  7. Discard any leftover marinade that has touched raw meat.

Turkey Tips

Did You Know?

A thawed turkey may be kept in the refrigerator (40 degrees F or below) up to 4 days before cooking.

Frozen Whole Turkeys and Frozen Whole Turkey Breasts need to be thawed before cooking.

Thaw Fully Cooked Baked and Smoked Turkeys via the refrigerator method.

Refrigerator thawing is preferred and the least labor-intensive but requires more time.

Cold water thawing takes less time but requires more attention.