Asian five-spice roast turkey is moist, tender, and juicy, marinated with a delicious and flavourful Asian-style rub, and has the crispiest skin with a beautiful deep brown colour. This easy to make, lean and delicious, roasted whole turkey is the perfect main course to serve on your holiday dinner table and one that the whole family will love.
I love incorporating different cooking methods and seasonings when preparing delicious turkey recipes because it takes on flavours really well across different cuisines, and this Asian-style five-spice turkey is no exception. It literally soaks up all of that delicious Chinese five-spice flavour that it is rubbed with. Plus, it also adds a unique depth of flavour to the pan juices that can be used to make a flavourful homemade gravy.
- whole turkey - a 10-12 lb. whole turkey, with the neck and giblets removed and set aside for making homemade turkey gravy, or discarded. You will also need onion, lemon, garlic, and fresh thyme, to stuff in the cavity.
- five-spice powder - you can use storebought or homemade with a combination of ground cinnamon, fennel seeds, star anise, Sichuan peppercorn and cloves.
- soy sauce
- Shaoxing cooking wine - this Chinese cooking wine is a rice wine that can be found at your local Asian grocery store. You can also substitute it with dry sherry or mirin.
- olive oil
- sesame oil
- Worcestershire sauce
- salt and pepper
How to Make the Best Asian Five-Spice Whole Roast Turkey
There are two parts to this easy Asian five-spice roast turkey. First, prepare the turkey, coat it with the five-spice marinade and let it marinate in the refrigerator overnight. Then, roast the turkey the following day.
To marinate the turkey, here is what you will need to do:
- Prepare the turkey: Remove the turkey neck and giblets from inside the cavity and set it aside if making homemade gravy, otherwise discard. Wash and pat dry the turkey completely with paper towel before adding seasoning.
- Make the marinade: In a small bowl, whisk to combine five-spice powder, soy sauce, Shaoxing cooking wine, olive oil, sesame oil, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, salt and pepper, into a smooth paste.
- Rub the marinade on the turkey: Place the turkey on a clean cutting board, and rub half of the marinade over the entire turkey including inside the cavity and underneath the skin of the breast. To spread the marinade underneath the skin, use a knife and a spoon to gently loosen the skin of the turkey breast, then place 2 tablespoons of the marinade under the skin and slowly press down on the skin to spread the marinade evenly. Wearing disposable gloves helps make clean up easier. Store the remaining marinade in the refrigerator until the turkey is ready.
- Marinate overnight: Transfer the turkey (breast side up) onto the rack of a large roasting pan and tuck the wings underneath. Insert onion, lemon, garlic and sprigs of thyme inside the cavity. Optionally, truss the turkey by tying the legs together with kitchen string so that they stay close to the body. Wrap the roasting tray tightly with aluminum foil and let the turkey marinate in the refrigerator overnight, up to 2 days.
How to Roast a Whole Turkey
- Bring the turkey to room temperature: Remove the roasting pan and extra marinade from the refrigerator and place on the counter to slowly bring the turkey to room temperature, about 2 hours. Roasting the turkey directly from the refrigerator will cause uneven cooking.
- Prepare the oven: Preheat the oven to 450 F with a rack positioned in the lowest level of the oven. Place the second rack out of the way on the highest level at the top of the oven, or you may have to remove the second rack completely out of the oven to make room for the turkey, depending on how large your turkey is.
- Roast turkey at 450 F for 45 minutes: Generously brush the entire turkey with the remaining half of the marinade. Add 1/2 cup of water or more to the bottom of the roasting pan to prevent the pan drippings from burning. Transfer the roasting pan to the lowest rack and roast at 450 F for 45 minutes.
- Roast turkey at 350 F until done: Lower the oven temperature to 350 F and continue to roast until the internal temperature of the turkey reaches 165 F. Check the internal temperature of the turkey by inserting a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the turkey breast, without touching the bone. For a 10-12 pound turkey, this should take approximately 1.5 hours.
- Every 30-45 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and tilt to release juice from the cavity into the pan. Use a brush to baste the turkey with the pan drippings and return to the oven. This will help achieve a golden brown crispy skin.
- Also, monitor the turkey closely during these intervals to make sure that the skin doesn't become too burnt because of the five-spice rub. Cover the turkey by lightly tenting with aluminum foil if needed to prevent further browning.
- Let the turkey rest: Remove from oven and loosely cover the turkey with aluminum foil. Let the turkey rest for 20 minutes. Resting helps the juices redistribute into the meat as the internal temperature continues to rise by 5-10 degrees, reaching 170 F while resting. Meanwhile, remove the turkey drippings and set aside for making homemade gravy.
- Serve: Carve the turkey with a sharp knife or electric carving knife and serve.
FAQ and Tips for Cooking a Whole Roast Turkey
- How many people can I serve with a whole turkey? It depends on the size of the turkey. Estimate about 1 pound of raw turkey per person. If you want to have leftovers to enjoy over the next few days, then aim for 1.5 pounds per person.
- How do you know the turkey is cooked? A whole turkey is cooked at 170 F (77C). For this recipe, once the internal temperature on the turkey reaches 165F, you can remove the turkey from the oven, as it will continue to cook slightly while resting, reaching 170-175 F. To check the internal temperature, insert a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the turkey, without touching the bone, to get a quick reading. Using a meat thermometer ensures that you never end up with undercooked or overcooked turkey.
- How long does it take to roast a turkey? This will depend on the size of your turkey. For a 10-12 lb. turkey, it will take approximately 2-2.5 hours following this recipe. For every additional pound, it should take about 13-15 minutes longer. Again, using a meat thermometer will make it easy to tell when the turkey is done.
- Why do you roast the turkey at different temperatures? This method of roasting the turkey at a high temperature (450 F) for the first 45 minutes and lowering the temperature (350 F) for the remainder of the time keeps the meat moist (due to less cooking time) and creates a crispier skin.
- How do I make gravy? You can make gravy with turkey stock and the pan drippings. Save the turkey neck and giblets to make homemade turkey stock and have it simmering on the stove while the turkey is cooking. Find the full recipe and instructions in our classic homemade turkey gravy recipe.
- How do I store cooked turkey? Store any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days in the refrigerator.
How to Serve Five-Spice Roast Turkey
This Asian five-spice roast turkey pairs really well with most holiday side dishes including creamy mashed potatoes, garlic and parmesan baby potatoes, and roasted garlic green beans. Or browse through all my favourite holiday side dishes below:
How to Use Turkey Leftovers
One of my favourite parts of making a whole roast turkey is the leftovers. Having lean, delicious and crave-worthy turkey leftover is great for meal planning healthy meals for the rest of the week. I love using leftover turkey in leftover turkey wild rice soup and leftover turkey fried rice.
More Turkey Recipes
- The Best and Juiciest Whole Roast Turkey
- Soy Glazed Braised Turkey Breast with Five-Spice
- Easy Juicy Roasted Turkey Breast
- Slow Cooker Turkey Breast
- Roasted Turkey Legs with Vegetables
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