Where Alton Brown Stands On Basting Your Thanksgiving Turkey

There's nothing like the holidays to bring out family debates about food, especially when it comes to our favorite Thanksgiving recipes and tips. It seems like someone always has an opinion about the candied yams, the cornbread stuffing, or worse, the turkey when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner. Christopher Arturo, chef-instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education told USA Today that people get especially riled up about what's on the table for turkey day because there is an element of nostalgia. "There's so many positive memories, and then someone's is like, 'Oh, we're gonna change it.' It's like, 'No, please don't take my joy away,'" he said.

People get especially worked up if there is no turkey on the table because according to University of Illinois Extension, 88% of us jockey for white or dark meat during this feast of gratitude. But no one is going to want to sink their teeth into the bird if it is dry or tasteless, which is why there are so many tricks for a perfect turkey. To baste or not to baste has long been the question when it comes to keeping your turkey moist, and celebrity chef Alton Brown has an answer as to whether or not you should be subjecting your Thanksgiving turkey to this practice. 

Brown says basting is baseless

Basting a turkey sounds like a good idea in theory, but Alton Brown told NPR that he believes basting is unnecessary. The "Good Eats" star revealed to the media outlet that basting is a waste of time because it only adds flavor to the skin and does not keep the bird juicy. Additionally, every time you open the oven door to baste the skin, you are allowing heat to escape, so your turkey will take longer to cook and possibly dry out. So if basting isn't the answer, how do you get your turkey moist and rich in flavor?

Epicurious explains that brining and salting your turkey is the way to go because you really don't want to add more moisture to your bird, you want to remove it. The food site goes on to share that when you allow the skin of the turkey to dry, it creates a crispy layer that protects the juicy meat underneath. Brown concurs and told NPR, "Brining definitely adds a lot of juiciness, moistness and it protects against overcooking a great deal because it kind of changes the cellular makeup of the meat and superloads it with moisture." So, this Thanksgiving, skip the basting and try brining instead.