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Pan-Seared Turkey

Servings: 12

Listen, I’m all about making beautiful dishes. And I love the look of a whole roasted bird. But I always break whole turkeys down into their parts now—even for the Thanksgiving feast. Here are my three great reasons for it: First, it’s much easier to brine and refrigerate cut-up parts than to cram a whole bird in the fridge. And yes, you must brine the turkey for juicy, delicious meat. Second, when you break down the bird, you can use the back and carcass to make homemade stock or gravy on that same day. If you do have leftover stock, you can whip up a quick soup or pot pie the next day. Third, and most important, cooking the bird in parts ensures that the pieces will all be cooked perfectly. The white meat will stay just as juicy as the dark.


  • 1 quart water
  • 1/2 packed cup light brown sugar
  • 10 whole allspice berries
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 10 whole black peppercorns
  • 5 whole star anise
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 11- to 15-lb. turkey, cut into 8 pieces (2 wings, 2 legs, 2 breasts, 2 thighs)
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped; more sprigs for garnish
  • 1/4 cup fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbs. finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 Tbs. crushed red pepper flakes
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Lemon wedges, for garnish

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 480
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 220
  • Fat (g): 24
  • Saturated Fat (g): 6
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 5
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 12
  • Cholesterol (mg): 220
  • Sodium (mg): 630
  • Carbohydrates (g): 2
  • Fiber (g): 1
  • Sugar (g): 1
  • Protein (g): 59


  • In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the water, sugar, allspice, cloves, peppercorns, star anise, and 1/2 cup of the salt. Seal tightly and shake to dissolve the salt and sugar. Add the turkey pieces, seal tightly, and place in a large bowl. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours or up to overnight.
  • Remove the turkey from the brine, rinse well, and pat dry with paper towels. Discard the brine. In a small bowl, combine the parsley, sage, garlic, lemon zest, pepper flakes, 1/2 cup oil, and 2 tsp. salt. Carefully run your hand between the turkey skin and meat to loosen the skin, then rub the parsley mixture over the meat and under the skin. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours.
  • Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 400°F.
  • Rub each piece of turkey with oil to lightly coat. Heat a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly coat the bottom with more oil. Working in batches, sear the turkey parts until golden-brown on all sides, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the browned pieces to a large rimmed baking sheet, and arrange in a single layer.
  • Roast until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of each piece registers 170°F, about 45 minutes. Start checking the turkey after 40 minutes, and transfer each piece from the pan to a platter as it’s cooked through. Smaller parts, like the thighs, will be done earlier, and larger pieces, like the drumsticks, can take up to 1 hour. Garnish with parsley sprigs and lemon wedges.


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Reviews (1 review)

  • Megann | 11/18/2020

    This had so much flavor!!! The taste was great although the turkey was not quite as tender as I had hoped. I thought breaking it into pieces was very helpful though

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