Buttermilk-Marinated 1/2 Turkey with Caramelized Onion Gravy – Trial Run

About 2 weeks ago whiles cooking, I was turned and asked Lyn, I wonder how turkey would be marinated in buttermilk. I had used butter milk with many of my chicken dishes and always love the results, tender and juicy. So why not Turkey, let’s try it for Thanksgiving. She smiled and said that is a good idea but I hate to try an experiment on that day why not try it first. I personally feel she was secretly hoping I would get discourage and go with a beef tenderloin roast. I did not. I “Googled” turkey and buttermilk and was surprised that others had beat me to it, I was not the genius I thought.  Armed with their ideas we marched to Wholefoods because they were the only ones who had a half turkey before the big day. With half a turkey and a quart of butter milk in my arms I was happy as live turkey after thanksgiving something new to try.


  • Half (1/2) fresh or thawed frozen turkey (about 6-7 lbs)
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 quart buttermilk
  • 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of butter (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to rub the turkey with
  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • Touch of gravy master


Wash and pat dry the half turkey. Place the turkey, breast side up, in an oven-roasting bag.

Add the hot sauce, 1 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. pepper to the buttermilk container; shake to combine.

Pour the buttermilk mixture over the turkey. Seal the bag, transfer to the refrigerator and let marinate, turning the turkey over once, for at least 4-5 hours. I suppose you could do it over night.

Remove the turkey and pat dry inside and out. Rub the skin with 1 tbsp. oil; season with salt and pepper. Let rest at room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees . Tuck the wings behind the back of the turkey. Place the turkey, breast side up, on a rack set in a large roasting pan. Roast, basting once with the pan juices, for 1 hour. Lower the heat to 350 degrees and roast, basting every half hour, until an instant-read thermometer registers 155 degrees when inserted into the thigh, 1 to 1 1/2 hours more. If the turkey is over browning, tent with foil. Remove from the oven, tent and let rest for 30 minutes.


While this is cooking

In a large pan, heat the remaining oil over medium heat, add optional butter. Add the onions, garlic, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and browned until caramelized, about 35-45 minutes. Add the flour cook, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup chicken broth and cook, stirring, until thickened. Add the remaining 1 1/2 cups broth and bring to a boil. Stir in a touch of gravy master. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Serve the gravy with the turkey. I was lazy but a nice touch might be to blend the end results together.

Note: The skin was nicely colored, crisp and tasty the meat was really juicy and tender even the breast.


Originally, buttermilk was the liquid left over from churning butter from cultured or fermented cream. Traditionally, before cream could be skimmed from whole milk, the milk was left to sit for a period of time to allow the cream and milk to separate. During this time, naturally occurring lactic acid-producing bacteria in the milk fermented it. This facilitates the butter churning process, since fat from cream with a lower pH coalesces more readily than that of fresh cream. The acidic environment also helps prevent potentially harmful microorganisms from growing, increasing shelf-life. However, in establishments that used cream separators, the cream was hardly acidic at all.


5 thoughts on “Buttermilk-Marinated 1/2 Turkey with Caramelized Onion Gravy – Trial Run

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