Thanksgiving and turkey go hand in hand, especially if you’re looking for flavor-packed feast that leans on the lighter side. And one of the most underrated ways to prepare your bird is with an air fryer. Not sure you’re up to the challenge? Rest easy, Stephen Coe, owner of The Early Bird Restaurant in Kingston, MA, four-time Chopped champion, and winner of the Best Food Truck in New England, is here toshow us how it’s done!
When we asked the celebrity chef, who is known for beating Bobby Flay in a cook-off (and has a TV show, Dangerous Eats, set to air in 2024), if cooking a turkey in an air fryer was considered Thanksgiving-worthy, he left us with no doubt that it could be done: Absolutely! “Cooking a whole turkey in an air fryer can be a convenient and delicious way to prepare this classic dish.” Even better? Coe says you don’t have to be a culinary expert—or even that skilled in the kitchen—to nail Thanksgiving this year.
Plus, isn’t the goal of a Thanksgiving turkey to be crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside? Utilizing an air fryer, over a conventional oven, makes this texture profile easier to achieve.
With that, Chef Coe shares his epic protein-packed air fryer turkey recipe along with clean gravy and of course, cranberry sauce!
Air Fryer Basics
How to Choose Your Air Fryer
There are plenty of solid table-top air fryers—from Ninja, Emeril, Fritaire, and Breville versions. When looking to cook a large turkey he recommends using Masterbuilt or a Charbroil. “They have the same appeal as if you were frying the whole turkey in oil and is a safe and cleaner way out and still has the moisture.”
However, if you don’t want to upgrade your air fryer, but still want to enjoy air-fried turkey, Chef Coe has you covered.
For those who may not want to purchase a bigger air fryer needed for cooking a large turkey, Chef Coe provides a delicious stuffed turkey breast recipe that will keep the holiday guests coming back for me!
Air Fryer Cooking and Cleaning Tip:
If you’re hosting this year, it may be a good idea to do a “test run” before Thanksgiving Day. This will allow you to get comfortable in this cooking process and make any adjustments needed. Watching videos related to this topic is another option to get familiar with this cooking method.
Keep your air fryer in great shape by cleaning it directly after use.
Now go and enjoy your delicious air-fried turkey!
Thanksgiving Whole Air Fryer Turkey Recipe
- 1 whole turkey (10-12 pounds)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon of dry sage
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon dried rosemary, fresh herbs can be used as well.
Optional: herbs, citrus slices (like lemon or orange) for flavoring
- Remove the giblets and neck from the turkey cavity).
- Rub the olive oil all over the turkey, making sure to coat it evenly.
- In a small bowl, mix the salt, black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, dried thyme, and dried rosemary. Sprinkle this seasoning mixture all over the turkey, ensuring it’s well-distributed.
- Preheat the Air Fryer to 350°F (175°C) to preheat for a few minutes.
- Carefully put the turkey into the air fryer basket, breast side down.
- Cook the turkey at 350°F (175°C) for about 30 minutes per pound. For example, if you have a 10-pound turkey, cook it for about 5 hours.
- Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the turkey. It should reach at least 165°F (74°C) in the thickest part of the breast and 175°F (80°C) in the thigh.
- Once cooked, carefully remove the turkey from the air fryer and let it rest for about 20-30 minutes before carving.
- Carve the turkey and serve it with your favorite side dishes.
Good to Know: Remember, cooking times may vary depending on the size and model of your air fryer, so it’s important to monitor the turkey’s progress and check the manual for any other questions.
Stuffed Turkey Breast in the Air fryer
- 1 boneless turkey breast (about 2 pounds)
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh sage
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh thyme
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh rosemary
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Olive oil
- Preheat air fryer to 375°F (190°C).
- Prepare your choice of stuffing, In a mixing bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, chopped herbs, and melted butter. Mix well until all ingredients are evenly incorporated.
- Butterfly the Turkey Breast by laying the turkey breast flat on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut horizontally through the middle of the turkey breast, but not all the way through, creating a pocket for the stuffing. Be sure not to cut all the way to the edges.
- Season the inside of the turkey breast with salt and pepper. Then, carefully stuff the pocket with the breadcrumb mixture. Press it down gently to make sure it’s evenly distributed.
- Roll and Tie the turkey by starting at one end, roll up the turkey breast, keeping the stuffing inside. Use kitchen twine to tie it securely at intervals, about every inch or so.
- Place the turkey breast in the preheated air fryer and roast for about 30-40 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C).
- Remove the turkey from the air fryer and let it rest for about 10 minutes before slicing. This allows the juices to redistribute, keeping the meat moist.
- Slice the stuffed turkey breast into rounds and serve it with your favorite side dishes.
You can use this recipe with amounts adjusted if you want to stuff a whole turkey.
Enjoy your delicious stuffed turkey breast!
And Now for The Gravy- Don’t Worry, It’s Clean! (And Delicious)
Clean Gravy (gluten-free)
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1 cup beef broth
- 1 cube beef bouillon, or 1 tsp better than bouillon
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 cup cold water
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 Tablespoon cold unsalted butter
- Add the chicken broth, beef broth, beef bouillon, onion and garlic powder, and Worcestershire sauce to a medium saucepan. Stir to combine.
- Combine the cold water and cornstarch in a small bowl.
- Bring gravy to a boil. Whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Decrease to medium-low. Continue to whisk to ensure that it blends in smoothly.
- Let it gently simmer until its of the desired thickness. The longer it simmers, the more concentrated the flavor will become.
- Remove from heat. Swirl in one tablespoon of cold butter just before serving. This adds a silky, velvety finish.
Last But Not Least; Cranberry Sauce
Cranberry Sauce Recipe
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup fresh orange juice, from two oranges
- ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 (12 oz) bag of fresh or frozen cranberries (do not use dried)
- Zest of one orange, about 2 teaspoons
- Pinch salt
- In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring the water, orange juice, and sugar to a boil.
- Add the cranberries, orange zest, and salt and return to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to medium and boil gently for 15 to 20 minutes, until most of the cranberries have burst open.
- Transfer the sauce to a serving bowl. Cover and chill until ready to serve.