Turkey Thighs With Pickled Cranberries and Onions for Two Recipe (2024)

By Melissa Clark

Turkey Thighs With Pickled Cranberries and Onions for Two Recipe (1)

Total Time
1 hour, plus at least 2 hours’ marinating
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Roasted turkey thighs are quicker, easier and more adaptable than a whole bird, and just as satisfying with their crisp, bronzed skin and tender meat. You can scale this recipe to feed as many as you’re serving, or if you want to make extra for leftovers. Simply double, triple or even quadruple it, spreading out the thighs on your largest sheet pan. Or you can halve it to feed one. The quick-pickled onions and cranberries are a tangy contrast to the richness of the meat, and, with their fuchsia hue, a welcome bit of color on the plate.

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Yield:2 servings

  • 1lemon
  • 2garlic cloves, finely grated, pressed or minced
  • 1tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves, preferably lemon thyme
  • pounds bone-in, skin-on turkey thighs (2 medium thighs)
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • ½cup coarsely chopped fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 2teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 2tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • ¼cup chopped fresh cilantro, basil or parsley leaves, for serving

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (2 servings)

753 calories; 39 grams fat; 15 grams saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 12 grams monounsaturated fat; 8 grams polyunsaturated fat; 20 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams dietary fiber; 9 grams sugars; 80 grams protein; 1299 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Turkey Thighs With Pickled Cranberries and Onions for Two Recipe (2)


  1. Finely grate ½ teaspoon zest from the lemon and put it in a small bowl with the garlic and thyme. Halve the lemon and squeeze 1 tablespoon of the juice into the bowl. Mix everything into a paste.

  2. Step


    Pat the turkey thighs dry and season with salt and pepper. Smear turkey with the paste and place thighs on a plate. Refrigerate, uncovered, so the skin can dry out, for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.

  3. Step


    Meanwhile, squeeze the remaining juice from the lemon halves into a medium bowl. Add the onion, cranberries, lime juice, sugar and ¼ teaspoon salt, tossing well. Let the mixture sit at room temperature, tossing occasionally, until the onions wilt and turn pink, 1 hour. Cover and refrigerate until serving. (These can be made up to 3 days in advance.)

  4. Step


    Heat oven to 375 degrees. Put turkey thighs on a baking pan and dot with butter. Roast the thighs for 40 to 50 minutes, until the skin is crisp, the meat is cooked through and the juices run clear. (No need to rest here.)

  5. Step


    Serve turkey with a little of the cranberries and pickles on top, with herbs scattered over everything.



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Cooking Notes


This cooking time can't be right. For chicken, yes, but not turkey. After 50 minutes maybe it will be cooked but it will be tough. I suggest 2 hours, 1.5 hours covered and 30 minutes uncovered.


Yes, I agree re: cooking time. I've always cooked turkey thighs for 2 1/2 hours @325, wanting them super tender and crisp. The best.


Just made roast thighs of this recipe. Given the previous messages, I searched other recipes for roast turkey thighs; majority of them cooked at 350 anywhere from 50-70 minutes, or until they register 170 degrees away from the bone. Which is what I did. Perfectly cooked, juicy and delicious at 55 minutes.


I think Michael must have missed that it is just separated thighs, not the whole bird?


i'd love to try this recipe, but the note about the cooking time is worrisome. has anyone tried it yet with the recipe's time of 40-50 minutes, or, does it truly need a total of 2 hours?


I haven't made this recipe but have roasted turkey thighs before. At 400F, it usually takes 60-80 minutes (flipped midway) to get fully-cooked moist thighs with crispy skin in my regular oven. Also made it in a convection oven and it only took 45 minutes.


2 hours of roasting for 2 turkey thighs is way too long unless you like your meat dry as dust. A whole turkey only takes 3-4 hours


I made this with chicken thighs and it was great! I put the paste on (under the skin) and let the thighs sit in the fridge for about four hours. I put the dots of butter under the skin before baking, and it turned out great! Took about 45 minutes to be done. I made it with the rest of the two-person Thanksgiving recipes (baked the squash before), so I put the stuffing in about 10 minutes into the chicken's baking time and they were done at the same time.


Recipe calls for 1 1/2 lb of turkey thighs, which would mean they weigh only 3/4 lb each. That couldn't be right. The thighs from our local farmstand are around 2 lbs each, 3 1/2 lbs with the leg. Typo? Any advice on roasting the leg as well?


Made the pickled cranberries with onions to serve with something else. They are really good. Similar to her pickled cucs to go with schnitzel.


I think the secret to their being done in 40 minutes is allowing the skin to dry out: my mother skipped this step, and lo and behold, they weren't done. I did allow the skin to dry out, and they were done in 40 minutes. This was a wonderfully simple small-scale meal. The pickled onions and cranberries were a wonderful accompaniment along with the greens and squash. I appreciated this small-scale and simple, unfussy menu: not everyone makes or participates in Thanksgiving for 12 or a crowd.

marcia strongwater

I doubled this. My husband cooked two in the air fryer, and they were Superb!The ones in the oven were very good, but next time will use air fryer for all!Was disappointed by the cranberry/onion relish, as it did not add much to the dish.


Too many onions to cranberries in the pickle, I actually doubled the amount of cranberries and still too much onions. Will be using as a garnish on sandwiches but not on my roasted turkey.


I made this a while back as instructed and turned out great, but today I made a few changes because I had on hand boneless skinless turkey thighs, plus I only had blueberries. I pickled the blueberries, and I really liked the result. The turkey I baked 30 minutes at 400°F and it was moist. I do think Melissa's way is better, but I think they were also tasty this way.

Mary Lowder

I baked the thighs as directed for 50 minutes. They were perfectly cooked.


Well, that was disappointing. I'm an experienced cook, but turkey has been my bane. I hoped this would do the trick. Followed (double) the recipe. Dried the turkey in the fridge for 2 days. Cooked as directed. After cooking 50 minutes the meat was safe to eat but tough and rubbery. The skin looked crisp & was beginning to burn, so I had to choose: Crisp skin or tender meat. I opted for the skin. Nope. It was the consistency of stiff vinyl and barely chewable. Gonna tent leftovers and cook more.


Love this. The herb paste under the skin flavored the meat beautifully. I did it 36 hours before cooking. I couldn’t leave the turkey uncovered in our small refrigerator, so I tented with wrap. I blotted them dry for a second time and re-seasoned before cooking. I didn’t do the relish, we had a shaved veg salad with tangy dressing instead. I agree with others on the cooking time. Mine took an hour and 15 minutes. They were juicy and delicious with crispy skin. Perfect for a small holiday feast.


5 stars for the turkey thighs (and a breast) - tender, moist, and flavorful! I typically eat turkey because it’s a Thanksgiving tradition, but never really love it. This will be the recipe I use going forward. I took off one star for the pickled cranberries and onions - they just weren’t my cup of tea.


Fantastic, easy recipe! Found a couple of turkey thighs in the freezer and did a test drive; next time I'm going to let them sit in the fridge for two days rather than 5 hours like today. I usually make a traditional cranberry sauce with orange zest and spices for our Thanksgiving, but I'm making a batch of this relish too this year - crunchy, tangy, refreshing. The perfect complement to the delicious yet stodgy feast.

From Toronto with Love

I made this with chicken thigh and it was so delicious. Really crispy skin and quite juicy. I pickled raisins instead of cranberries along with the onions and it added a really special, sweet zing. With leftovers, I'm going to sautee some greens to compliment the picked veg.


Those who say this needs more time to cook are quite correct. I left the thighs in for an extra 10 minutes and they were cooked...but very tough. If, like me, you prefer fall away from the bone dark meat, I'd recommend lowering the oven temperature and going a couple of hours or more and covered until last 20 minutes at a higher temperature to crisp up the skin. That said, I think I'll move on from this one.

Linda Clifton

Made just the turkey, not the pickled topping. Delicious BUT took about 75 minutes to cook through. :-(


Made this for dinner before Thanksgiving to give me ideas.. The cooking time was spot on. I also added fine julienne orange peel to the pickled cranberries and onions, and kept the medley at room temperature until the thighs were ready. Also, I had to flash thighs under the broiler for better color. Food cost for this dish is about $3.30 per person (with potatoes and veg), and I posted pictures on instagram too.


THANK YOU THANK YOU for this recipe for 2! Haven't made this yet, but will this year since travelling for the T-giving weekend and will be hankering for leftovers when I return. Reading the comments and being a devotee of spatchco*cked turkey and/or parts, agree with the 350 (= about 375 in my convection) for 50 ish minutes for parts, then check.

Kate M

I find the thighs, even larger ones, cook surprisingly quickly. I roast them on a "rack" of celery ribs, carrot lengths, onion eighths and some garlic cloves. Perfect seasoning for the gravy!


Pickled cranberries and onion are easy and delicious. Didn’t try the turkey.

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Turkey Thighs With Pickled Cranberries and Onions for Two Recipe (2024)


Should you bake a turkey covered or uncovered? ›

To achieve a perfectly golden, juicy turkey, let the bird spend time both covered and uncovered in the oven. We recommend covering your bird for most of the cooking time to prevent it from drying out; then, during the last 30 minutes or so of cooking, remove the cover so the skin crisps in the hot oven.

What is the best temperature for turkey thigh? ›

Turkey Doneness Temp: 157°F (69°C) in the breast—not 165°F!, and 175°F (79°C) in the thigh for moist turkey. (USDA charts here or read more below to see why this is safe.)

Is it better to cook a turkey at 325 or 350? ›

Oven-Roasted Turkey

We recommend starting the turkey in a 425 degree oven for 30-45 minutes before tenting the pan with foil and lowering the temperature to 350 degrees until a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees when inserted into the thickest part of the bird.

Why are my turkey thighs tough? ›

Why are my turkey thighs rubbery? If your oven's temperature is too low, it won't render the fat in the skin, which results in rubbery skin and dry meat. You might also hit a stall wherein the turkey thighs stop cooking even though some fats aren't entirely rendered.

Do you put water in bottom of roasting pan for turkey? ›

Place roast, skin side up, on a flat roasting rack in a 2-inch deep roasting pan. Do not add water to pan. Roast uncovered according to Cooking Schedule or until meat thermometer in center of breast roast reaches 170° F and in center of turkey roast reaches 175° F.

What are 2 ways to keep turkey from drying out? ›

5 Ways to Prevent Your Turkey from Drying Out
  1. Cook Pieces Instead of a Whole Turkey. ...
  2. If Cooking a Whole Turkey, Buy Frozen. ...
  3. Ditch the Plastic Pop-Up Timer; Use an Instant-Read Thermometer Instead. ...
  4. Elevate the Legs. ...
  5. Let the Turkey Rest.
Nov 1, 2022

Do you wash turkey thighs before cooking? ›

Many consumers think that washing their turkey will remove bacteria and make it safer. However, it's virtually impossible to wash bacteria off the bird. Instead, juices that splash during washing can transfer bacteria onto the surfaces of your kitchen, other foods and utensils.

Is turkey thigh done at 165 or 180? ›

First thing first: The Agriculture Department says that the safe internal temperature for a turkey is 165 degrees Fahrenheit. It recommends confirming this in the thickest part of the breast, innermost part of the thigh and innermost part of the wing.

How many hours do you cook a turkey at 325? ›

In general, you should plan to cook a turkey for around 15-20 minutes per pound of turkey at 325ºF to get to that temp.
  1. 10-12 pounds: cook 2 3/4 to 3 hours.
  2. 15-16 pounds: cook 3 1/2 to 4 hours.
  3. 18-20 pounds: cook 4 to 4 1/2 hours.
Oct 15, 2023

Is 350 too high to cook a turkey? ›

The most straightforward approach is to roast an unstuffed turkey, breast-side up, for 13 minutes per pound of turkey at 350°. That works out to approximately 3 hours for a 12- to 14-pound bird (a 12-pound turkey is pretty standard).

Can you overcook turkey thigh? ›

You can! You'll want to roast it for about 20 minutes per pound but keep an eye on it so as not to overcook- remove when the thickest part reaches an internal temperature of 161 degrees and rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Is turkey thigh good? ›

Rich in selenium, zinc, phosphorus and iron, turkey meat makes a useful inclusion to support thyroid function, immunity, bone health and energy production. The darker cuts of meat like the leg and thigh are richer in certain minerals, such as iron.

Are turkey thighs pink when cooked? ›

The color of cooked meat and poultry is not always a sign of its degree of doneness. Only by using a meat thermometer can one accurately determine that a meat has reached a safe temperature. Turkey, fresh pork, ground beef or veal can remain pink even after cooking to temperatures of 160°F.

Do you cook a turkey covered or uncovered Butterball? ›

Place turkey in pre-heated oven and heat until hot (140° F). Cover pan completely with foil for the entire cooking time. Cover breast loosely with foil after 1 to 1 1/4 hours to prevent over-browning and drying. Begin checking the turkey for doneness about 30 minutes before the recommended cook time.

What temperature do you cook a turkey uncovered? ›

Heat oven to 325°F. Place turkey breast side up in a shallow roasting pan, on a rack if you have one. If you're using a disposable aluminum roasting pan, place that on top of a cookie sheet for extra support. Using fingers, gently loosen skin covering turkey breast and thighs.

How long should you cook turkey uncovered? ›

Bake turkey, uncovered, in the preheated oven until no longer pink at the bone and juices run clear, about 3 hours. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, near the bone should read 180 degrees F (82 degrees C).

What temperature do you cook turkey covered? ›

Cook your turkey at 325 degrees F for most of the cook time; in the final 45 minutes, remove the cover or foil tent from the turkey, increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees F and baste the bird with butter. The initial lower oven temperature cooks the turkey through evenly.


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