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Are Butterball turkeys marinated?

Many people wonder if Butterball turkeys come pre-marinated or if they need to marinate them before cooking. The short answer is that regular Butterball whole turkeys are not marinated or injected with any flavors. However, Butterball does offer some pre-marinated and flavored options for convenience.

Regular Butterball Turkeys

The majority of whole turkeys sold under the Butterball brand do not contain any added marinade or flavoring. They are plain, all-natural turkeys that have no marinade or solution added to them. This allows cooks the flexibility to season and marinate the turkey to their liking.

Butterball’s standard whole turkeys only contain up to 3% of a natural brine solution to retain moisture during cooking. The brine is simply water, sea salt, natural flavorings, and citric acid. It does not impart any distinct flavors to the meat.

Marinated and Flavored Butterball Options

In addition to their traditional whole turkeys, Butterball does provide some pre-marinated options:

  • Cajun Style Turkey – Injected with Cajun spices and marinade
  • Garlic and Herb Turkey – Contains garlic, onion, thyme, rosemary, and lemon marinade
  • Smokehouse Turkey – Injected with smoky flavored marinade
  • Savory Herb Turkey – Marinated with rosemary, thyme, sage, garlic, and onion
  • Perfectly Seasoned Turkey – Contains salt, brown sugar, spices and natural flavorings

Butterball also sells marinade packets that consumers can buy separately to marinate their regular whole turkey in flavors like garlic and herb, Cajun and spicy maple.

Buying a Plain Turkey

So in summary, regular whole Butterball turkeys contain no marinade or distinct flavors. They are simply brined slightly with a basic salt solution to retain moisture. Here are some benefits of buying a plain Butterball turkey:

  • You can control the flavors – Season and marinate the turkey to suit your taste preferences.
  • Avoid unwanted flavors – If you don’t want strong Cajun or garlic flavors, a plain turkey allows you to add only what you want.
  • Make your own signature recipe – Craft your own unique marinade or rub to make the turkey your own.
  • Naural flavor – You’ll taste just the natural flavor of the turkey without other dominant spices.

Buying a Pre-Marinated Turkey

Here are some potential benefits of purchasing a marinated or flavored Butterball turkey:

  • Saves prep time – The turkey comes ready to cook with flavor injected.
  • Convenience – No need to make and manage your own marinade.
  • Predictable flavor – You’ll know exactly what seasonings are used based on the label.
  • Can still season additionally – You can layer your own herbs/spices on top of the marinade.

How to Choose Which Option is Best

When deciding between a plain Butterball turkey and a pre-marinated one, here are some factors to consider:

  • Your flavor preferences – Pick marinade flavors you like or make your own.
  • Time considerations – Pre-marinated saves prep time.
  • Your experience level – Making marinades may be intimidating for some novice cooks.
  • Guest preferences – Pick flavors most will enjoy if cooking for a crowd.

Both plain and marinated Butterball turkeys can produce delicious results. Pre-marinated options provide convenience while plain allows for total control over flavors. Consider your tastes, time constraints, and experience level when deciding which is best for your meal.

Recommended Marinade Recipes

If opting for a plain Butterball turkey, here are some recommended marinade recipes to infuse great flavor:

Rosemary Garlic Marinade

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl or resealable plastic bag. Rub marinade all over turkey 24 hours before roasting.

Cajun Butter Marinade

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3 tbsp Cajun seasoning
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp hot sauce

Mix ingredients together thoroughly. Spread marinade under turkey skin and let sit overnight before cooking.

Maple Bourbon Marinade

  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup bourbon
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl. Marinate turkey for minimum 8 hours before roasting.

Cooking Safely

Proper handling and cooking is critical for food safety when working with raw turkeys:

  • Store at or below 40°F until ready to cook.
  • Defrost turkey safely in the fridge, cold water, or microwave.
  • Use a meat thermometer to ensure the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
  • Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours.

Follow USDA recommended cooking temperatures and food safety guidelines when roasting your turkey.


Butterball’s standard whole turkeys contain no marinade or flavoring. They offer options like Cajun, garlic herb, and smokehouse for convenience. Plain Butterball turkeys allow cooks to customize flavors themselves. Consider preferences, time, experience, and safety when choosing between plain or marinated. With either option, you can achieve fantastic turkey flavor.