If getting a golden brown skin is a must when roasting your turkey(Opens in a new window), the key is to extract as much moisture and maximize the fat. Instead of basting(Opens in a new window) with the turkey’s juices or butter(Opens in a new window), we prefer glazing it with clarified butter or ghee. But which way is the best?
We basted three birds with three different clarified butter styles—ghee, stovetop, and microwaved—that'll ensure Thanksgiving's main dish(Opens in a new window) is extra crispy every time.
Ghee vs. Clarified Butter: Is There a Difference?
To quickly summarize: clarified butter is when you remove everything that is not fat—the water and white milk solids—from butter through heat. Ghee is heated until the milk solids have turned browned and nutty-tasting and the water has evaporated.
As a control, we bought Organic Valley ghee clarified butter(Opens in a new window) and used Organic Valley unsalted butter(Opens in a new window) to clarify, one via the stove-top and the other via microwave.
Stovetop Clarified Butter
To make the stovetop clarified butter, we followed Nik Sharma’s recipe on Food52(Opens in a new window).
Microwaved Clarified Butter
Put in a quart container(Opens in a new window) at 40% power and zap in one-minute increments. Once melted, put in the freezer. Come back in two hours, and it will have solidified into three layers: water on the bottom, ghee, and some milk solids on the top. Pop out, pour off water, cut off any bits on the top and bottom that aren't solid fat and use them for something else.
The Winner: Microwaved Clarified Butter
The verdict? The microwaved butter yielded the crispiest skin although only by the smallest margin. Whatever method you choose will likely yield a very similar result, whether you prefer to buy ghee or make the clarified butter yourself on the stove-top or microwave.
Finish off your bird by making turkey gravy with a fat separator. Plus, ideas for what to make with Thanksgiving leftovers, the Thanksgiving tools you need, and our Ultimate Thanksgiving Day Prep Guide.