What Meat Goes With Turkey ?

The Ultimate Guide to Pairing Different Types of Meat with Turkey

There are as many different ways to eat turkey as there are people who love it. Whether you’re adding turkey to your rotation or diving into the bird for the first time, the right amount of seasoning can make all the difference.

When you’re working with a fairly common protein like turkey, it pays to keep your options open. This guide will teach you how to cook turkey in a variety of ways, from simple skillet meals to elaborate holiday feasts. Read on to learn how to cook turkey, what to serve with it, and how to pair different types of meat with turkey.

What is the Best Meat to Cook with Turkey?

If you’re just getting started cooking turkey, it’s a good idea to start with a well-known cut. There are a few popular turkey varieties, and you’ll be able to find these at most grocery stores. The most popular cut of all is the breast, but the leg is another classic and easy to work with. The thigh, which is lower in fat, is also a popular choice.

Pairs of Meat for Turkey

Turkey pairs wonderfully with most other meats, including chicken, ham, bacon, sausage, and even steak. You’ll want to be careful when cooking with ham and bacon, though, especially if you’re using a smoker. The salt in these meats can make the turkey taste too salty instead of adding that special crunch.

There are a few meats, however, that are a great choice to pair with turkey.

  • Beef: Traditionally served as a beef Wellington, pan-seared beef steaks are a great way to add a rich flavor to the turkey without overpowering it.
  • Pork: Pork makes a great meat to pair with turkey because it has a milder flavor than many other meats. You can season the turkey and then add the pork to a casserole or make a pulled pork sandwich.
  • Lamb: Lamb is mild, making it a great food to pair with the stronger flavors in turkey. You can marinate the turkey and then cook lamb shanks or lamb chops.
  • Veal: Veal is a tender meat that makes a great choice for a main dish like turkey and pasta. You can also pair it with mushrooms and sausage, making veal and turkey jambalaya.
  • Seafood: There are a few seafood dishes that go well with turkey, including shrimp and grits. You can make shrimp and lobster salad, too.
  • Poultry: While turkey doesn’t have a particularly strong flavor, some of the poultry proteins do. Chicken and turkey make for a great pairing to make chicken and waffles or turkey hash.

Tips for Working with Turkey

  • Make sure to thaw your turkey properly. Thawing your turkey in the fridge, at 36 to 42 degrees Fahrenheit, will provide you with the best results. You can thaw the turkey in the sink or in a bowl in the microwave, but make sure to let it sit for at least four hours before cooking.
  • Use a good-quality olive oil. While olive oil isn’t technically a part of the turkey, it can add a special flavor to your dishes. Make sure to use a high-quality olive oil, as cheaper oils can have a bad aftertaste.
  • Season the turkey while it’s frozen. You can season the turkey while it’s frozen so that it has time to absorb the flavors. Thaw the turkey out before you plan on cooking it.
  • Cook your turkey in small batches. If you try to make one large batch of turkey, the meat can get too salty or dry and not have enough time to brown properly. Instead, cook the turkey in small batches and add extra oil when you’re frying the meat.
  • Keep your turkey refrigerated. Just like other meats, turkey is best when it’s been refrigerated after cooking. You can eat it the same day, but ideally it should sit in the fridge for a few days.


The right cut of turkey can make all the difference when cooking turkey. You can find turkey breasts, legs, thighs, and other parts of the bird at most grocery stores.

Cook small batches of turkey in order to prevent the meat from getting too salty or dry.

Keep your turkey refrigerated after cooking, and use within a few days of being cooked.