Five Spice Roast Turkey


Non-traditional Thanksgiving turkey: a five-spice roast turkey with giblet onion gravy is surprisingly familiar. Cinnamon, star anise, fennel, and cloves are all present in Chinese five spice powder, which makes sense given how popular these spices are in Western countries during the holiday season. Sichuan peppercorns, the fifth spice in the blend, add richness and depth of flavor.


A childhood favorite of mine, five-spice baked chicken, inspired this dish. My dad and I worked on this marinade recipe during the summer and early fall, testing with a few stunt turkeys and drawing funny looks from the butcher department at the local store.

We used five spice powder and sand ginger, resulting in a delicious turkey. Soy sauce and black soy sauce, as well as the basting procedure, are responsible for its lovely dark amber hue.


In the grand scheme of things, gravy is the most important component of any meal. Whenever my dad cooks it, I slather it all over my plate and worry that there won’t be enough for everyone. The onion giblet gravy is the star of this recipe.

As a family, we’ve never been big fans of making turkey gravy using giblets, but now we are. The most delectable gravy I’ve ever had was made by pulverizing the giblets and caramelized onions from the roasting pan and adding them to the gravy mixture.

That being said, this Five Spice Roast Turkey for Thanksgiving is a fantastic dish. There will be many more Thanksgiving recipes to come over the following few weeks that you can see featured in these photographs. In addition to a Thanksgiving leftover meal, we have Sticky Rice Stuffing, Miso-Glazed Roasted Vegetables, and Scallion-Cheese Mashed Potatoes on hand. Watch this space for updates!

Okay, let’s get started with the five-spice turkey roast.



  • 14-15 pound of young turkey
  • 6 medium yellow onions (wedges)
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 3 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of Shaoxing wine
  • 1 tablespoon of dark soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons of five spice powder
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon of white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of ginger powder or galangal powder


  • Giblets such as roasted onions and drippings from the roasting pan
  • Chicken stock
  • Butter
  • ¼ cup of all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons of paprika
  • 2 teaspoons of dark soy sauce
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper


  1. Start your turkey’s refrigerator thawing two to three days before roasting. The day before you intend to roast it, prepare the marinade by blending the sesame oil, garlic, salt, soy sauce, wine, sugar, five spice powder, and white pepper in a food processor. Pulse the mixture until there are no longer any noticeable large chunks of garlic in it.
  2. In the bottom of your roasting pan, distribute the onion wedges evenly. The onions will act as the “rack” on which the turkey will be placed.
  3. The turkey from its packaging. After removing the neck and the giblets from the turkey’s cavity, thoroughly rinse the animal with cold water. With paper towels, thoroughly dry it, then place it breast side down in the pan. Make sure you cover every surface and crevice on the bottom side of the turkey by applying half of your marinade there (including the cavity). Spread the remaining marinade over the turkey’s breast side as you turn it over, then do the same with the other side. The neck and giblets should also receive some of the marinade before being added to the pan.
  4. The turkey should marinate breast side up for the entire night in the roasting pan covered firmly with plastic.
  5. Instead of transferring the turkey straight from the refrigerator to the oven, which could lead to uneven cooking, let it warm up on the counter for about 2-4 hours the following day. Using kitchen string, connect the legs.
  6. A rack should be positioned in the bottom part of the oven, and the oven should be preheated to 425 degrees F four hours before serving the turkey. Place the breast-side-down turkey in the center of the oven—30 minutes of roasting. Baste the turkey with any pan drippings to ensure an even cook and then 180-degree-rotate the roasting pan. 30 minutes more of roasting.
  7. Your turkey has now been cooking at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour. The turkey should be flipped breast side up after lowering the heat to 325 degrees F. Brush any onions or other pieces that may be adhered to the turkey’s breast with the pan drippings before basting it. To keep the onions or the pan drippings from burning, add 1/2 cup of water to a dry roasting pan.
  8. A meat thermometer placed into the thigh should read 165–170 degrees F, and any juices should run clear. Roast the turkey for a further 75–90 minutes, basting once or twice (not pink). If the turkey is cooking unevenly during this time, turn the turkey pan 180 degrees. To prevent it from burning, cover the top of the turkey with a large piece of foil if it begins to grow too black on top.
  9. After removing the turkey from the oven, give it 15 minutes to rest while it is loosely wrapped with foil. After this initial resting period, move the turkey to a chopping board or serving platter while keeping it covered in foil.
  10. Any burnt residue or contaminants should be removed from the roasting pan using a slotted spoon. After that, remove the onions and giblets and put them in a blender. If you don’t like giblets, you can also shred the neck flesh and put it in the blender, but you may also just serve the neck with the turkey if you want. The residual fat and pan juices should be poured into a sizable gravy separator and put aside.
  11. The gravy needs to be made now. If using, the neck meat or giblets should be thoroughly blended with the onions. Add the turkey fat to a pan over medium heat. A quarter cup of fat is the recommended amount. If not, add enough butter to make up about 1/4 cup of the fat.
  12. To make a roux, whisk in 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour, and simmer while whisking for about 3 minutes. To avoid burning, lower the heat as necessary.
  13. Add the paprika, the mixture from the blender, and the roasting pan juices while whisking. There is no exact science to making gravy; the amount you prepare will depend on how thick or thin you like. If the gravy still appears too thick, add more chicken stock until it achieves the desired consistency. While constantly whisking, let the gravy simmer for another two minutes.
  14. Add the dark soy sauce at this point. The main purpose of this component is for color; I use however much is necessary to achieve the desired rich hue. To taste, add salt and pepper to the gravy.
  15. Your turkey should be totally rested by this point. The turkey should be carved, and gravy should be served separately.
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