Stephanie Legin RD, LDN
Registered Dietitian |

Sweet Dijon-Glazed Turkey

Let’s Talk Some More (Renal Friendly) Turkey—Part 2

Now that you know how to pick and purchase a renal friendly turkey for your next holiday meal, how do you flavor it?  Choosing a natural, whole turkey gives you a blank canvas of fresh turkey to work with. Plain roasted turkey is delicious but learning a few simple ways to season with herbs and spices instead of salt can make it delectable.

Having Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) limits your use of salt.  If you have CKD, it is recommended that you limit your total sodium intake to ~1500-2000mg/day.  The following are some turkey prep techniques to infuse some wonderful flavors and keep your turkey tender and juicy without adding salt. Try just one technique or a combination of them when you make your next turkey.  

More (Renal Friendly) Turkey

Use a Rub

A mixture of seasonings with or without butter or oil can be rubbed all over the outside of the turkey or between the turkey skin and meat—or both!  This keeps the meat encompassed in flavor and helps to marinate the meat from the outside in while sealing in the turkey’s natural juices during cooking.  


  • For a traditional flavored turkey, try a rub made with butter mixed with ground pepper, ground dried thyme, rosemary, sage, and garlic powder.
  • If you like citrus with your poultry, combine olive oil, lemon juice, grated lemon peel, dried rosemary, onion and garlic powder, and ground pepper.  
  • A little sweet and spice can be nice.  Blend butter, brown sugar, onion and garlic powder, black pepper, red pepper flakes, cumin and paprika.

injecting a turkey

Injecting Spices

A mixture of seasonings with a liquid can be directly injected into the turkey meat by syringe.  This allows the flavors of the seasonings to permeate the meat and to keep it moist and tasty all the way through.  


  • Melted butter, oil, low sodium chicken broth, lemon juice and apple or cranberry juice make great bases for injecting flavor into the turkey.  
  • Enhance the flavor by adding your favorite herbs and spices.  
  • Fine dried herbs and spices are small enough to be pushed through a syringe.  If you choose to use whole dried or fresh herbs and spices, put them in your blender with the injecting liquid and pulverized.  
  • To make a sweet and spicy turkey, inject apple or cranberry juice and low sodium chicken broth mixed with honey, dash of hot sauce, hot pepper flakes, ground black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, rosemary, sage, and thyme. 
  • If using a base of lemon juice, the acid from the lemon helps to tenderize the meat and keep it moist and juicy.  Try a mixture of low sodium chicken broth, melted butter, lemon juice, garlic powder, and black pepper.  

More (Renal Friendly) Turkey

Brush Up on Basting

Brush or spoon turkey juices, melted butter, or other flavorful basting liquids (with or without seasonings) over the turkey while it is roasting approximately every 15 minutes.  This creates a tasty caramelized coating and seals in the turkey’s natural flavors.


  • A simple baste with unseasoned natural turkey juices, melted butter, oil, low sodium chicken broth, lemon juice, or apple or cranberry juice.
  • Basting with apple or cranberry juice to will make a sweet coating and brown up your turkey nicely.
  • Enhance the basting fluid with mix of your favorite dried herbs and spices like garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, lemon pepper, mustard powder, parsley, paprika, rosemary, tarragon, or thyme.
  • Make your turkey citrusy with a base of melted butter and lemon juice–add chopped parsley, basil and ground pepper.
  • If you like turkey a little spicy, mix in garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, and cumin.

More (Renal Friendly) Turkey

Filling the Turkey

Fill the turkey cavity full of sweet or savory aromatic vegetables, fruits, and herbs and spices and roast them with the turkey.  The flavors of the filling will permeate the meat from the inside out.  


  • For a traditional turkey fill the cavity with aromatic vegetables like cut up celery, onions, carrots, garlic, shallots, and sprigs of fresh parsley, rosemary, tarragon, or thyme.
  • Make your bird spicy by adding fresh sliced jalapenos, garlic cloves, and onions
  • For a fresh, citrus flavor add sliced lemon, fresh parsley, and garlic cloves.
  • For a sweet meat, add apple slices, fresh cranberries, nutmeg, cloves, and fresh parsley.

Having CKD doesn’t mean you are banished to a life of tasteless meals.  Get creative and experiment with different combinations of dried and fresh herbs and spices and other aromatic produce to season up your meals.  There is no right or wrong amounts of seasonings—pick what you like and add what you want! The more you cook with these wonderful ingredients, the less you’ll miss salt and other unwanted flavor enhancers and additives

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