Overcooking is the single biggest problem most people have when making an oven-roasted turkey. What many of us don’t realize is that the turkey’s internal temperature will continue to rise for about five minutes after it’s been removed from the oven.
We brine our turkey to allow the meat to absorb as much liquid as possible prior to roasting. Then it will stay moist even as liquid gets lost during cooking. If you don’t have enough time to brine overnight, even a few hours can make a big difference.
Just don’t forget to rinse the bird after brining! Otherwise, the turkey will be overly salted. Oh, and food-grade buckets for brining are a must because they’re free of harmful plastic and chemicals.
And don’t forget the homemade gravy.
Oven-Roasted Turkey Recipe
- 14 - 16 lb turkey
- 1 gal water
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 6 sprig fresh rosemary, or 2 tsp dried rosemary
- 3 - 4 sprigs fresh thyme, or 2 tsp dried thyme leaves
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 Tbsp black peppercorns
- 1 gal water, ice
- 1/4 cup oil
- Begin defrosting turkey 3 days prior to roasting by placing the turkey in a leak- proof container on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator.
- The day before roasting, add 1 gallon of water to a large pot along with the salt, onion, brown sugar, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves and peppercorns. Bring the water to a boil, remove from heat and allow it to cool to room temperature.
- Once the water has cooled, strain the water into a 5-gal bucket or similar food grade container and discard the solids. Mix the iced water with the brine and stir to combine. Remove turkey from packaging then remove the innards from the cavities of the bird. Submerge the turkey in the brine, weighing down if necessary with dinner plates. Refrigerate until ready to roast.
- Preheat oven to 500 degrees and spray a roasting pan with cooking spray. Remove the turkey from the brine, rinse and dry the bird inside and out with paper towels.
- Brush the turkey completely with oil and then place it in the oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, reduce the temperature to 350 degrees. Continue roasting the turkey for an additional 2–2½ hours or until the thickest part of the thigh reads 160 degrees.
- Remove from the oven, tent loosely with foil and allow it to rest for 15 minutes before carving. (The turkey will continue to increase in temperature during this time to reach the safe internal temperature of 165 degrees.) Be sure to use those turkey drippings for homemade gravy.
Removing the turkey just before it reaches the desired temperature will prevent dry, over-cooked meat.