No one likes dry, flavorless meat—that’s why we whipped up an easy recipe for making a juicy, tender Thanksgiving turkey.
The secret to success is all in the brining process! Brining enhances the moisture because the turkey has a chance to absorb the liquid and seasonings. Brine also relaxes the proteins and traps the liquid between the fibers so natural juices are retained throughout the cooking process. Even if you don’t have time to brine the turkey overnight, just a few hours will make all the difference.
Save the drippings from cooking the turkey to make our awesome gravy recipe!
Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe
- 14 - 16 lb turkey
- 1 gal water
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 6 in 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 gal of water to a large pot then add salt, onion, brown sugar, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves and peppercorns. Bring water to a boil then remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
- When the water achieves room temperature, strain water into 5-gal bucket or similar food-grade container then discard solids. Mix iced water with brine then stir to combine. Extract turkey from packaging then remove innards from cavities of the bird. Submerge turkey in the brine, weighing down if necessary using dinner plates. Refrigerate until ready to roast.
- Preheat oven to 500 degrees then coat roasting pan with cooking spray. Remove the turkey from brine, rinse then pat dry bird, inside and out, using paper towels.
- Brush turkey completely with oil, place in oven for 30 minutes then reduce 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 oven, tent loosely with foil then let bird rest for 15 minutes prior to 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.
Don’t overcook the bird. You can combat this common problem by removing the turkey from the oven then tenting it in aluminum foil for five minutes while it continues to cook.