Cookbook:Roasted Brined Turkey

Cookbook | Ingredients | Recipes | Cuisine of the United States

Roasted Brined Turkey
Category turkey recipes
Servings 6-12
Time 4 hours

Variation IEdit




  1. Combine the ½ gallon water, salt, brown sugar, and peppercorns. Bring to a boil and cook about 3 minutes until everything is dissolved.
  2. Transfer the brine to a 5-US-gallon (19 L) bucket, and stir in the ice water.
  3. Remove the neck and giblets from turkey, and place the turkey in the bucket of brine. If the brine won't cover turkey, add a little more water.
  4. Chill the turkey in the brine for 6-24 hours.


  1. Preheat the oven to 500°F (260°C), and move a rack to the lowest level of the oven. You'll drop the temperature later, but start it hot to get a crispier, more flavorful skin. The effect will be to keep the fat from melting and rolling down the side of the turkey, which is only going to dry it out.
  2. Place the turkey drumstick side-down on a roasting tray (with slots to allow drippings through into a pan), or on a rack sitting in a pan.
  3. Attach the wings to the bird by imagining you were twisting someone's arm behind their back. Do this with both wings. Once you figure out the right twist, you'll find that the tips of the wings will stay firmly in place near the center of the back of the turkey (near its backbone).
  4. Coat the turkey skin with the butter.
  5. Place the turkey in the preheated oven, and roast for about 30 minutes.
  6. Remove turkey from oven, and put a tent of aluminum foil loosely over the breast—this is going to keep the breast meat from overcooking and drying out.
  7. Reduce the heat to 350°F (176.7°C), and return the turkey to the oven.
  8. Continue roasting the turkey for about about 2 ¾–3 hours for the 16–18 pound (7–8 kg) bird, periodically basting it and checking the internal temperature with an instant-read probe thermometer. The breast must reach a minimum of 161°F (71.67°C) before removing it from the oven. The thigh will ideally be around 180°F (82.2°C) at this point.
  9. Remove turkey from the oven, and let stand for 15–20 minutes before carving.

Notes, tips, and variationsEdit

  • This recipe is for a 16–18-pound (7.3–8.2 kg) turkey. Roughly 2 days are required to prepare the turkey. The first day is for preparations and for brining, and the second day is for cooking the turkey.
  • The tricky thing about cooking poultry is that the dark meat needs to be about 15 degrees hotter than the white meat. White meat is safe to eat at 165°F (73.9°C), which is the temperature at which salmonella instantly dies, though 12 minutes at 140°F (60°C) will also kill it—odds are fairly good that you'll kill it all on the way to 165°F (73.9°C). The problem is that dark meat isn't very good at 165°F (73.9°C). Further complicating this is that if the breast meat gets to the 180°F (82.2°C) that the dark meat wants to be cooked to, it's going to be dry, flavorless, and generally unpleasant.
  • For optimum safety and uniform doneness, it is recommended to cook stuffing outside the bird.

Variation IIEdit

America's Test Kitchen also had a similar recipe on their show called "The Perfect Roast Turkey".


  • 4 cups kosher salt or 2 cups table salt
  • 2 gallons cold water
  • 1 ea. (12–14 pounds / 5.4–6.4 kg) turkey, rinsed thoroughly; giblets, neck, and tailpiece removed and reserved to make gravy
  • 3 medium onions, chopped coarse
  • 1 ½ medium carrots, chopped coarse
  • 1 ½ celery stalks, chopped coarse
  • 6 thyme sprigs
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted


  1. Dissolve salt in the cold water in a large stockpot or clean bucket. Add turkey, and refrigerate or set in very cool spot (< 40°F / 4.4°C) for 4–6 hours.
  2. Remove turkey from salt water and rinse both cavities and skin under cool running water for several minutes until all traces of salt are gone. Pat dry inside and out with paper towels. Place turkey on meat rack set over rimmed sheet pan. Place turkey in refrigerator, uncovered, and air-dry for at least 8 hours or overnight.
  3. Adjust oven rack to lowest position, and heat oven to 400°F (204.4°C). Toss one-third of onion, carrot, celery, and thyme with 1 tablespoon of melted butter and place this mixture in body cavity. Bring turkey legs together and perform a simple truss.
  4. Scatter remaining vegetables and thyme over a shallow roasting pan. Pour 1 cup water over vegetables. Set V-rack in pan. Brush entire breast side of turkey with half of remaining butter, then place turkey, breast side down, on V-rack. Brush entire backside of turkey with remaining butter.
  5. Roast for 45 minutes. Remove pan from oven (close oven door); baste with juices from pan. With wad of paper toweling in each hand, turn turkey, leg/thigh side up. If liquid in pan has totally evaporated, add another ½ cup water.
  6. Return turkey to oven and roast for 15 minutes. Remove turkey from oven again, baste, and again use paper toweling to turn other leg/thigh side up.
  7. Roast for another 15 minutes. Remove turkey from oven for final time, baste, and turn it breast side up; roast until breast registers about 165°F (73.9°C) and thigh registers 170–175°F (76.7–79.4°C) on an instant-read thermometer, 30 to 45 minutes.
  8. Remove turkey from pan and let rest until ready to carve. Serve with gravy.