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A beautiful brined and roasted turkey sits on a Spanish platter ready to be enjoyed. The platter is on a wooden table.
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4.5 from 6 votes

How to Brine and Roast the Perfect Turkey

This flavorful brine recipe and simple roasting directions will make your Thanksgiving prep easy. Check out the Turkey Prep and Roasting Time Plan I included to get you through the turkey roasting process without stress or frustration. Everything you need to know for an amazing turkey, all in one place.
Servings: 1 Turkey

Ingredients

To Make The Turkey Brine: 15 Minutes

  • 48 oz apple juice any kind is fine
  • 3 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups salt
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. black peppercorns
  • 5 whole bay leaves
  • 5 leaves fresh sage
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 3 large sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 large onion peeled and chunked
  • 3 stalks celery chunked
  • 1 bundle Italian Flat Leaf Parsely chopped into 1" pieces
  • 2 gallons cold water

Aromatic Vegetables: 15 minutes

  • 2 large onions
  • 5 medium carrots
  • 12 stalks celery assorted sizes, about 1 bunch

Seasoned Butter Rub: 3 minutes

  • 1/2 cup salted butter
  • 3 tsp black pepper fresh ground

Instructions

Make The Turkey Brine

  • Add everything to a large pot except the water. Bring to a boil. Turn off heat and cover. Chill until brine is cold.

Brine The Turkey

  • Remove the neck and other giblets for another use. Wash the turkey. Put the turkey in the brine 24 hours before you need to start it cooking.
  • Place the turkey in a brining bag. Add the brine and the 2 gallons of water. If the turkey will not be fully submerged add just enough additional water to cover. Refrigerate or store in a cooler with enough ice to keep the meat at 40F or below. Do not freeze. The cooler is easiest. Brine for 24 hours.

Prep the Aromatic Vegetables (I do this in advance when I brine the bird and have them ready in the fridge)

  • Peel onions and cut into large chunks.
  • Cut the ends off of the carrots and scrub. Cut in each carrot in half lengthwise and cut the lengths into 2"-3" chunks.
  • Wash the celery and trim off the ends. Cut stalks into 2"-3" chunks.
  • Store veggies in a ziploc bag until you are ready to put the turkey in the oven.

Cook the Turkey - Stage 1

  • Clean your sink well. Remove the turkey from brine and place in the sink. Discard brine and bag. Wash the turkey off inside and out. Soak it in lukewarm water in the sink for 20 minutes. This will help reduce saltiness.
  • Preheat oven to 275 F. Pat the turkey dry. Place 2-3 handfuls of the prepared aromatic vegetables into the cavity of the turkey. Place the rest of the vegetables in the roasting pan under the rack. Make sure they are down in the pan far enough that they do not stick up into the rack.
  • Place the bird on the roasting rack, breast side up. Cross the legs in back or tuck them together and tie firmly with kitchen twine.
  • Cover the pan with aluminum foil. Four long sheets should do it. Use the first sheet to hold the wings close to the body. Cover the rest of the bird crimping the foil underneath the edges of the roasting pan. Make sure to leave the handles out for easy access.
  • Bake at 275 F for 10 minutes for every pound of turkey.

Cook the Turkey - Stage 2

  • Mix room temperature butter and pepper together.
  • Remove the turkey from the oven and discard foil. Massage the pepper butter into the turkey making sure to cover the entire outside. Right now the turkey will still be pretty pasty looking. Caution turkey will be hot...
  • Increase the oven heat to 350 F. Put the turkey back in the oven and baste it with the juices that have collected in the pan every 15-20 minutes until a digital thermometer reads 165 F. Check the thickest part of the breast and the thigh. This will be another 1- 2 hours depending on the size of the turkey.
  • If you want to crisp the skin just a little bit more you can broil the bird for 1-2 minutes. Be very careful and check the bird every single minute. You can burn it black doing this. I set a timer and watch with the oven light on to make sure the turkey is not burning. You do not want to destroy the skin at the very end.
  • Remove the bird from the oven and tent it with foil. Let rest for 30 minutes. Carve and serve.

Leftover Safety

  • The safety recommendation for turkey is to not leave it unrefrigerated for more than two hours. Since you let it rest for 30 minutes, leftovers should be refrigerated 90 minutes after you serve it. I confess I'm not that prompt to refrigerate the bird but this is the "safe" way to prepare your leftovers.

Notes

The Plan Overview
Up to six days before Thanksgiving depending on the thawing method and size of bird
Thaw the turkey if it is frozen. Check out How to Safely Thaw a Turkey if you don't know how.
Tuesday
Make the brine
Wednesday
24 hours prior to putting the bird in the oven place it in the brine.
Cut up your aromatic veggies in perpetration
Thursday (Play it safe and start 1 hour early! It may save your bacon.)
Prep turkey for oven: 30 minutes
Plan on 10 minutes / pound for the 1st stage of cooking.
During stage two the turkey needs to be basted every 15-20 minutes for about 1-2 hours depending on turkey size
Let the turkey rest 30 minutes before carving
P.S.  How much turkey should you buy???  1 pound of turkey for each person you want to serve.  Of course we always make extra for all the yummy leftover dishes I make.  Keep an eye out next week for great ideas for your leftover turkey!