Thanksgiving Roasted Turkey Recipe (Brine Method) + 18 Tips for Success

My Thanksgiving Roasted Turkey Recipe uses the Brine Method to achieve the most tender and moist Turkey Breast. Learn about my tips and tricks for guaranteed success this Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Roasted Turkey Recipe (Brine Method) + 18 Tips for Success

Making the perfect Turkey Recipe for Thanksgiving!

It’s your turn to host the Thanksgiving Dinner, and just the thought of being responsible for roasting turkey makes you weak in the knees. Don’t fret, I am here to help and walk you through the process step by step, eliminating any worry and anxiety.

Now, let’s just go through a little checklist before we begin to make sure that what you are looking for in turkey and what I’m offering in this recipe is the same thing.

So, you like moist, flavorful Turkey, with thin crackly crisp skin? Wow, what a coincidence, I like the same thing! Read on, this Turkey Recipe is just for you!

Thanksgiving Roasted Turkey Recipe (Brine Method) + 18 Tips for Success

Before we begin, I want you to read through this list of tips for success that will ensure your bird roasting is a victory.

Tips for Thanksgiving Turkey Success:

  • 1. Choose the right bird: While buying that frozen turkey might be a great way to save money, buying fresh turkey will produce the most flavorful and moist results. Calling at least 2 weeks ahead of the holiday to reserve your fresh bird from the supermarket might not be a bad idea.
  • 2. Choose the right size: On average, try to get 1 pound for every guest. If you want leftovers or larger servings do 1.5 pounds for every person.
  • 3. Plan ahead: Now, if you do buy a frozen bird, make sure you thaw the turkey ahead of time. You don’t want to be researching, “quick thawing turkey methods” hours before your guests arrive.
    • To thaw in the refrigerator: Give it 24 hours for every 4-5 pounds of turkey. That means that if you’re working with a 12-14 pound turkey, you need to place it in the fridge 3-4 days before you plan to cook it ( 3 days to thaw, 1 day to brine). Place the unopened bird into a bowl to catch any moisture that will collect while the bird thaws.
    • To thaw in cold water: Submerge unopened turkey in cold water, and allow 30 minutes per pound of turkey, changing the water every 30 minutes to keep the bird chilled.

Thanksgiving Roasted Turkey Recipe (Brine Method) + 18 Tips for Success, by Let the Baking Begin!

  • 4. If your Turkey is too big for your refrigerator: Consider bringing in a cooler with icy water.
  • 5. Make sure you have a big enough roasting pan: Preferably with a rack that sits above the pan. If you don’t plan to be the one in charge of roasting the turkey every year, instead of buying a large roasting pan for just this one time a year, consider borrowing a roasting pan from someone who already has one – mom, sister, or an aunt, might be good choices. Although owning one might not be such a bad idea after all.

    Roasting pans are great for not just roasting big birds, but also for making creme Brule (when you put the ramekins into the pan, you need something deep enough to have the water come up 2/3 up to the ramekin), pot roasts, roasting vegetables and regularly sized chickens etc. If all fails, use the disposable pan. It won’t allow you to raise the bird above the juices that it will produce, but it’s better than nothing.

  • 6. For juicier breast meat, start roasting upside down: If you don’t have 55 side dishes to serve up and have some extra time, consider adding one more step to your roasting adventures. Start roasting the Turkey Breast upside down because this will prevent the breast from drying out, as the roasting juices will drip from the legs down onto the breast, basting the Turkey Breast as it cooks.

Thanksgiving Roasted Turkey Recipe (Brine Method) + 18 Tips for Success

  • 7. Do not season outside of the bird with anything aside from salt: The salt will create a super crispy skin. For seasoning, the meat opt out for seasoning underneath the skin. The bird cooks for hours on end, anything you put on the outside of the skin will either slide off as the fat renders or burns way before the skin gets crispy.
  • 8. Use compound butter: for extra flavor, mix butter and herbs or seasoning and stuff underneath the turkey’s skin. This will allow the butter to seep into the meat, creating flavorful and juicy meat.
  • 9. Thoroughly pat dry the turkey before applying butter or oil to the outside of the skin.: This will prevent the turkey from browning in patches, or the skin being soggy.
  • 10. Even if you brine the turkey, a light sprinkling of salt to the outside skin of the turkey will give you crispier skin.
  • 11. Avoid stuffing the Turkey: It takes longer for the stuffing to reach 165F. This means that you run a higher risk of the Turkey Breast becoming dry.
  • 12. For large birds, (12 lbs+) roast the bird on the lowest rack: If the skin is still browning faster than the meat is cooked, loosely cover with a foil tent.
  • 13. Let the Turkey rest for 20-30 minutes before carving: This time is essential for the meat juices to evenly distribute and be absorbed back by the protein fibers. If you carve right away, all the juices will seep out, leaving you with dry meat.
  • 14. To transfer the turkey from the roasting rack to the serving plate: Insert a wooden spoon into the cavity of the bird and use it to help you transfer.
  • 15. Use a sharp knife for carving: To get nicely carved slices, remember to sharpen your knife the day before, so it’s all ready to use when needed. There’s nothing sadder than having a beautifully roasted turkey all butchered by a dull knife. An electric carving knife will still be your best choice.
  • 16. Do not discard the Turkey juices that accumulated at the bottom of the pan: Use them to make the most delicious gravy.
  • 17. Garnish: For aesthetic purposes, do not use non-edible vegetables as garnish around the bird like raw potatoes or onions etc. Instead opt for sliced, not whole, citrus halves, apples, kale leaves or cranberry. Kale leaves make great garnish since they are tougher and do not wilt as fast from the heat of the turkey, retaining its shape and look longer.
  • 18. For better visual impact use a single colored platter to showcase your Turkey. If the serving plate already has a multi-colored design, the garnish gets lost amongst the pattern making your presentation look messy. White or single colored platter will bring all attention to the star of the show – the turkey.
  • 19. Use 1 Tbsp of kosher salt per every 5 pounds of turkey. Use less, if using table salt.
  • 20. To speed up baking, spatchcock the turkey by removing the backbone and flattening the carcass. Then, bake 5 minutes for every pound of meat. This way a 24-25 lb turkey cooks in about 2 hrs and 15 minutes @335F). This works perfectly if you are starting late and need it to cook quick.

Thanksgiving Roasted Turkey Recipe (Brine Method) + 18 Tips for Success, by Let the Baking Begin!

Thanksgiving Roasted Turkey Recipe (Brine Method)-

Ingredients:

  • turkey, thawed
  • baby carrots
  • onions, peeled & quartered
  • lemon, quartered

Brine

  • kosher salt (1 tbsp per 5 lbs of turkey meat)
  • bay leaves
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • black Peppercorns
  • allspice

For Garnish:

  • Kale Greens
  • Lemons/Oranges

Also:

How to Roast a Turkey:

Making the Turkey BRINE:

  • When doing 4-6 hours of brining time use the 1cup salt (I used meat seasoning salt) to 1 gallon of water for the brine.
  • For 12-16 hour brine, use only 1/2 cup salt to every gallon of water.
  • Take 1 quart of water away from the 1 gallon and combine it with dry spices and seasonings in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stir to allow the salt to dissolve and simmer for about 10-20 minutes. This will bring out the flavor of the allspice, pepper & bay leaf making the brine more flavorful. Cool it down. {I put it into a plugged sink and filled the space around the pot with cold water} Add the cold seasoned brine to the rest of the water. Stir.

  • Transfer the brine to the brining container that’s large enough to fit the turkey. If you’re unable to fit the container with the bird in the fridge, add a lot of ice to the brine to make the mixture ice cold. You will need to add ice as it melts.
  • Remove the giblets, neck & anything else that’s inside the bird. Wash it thoroughly and place it into the brine.
  • Keep the turkey submerged by placing something heavy on top. I used a saucepan filled with water. Depending on the salt content of your brine, you should do this from 4-6 hours before you want to roast the bird, to 12-16 hours. If you want to leave the Turkey Brine overnight, it’s best to put it in the fridge, since you will not want to wake up every couple hours to add more ice as it melts. Although, you can use a cooler filled with brine, ice & turkey.
  • When ready to roast the bird, fill a lined roasting pan with carrots, onions & the garlic. I did not have a proper roasting pan, so I used what I had. But a roasting pan with at least 2-inch tall sides would be best.
  • Place the rack on top of the vegetables.

  • Before placing the bird on top of the rack, tuck the ends of the wings underneath the body like shown on the picture.
  • Stuff the cavity of the turkey with quartered lemons and onion. If the legs of the bird are not tied together, use a kitchen twine to tie the legs. Do not tie them too tight or the dark meat will take too long to cook, leaving the breast very dry.

  • Thoroughly dry the turkey skin with paper towels. Then, drizzle melted butter or oil and rub the bird all over.
  • When using a V-rack for cooking the turkey, line it with foil (for easier clean up) and poke about 20 holes in it all around the foil. If using a pan like mine, just place parchment paper and score the paper with a knife in places where the rack underneath has openings
  • Place the bird on top of the parchment-lined rack.

  • Put in the oven at 425F, on the lowest rack for about 30-40 minutes and allow the skin to brown nicely.
  • Now add a handmade foil triangle that’s been sprayed with non-stick spray on the side that’s touching the bird nicely covering the Turkey Breast part of the meat. You can use oil or butter instead of non-stick spray. Also, put the thermometer through the thickest part of the breast.

  • Then, place the turkey back in the oven and reduce the heat to 350F. Cook until the thermometer inserted into the Turkey Breast reads 165F and the temperature measured by inserting the thermometer deep into the thigh reads 180F. Give at least 15 minutes per pound of bird.  No need to baste the meat with anything. Its even been proven that basting does not increase the moistness of the Turkey Breast and instead just cools down the oven every time you open it so it just adds to the cooking time, with no benefit for the bird.
  • Once the bird has reached 165F inside the Turkey Breast meat and 180F at the thigh meat, remove the turkey from the oven and allow it to rest for 20-30 minutes covered with foil. This step is critical for the bird to keep its moisture within the meat.
  • Meanwhile, wash the kale leaves that will be used for garnish. Cut out the hard stems, then fan out the leaves around the perimeter of the plate
  • Insert a wooden spoon inside the cavity of the bird and transfer it to the garnished plate. Slice up a couple oranges for decor.

Thanksgiving Roasted Turkey Recipe (Brine Method) + 18 Tips for Success, by Let the Baking Begin!

You can watch the video below to see how you can carve the Turkey.

That is all my friends! Finally, I hope this coming Thanksgiving is a blessed and tasty one! Enjoy!

Looking for some other great dishes to make this Thanksgiving?

 

Thanksgiving Roasted Turkey Recipe (Brine Method) + 18 Tips for Success

3 from 2 votes

My Thanksgiving Roasted Turkey Recipe uses the Brine Method to achieve the most tender and moist Turkey meat. Learn about my tips and tricks to guaranteed success this Thanksgiving!

Author: Marina | Let the Baking Begin!
Calories: 411 kcal
Prep Time: 12 hours
Cook Time: 5 hours
Total Time: 17 hours
Servings: 14 servings

Ingredients

  • 12-18 lb turkey thawed
  • 2-3 cups baby carrots
  • 3 large onions peeled & quartered
  • 1 lemon quartered

Brine (for every 1-gallon water (for 16 lb turkey you will need about 2 gallons of brine)-

  • 1 cup kosher salt for 4-6 hour brine; or 1/2 cup kosher salt for 12-16 hour brine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 Tablespoon onion powder
  • 1/2 Tablespoon black Peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoons all-spice

For Garnish-

  • Kale Greens
  • Lemons/Oranges

Also-

  • Roasting Pan with elevated rack or V-rack
  • Cotton Cooking Twine
  • Instant Read Thermometer
  • Serving Platter

Instructions

  1. Start with making the brine. If you want to brine for 4-6 hours use the 1cup salt (I used meat seasoning salt) to 1 gallon of water for the brine. For 12-16 hour brine, use only 1/2 cup salt to every gallon of water.
  2. Take 1 quart of water away from the 1 gallon and combine it with dry spices and seasonings in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stir to allow the salt to dissolve and simmer for about 10-20 minutes. This will bring out the flavor of the allspice, pepper & bay leaf making the brine more flavorful. Cool it down. {I put it into a plugged sink and filled the space around the pot with cold water} Add the cold seasoned brine to the rest of the water. Stir.
  3. Transfer the brine to the brining container that’s large enough to fit the turkey. If you’re unable to fit the container with the turkey in the fridge, add a lot of ice to the brine to make the mixture ice cold. You will need to add ice as it melts.
  4. Remove the giblets, neck & anything else that’s inside the turkey. Wash it thoroughly and place it into the brine.
  5. Keep the turkey submerged by placing something heavy on top. I used a saucepan filled with water. Depending on the salt content of your brine, you should do this from 4-6 hours before you want to roast the turkey, to 12-16 hours. If you want to leave the brine overnight, it’s best to put it in the fridge, since you will not want to wake up every couple hours to add more ice as it melts. Although, you can use a cooler filled with brine, ice & turkey.

  6. When ready to roast the bird, fill a lined with parchment paper (optional, but will make the cleanup much easier)roasting pan with carrots, onions & the garlic. I did not have a proper roasting pan, so I used what I had. But a roasting pan with at least 2-inch tall sides would be best.

  7. Place the rack on top of the vegetables.
  8. Before placing the bird on top of the rack, tuck the ends of the wings underneath the body like shown on the picture.
  9. Stuff the cavity of the turkey with quartered lemons and onion. If the legs of the turkey are not tied together, use a kitchen twine to tie the legs. Do not tie them too tight or the dark meat will take too long to cook, leaving the breast very dry.
  10. Thoroughly dry the turkey with paper towels. Drizzle melted butter or oil and rub the turkey all over. Alternatively, you can use room temperature butter to rub the turkey with.
  11. If using a V-rack for cooking the turkey, line it with foil (for easier clean up) and poke about 20 holes in it all around the foil. If using a pan like mine, just place parchment paper and score the paper with a knife in places where the rack underneath has openings.
  12. Place turkey on top of the parchment-lined rack. Using such a small pan really wasn’t such a great idea. If you have a larger one, by all means, use it.
  13. Place in the oven at 425F, on the lowest rack for about 30-40 minutes and allow the skin to brown nicely. Maybe not as nicely as mine. You probably don’t need the turkey to be as tan as mine got in some places.
  14. Now add a handmade foil triangle that’s been sprayed with non-stick spray on the side that’s touching the turkey nicely covering the breast part of the meat. You can use oil or butter instead of non-stick spray. Also, put the thermometer through the thickest part of the breast.

  15. Place back in the oven and reduce the heat to 350F. Cook until the thermometer inserted into the breast reads 165F and the temperature measured by inserting the thermometer deep into the thigh reads 180F. Give at least 15 minutes per pound of turkey. No need to baste the meat with anything. It has been proven that basting does not increase the moistness of the breast and instead just cools down the oven every time you open it so it just adds to the cooking time, with no benefit for the bird.
  16. Once the turkey has reached 165F inside the breast meat and 180F at the thigh meat, remove the turkey from the oven and allow it to rest for 20-30 minutes covered with foil. This step is critical for the turkey to keep its moisture within the meat.

  17. Meanwhile, wash the kale leaves that will be used for garnish. Cut out the hard stems, then fan out the leaves around the perimeter of the plate.
  18. Insert a wooden spoon inside the cavity of the turkey and transfer it to the garnished plate. Cut up a couple oranges arrange around the bird.
  19. You can watch the video below to see how you can carve the turkey.
  20. Cut the turkey into serving size pieces and arrange on a serving platter, like shown below.
Nutrition Facts
Thanksgiving Roasted Turkey Recipe (Brine Method) + 18 Tips for Success
Amount Per Serving
Calories 411 Calories from Fat 135
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 15g 23%
Saturated Fat 4g 20%
Cholesterol 198mg 66%
Sodium 8409mg 350%
Potassium 718mg 21%
Total Carbohydrates 5g 2%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Sugars 2g
Protein 60g 120%
Vitamin A 53.5%
Vitamin C 7.6%
Calcium 5.2%
Iron 15.4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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Comments

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  • SKal

    I love how you explain in detail. The tips were extremely helpful especially for first-timers 🙂 🙂 The recipe is phenomenal! Thank you!!

    · Reply
  • Imogene Evans

    How much salt?

    · Reply
  • vikalinkafood

    The most BEAUTIFUL turkey I’ve ever seen! I have a turkey recipe coming up…late for Thanksgiving but in time for Christmas here and there is just no way I can come even close to this baby! My palms are sweating as I type. 😉

    · Reply
    • Oh stop it))) I am all blushing here lol Thank you Julie!

      · Reply
  • Natasha (@NatashasKitchen)

    Girl that is the hottest turkey I’ve seen! It seriously looks gorgeous! Your pictures scream juicy turkey! Beautiful! Pinning!

    · Reply
    • Why thank you dear 😀

      · Reply
  • Ronna

    I love your detailed explanations….I’ve been the Chief Turkey Cooker in my family for 30 years but I still like to take a “refresher” course now and then! So, where’s the gravy recipe???

    · Reply
    • Thanks Rona! So did I miss any important tips? 🙂 Gravy? Yeah, I was totally planning on doing pictures for the recipe, but it just didn’t happen… May be I will write it for next year 🙂 Although, it is the same technique as the one described from the “Perfectly Simple Pot Roast”….

      · Reply

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