Brined Roast Turkey

The roast turkey is the most important part of the Thanksgiving meal, so let's make sure we make the most delicious and moist turkey possible. Here's how to brine and roast a turkey in the oven.

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How Long Does It Take to Thaw a Turkey?

Before you can brine your turkey, it must be completely thawed. When it comes to defrosting a whole turkey, safety is key. The process of thawing a turkey can’t be rushed, and it requires some patience. To ensure your turkey is safely and thoroughly thawed, consult the thawing times below. The most reliable method is defrosting it in the refrigerator. Plan for about 24 hours of defrosting time for every 4-5 pounds of turkey. Place your turkey on a tray or in a shallow pan to catch any potential drips and keep it in its original packaging or a sealed plastic bag. This slow and steady method prevents the growth of harmful bacteria and allows the turkey to maintain its moisture and flavor. So, be sure to plan ahead and let your refrigerator do the work to perfectly thaw the turkey making it safe-to-cook. 

Info graphic with the timing on how long it takes to defrost a turkey based on its weight.

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Brined Roast Turkey

  • Prep Time: 30 m
  • Cook Time: 3 h 30 m
  • Brining Time: 18 h
  • Total Time: 4 h
  • Servings:


  • 10 ounces kosher salt roughly 1¼ cups Morton’s or 1¾ cups Diamond Crystal
  • ¾ cup brown sugar or maple syrup
  • 5 sprigs of fresh sage
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 large sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 5 crushed garlic cloves
  • 3 to 4 dried chili peppers
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • the peel of 2 oranges
  • 1 to 2 gallons cold water

  • For roasting the turkey:
  • 1/2 cup Butter melted
  • Fresh herbs
  • Cloves of garlic
  • 3 cups of chicken stock turkey stock, or white wine (or a combination)
  • 15 pound Whole Turkey or larger


  1. Combine the salt, sugar, fresh herbs, garlic, chili peppers, peppercorns and orange peel in a saucepan with about 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil to dissolve the salt and sugar and then remove it from the heat.
  2. Cool the brine completely and then pour the brine over the turkey in a brining bag or large vessel that will fit into your refrigerator. Fill the vessel with cold water so that the turkey is covered and refrigerate.
  3. Brine turkey for 8 to 18 hours. Then remove the turkey from the brine and discard the brine. Rinse the turkey well and dry with paper towels. Place the turkey on a rack in the roasting pan and refrigerate for several hours or overnight to dry.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 450ºF and remove the turkey from the refrigerator and let it sit on the counter while the oven pre-heats.
  5. Do not season the turkey again before roasting. Brush melted butter on the turkey breast and legs, and stuff fresh herbs and smashed cloves of garlic inside the cavity of the turkey. Pour the stock or wine into the bottom of the roasting pan and transfer the turkey to the oven. Immediately turn the heat down to 350ºF. Roast the turkey for 13 minutes per pound, but start checking the temperature of the turkey at least 30 minutes before you expect it to be finished. Baste the turkey with the drippings every 45 minutes or so and add more water to the roasting pan if the dripping evaporate too quickly. If the breast starts to brown too quickly, simply tent it with aluminum foil. When the internal temperature of the turkey (taken in the breast meat, the inside thigh and the outside thigh) reaches 165ºF, remove the turkey from the oven and let it rest on the counter, covered loosely with aluminum foil for at least 30 minutes before carving.
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Comments (9)Post a Reply

  1. 5 stars
    I used your daily preparation schedule, the basic gravy recipe, and the brine and roasting recipes. The schedule was so helpful! And the recipes were not complicated but certainly fabulous. Everyone enjoyed! Thank you!
    P.S. I always enjoy your sweet doggie pictures.

  2. I have made your recipe for two years and it is delicious. The only thing I do different is that I cover mine. Does it matter?

    1. Hi Yolanda,
      I think the only thing roasting it UNcovered will do is crisp up the skin more. If you’ve had success roasting it covered, go for it!

  3. My sweet hubby bought a butterball turkey. Could I or should I brine it? I’m thinking of asking him to buy another one but the prices and since there are just two of us are holding me back. He bought it because we are having relatives come in and he thought it would be a good meal for all of us. I just love all your recipes and you have taught me so much, thank you!

    1. Hi Ann. Butterball turkeys are already sort of brined – they have a solution injected into the turkey to help keep it moist. That doesn’t mean that you can’t brine it yourself, but I would cut down on the amount of salt in your brine. Butterball does have this page on brining turkeys – – so it seems they make that recommendation.

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