Cookbook:Roasted Brined Turkey

Cookbook | Ingredients | Recipes | Cuisine of the United States

Roasted Brined Turkey
Oven roasted brine-soaked turkey.jpg
Category turkey recipes
Servings 6-12
Time 4 hours

This recipe is for a 16-18 pound 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.


  • 16-18 pound turkey
  • 2 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter to coat skin of turkey
  • 1/2 gallon of water
    • 2 cups salt
    • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
    • 2 Tbs. peppercorns
  • 2 gallons of ice water (50% ice)


  1. In 1/2 gallon of water, combine the salt and brown sugar for the brine and bring to a boil for about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add to 5 gallon bucket.
  2. Add the remaining ice water.
  3. Remove neck and giblets from turkey and put in 5 gallon bucket. If brine won't cover turkey add a little more water.
  4. Put bucket in a cold area for 6 to 24 hours.

Roasting Procedure

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 kill it as well, so odds are fairly good that, for a roast, 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.

The white meat parts of the turkey are the breasts and wings. The dark meat are the thighs and drumsticks. Now, the wings and drumsticks are going to cook a bit faster than the bits of meat that are better attached to the bird. That said, you want the drumsticks cooked more, so don't worry so much about them. The wings, however, are probably worth attaching more firmly to the bird. You can do this 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).


  1. Preheat the oven to 500°F (260°C). (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.) Roast at lowest level of the oven.
  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. You will need a basting tool to get the drippings from this pan throughout the roasting process.
  3. Place the turkey in the oven.
  4. After about 30 minutes, drop the heat to 350 °F (176.7°C), remove from oven and put a tent of aluminum foil loosely over the breast of the turkey. This is going to keep the breast meat from overcooking and drying out.
  5. For optimum safety and uniform doneness, it is recommended to cook stuffing outside the bird. #The internal temperature should be checked with a food thermometer and the breast must reach a minimum of 161 °F (71.67°C) before removing it from the oven. The thigh, ideally, will be around 180°F (82.2°C) at this point. It should take about 2 3/4 to 3 hours to reach this temperature, a 14-16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2hours of roasting.
  6. Let the bird stand 15-20 minutes before carving.

Alternate Recipe

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
  • 1 turkey (12 to 14 pounds gross weight), rinsed thoroughly; giblets, neck, and tailpiece removed and reserved to make gravy
  • 3 medium onions, chopped coarse
  • 1 1/2 medium carrots, chopped coarse
  • 1 1/2 celery stalks, chopped coarse
  • 6 thyme sprigs
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


  1. Dissolve salt in 2 gallons of cold water in large stockpot or clean bucket. Add turkey and refrigerate or set in very cool (40 degrees or less (4.4°C)) spot for 4 to 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 degrees (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 1/2 cup water. 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; 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 degrees (73.9°C) and thigh registers 170 to 175 degrees (76.7°C to 79.4°C) on an instant-read thermometer, 30 to 45 minutes. Remove turkey from pan and let rest until ready to carve. Serve with gravy.