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Brined Turkey

Categories: Chicken / PoultryHoliday (Thanksgiving)
Contributed by: Kris in NJ ~~based on recipe by chef Alton Brown ('Good Eats' chef)

We like it better than deep-fried turkey, which we tried one year.

It takes a bit of work (not much, though) to prepare the brine ahead of time but I promise it will be the best turkey you've EVER eaten! And the gravy made from the very flavorful drippings is absolutely heavenly!


  • 1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen turkey, thawing

  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 gallon vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 gallon ice water

    Flavorings for later:
  • 1 red apple, sliced
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 sprigs of rosemary
  • 6 sage leaves (fresh)

  • Canola oil


1.Put the brine ingredients, except for the water (which you won't add until the next day), in a stockpot and bring to boil. Stir to make sure salt and sugar dissolves. Now remove from the heat, cool to room temp. and put in the fridge until cold. You can do this ahead!

2. Early on the day you're going to cook the turkey (well, you *can* do it  late the night before instead,) add the 1 gallon of ice water to the brine in a big, clean bucket. (Should be a 5 gallon one.) After you have put the solution in the bucket, now it's time for the bird! Place it breast down in the bucket and cover it. Put in your fridge (or someplace cool) for 6 hours. (Important: 1/2 way through the bringing time, you will need to turn the turkey over!)

3.When you're ready to start roasting, lower your oven rack to lowest possible setting and heat oven to 500

4.Mix together the apple, onion, cinnamon, and 1 cup water in a bowl and microwave on high 5 minutes.

5. Take the turkey out of the brine bucket/brine and rinse it all over (inside too) with cold tap water. You won't need the brine any longer.

6.Put the turkey on a roasting rack in your roasting pan. Pat it dry with paper towels. Put the flavorings (that you heated earlier together in the microwave) inside the bird's cavity and be sure to add the rosemary and sage now as well.

7. Tuck the wings back. Spread canola oil all over the outside of the turkey generously.

8. Place the roasting pan w/ bird in the preheated 500F oven (remember the rack needs to be on lowest level) and roast it for 30 min.

9. Take the bird out and put a folded over (to create a double layer) sheet of aluminum foil over the breast so it doesn't burn. Place a probe thermometer into the thickest part of the breast and put the bird back in oven. Lower the temp to 350 now!! 

10. If your thermometer has an alarm, you'll want to set it to 161F. A bird this size should only need 2-2 1/2 hours of total time in the oven.

11. Do not carve immediately! Be sure to leave the turkey sitting out of the oven, covered loosely w/ foil for 15 minutes before you carve it up! This lets the juices reabsorb into the meat and not run out, creating a dry turkey!