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

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

So, it’s your turn to host the Thanksgiving Dinner and just the thought of being responsible for roasting the 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 worry and anxiety.

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

Let’s just go through a little check list before we begin to make sure that what you are looking for in a turkey and what I’m offering with 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! Now read on, this recipe is 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 success.

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

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 result. Calling at least 2 weeks ahead of the holiday to reserve your fresh turkey 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: if you do buy a frozen turkey make sure you thaw the turkey ahead of time. You don’t want to be googling “quick thawing turkey methods” couple hours before your guests arrive.
    To thaw in the refrigerator give it 24 hours for each 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 turkey into a bowl to catch any moisture that will collect while the turkey 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.
  • 4. If your turkey is too big for your refrigerator, consider brining in a cooler with icy water.
  • 5. Make sure you have 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 and then renting storage space to keep it somewhere, consider borrowing a roasting pan from someone who already has one. Mom, sister, 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 get ready for dinner, consider adding one more step to your roasting adventures. Start roasting the turkey breast side down  This will prevent the breast from drying out, as the roasting juices will drip from the legs down onto the breast, basting the breast as it cooks.
  • 7. Do not season outside of the bird with anything aside from salt. Instead, opt out to put 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 burn way before the skin gets crispy.
  • 8. Thoroughly pat dry the turkey before applying butter or oil to the outside of the skin. This will prevent it from browning in patches, or the skin being soggy instead of crispy. .
  • 9. Slather outside of turkey with room temperature butter or oil for even browning.
  • 10. Even if you brined your 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 turkey 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. For 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 though.
  • 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 turkey 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 it’s  shape and look longer.
  • 18. For better visual impact use a single colored platter to showcase your turkey. If the serving plate already has 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.

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

 

Thanksgiving Roasted Turkey Recipe (Brine Method)

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
1teaspoons all spice

For Garnish:
Kale Greens
Lemons/Oranges

Also:
Roasting Pan with elevated rack or V-rack Cotton Cooking TwineInstant Read Thermometer
Serving Platter

How to make Brined Roasted Turkey:
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.
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.

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

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

Remove the giblets, neck & anything else that’s inside the turkey. Wash it thoroughly and place it into the brine.

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

Keep the turkey submerged by placing something heavy on top. I used a sauce pan 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. .

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

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.

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

Place the rack on top of the vegetables.

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

Before placing the bird on top of the rack, tuck the ends of the wings underneath the body like shown on the picture.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

Place turkey on top of the parchment lined rack. Using such small pan really wasn’t such a great idea. If you have a larger one, by all means, use it.

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

Place in the oven at 425F, on the lowest rack for about 30-40 minutes and allow the skin to brown nicely. May be not as nicely as mine. You probably don’t need the turkey to be as tan as mine got in some places.

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

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.
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.

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

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 it’s 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.

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

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.

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.

Cut the turkey into serving size pieces and arrange on a serving platter, like shown below.
That is all my friends!

Hope this coming Thanksgiving is a blessed and tasty one! Enjoy!

 

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

Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Author:
Serves: 12-16 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 ½ cup kosher salt for 12-16 hour brine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
  • ½ Tablespoon onion powder
  • ½ Tablespoon black Peppercorns
  • 1teaspoons 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 ½ 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 sauce pan 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 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. May be 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 it’s 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.

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

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

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  • 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
  • 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
  • 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

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