Roasted Turkey

Every day this week I’ll be sharing a new savory Thanksgiving recipe with you! Last year I did a whole segment on Thanksgiving 101, which includes some of my best-loved Thanksgiving recipes. This year, however, I’ve been experimenting and branching out and I am so excited about the new recipes, not to mention that the entire week next weekis dedicated to Thanksgiving desserts. Hold on to your thighs, it’s going to be good.

First up is the turkey. I have a fantastic 2-hour turkey recipe in the archives but this year I wanted to revisit a brined turkey recipe I made years ago that I remember absolutely loving. So I remade it. And loved it even more. This is the turkey that will be appearing on our Thanksgiving table this year!

The brined and roasted turkey takes flavor and juiciness to new heights and the aromatics roasted inside the turkey lend a delicious flavor infused in every bite. The brine requires a few unique ingredients and while I will step aside and let you use your own judgment, I will gently recommend splurging on the candied ginger and other dried spice berries. Each ingredient really makes a difference and this is Thanksgiving after all! Let’s all live a little and buy candied ginger. (P.S. Candied ginger can be much cheaper if you find it online and order it in advance – I bought a 16 oz. bag on amazon.com for a pretty reasonable price and I am freezing the rest of the bag to use in other unique recipes that come my way!)

I can’t underestimate the gloriousness of good turkey for Thanksgiving. It’s my favorite part of the meal, no doubt about that. (See a few step-by-step pictures below the recipe!)

I’ve also included my personal method for making the turkey gravy. I know there are many other more involved techniques/recipes but this is the way I like to do it. It is simple and fairly quick but it produces a smooth, tasty gravy that gets slurped up quickly!

Roasted Turkey

What To ServeCheesy Au Gratin Potatoes or Baked Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Steamed vegetable or this Green Bean Casserole
A really, great dinner roll (for homemade I suggest these Lion House Dinner Rolls)

Roasted {Brined} Turkey and Gravy

Roasted {Brined} Turkey and Gravy

Ingredients

  • 1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young turkey
  • For the brine:
  • 1 cup kosher/coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 gallon vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger
  • 1 gallon heavily iced water
  • For the aromatics:
  • 1 red apple, sliced (no need to core or peel)
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 6 leaves fresh sage
  • Canola oil

Directions

  1. About 4-5 days before roasting, take the turkey out of the freezer (if using a fresh turkey, you can omit this step and just keep the turkey refrigerated), and place it in a 9X13-inch pan or larger to catch any raw turkey juices and place the pan in the refrigerator to thaw.
  2. 1-2 days before roasting, combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, and candied ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. The night before roasting, combine the brine, water and ice in a large bucket (5-gallon or larger). Remove the innards from the turkey and place the thawed turkey breast side down in the brine. the turkey should be fully submerged in the liquid and ice. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in a cool area for 8 to 16 hours. Because I live in a cold climate, I usually stick my brining turkey on the back porch or in the garage, after I have made sure it will be cool enough to keep the turkey safe from high, warmer temperatures.
  4. Move an oven rack to the lowest position and preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.
  5. Place the bird on a roasting rack inside a half sheet pan or roasting pan and pat dry with paper towels. Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add steeped aromatics to the turkey’s cavity along with the rosemary and sage. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.
  6. Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue to roast for another 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until the internal temperature of the turkey is 161 degrees. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving.
http://www.melskitchencafe.com/roasted-brined-turkey-and-gravy-and-a-whole-slew-of-upcoming-thanksgiving-recipes/

Recipe Source: Alton Brown from Good Eats

turkey gravy View jpg

Delicious Turkey Gravy
Printable Version

1 tablespoon canola oil
Neck and giblets from turkey
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
Pan drippings from roasted turkey (about 1/4 cup), fat separated and discarded
2 cups chicken/turkey/vegetable stock or broth
Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat until shimmering. Brown the turkey neck and giblets in the oil, turning every few minutes, until they are well browned and there are little browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Remove the giblets and neck and discard. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the butter to the pot and let it melt, stirring and scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the flour and pan drippings (separate the fat from the pan drippings before adding or else the gravy will be too greasy) and stir to combine. Cook over medium-low or medium heat, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes, until the butter/flour mixture is golden. Slowly whisk in the broth and cook over medium heat, stirring or whisking often, for about 10-15 minutes until the gravy has thickened and is bubbly and hot. Season with salt and pepper.

Recipe Source: My Kitchen Cafe

Here is the bucket I used for brining the turkey. It’s a bucket that used to house 45 pounds of wheat. It was empty and sitting in my storage room so I washed it out and used it for brining. You can also buy large buckets like this at many home improvement stores (make sure to wash well before using). If they don’t come with a lid, use a large sheet pan.Brining Bucket

After brining, rinse the turkey inside and out and place on a roasting rack set in a roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet. Do you notice how those little turkey wings are sticking straight up in the air?

Let’s get a closer look…

Those little wingy-dings need to get tucked underneath the turkey. Gently lift up the body of the turkey and bend the wings back and tuck them under.

It will look like the turkey is just chillin’ with his arms behind his head. You know. Waiting to get roasted and eaten. Ok, bad mental image, but you know what I’m sayin’ right?

Take the steeped aromatics that have been microwaved…

…and using a slotted spoon, transfer them to the cavity of the turkey.

Then get your fresh herbs and stuff them in the cavity, too.

Pack it all in so that all the herbs and aromatics are fully inside the turkey.

Now comes the fun part. Ok, not really. This part kind of gave me the eebie jeebies but it’s necessary. So I sucked it up and slathered the turkey with canola oil until it was shimmery and glossy.

Now roast and devour!

92 Responses to Roasted {Brined} Turkey and Gravy – And a Whole Slew of Upcoming Thanksgiving Recipes

  1. Love that there are apples in here. I can’t wait to see the rest of your Thanksgiving recipes!

  2. Mandy says:

    This almost makes me wish I was cooking thanksgiving dinner this year. Almost… Sure looks yummy and I love the aromatics you use. My mouth is watering :)

  3. Just know, Mel, that if it is ever my job to make the Thanksgiving turkey (the thought terrifies me), I will be emailing you nonstop in the weeks leading up to it :) Oh, and printing out your recipe and pictures. I am terrible with roasting a chicken, I can’t imagine a turkey!

  4. I love a brined bird…so juicy and delicious! Your photos are wonderful, thanks for the holiday inspiration!

  5. Kira says:

    I am so excited about the next two weeks! However, I am simply in charge of rolls this year ( I am thinking parker house rolls – they tend to be my favorite), so my family may have to eat some Thanksgiving food early to warm us up to the holiday in order to try all the food you will be posting!

  6. StephenC says:

    Ah, brining. It is a mantra in my kitchen for poultry and pork. Another option, if you have a kosher deli around, is to buy a kosher bird which doesn’t need brining because purifying with salt is what makes it kosher. I’m not sure what route we are going this year, but kosher or brined will be the only two choices.

  7. Reyna says:

    Oh thank goodness…I’ve been waiting for these posts! Can’t wait to see the rest…

  8. Jessica says:

    This recipe looks great! People think I’m a great cook but most of that I owe to you. I love trying out your recipes, I know you will never lead me astray! I can’t wait for all of the Thanksgiving festivities!

  9. Every year I put an apple inside my turkey and everyone always loves it, I use an unpeeled, uncut orange too! I like your brine and aromatics, sounds wonderful!

  10. Alicia says:

    Mel,
    It you had to choose which is the best is it this turkey or your 2 hour one? Thanks

    • Mel says:

      Alicia – that’s a hard toss up but simply based on the fact that some people get nervous about using a brown bag in the oven with the 2-hour turkey, I’d recommend the brined turkey.

  11. Tori says:

    Mel, this is the exact recipe that I have been using!! It is fantastic!!
    The best turkey I have ever had!!!

  12. I have been using this same recipe for years!! It is the best and works great with turkey breasts–so much easier to brine:)

  13. Deborah says:

    I have never had to make the turkey for Thanksgiving, but I want to make one and try this out!

  14. what an interesting set of flavors for the turkey! do you find that the bird turns out more moist when you brine?

  15. Brooke says:

    Is it better than your 2-hour turkey? Could you brine it and then use the 2-hour method?
    I have to make a turkey for a big to-do at our church on Friday night and I’m not sure which one to do now. Also, I should mention this is the first turkey I will have cooked by myself. :) I am excited!

    • Mel says:

      Brooke – I love both recipes, to be honest. If you have time to brine before your Friday dinner, I’d say try the brined turkey recipe. If not, go for the 2-hour turkey recipe. Both are homeruns!

  16. Crustabakes says:

    Hi Mel,
    i just made your blueberry cheesecake pie and am so looking forward to going home and cutting myself a huge slab for dinner tonight. Thanks so much for sharing! And i love your step by step on this Turkey!

  17. Kim in MD says:

    Brining your turkey is the only way to go! I’ve been brining my Thanksgiving turkey for at least 10 years (thanks to CI). The result is perfectly seasoned meat all the way to the bones (not just on the outside). Moist and delicious! This brine looks really flavorful, with the candied ginger and allspice berries. I’m going to try your recipe for Thanksgiving this year. Thanks for sharing, Melanie!

  18. We are doing Thanksgiving with family, but I think I’ll have to make this for me another day! Soon. Very, very soon. Thanks!

  19. Alisa says:

    Question – I live in AZ, how can I brine it without using a huge 5 gallon bucket? I don’t think it’d fit in my side by side fridge. Any suggestions?

    • Mel says:

      Alisa – that’s a great question. I Keep in mind that the bucket I pictured in my post is MUCH larger than a 5-gallon bucket. So you could get away with a little smaller of a bucket, especially if your turkey is on the small side. If you have the room in your fridge, you could take out a shelf and store the bucket that way. Also, I’ve heard of people using a large cooler to brine their turkey and not refrigerating it since the cooler keeps the turkey and ice insulated. If you use that method, check the ice often and replenish if the water isn’t staying cold enough (you don’t want your turkey to get into unsafe temperatures) – but I think the cooler method could work pretty well, especially if you keep it inside the house where it is cooler than outside.

  20. Rebekah says:

    Just found your blog recently and love it! My question is, I have read that since most frozen turkeys are already injected with salt solutions, brining them can make them too salty. Have you found that to be the case? I’ve been too scared to try brining one just in case I ruined it.

    • Mel says:

      Rebekah – I haven’t ever forked out the money for a natural, fresh turkey so I’ve always used frozen turkeys. Of the several times I’ve brined them, I have never noticed that they have been overly salty. If it makes any difference, I usually buy the Jennie-O brand. Others may have had different results but I feel fairly confident you can brine a frozen turkey (that’s been thawed) without it being overly salty. Make sure to rinse the turkey inside and out after it has brined and before it bakes. I hope that helps!

  21. Melissa says:

    Thanks so much for the great recipes. I am so excited to make this turkey. Just one question, do you cover it while it is roasting? Thanks so much!

  22. Pauline says:

    I can attest to this recipe!!!! I discovered Alton Brown’s brined turkey years ago and would never try anything else! I NEVER liked turkey as a kid…..I swear my mother must have cooked that poor bird for hours on end. So, so dry. This makes all the difference. Oh my! This is one moist turkey. Be sure to use a digital thermometer (don’t rely on those pop-ups) and remove all the aromatics before you boil the carcass for stock or you’ll have an oddly-cinnamon flavored stock. If you’ve never brined a turkey, do it and you’ll never turn back!

  23. Kristin says:

    Hi! Making my first turkey this year and I am sold on your Roasted (Brined) Turkey. I will be cooking an 18 pounder, so how much time should I allow?

    What’s your dressing recipe?

    Thanks!

  24. Nicole says:

    I made your 2 hour turkey last year and loved it…however, I am tempted to try your brined recipe. I am cooking a 22lb turkey this year. How long will this take to cook and will I need to double the brine ingredients? Also, can the candied ginger and allspice berries be found at regular grocery stores or only online?

    • Mel says:

      Nicole – yes, you can find the allspice berries and the candied (or crystallized) ginger at a mainstream grocery store (I’ve seen them at my large grocery store and at Walmart). I don’t think you need to double the brine ingredients. It’s pretty powerful stuff so you may need to add more water and ice to cover your turkey but one batch of the brine should be ok. A 14-16 pound turkey needs around 2 1/2 hours of roasting time so I’d probably plan on an additional hour for your extra plans (but if possible check with a thermometer often to prevent over-roasting and drying out). Good luck!

  25. Reyna says:

    I’ve been a fan of brining my turkeys for several years, but I loved the new additions of the ginger and aromatics in this one! I know you’re not a fan of stuffing the cavity–but have you ever tried stuffing under the skin on top of the breast? It doesn’t get so soggy and slows down the cooking of the breast–evening out the cooking time between dark and white meat. Sorry I’m rambling now—but I really came to report on how delicious this was, and that the gravy was fantastic!! I’ve ruined a batch or five of gravy in my day, and your tips made this years’ gravy the very best. I wish I had quadrupled it, because it was gone in a heartbeat! thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Thanks, Reyna! I’ve never tried stuffing a turkey – either in the cavity or under the skin, mostly because I am so not a fan of soggy stuffing but it sounds like your tip to stuff it under the skin might solve that. Verra interesting. Thanks for the tip and I’m glad the turkey and gravy worked out!

  26. Liz says:

    I will vouch for this recipe. My hubby (who is secretly in love with Alton Brown) made it for our Thanksgiving dinner two years ago (when you originally posted) and (sorry mom) it was the BEST Turkey I’ve ever had! I’m really hoping I can get him to make it again this year. :)

  27. Joyce says:

    Hi Mel! I don’t own a roasting rack. I just have one of those really old roasting pans (you know, the ones that are black and have gold-ish speckles on it :)) Anyway, do you think I can get away with putting the turkey in a turkey oven bag to cook it in?

    • Mel says:

      Hi Joyce – well, it’s definitely worth a try. I don’t know that you would get that same crispy skin but the turkey will probably stay very moist and juicy if cooked in the bag. Let me know if you try it! (If you do, I don’t know that I’d start out with the 30 minutes roasting at high heat…I’d probably keep it around 350 or 375 the entire time.)

  28. Joyce says:

    Dang! I wish I had a roasting rack. Are they pretty expensive? Thanks so much for the tip on keeping the heat lower. That could have been bad…

  29. This year I am having my husbands family over and his grandparents, so not a huge crowd. But I am extremely nervous about the turkey (never cooked one before). I’m comfortable making all the sides. I have even thought about making a turkey next week to test and try, so that I can calm my anxiety. I will be trying this recipe! :)

  30. Marie says:

    I have wanted to brine a turkey ever since I saw them do it on America’s Test Kitchen a couple of years ago. I can’t wait to try your recipe!

  31. Joy says:

    Winco is the place to go for the candied ginger. I got some in the bulk section with all the spices last year for way cheap. They don’t have all spice berries in the bulk but check out the spices in the Latino aisle, the ones in the baggies. They were much cheaper there than McCormick.

    • Alicia says:

      Joy, you rock! Thank you for the tip about Winco having candied ginger in their bulk spice area. Now that we have Winco in Arizona, I headed there and got some ginger as well as the bagged Mexican-aisle allspice berries. I was out the door for less than $1 on the 2 of those combined. I’m a happy girl!

  32. Joyce says:

    Joy, thanks so much for the info! I LOVE Winco’s bulk section. And I never thought of looking in the Latino aisle for the allspice berries. Thanks for the tip!!

  33. Joyce says:

    I did it! My turkey turned out wonderful! My sweet husband bought me a roasting pan/rack at Costco. Yay! The turkey was SO juicy and delicious. And the gravy…mmmm…
    I think next time I’ll clean my oven before I roast the turkey because my house was extremely smoke filled during the 30 minutes at 500. I was afraid it would ruin my turkey, but it didn’t. Whew!! Thank you so much!! I’m ready to host my own Thanksgiving one of these years…

  34. Jenna says:

    Thanks to you and your blog, I am making my first Thanksgiving meal! I have loved everything I have made from your recipes(and my family), that it has given me the confidence to try. I will be using all your recipes of course! It will be my first turkey! Thank you for what you do. I also love your meal plans, they have been a lifesaver. One question, how do you separate the fat for the gravy recipe? :)

    • Mel says:

      Jenna – I just recently purchased a fat separator (they are really inexpensive and look like a liquid measuring cup with a spout) but you can also skim the fat from the top of the drippings with a spoon or blot with a paper towel. Hope that helps and good luck with your Thanksgiving meal!

  35. Julie says:

    I also am a big fan of your blog since a friend introduced it to me earlier this year. I have another question about the gravy. I was reading one blog about turkey gravy and it said don’t use the pan drippings from a brined turkey because it was too salty. Are your drippings not too salty because you rinse the turkey off? Any particular broth you recommend? Gravy is big in my husband’s book and I don’t want to mess it up. Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Julie – that’s a good question about the pan drippings. I’ve heard the same thing about brined turkey drippings being really salty. I’ve always used the pan drippings from this brined turkey and it makes delicious gravy but I am very particular not to salt the gravy until I’ve tasted it. It hasn’t been too salty with the drippings for our tastes but you’ll definitely want to taste as you go and add more/less seasonings depending. I always use Swanson’s Natural Goodness 33% Less Sodium chicken broth. It is delicious, low-sodium and not packed with a ton of preservatives. Hope that helps a little!

  36. Jescee says:

    Have you ever tried this recipe on a turkey using a roaster oven? Will it work?

  37. Mel says:

    Jescee – no, I’ve never tried it. Are you talking about an electric roaster? I’ve never used one so I’m not sure how the turkey would cook…the time needed, etc. Sorry I’m not more help!

  38. Jescee says:

    Yes, I’m talking about an electric roaster. I wanted to use it so I could free up my oven to cook the stuffing and a few other things. Anyone else try it? Thanks for your comment Mel.

  39. Kristi says:

    I made this turkey last year, and it was DIVINE!!!! I’m making it again this year, and probably very year after that! :)

  40. Jessica says:

    Hi, Mel. I’m attempting my first Thanksgiving dinner this year with my parents and grandparents (PRESSURE!!!) I’m planning on making your turkey in an electric roaster (the big one with the lid and you can remove the roasting pan.) Do you think I can roast it in there and then crisp the skin in the oven the last little while? Thanks for everything!!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Jessica – good luck with Thanksgiving…you’ll do great! You know, someone else asked about the electric roaster and to be honest, I’ve never used one so I’m not sure how this turkey would fare that way. The reason behind crisping the skin first and then roasting is that it seals in the juices and makes for a juicier turkey. I’m not sure if an electric roaster naturally produces a juicier turkey – maybe you’ll be fine crisping the skin after, I just don’t want your turkey to dry out! I’m sorry I can’t be of more help…looks like I need to add electric roasting to my resume soon!

  41. Jessica says:

    Thanks for the reply! I do love my electric roaster, I’ve never had a dried out turkey but I’ve never had the crispy skin, it all usually falls apart like using a crock pot. I probably should try crisping the skin first then roasting, it might hold together better that way. Thanks for your help! I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  42. Marci says:

    Okay – I am obviously a cooking rookie! How do I make vegetable stock? I LOVE everything I make from your website & my family is very excited that I have strayed from the spaghetti/meatloaf path. Thanks for helping me make my family happy!

    • Mel says:

      Marci – you can make veggie stock by boiling water with a ton of vegetables in it – there are a lot of loose recipes floating around online but to be honest, I usually buy it at the store. Swanson’s has a really good natural (no MSG) version that I use and like. Good luck!

  43. tonya says:

    I have never cooked a turkey. I have never helped cook a turkey. I have never watched anyone cook a turkey. We had homecoming at church Sunday & I cooked my very first turkey. Brined it. Roasted it. Delicious!! Followed your recipe every step of the way – thank you!!!!

  44. Ariane says:

    We did this brine on Sunday and absoltely LOVED it(it was our first turkey)! I didn’t realize I could buy candid ginger so we just made some, probably not like the store bought stuff but cooked it in brown sugar and water for awhile. The gravy and leftovers on this baby are absolutley amazing, I’ve never had better!!!

  45. Brooke says:

    Mel, I made this turkey today and it was a homerun! I tried the 2hr turkey last year with limited success, but this one worked out perfectly. The cinnamon stick gave the gravy and unique aftertaste that we enjoyed paired with the turkey and mashed potatoes. The meat was tender and moist and the method of brining was very easy. Thank you so much for all you do! You are my ‘go to’ site when the food REALLY matters (like Thankgiving dinner)! :)

  46. Catherine says:

    I volunteered to roast the turkey for our family gathering of 20 this year. It was worth it effort because it was really yummy and so moist. First I made the vegetable stock for the brine from scratch. Boy was that flavorful. I saved 2 cups to add to the gravy recipe.

    During roasting I checked the temperature with a digital meat thermometerafter 2 hours and it registered 165 so we took it out. It wasn’t pink at all, but I think it could have used another 20 minutes because it was just the slightest bit chewy. Thank you so much for the recipe!

  47. Leslie says:

    I made this turkey for Thanksgiving. It was my first time hosting a Thanksgiving and so I meticulously followed the tutorial. THANK YOU! This Turkey was fabulous. I actually used an oven bag because my turkey was so big and I didn’t want to cook it for 6 hours. It was so perfect. I will use this recipe again.

  48. Jane says:

    Hi Mel, how cold do you think it needs to be to keep the turkey outside safely? I was hoping to do a “test” turkey this weekend (first thanksgiving at our house, scary! lol) but it’s supposed to be 50 degrees in Wisconsin, do you think that’s too warm?

  49. Mel says:

    Jane – basically you need the temperature to approximate that of a refrigerator in order for the turkey to stay in the food-safe temperature range, which is right around 38 degrees, so yeah, I think 50 is way too high too high (unless it cools down substantially overnight).

  50. Megan says:

    This sounds great! I am in charge of turkey this year & hosting thanksgiving for the first time, and I think I am going to try this…Also, if you want to make your own candied ginger it is VERY easy (and cheap). And relieves nausea/morning sickness! Peel and slice a ginger root (the easiest way to peel it is with a spoon). Then put it in a small saucepan with equal parts sugar and water and cook until tender (about 30 min.) Drain it, but save the liquid because you now also have ginger simple syrup and it’s great for sweetening tea, or adding to yummy drinks, or making “ginger ale”. Spread the ginger out on a pan to dry, it takes maybe 4-5 hours. Then put it in a bowl and add sugar and toss until it’s completely coated with sugar. If you have extra sugar you can save that and add it to tea or cookies. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

  51. Laurel says:

    Hi Mel – I have a few questions for you. I’ve never bought allspice berries and aren’t sure where to look. Would they be in the spice section? Is crystalized ginger the same as candied ginger? Do you have to use canola oil for the top, or will vegetable oil work the same way? Also, I am cooking a very large turkey… 25.5 lbs! Do you have suggestions for modifying the recipe for a turkey this size? Thanks for your help and time. I’m grateful for your cooking expertise and willingness to share. Love your website!!

  52. Mel says:

    Laurel – yes, the allspice berries are in the spices section and I’m pretty sure you can use crystalized and candied ginger interchangeably (at least I have and it’s worked great). Vegetable oil will work just as good as canola (I just have canola on hand so that’s why I put it in the recipe). For your size of turkey, I would 1 1/2 the brine recipe (so the turkey gets a lot of flavor). Also, I’d still do the 30 minutes at 500 (maybe 40 minutes) and then you’ll just need to add on probably another 30 minutes to an hour for baking time. Do you have a thermometer? I’d recommend using that to test for doneness so that it doesn’t dry out. Good luck!

  53. Laurel says:

    Mel, I just have to tell you that the turkey was AMAZING!!! My family raved about it all day. My mom said it was the best turkey she has ever had. It was so juicy and moist! We had a gathering of 70 people, so more than one turkey was cooked. Mine was the only one with nothing left. This was my first time ever cooking a turkey, so it was a huge triumph! Thank you so much for your recipe and advice on adjusting for such a large turkey. It was perfect. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

  54. Zenaida says:

    Fabulous and easy to make! Thanks for the perfect gravy recipe!

  55. Zenaida says:

    Turkey came out moist, flavorful and down right beautiful! The skin was crisp and a nice brown color! It was a great hit and I will definitely use this recipe for any turkey I brine. Thank you for all the great holiday recipes!

  56. Deb says:

    I’ve been making Alton’s turkey for years with exceptional results. In fact, it single handedly landed me the permanent hosting rights to Thanksgiving in my family (which I’m happy about :)). However, this review is actually about the gravy. So, I’m at Trader Joe’s late in the day before Thanksgiving and to my dismay they are sold out of gravy. What now? Not to worry, Mel will bail me out. This is a simple recipe to prepare even amidst the rush right before serving the big dinner. And, it really delivers on taste. Why would I buy gravy when this is so easy and so good?!

  57. Danielle H. says:

    I made this for our Thanksgiving, and it was delicious. Because I live in a very small town and didn’t want to pay more for candied ginger than I paid for my turkey, I made my own. It is divine and very easy.

  58. Nicole says:

    I studied this post like crazy last week, and it turned out great, I’m a brining convert too. It was also prettier than other turkeys I’ve made or helped make it seems like. We brined it in a cooler as suggested by another friend of mine since I figured I needed a cooler anyway. The guys had “fun” getting it submerged by putting gallon milk jugs filled with water in there and a few other things and then tipping it up on it’s side with the help of a 15 lb. hand weight. ha, oh well, it worked! Thanks, this was a fun learning experience for all!

  59. Danielle H. says:

    Hi Mel! I love this turkey, but every time I do the 500 degree part my oven fills with smoke and my smoke alarms go off. Any ideas? You can tell I love this turkey because the smoke alarms going off hasn’t kept me from making it again and again. It’s 8 degrees right now though, so I’d like to avoid having to open up all the windows if at all possible. Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Danielle – oh, that’s not good! I’d suggest turning the oven down to 475 degrees. It might be just too hot for your oven but I think 475 will still crisp up the skin nicely. Try that and see how it works. Do you have an overly small oven or standard size? Just wondering if your turkey is somehow too close to the heating elements. Good luck!

  60. Danielle H. says:

    475 did the trick! Thank you.

  61. Melissa Jackson says:

    Hi Mel! I was going to ask the same question as Danielle but you already answered it. I just wanted to send letting you know you are awesome. You are my “go to” food blogger for the holidays and great ideas throughout the year. Thank you. Down I go to 475 this year. I was also thinking of adding some liquid to the pan so the drippings generated at the high temp don’t smoke. I want to preserve the drippings for gravy too. Let me know if you think this is a terrible idea :) Thank you, Melissa

  62. Marci says:

    Have you ever tried brining this turkey longer? Cooks Illustrated had something about a 24 hour (or maybe it was 36 hours) brine was needed to get flavor all the way through. Thoughts?

    • Mel says:

      Marci – I’ve brined it for up to 24 hours with great results and am going to brine it for about that same time frame this year (simply based on my schedule). Definitely think it’s ok to brine longer although I haven’t tried it quite up to the 36 hour mark.

  63. Mel, I’m cooking a HUGE bird this year that my uncle raised. It is 37 lbs! I was wondering if I needed to make more brine or if this recipe would be enough? Thanks!

  64. Lisa says:

    Hi Mel,
    I was planning on using this recipe for my turkey. It’ll be the second time I have ever made a turkey. The first was two years ago and I used your 2.5-hour paper bag method. It was fantastic. My MIL was kind enough to buy this year’s turkey – a 25 lb. MOISTURE-ENHANCED (contains up to 8% injected solution) frozen turkey. I didn’t realize it was moisture-enhanced until now. So, would you still recommend I brine the turkey or should I just go ahead and do your 2.5-hour paper bag turkey again? Any suggestions would be appreciated!! (P.S. Your blog is my go-to site for all things food-related!) Thank you, thank you!

    • Mel says:

      Lisa – some years I’ve been able to find fresh turkeys without any solution injected but many years I can’t (depending on where we live). I’ve brined the so-called moisture-enhanced turkeys with no problem. One year, I increased the water in the brine to dilute it just a bit and that’s probably what I’ll do this year, too, since I’m using a turkey that has solution injected (that just sounds gross).

  65. Katie says:

    Did I miss anyone’s comment about what to do if you don’t have a lid to cover the bucket? It is missing the remaining part of that caption when I look at the picture. Also, does the brine mixture have to be cold when you put it in?

    • Mel says:

      Hi Katie – sorry for my late response. I edited the post so the rest of that caption shows but I use a large sheet pan if I don’t have a lid. And yes, the brine mixture should be cold when you put it in (mostly so it doesn’t take the raw turkey into the unsafe temperature zone).

  66. Celine says:

    Katie, you’re right, it doesn’t say. I used foil, pretty tightly. The brine mixture needs to be refrigerated, I made mine last night and just put the turkey in it tonight :) I think it needs to be cold so that the turkey doesn’t get warm.
    I have never made a turkey before but since Mel is my go-to, I was excited to try it! I’m only using a 10.5 lb turkey but used the exact same amounts as I would for the suggested 14-16 lb. turkey, is there a possibility that it will be too salty? I put it in the brine at 10pm and plan on taking it out at noon.

  67. Melissa Jackson says:

    This is my second year using this recipe. It turned out good last year but smoked a bit during the first 30 minutes. I followed Mel’s advice this year and turned the temp down a notch to 475 and also added a bit of water in the tray. It worked perfectly and the yummy turkey drippings didn’t burn at all. Mel, thank you for another year of great recipes. Happy thanksgiving to you and your family.

  68. Shante says:

    It was a real winner Mel! Everyone kept saying the turkey looked like it should be on the cover of a magazine! Not only was it beautiful, but delicious! Thanks!!

  69. Soonhee says:

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe! I was nervous about not cooking the turkey in a bag, but it was so moist and delicious. My family wants turkey more often during the year now. The turkey soaked for 24 hours, and I turned the heat down after 25 minutes since it was starting to really smoke. Next time I will try it at a lower temperature to begin with. The gravy was yummy too!

  70. Brenda says:

    I have always struggled with cooking the turkey for the holidays. Last Thanksgiving I decided no more turkey because of another not great turkey. I follow your blog and have made a lot of your recipes, adding many to my favorites. So I decided to try this turkey recipe and it turned out wonderful. I also made your Thanksgiving stuffing, lion house rolls and wacky cake, which were all tasty. My husband responded with best meal you have ever made. Thank you Mel and Happy Thanksgiving from Canada.

  71. Kristina says:

    I was in charge of Thanksgiving for the first time this year. I have to make they turkey. For the first time. I KNEW I could depend on you for a great recipe! You have never let me down! I have to tell you that this recipe was not only a huge success, it was, quite possibly, the MOST delicious, MOST moist turkey I have EVER eaten! So good! And shockingly easy!

    THANK YOU for coming through once again for me and making my introduction to cooking turkeys a breeze!

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