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Course: Mains
Keyword: Fall, Good Eats Roast Turkey, Holidays, Meats, Thanksgiving

Good Eats Roast Turkey

Whole turkey with crispy skin and moist & juicy meat showing on wood board.
ACTIVE TIME: 15 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 9 hours 45 minutes
Yield: 10 to 12 servings
If you really want a flavorful turkey with juicy white and dark meats, it's going to take a little time...but it's worth it. Here's how I safely brine my Thanksgiving turkey to ensure a moist and delicious bird.
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For the brine

For the aromatics

  • 1 red apple, quartered
  • 1/2 yellow onion, quartered
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 6 leaves fresh sage
  • Canola oil

Specialized Hardware

Probe thermometer
Whole turkey with crispy skin and moist & juicy meat showing on wood board.
ACTIVE TIME: 15 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 9 hours 45 minutes
Yield: 10 to 12 servings


  • Two to three days before roasting, begin thawing the turkey if frozen. To thaw safely, do so in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38ºF.
  • You can also make the brine at this time: Combine the vegetable broth, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice, and candied ginger in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar and salt. Once the mixture comes to a boil, remove from the heat, cover, and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate at least until completely chilled, or until the turkey is completely thawed.
  • Early on the day of or late the night before you’d like to eat, brine the turkey. Combine the chilled brine and the ice water in a 5-gallon coolerA drink cooler works especially well here.. Place the turkey (giblets and other innards removed) in the brine, breast side-down. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, then set in a cool area for 8 to 16 hours12 hours is the sweet spot., turning the bird halfway through brining.
  • When you’re ready to roast, heat the oven to 500ºF. Adjust the oven racks so that the turkey will fit on the lowest rack in the oven.
  • Remove the turkey from the brine, and rinse the inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.
  • Place the bird on a flat roasting rack on a half-sheet pan or roasting pan and pat very dry with paper towels.
  • Pre-form an aluminum shield (aka turkey triangle) by folding a sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil to form a triangle. Grease lightly with canola oil, then place over the turkey breast so that the point is towards the legs. Press on the sides of the foil to form it to the breast and hold its shape. Remove and set aside for now.
  • Combine the apple, onion, water, and cinnamon stick in a microwave-safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add the steeped aromatics (not the water) to the turkey’s cavity, along with the rosemary and sage. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin lightly with canola oil.
  • Roast on the lowest level of the oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, open the oven and slide the rack out to access the turkey. Working quickly, insert a probe thermometer into the thickest part of the breast, avoiding any bones, and top with the turkey triangle. Slide the turkey back into the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF. Set an alarm on the probe to go off at 155ºF. A 14- to 16-pound turkey should take an additional 90 minutes to 2 hours, but the temperature of the meat is more important than the time it takes to get there, so pay attention to the probe.
  • Let the turkey rest, still on the roasting pan and lightly coated with foil for at least 15 minutes longer before transferring to a cutting board and carving.
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