Brined Turkey

Updated 11.23.2022.

I read somewhere that the way to ensure that you do not dry out your turkey when roasting is to brine the turkey beforehand. I also liked the idea of a brine because a brine (in theory) is rather simple.

What I learned when making my first brined turkey is that brine needs to be prepared ahead of time. In other words, don’t start it at 11 p.m. the night before you’re cooking the turkey. It needs plenty of time to chill – especially if you’re making a large bird.

When I say brine needs plenty of time to chill, I mean several hours. I was a bit worried when I stuck my turkey into my still slightly warm brine that I was somehow cooking the turkey a wee bit and then subsequently cooling it down. At 1:30 a.m. I no longer cared. I don’t imagine my dad did either as I’m sure he was sick of me banging round the kitchen (literally banging as I was trying to dislodge the ice cubes I’d made).

I’m not sure what the point of the ice is in this recipe other than to cool the liquid down. I realized when I started to throw this brine together that I didn’t have any ice cubes. Nor did I have ice-cube trays. (Where did those suckers go? I know they’re here somewhere!) I made my own ice cubes (12 of them) by freezing water in muffin tins. I’m doubting that 12 small pucks of ice is what’s desired for this recipe; but it’s all I had.

brine ingredients.

  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 c. coarse salt
  • ½ c. brown sugar
  • 1 orange, finely grated rind and juice
  • 1 T. whole black peppercorns
  • 1 T. whole cloves
  • 1 T. whole allspice
  • 1 12 to 15 lb turkey, thawed, giblets removed
  • ice

turkey assembly ingredients.

  • 1 red apple, sliced
  • ½ onion, sliced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 c. water
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 6 leaves sage
  • Canola oil


  1. Two to three days before roasting: Begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees F.
  2. Combine all ingredients except turkey and ice in a stockpot and bring to a boil to dissolve the salt and sugar, stirring occasionally. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.
  3. The night before or early on the day you’d like to eat: Combine the brine, water and ice in a
  4.  5-gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.
  5. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.
  6. Place the bird on roasting rack inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels.
  7. 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.
  8. Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees F. 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.


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