Turkey seems daunting, especially the first time you roast one. There are a plethora of methods and options on how to roast, but honestly an overnight wet brine with simple ingredients can take a lot of the guess work out of the turkey. Brining helps the bird become juicy, flavorful and delicious. Basting while roasting ensures a moist outcome. And breaking everything down step by step allows you to be worry free. A simple brine, a beautifully basted roast and you will have a delicious turkey for Thanksgiving!
Watch how to make this Thanksgiving turkey:
A Classic Thanksgiving Turkey
For the brine
- 4 qt water (plus extra to cover the turkey)
- 1 cup salt
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp whole peppercorns
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- ½ tsp fennel seeds
- 1 bottle dry white wine
- 1 onion, coarsely sliced
- 4 stalks celery, roughly chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, mashed
- 5 sprigs fresh thyme
- 4 sprigs fresh sage
For the turkey
- 12-14 lb turkey
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- ½ bottle dry white wine
- 2 tbsp sage, minced
- 2 tbsp thyme, minced
- 1 tbsp rosemary, minced
- Remove turkey from packaging and remove any giblets from cavity or neck area, reserving for the gravy stock. Rinse inside the cavity and outside with cool running water and let drip dry.
- Bring 1 quart water, salt, bay leaves, peppercorns, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, and fennel seeds to a boil. Once boiling and the salt is dissolved, remove from heat and let cool. In a large brining bucket or bag, pour in additional 3 quarts of water, wine, chopped onion, celery, garlic, thyme, and sage. Place rinsed turkey in a bucket and pour cooled brine mixture in the bucket with turkey and additional liquid. Place in the refrigerator for 8-24 hours.
- After brining and before roasting, remove from the turkey from the fridge. Rinse turkey and pat dry about 30 minutes before placing in the oven to roast, just to bring the chill off the meat. Preheat oven to 325°F.
- Prepare a roasting pan fitted with a "V" roasting rack to hold the bird. Salt and pepper the turkey then stuff turkey cavity with three celery stalks, ½ chopped onion, thyme, and sage sprigs. Tie the legs together with cotton butchers twine. Salt and pepper the outside of the bird well and place it on the roasting pan rack. Tuck in wings and place in the preheated oven.
- On the stove, melt the basting liquid: butter, white wine, minced sage, minced thyme, and minced rosemary. Every 30 minutes of roasting, baste the turkey with melted basting liquid.
- A 12-14 pound turkey will take 3 ½-4 ½ hours, until the turkey registers 165°F at the thickest part of the thigh bone.
- Once at 165°F, remove turkey and tent with foil. Let rest at least 30 minutes before carving to allow juices to redistribute. Carve turkey and enjoy the juiciest and most flavorful turkey you have ever tasted!
- If using a frozen turkey, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for thawing in the refrigerator. You’ll need to leave plenty of time, so plan for at least three days. A fresh or organic turkey is the best option as it will not be injected with saline or any pre-basted liquid. Also, if your turkey has a built-in thermometer, make sure to remove it because they just are not reliable.