Um, somehow it is that time again. How in the bleep is Thanksgiving next week?! For all of you who are making the big Thanksgiving turkey or thinking of making the turkey or dreaming of making the turkey, this one’s for you–the OBB turkey that people fell in love with last year.

Every year, we get lots and lots of visitors in October and lots and lots in December, but November is always kind of a slow month. We’ve always been puzzled because if there’s a month we should be hitting it out of the park, it’s November, the delicious month that marks the beginning of holiday poundage.

And then we realized that Thanksgiving is not the time when people go and start experimenting with other peoples’ recipes. One of the reasons why we do what we do is because we feel like we can express love to those we care about through food and food-related traditions, and those food-related traditions are never stronger than during the holiday season.

That said, I make a mean turkey. I don’t mean that in a braggy way–in fact, I didn’t always make a mean turkey–I’ve made some very sad turkeys in my day. So for those of you to whom the turkey torch has been passed, or if you’re wanting to one-up your Great Aunt Sheila, or if you’re like me and you don’t have family close by, so it’s either learn to make a turkey or do something sad and unspeakable like pour gravy over some slices of sandwich meat, this one’s for you.

I’ve got a whole list of disclaimers for this recipe, like so many that you guys would think I was completely neurotic if I listed them all, but here are my top ones:

  • Yes, I’m using a Butterball turkey and Walmart brand chicken broth rather than a fresh turkey from a local farm and homemade stock. It’s just not gonna happen.
  • I’m brining a turkey, which involves salt. The broth has salt. The butter (and lots of it, which is another disclaimer) has salt. Salt salt salt. Turkey Day comes but once a year and salt makes that day delicious and the turkey moist and flavorful. That said. Try to find a turkey that has as little added salt as possible because you’re going to be adding plenty.
  • The turkey and brine are in a plastic bucket. Like…a plastic paint bucket (brand-new and clean, of course). If you’re not comfortable with that, you can line it with a large food-safe bag of some sort, but, like I said, this happens once a year for us and I’m not particularly concerned about it. There are lots of suggestions in the comments on how to do it other ways.
  • If you think turkey bags are an abomination, I am here to tell you that they will give you a delicious, moist, well-cooked, nicely browned turkey. If you think I’m a cheater, I’m sad for all of us, but that will not change my feelings. I am a true believer in turkey bags.

So are we cool? I know there are a million ways to cook a turkey, but this is how I do it.

Because I’m neurotic and because I have deep-seated poultry issues, I have always had some problems with turkey. First, it can be dry and flavorless. Second, it can taste gamey. Third, if it’s not overcooked, you run the risk of under-cooking the turkey, especially when you’ve got large quantities of light and dark meat involved.

My solution? Brining the turkey overnight and then injecting it (literally – using one of these) with chicken broth, butter, and garlic for flavor and moisture, then using an oven bag to ensure that it’s evenly cooked and moist. The result? A super-flavorful, super-moist turkey that my husband has deemed the most perfect turkey in the world.

In terms of supplies, you’ll need a 5-gallon bucket (or something similar), an accurate meat thermometer that can be inserted into the turkey and left there while it’s roasting in the oven (mine is an inexpensive Walmart brand and it’s very easy to use and super accurate), a turkey injector (you can find them in the small cooking tools aisle of a department or grocery store, or try this one), a heavy roasting pan, and turkey-size disposable roasting bags. When it comes to your turkey, bigger isn’t always better. Or ever, actually. A big turkey is super impressive, but I wouldn’t buy a turkey larger than 12-14 pounds; if you need more turkey, just buy another one or buy a bone-in breast. Bigger turkeys are older turkeys, meaning their meat is not as tender and often more gamey. Also, it’s more difficult to properly cook a a very large turkey; if the outside is perfect, the inside may not be quite done.

Aside from your turkey, you’re going to need a gallon of chicken broth or stock, a lot of kosher salt, sugar (white or brown), whole black peppercorns, several smashed cloves of garlic, fresh sprigs of rosemary, thyme, and parsley, and dried chopped onion.

The other thing you’re going to need is lots of time, especially if you’re buying a frozen turkey. Even if they tell you that your turkey will be defrosted in a couple of days in the fridge, I would give the turkey a week in the fridge to thaw. Which means you should go get your turkey in the next few days.

Ready? Scared? Don’t be! The thing I love MOST about this recipe is that it’s nearly failproof.

The day before you roast your turkey, make sure your turkey is thawed. Open the packaging and remove all the insides. This means you’ll have to check the body cavity and the neck cavity because that is where the pieces are usually hidden. If you’re planning on using the giblets and the neck to make gravy, rinse them off and refrigerate them in a Ziploc bag. Otherwise, discard them. Rinse the turkey inside and out and let it drain.

In a very large stock pot, combine 1 gallon of chicken stock (that’s 4 boxes or 8 cans)…

a whole cup of kosher salt,

and the peppercorns, sugar, dehydrated onions, garlic, a handful of parsley, and a large sprig each of thyme, sage, and rosemary.

Bring the mixture to a boil and then turn off the heat and bring the mixture back to room temperature.

When the brine mixture has cooled, place the turkey in the 5-gallon bucket…

Cover the turkey with 8 cups of very cold water and 8 cups of ice.

Add the cooled brine mixture…

and then cover the bucket with a lid (you can get the lid at the same time and place that you get the bucket) and place it in a cold place. If it’s cold outside, you can keep the bucket outside–a tight-fitting lid should keep the yummy smells inside and animals away. If it’s VERY cold outside, you could keep it in a cold garage. If it’s not cold at all and you’re wondering if winter will ever happen (like me), you can keep it in one side of a sink or in a bathtub and then regularly pack it with ice so it stays cold. If you have an ice maker, it probably won’t be sufficient for your icy needs and you’ll probably have to go buy bags of ice from the grocery store. This is a small price to pay for deliciousness. Brine the turkey for 24 hours.

Now…because I used the roasting bag, I roasted my turkey according to the times and temperatures on the roasting bag packaging. This meant 350 for about 2-2 1/2 hours. So when you’re ready to begin roasting your turkey, preheat the oven according to the temperature on the roasting bag box.

Soften a stick of butter and mix it with a tablespoon of freshly chopped sage.

Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse it in cool water. Tuck the wings behind the body of the turkey and then slip your hand between the turkey breast and the body to loosen the sink. Grab some of the sage butter with  your hand and rub it all between the turkey breast and the skin.

If you can get your hand between the skin and the dark meat of the turkey, more power to you–the more sage butter under the skin, the better.

You will probably not use all the sage butter under the skin. Rub the rest of it on top of the skin.

In a blender, combine about 2-3 cloves garlic, 1/2 c. chicken broth, and 1/4 c. melted butter until completely smooth. Retrieve your flavor injector.

This part is kind of fun. Suck up the mixture into the syringe and then insert it all over the turkey–in the breast, in the thighs, everywhere. You may not use all this mixture, either.

Slip any remaining rosemary and thyme under the skin of the turkey. Now is a great time to transfer the turkey into your roasting bag (according to the directions on the roasting bag, although there’s, like, a 99% chance they’re going to have  you shake some flour around in the bag first). Chop a few apples, onions, and some celery

and then stuff them into the cavity of the turkey.

Insert the meat thermometer into the thickest part of the breast and then seal up the roasting bag, making slits in the bag if you’re instructed to do so.

Roast the turkey according to the directions on the turkey bag until the meat thermometer registers 165. My 12 pounder took about 2 hours, maybe a bit more. Remove from oven, cut the bag off the turkey, and then let it stand for about 15-20 minutes so the juices can redistribute and the turkey will remain moist after slicing. Serve with all your favorite Thanksgiving goodies!

Kate's Thanksgiving Turkey
Hands-down the best Turkey for the holidays! Tender, juicy, flavorful results every time!
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Equipment Needed
  1. 1 5-gallon bucket and lid (like a brand-new paint bucket and lid, washed well)
  2. A reliable oven-safe meat thermometer
  3. Flavor injector/meat syringe
  4. Turkey roasting bags
  5. Heavy-duty roasting pan
  1. 1 turkey, no larger than 12-14 pounds
  2. 1 gallon chicken broth
  3. 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
  4. 1/2 cup brown or white sugar
  5. 1 cup kosher salt
  6. 5-6 cloves smashed garlic
  7. 1 tablespoon dehydrated onion
  8. 1 large sprig fresh thyme
  9. 1 large sprig fresh sage
  10. 1 large sprig fresh rosemary
  11. 1 handful fresh parsley
  12. 8 cups cold water
  13. 8 cups ice
  14. 3/4 c. salted butter, divided
  15. 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  16. 1/2 c. chicken broth
  17. 2-3 cloves garlic
  18. 1 apple, chopped in half
  19. 1-2 small onions, chopped in half
  20. 4 stalks celery, cut into thirds
  1. About a week before you begin brining your turkey, place it in the refrigerator to defrost.
  2. The day before you roast your turkey, combine the chicken broth and the remaining brine ingredients (through the parsley) in a very large stockpot. Bring to a boil and then remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
  3. Remove the packaging from the turkey. Remove the neck and giblets (be sure to check both the body and neck cavities) and reserve for later use if desired. Rinse the turkey in cool water and then place it in the 5-gallon bucket. Add the cold water and the ice cubes, then add the brine mixture. Stir to combine. Cover with the lid and then place in a cold place for up to 24 hours.
  4. When you're ready to roast your turkey, preheat the oven according to the directions on the roasting bag packaging. Soften 1/2 cup butter and mix it with 1 tablespoon fresh sage and set aside. Remove the turkey from the brine, rinse it in cool water, and place in the roasting pan. Use your hands to loosen the skin between over the breast. Spread handfuls of the sage butter between the breast and the skin, rubbing any excess over the outside of the skin.
  5. In a blender, combine 1/2 c. chicken broth, 2-3 cloves garlic, and 1/4 c. melted butter until completely smooth. Use the flavor injector to inject the mixture all over the turkey.
  6. Slip any remaining rosemary and thyme sprigs under the skin.
  7. Stuff the apple, onion, and celery into the cavity of the turkey. Insert the meat thermometer into the thickest part of the turkey breast and then place the turkey into the roasting bag and roast until the thermometer registers 165 according to the roasting bag directions. When you've reached 165, remove the turkey from the oven and cut the bag away from the turkey. Allow it to stand for 15-20 minutes before slicing to allow the juices to redistribute and keep the turkey juice.
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  1. 1
    Megan says:

    Looks sooooo good. I cant wait to try, even if its not for turkey day. Thanks for all the great food.

  2. 2
    Kathy says:

    oooh, yummy! Thanks for sharing this recipe, it doesn’t look too scary! πŸ™‚

  3. 3
    Kelly says:

    I love brined turkey! So moist and flavorful. I like to add apple cider to my brine.

  4. 4
    fresh turkey says:

    Look delicious and easy to do ! Love the pictures.

  5. 5
    Perdita says:

    We have turkey for Xmas in the UK. I’ve never heard of brining a turkey before though…we tend to butter the skin, lay bacon (british style- so more like fatty Canadian bacon, soft and not crispy) as a lattice over the top and baste rather than injecting. I guess the bacon lattice is the fat/salt provider in ‘our’ version!

  6. 6

    This looks like the perfect turkey, Kate!! And aaack!! I need to go buy my turkey TODAY!!

  7. 7
    Patti says:

    The best part about this post is that you told me to go get my turkey today. I’m cooking the meal and didn’t even think that it’s “time” to go buy the bird! The worst part about this post is knowing I’m going to have to get my hand all buttery trying to slap that stuff on between the skin and the bird, but I’m going to do it anyway because I trust you completely. Can’t wait to make it your way!

  8. 8
    Jervae Hornung says:

    Kate will you clarify…it looks like you have the thermometer right through the bag is that correct? I don’t have one (thermometer) so I will have to get one but I have been wanting one anyway…also have you ever used an electric roaster (on top of the counter roaster)? I have to save room in my oven so I am considering using one for the turkey…any thoughts?
    Thanks for your help!

    • 8.1

      Well, I used this thermometer:
      It has a metal probe with a wire coming out of it and then the wire plugs into the temperature register which sits outside of your oven. So I inserted the probe into the turkey breast and the wire is coming out the opening of the bag (before I sealed it all up). Does that make sense?

      As far as a roaster goes, I’ve never used one at home, but I worked at a sandwich shop in college that specialized in hand-pulled turkey and they roasted all their turkeys in roasters and they were delicious. I would totally use one if oven space is an issue.

      • Okay, I lied, haha! I actually had it coming out of one of the slits I cut in the bag.

        • Diane Dutson says:

          Just curious-did you work at Kneaders? I only ask because a) I love Kneaders and b) my cousin used to work at the one in Provo (I assume that’s where it would have been since you went to BYU). Her name is Lindsay Lovell. Any chance you might know her? Just thought I’d ask. And your turkey looks awesome! Can’t decide if I’ll try it or not since I may be making the entire dinner on my own this year. This one looks like a bit more work than what I do, but probably worth it!

          • Oh, my gosh, yes, I did work at Kneaders and I worked with Lindsday! I also worked at BYU with another one of her cousins; are you related to Kirk Shaw, too?

          • Diane Dutson says:

            No, I’m not related to him, so it must have been on her other side. Hopefully you liked working with her. πŸ™‚ We just got a Kneaders in St. George, but I haven’t made it over there yet mostly because I keep forgetting it’s there. Mmmm, I loved their sandwiches–always fresh! And I love your site and cookbook. I use it regularly. I had decided I wouldn’t get any more cookbooks because I already had too many recipes to try. Then I saw yours at DB and decided it was a must have. I use it more than most of my other cookbooks. Plus I love reading your blog just because it’s entertaining and I love all the cooking tips. I love to cook and bake and it so awesome to keep learning how to do it better!

  9. 9
    Stacey says:

    You are so awesome. I was going to email and ask if you could do a turkey recipe. This is hopefully my year to shine and, I don’t dare make forays into the unknown without you! My MIL is coming and I don’t want her to do the turkey. Its always so dry. Can’t wait to try this out. Actually, she probably won’t even say if she likes it… but who cares! I want my moist, succulent turkey!

  10. 10
    Amber Brady says:

    This is how I do my turkey. It is the absolute BEST! I wish more people knew about brining. Super moist & delicious!

  11. 11
    Trista says:

    Holy Moly does that look delicious!! I have always used a turkey bag and you are right. It keeps it moist and is a little more worry free than open roasting.

  12. 12
    Natalie Adams says:

    Why don’t you stuff your turkey with stuffing?

    • 12.1

      Natalie, there are some safety concerns with stuffing a turkey–you *can* stuff the turkey, but you shouldn’t eat the stuffing that’s been inside the turkey because it’s absorbing all those drippings, but it’s difficult to cook the stuffing to a high enough temperature to kill the bacteria without really overcooking the turkey. You could stuff the turkey for flavor, but I feel like that would be a waste of perfectly good stuffing because I couldn’t eat it, you know? πŸ™‚

    • 12.2

      I always stuff my turkey with aromatics like apples and onions and garlic, nothing that I would eat after its been in a turkey anyway. Gives the turkey a nice flavor.

    • 12.3
      Andrea says:

      Cook’s Illustrated has a recipe for a roasted, stuffed turkey so that you can eat the stuffing. Basically, you have to microwave the stuffing until it gets to a certain temperature, stuff the turkey with it, and put it in the oven right away. That way, the stuffing is already hot before the turkey even starts cooking.

    • 12.4
      C says:

      I can’t stuff my turkey because my daughter has Celiac’s Disease and can’t get gluten. So I save the turkey neck, giblets, etc that come with the turkey. I place them on top of my stuffing when I cook it (covered with foil of course). It really helps to make the stuffing moist and more flavorful. I just chuck the neck and such after its all cooked.

  13. 13
    mattie says:

    ok…thank you so much for this. i have to do the turkey this year and it’s my first time. i hope this works…

    a couple questions though. i have been reading about brining and hear that its best to use a fresh turkey that hasn’t been injected with a saline solution so that it’s not to salty. do you try to find a frozen turkey that hasn’t been injected? or does is just all work out in the end? it would be awesome to not have to drive all over the valley finding a fresh turkey! second question, how much turkey per person do you recommend?

    • 13.1

      I worried about this a lot, too, when I started brining turkeys and have come to realize that it’s not really a big deal. I haven’t had a turkey that’s too salty (although I have had gravies made from brined turkeys that are waaaaaaaay too salty). Just try to stick with one that’s on the lower end of the salt spectrum (it should say on the packaging) and you’ll be fine. πŸ™‚

      • Jessalyn says:

        I have heard the same thing regarding the gravy being too salty. Do you use the drippings from your brined turkey to make your gravy? Or is it generally best not to make gravy from a brined turkey?

        • I think if you’re careful, it’s okay to use the drippings. I usually make gravy by using a gravy packet (GASP!) and then the drippings as the liquid so yeaaaaah, it can definitely get too salty. To make gravy, I’d boil the heck out of the giblets and use that liquid along with the drippings and then cornstarch as a thickener and you should be fine. But don’t use a gravy packet or chicken broth–it will definitely get too salty.

  14. 14
    Wendy says:

    I recognized Alton Brown is this brine recipe right away. The plastic bucket was the first giveaway;) I use it too and have also heavily adapted it. Thanks for the additional tips.
    Happy Turkey Day!

  15. 15
    Wendy F says:

    Thanks Kate! I’ve been wanting to brine a turkey for years, but heard you couldn’t bring frozen store bought turkeys (something about the brine not working out right). AND chicken pox is in the works of visiting my kids, so we wont be able to travel for the holiday this year; so now instead of being stressed/depressed about Thanksgiving I can be excited to try this new recipe. Thanks again.

  16. 16
    Lindsay says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE it! I have been looking for a better brine recipe. I think yours will do FABULOUSLY!!

  17. 17
  18. 18
    Katie L says:

    I have to do the turkey this year for my entire family, who is coming to visit me. This looks wonderful. I’m giving it a shot!

  19. 19
    Parrish says:

    Omg I have that same pot and it looks the exact same way on the inside lol

  20. 20
    Kim says:

    Does the skin come out crispy? Crispy skin is an absolute requirement in this house πŸ™‚

  21. 21
    Lori Holt says:

    I was wondering too about stuffing the turkey. So do you do your stuffing in a slow cooker? I have always stuffed the turkey and then also made extra that I just put in tin foil in the oven with the turkey and mix together before serving. Thinking maybe I should try something different and not stuff the turkey? Thanks

    • 21.1

      I just have a pan of it cooking in the oven at the same time. And since the turkey needs to rest after you pull it out, it really only needs to be in the oven at the same time for about 20 minutes and then it can finish up in the oven while the turkey’s resting (unless the stuffing was in the fridge first, then it will probably need to bake a little longer).

  22. 22
    Brittany says:

    I made my first turkey last year and I brined it. I will NEVER cook another turkey without brining it first. I was a dobuter, but now I am a believer. My brine was apple cider and it made it super yummy.

  23. 23
    Marissa says:

    I have a big crowd and need to cook 2 smaller turkeys at once…any suggestions on how much longer or any temperature changes you would do? Thanks πŸ™‚

    • 23.1

      I actually really wouldn’t make any changes–maybe give yourself a LITTLE more time, but with ovens (as opposed to microwaves or convection ovens), quantity really isn’t a huge issue.

  24. 24
    Jeni Mangum says:

    I discovered brining a few years ago…I will never go back!!!!!!!!!!!

  25. 25
    Sarah says:

    This is my first year cooking the turkey for Thanksgiving. I was just thinking that I needed to start looking up turkey recipes since I didn’t think the whole “buy a turkey and throw it in the oven” method would work so well. It seems like I don’t need to look around anymore!

    Quick question: when you say put it outside if it is cold enough, how cold are you talking about? We are looking at highs in the upper 40’s Thanksgiving week. It may be a dumb question, but I don’t want to serve my family a turkey that will make them sick. πŸ™‚

    • 25.1

      Sarah, that should be fine, especially if it’s getting colder at night (which is presumably when most of the brining will take place). When it’s on the warm side, I’d probably keep a little ice around it, but all that salt also helps inhibit microbial growth, so you should be fine.

      • Jessica says:

        Since the weather is always iffy here during the holidays, I’ve always brined my turkey in a cooler. We have one just the right size that we fill with the turkey, ice, and water and it works wonderfully, regardless of the outside temperature.

  26. 26
    Melissa says:


  27. 27
    Jenni says:

    Sounds like an awesome recipe! Can’t wait to try it! I have always used turkey bags and the first year that I was in charge of the turkey for Thanksgiving, I thought my mother-in-law was going to have a heart attack she was so nervous about the turkey. She was appalled that I would only cook it for a couple of hours and not for 5 or 6 and didn’t think it would be cooked through. She must have checked in on it 20 times that morning. Needless to say that after she tried the turkey, she now does all of hers in turkey bags, too!

  28. 28
    Kami says:

    Where is that cute yellow beadboard? I don’t remember seeing that in your kitchen sneak-peek? Maybe we need some updated pics? πŸ™‚

    • 28.1

      You probably missed it because you were so sad I didn’t (and still don’t, haha!) have my subway tile backsplash up! πŸ˜‰ No, we painted the dining room yellow. πŸ™‚

  29. 29
    Susan says:

    This looks amazing and I think that I am going to try this one this year after my fail last year. I have a tip for you about the bucket. You can get a food grade bucket generally for free from your local bakery. I usually get mine from Walmart or Kroger. Bring them home and wash and sanitize the they are safe for storing food. I even use them for gardening.

  30. 30
    Tatum says:

    This is PERFECT timing! I’m making my first turkey for my inlaws this weekend as they’ll be in town. So excited to have two Thanksgiving dinners this year! My mom recommended using the roasting bag so I was happy to see you say to use it too. Can’t wait to make this. Looks like a bit of work, but the end result look Ahhh-mazing, Kate! I’m off to pick up the supplies… including the bird… thanks for the thawing tip too! : )

  31. 31
    Connie Hamblin says:

    My mother always cooked her turkey breast down until done then would turn it just to brown. make the breast meat real juicy..! We brimed one with lemonade for a citrus flavor.

  32. 32
    Sonya zagorski says:

    My family does not eat dark meat so I buy the bone in turkey breast, typically
    two 8-10 pounders. Should I adapt the recipe in any way for smaller birds? Thanks!

  33. 33
    A. Jill Cox says:

    My mom is doing the turkey this year but I might just call her up and volunteer to do it instead! This looks So good. I am still a little confused about gravy, is there a way to tell if your drippings are going to make salty gravy? Or a way to salvage if is too salty? My boys would not be happy if there wasn’t gravy.

    • 33.1

      Check out my response on comment #13 for some ideas. πŸ™‚ Really, the drippings themselves are salty but not SUPER salty, you just can’t have anything else that has salt in it or it will push it over the edge.

  34. 34
    Sara G says:


  35. 35

    That is one gorgeous-looking turkey!! I’ve never cooked a turkey before and I’m not hosting this year, but if I get my hands on a turkey, I will definitely be giving this a try!

  36. 36
    Sara G says:

    Wow! This sound delicious. Can you brine the turkey in the fridge?

  37. 37
    Heather says:

    Fabulous!! Makes me kind of wish I was in charge of the turkey this year. Almost. But I will try this on another day of the year.

  38. 38
    Lilah says:

    Oh my gosh! Thanksgiving is at my house this year, and I have NEVER cooked a turkey before. This is exactly what I needed! Thanks!

  39. 39
    Asia says:

    You say 12-14 pounds, what would your max be for doing it this way? My Dad wants a “big turkey”, not two small ones (he’s so high maintenance!)

    • 39.1

      Ha! Ohhhh, I don’t know. I would say if you’re going larger than 14-15 pounds, you should make more brine, just because the liquid needs to completely cover the turkey. You also may run into problems with the turkey not fitting into the bucket. You could ALSO tell your dad that he should trust you and that 2 turkeys is the way to go, haha! πŸ˜‰

  40. 40
    Stephanie says:

    This sounds delicious! Wish I were making the turkey this year! πŸ™‚ Thanks for the recipe!

  41. 41
    Loni says:

    Yum! I made my first turkey last year and I brined it, but just in salt water. It still was great, but I’m itching to trying it with all those yummy things in the brine too. Great post!

  42. 42
    Kim says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I do not have a good turkey recipe, and this one looks delicious and foolproof…two great things!

  43. 43

    I brined mine last year and it was fabulous! Great advice.

  44. 44
    cynthia smith says:

    I have seen many recipes for brining a turkey and your looks easy and delicious. One recipe I read said DO NOT brine a frozen turkey because it has already been injected with some sort of salt solution and it would be to salty. Have you ever had a problem with it being too salty, I would really like to try this.


  45. 45
    Kirsti says:

    I use one of those roaster ovens that sits on the counter (saves oven space! And works great) can you use a turkey bag in one of those? Or is it fine to do without the bag?

  46. 46
    Erin says:

    You ladies make the best food.
    That sounds like and amazing turkey!!
    Makes me sad I won’t get any this year.

  47. 47
    Nicole Peck says:

    I have never cooked a turkey for Thanksgiving or otherwise. I have been terrified. Thank you for your instructions!!! I don’t have to do it this year either, but I saved it so when the time comes, I will know what to do!!!

  48. 48
    sara says:

    This looks unbelievably delicious! I am not fortunate to be able to cook the T-day turkey around here, since that job still always falls to my Mom or Grandma or mother-in-law. About every other year I cook a turkey for Mother’s Day and invite my whole extended family over. I’ve had a lot of success with an Emeril turkey recipe but I think I’ll give yours a try next time!

  49. 49
    Jolayne says:

    I have to try this! I’ve never had too much trouble with turkey – the roasting bags really are magic. But my turkeys have never been anything special. I’ll have to do this one for Christmas (I live in Canada, where Thanksgiving was a few weeks ago).

  50. 50
    Crystal says:

    Looks amazing. Going to have to give it a go. I never have to cook a bird for Thanksgiving, cause we are always with family. But I always buy one and freeze to for later use. Have to try your method this year. I also love roasting bags.

  51. 51
    bob mckenzie says:

    Brining is awesome but what’s awesomer πŸ™‚ is deep frying a turkey. You have to do both, though. Brine and deep fry. My first deep fried turkey was dry. I’ve been brining ever since (about 10 years now) and it comes out fantastic. Do you like bacon? Then deep frying is for you. The skin comes out crispy and slightly salty. I used to think the skin was icky but deep fried turkey skin is essentially bacon. Soooo good.

    Peanut oil is kind of expensive but I’ve been using the same batch for 10 years. Really! After I fry in it and let it cool down, I pour it through cheese cloth back into the container then pop it in the freezer until the next time I cook a turkey. So the peanut oil has only been unfrozen for like 10 days total, making it quite ‘fresh’.

    Feel free to email me if you want/need more details.

    When you brine and fry, make sure you don’t have any sugary juice in the bring (like apple juice) because the sugar will caramelize when it’s fried. But that’s mostly for aesthetic reasons. The turkey will come out black but it’s not burnt. It just looks weird because all the sugar caramelized and make the turkey very dark. I just avoid the sugar so my guests aren’t freaked out.

  52. 52
    Carrie says:

    I don’t have a roasting pan, but I assume I could use one of those disposable ones. Do you agree?

  53. 53
    Melissa says:

    I agree about the bags! I have friends who freak out when they make their turkeys, but I asked my MIL when I made my first one and she said just put it in a bag. I thought she was crazy, but its so easy and so fast! We eat a late lunch for Thanksgiving and my mom always ahd to get up at the crack of dawn to make the turkey…I am sooo glad I don’t do that ;o) I think I will give this a try. We just make it plain…sounds lame, but it’s actually really good in the bag. I think I’ll get adventurous =) So it doesn’t taste too salty you said…my MIL and husband are not fans of salty foods (I AM!!!),,,they won’t hate me and spit it out if I make this right ;o)

  54. 54
    Carrie says:

    I’m gonna admit that the turkey is actually my least favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner, maybe because I’ve never had turkey cooked the right way :)but this! THIS one you make look good!! thanks for taking the time to post such detailed instructions. I’m definitely trying this recipe this year.

  55. 55
    Rachel says:


  56. 56
    Shannon says:

    This is a beautiful thing! πŸ™‚

  57. 57
    Jamie says:

    Kate: I am doing the turkey for the first time and I had already bought my turkey before I read your post, which I am totally going to use this recipe. Here is the problem… My turkey is 21 lbs. ACK… Does this just guarantee that it’s going to be dried out? HELP!

  58. 58
    Amanda Strong says:

    This is where I wish someone else was cooking. I am not a fan of touching raw poultry…even with gloves. Looks fantastic.

  59. 59
    sally says:

    Last year was the first time I was in charge of Thanksgiving and I totally used all brand new recipes from your site and everything was awesome. The only thing I didn’t do was the turkey because my Mom did that for me, and I actually dodged the turkey bullet again this year but next year I will definitely be trying this.

  60. 60
    Danielle says:

    Oh my goodness that sounds delicious. And a ton of work. Definitely sounds like it’s worth it though. I’ve printed this out; it’s my first year really hosting Thanksgiving and I am so going to look like a rock star thanks to Kate. Thank you!

  61. 61
    LaRene says:

    I’ve always bought the biggest turkey I can find (I had heard that it’s cheaper that way– more meat per bone ratio). Besides not having a big enough bucket, is there a reason not to buy a big 20+ pounder?

  62. 62

    So my oven bag always sticks to my turkey and I loose the delicious skin on the breast meat. What am I doing wrong? Yes, I DO flour the bag. Any thought? Anybody?

    • 62.1

      *lose. I hate it when I miss typos.

      • What I try to do is have the bag as tight on the bottom of the turkey as possible and then I don’t cinch it too tight, so when the bag heats up and inflates, it kind of forms a bubble around the turkey. I also move the turkey down to one of the lower racks in the oven so it will have plenty of space to inflate.

  63. 63
    Anna says:

    I’m not a big turkey fan, but that most be the prettiest turkey I’ve ever seen, and it really make me want some.

  64. 64
    Dreama says:

    This is Sooo close to the recipe I (kinda) follow I’m going to say it’s the same. Only difference is I use our Summer cooler for the brining. EASY to fit even a huge turkey into it and holds it to Cold temperature. And, no buying a new bucket every year (’cause you know you’re gonna use that bucket for car washes come Summer!

  65. 65
    Sara says:

    This looks amazing! I’m cooking my first Thanksgiving turkey this year, and will use this as my guide!

  66. 66
    Jennifer says:

    Question about brining time- ideally, this would be done Wednesday morning but I am working normal business hours that day. What is the minimum and maximum times? Should I do it after work on Wednesday so it has about 16 hours under its belt, really early Wednesday morning so it has about 28 hours, or what do you suggest? Thanks!

  67. 67
    Jenn says:

    Ummmm Yummm… I must bookmark this so when I’m in charge of the turkey for Christmas, I can do it your way. Do you eat the stuff inside the turkey after you’ve roasted it??? (that just seems gross to me LOL)

  68. 68
    Natalie says:

    Great turkey recipe, love the step by step photos.

  69. 69
    Laura H says:

    I am going to be brave and try this for Thanksgiving! You guys have not failed me yet so I know this will be a success too! Thanks for this!

  70. 70
    Andrea Coombs says:

    Ooh I’m so excited to try this! I have often wondered how to brine the huge old bird NOT in the fridge because I simply don’t have the space for it. Okay–so I need a bit of clarification as to how cold it can be outside for me to leave it out there. I live in South Dakota which is often synonymous with the North Pole at Thanksgiving–so tell me the temperature difference between cold outside and VERY cold outside? Like I figured below zero is too cold, but what about below freezing? We have been unseasonably warm lately–I fret about giving people food poisoning so what is too warm? Do you leave it outside the whole 24 hours it is brining?

    And would you still use an oven bag if you were cooking it in a roaster? Thanks for being patient with all my silly questions. πŸ™‚ You guys are the best.

  71. 71
    Andrea Coombs says:

    Ha ha, I just discovered comment 25. I know it’s probably dumb to ask if below freezing is too cold to have it out but I just want to make sure.

  72. 72
    Nicholle says:

    Please tell me this Thanksgiving week, you will teach us how to make gravy!

    • 72.1

      Oh, Nicholle, I kind of feel like gravy is even MORE personal the stuffing or turkey, so I’m scared to tell people what to do, haha!

      You’ve got a few options. With this particular turkey, this is what I’d do:

      1. Rinse the giblets (neck and internal organs that are in the turkey) in cool water and place in a saucepan with a sprig each of rosemary, thyme, and sage, 2-3 cloves of smashed garlic, and half an onion. Cover with water. Bring to a boil, cover, and then simmer it for about an hour.

      2. When you’re ready to make the gravy, strain the solids from the liquid and discard them. Take a gravy packet (I just use McCormick turkey gravy) and follow the instructions for gravy, but instead of water, use the liquid from the giblets. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

      3. Congratulations! You’ve got gravy. πŸ™‚

      Normally, you can just use the drippings from the turkey, but the drippings from this turkey are SO salty that when you combine them with a gravy packet, it’s a super, super salty gravy.

      Does that help?

      • Becca Robison says:

        First of all, this was my very first turkey ever, and I followed your directions word for word (except I forgot to use a bag), and it was AMAZING! Best turkey ever – so said my husband, and so say I! I can’t imagine wanting to change a thing!!! It was so moist and flavorful.

        But second, in response to the above discussion, I used the drippings for gravy from the brined turkey and it wasn’t salty at all. In fact, I ended up adding a bit of salt at the end. I didn’t use a gravy packet – I just followed a recipe I found online. Boiled the giblets with a bit of chicken stock with some onion and fresh rosemary, thyme and sage for about 2 hours, skimmed the fat off of the turkey drippings, made a roux with some of the fat and then combined the strained stock with the drippings to make a really yummy gravy. Anyway, just wanted to say: it wasn’t too salty at all, so maybe give it a try!

  73. 73

    The roaster bags have always been my secret trick. It makes the turkey a success EVERY. TIME.

  74. 74
    Judy says:

    Kate, I hate to keep coming back to the stuffing but we LOVE the stuffing inside the turkey. Do you think it is OK to remove it when the turkey is done and resting and put that stuffing back into the oven for 20-30 minutes? Would that make it safe to eat? Thanks for all of the recipes – I love this blog!

  75. 75
    Tabitha says:

    Sorry if you’ve already answered this…just wondering about brining a previously frozen turkey. I had heard (well, read…on Pioneer Woman) that you should only brine a turkey that has never been frozen or else it will be too salty. Thoughts?? Thanks! Oh and I absolutely LOVE this website and your cookbook. I’ve made at least a dozen of your recipes and have loved all of them!!

  76. 76

    Several years ago, I wrote up a step-by-step Turkey 101 for my kids. As I told them, it’s not so much a recipe as it is a technique. I’ve only recently started blogging and have just posted my “how to”, but I don’t have the wonderful photos you do in your great post (maybe next year!). Also, after reviewing your post, I realize that I need a flavor injector! I did include my fabulously delicious stuffing recipe along with the turkey instructions. Enjoy…and happy Thanksgiving!

  77. 77
    Emily says:

    When are you guys going to come up with an iphone app?? Your website is not the easiest to maneuver on a phone. I would totally use the app often.

  78. 78
    Barbi says:

    Do you think I could get away with using a chicken boullion base for the broth? I have 2- 20+ pounders that I need to brine and that would be around 4+ gallons of chicken broth. The boullion base would be slightly cheaper which catches my eye…

    Thanks in advance!

  79. 79
    Lana Siders says:

    I would love to win on the calendars! Never won anything but that would be one thing I would love and would use.
    Thanks for giving me a chance.

  80. 80
    Jenny says:

    That looks like the most amazing turkey! I have a question, though… we have always deep fried our turkey (sounds like a heart attack waiting to happen, I know, but it is so good! And fast, which is even better.). I want to brine our turkey this year too, so do I need to adapt your brine recipe at all if I am going to fry rather than bake? Thanks, and keep up the good work – you ladies are amazing!

    • 80.1
      bob mckenzie says:

      Yes, Jenny, you can (and should) brine before you fry. Check my comment #51. Just note that you don’t want any fruit juices in the brine because the sugar caramelizes when you fry it, making the turkey very dark. Kate’s recipe will work fine if you leave out the brown sugar.

  81. 81
    akl says:

    Just wanted to add that I brine my turkey and I now do it in the Coleman Cooler and just add some ice to that and keep it overnight in the garage!

  82. 82
    AmyG says:

    I’m doing the turkey this year….first time in 16 years of marriage, sad, I know…anyway, I think I can follow this pretty well. Thank you. I am feeling pressure from my MIL to get the ‘biggest turkey out there’….if I do, I just follow all your posted steps, correct?

  83. 83
    Ruby says:

    Would this work also on a whole chicken?? πŸ™‚

  84. 84
    Kim says:

    I’m going to cook my turkeys in a pit overnight this year. What would you recommend seasoning it with – the way that you did, including brining and stuffing it, or some other way? The turkey pit is actually a scout fundraiser, and they’ll have poultry seasoning to put on, but after reading your recipe and directions, that just doesn’t seem to be enough.

  85. 85
    Natalie Shaw says:

    This looks amazing!! I think you’ve given me the courage to try cooking a turkey on my own. Funny thing, I was reading through your comments and saw that someone asked if you knew Lindsay Lovell and I thought at first it couldn’t be my husbands cousin and then you asked if she was related to Kirk Shaw. She wasn’t but I am, he’s my brother-in-law. I’ve followed your blog for over a year now and love your recipes and he just barely told me he knew you after his mom told him she bought me your cookbook. Anyways, long story short, he had great things to say about you and just wanted you to know the Shaws (and Lovells) LOVE your recipes!! Thanks so much for sharing

  86. 86
    Carie says:

    I made my turkey tonight following your recipe! The flavor was fantastic, but I must say, my turkey never got brown. Any advice? I floured the bag, rubbed my extra sage butter on the bird, and it was basically white:(

    • 86.1
      bob mckenzie says:

      When I used to cook the turkey in the oven (I fry it now), I would uncover it or remove it from the bag for the last 20 min or so. That will brown it up as it gets direct heat from the heating elements. I used a baster (the big sucky syringe thing) to squirt the juice on top of the bird every 5-10 min at the end and that would help brown it.

  87. 87
    Jane says:

    I come to your site prior to every holiday – I love your recipe compilations. I have already looked at last years πŸ™‚ I think my kids would love the greenbean bundles and the stuffed blue cheese potatoes, as much as I like to use traditional time tested recipes, I am also like to mix in something new, or at least browse for something new.

  88. 88
    Becca says:

    A turkey bag in a roaster oven will only work if the bag does not touch the roaster at all. Any part that touches the roaster will stick and melt!

  89. 89
    Selena says:

    So, I saw your gravy comment. Let’s just say you don’t want to use the packet. Would you just not brine so you could use the drippings? Or would you tell me to get over myself and just use the packet?

    I will admit that I’ve been a bag hater, my mom always tells me I should use one but I just want to do it the old fashioned way I guess. You’re changing my mind…don’t tell my mom though.

    I just really like making home made gravy and I’m pretty good at it…maybe I’ll get over myself this year and try it your way LOL!

  90. 90
    Jennifer says:

    Just wanted to add that using the XL (10 gallon) Ziplocks to line your brine container makes clean up super easy!

  91. 91
    Heather says:

    I live in Canada so we already had Thanksgiving in October, but I am so having another Thanksgiving dinner so I can make this turkey!

  92. 92
    Linsey says:

    Kate, if you were to guesstimate, how many people would you say a 10-12lb turkey would feed. We are having 8 adults 4 kids. I just don’t know how I would time it with cooking 2 turkeys, can i leave one out for a bit or what would you recommend? I think last year I had 12 adults and 5 kids and I ended up BBQ one of the turkeys…which was fine, but def not as good as the oven bag one. Any good tips!?

    • 92.1
      Stephanie says:

      Look at Butterball’s website for a turkey needs calculator. I had no idea how much to get either, but it solved my problems πŸ™‚

  93. 93
    kelly says:

    thank you.i have been married 23 years and i have to make my first turkey this year! i’m a little scared but this helped, especially to know it takes a week to defrost!!!

  94. 94
    Stephanie says:

    I am so excited to try this! I volunteered for Thanksgiving this year just so I could make the turkey your way πŸ™‚

  95. 95
    VaLene Hulme says:

    I’ve done the Alton Brown method for about 4 years now. I think I’m ready to try the injection and the turkey bag for cooking. Here’s a tip for brining… Instead of a 5 gallon bucket, I use my 5 gallon drink cooler. The turkey fits perfectly in there, the lid is tight, and I can just brine it indoors cuz it’s insulated. (I clean it thoroughly afterward with bleach and everything:-)

  96. 96
    Rachel Ball says:

    I just read your recipe and unfortunatly I have already ordered my fresh turkey. It is 22 lbs!!! I really want to use this recipe and was curious if you think I will be ok with such a large turkey?

  97. 97
    Brittin says:

    Hi I was just wondering if you have ever stuffed your turkey with stuffing? I am planning on making your turkey but my family insists on a particular family suffing. I was wondering if I do not use the apple onion celery in the cavity does it make that big of a difference in the flavor?

  98. 98
    Torri says:

    I kind of think the answer is no, but can you still do this with one of those disposable roasting pans? I don’t own a real one!

  99. 99
    Jenni says:

    I think I’m going to try your brining recipe this year! I’ve heard of people quartering their turkeys before cooking. Is it possible to brine the whole turkey and then quarter it before cooking?

  100. 100
    Dana says:

    I may be too late in the discussion to receive a response but….Last year I bought an Electric Roaster…Do you think this could be done (without the bag) in my roaster?

  101. 101
    Mary says:

    Tried reading through all the comments just to make sure and I didn’t see anyone ask…have you ever tried doing just the turkey boob this way in the crockpot? Just wondering since I get to do Thanksgiving Round II on Sunday when we get back in town.

  102. 102
    Blaine says:

    I DID IT!! This was my first ever turkey for my new husband and my parents! IT WAS SO GOOD! (and yes, it has to be in capitals like I am yelling!) I even forgot to put in the apples, onion and celery inside and it still was great in flavor and MOIST. The family gave a both thunbs up on this and now I will stick by this for sure!! I did an 11 lb turkey and it was amazzzing. Thank you OBB, have loved every recipe I have tried. You guys sure do make me look good!

  103. 103
    Mandy says:

    Look for a fresh spice pack called poultry blend-it gives you fresh thyme, sage, and Rosemary-plenty to do the Turkey 1/3 of the cost.

  104. 104
    Lindsay says:

    Just a quick note…
    I just realized after cooking and starting my brine tonight, that I missed the dehydrated onion and sugar! Unfortunately, in the step-by-step picture directions, these 2 ingredients are left out. Hopefully no one else made the same mistake. I’m just going to add these later and hope for the best.

    Thanks for the recipe. I’m excited to try the result.

    • 104.1

      I think this recipe is so long that people are missing stuff because it’s all there… πŸ™‚ The instructions say to add the chicken broth and then everything through the fresh herbs, which includes the garlic and onion. πŸ™‚ Either way, I’m sure adding it a littler later will be completely fine.

  105. 105
    Tricia Sutherland says:

    You’re probably not going to be checking your comments today, but I hope you do. In your ingredients list for the brine, you call for 1/2 cup of sugar, but then when you’re describing putting everything in, you don’t mention the sugar. So, sugar or no sugar?? Mine brine is already boiling without it!

  106. 106
    Brittany says:

    Hi there,

    We will be trying your recipe this year! I’m excited, but I made the brine earlier this afternoon and man it smelled awful to both my husband and I. Hoping the flavors will mesh and translate better once the turkey is cooked!!!

  107. 107
    Brittany says:

    @ Mandy, that’s exactly what I did! Typically I’m intimidated to try recipes that call for fresh herbs as I think they might be pricey and at Walmart for each of the separate fresh herbs it would’ve been over $2 a package, but then when I looked, I found one called “poultry blend” that has the rosemary, thyme,and sage! So I got it all for $2 something. =)

  108. 108
    Alyssa says:

    What do you do if your turkey has a pop up timer? Do you take it out or do you just leave it in?

  109. 109
    Kristina says:

    Absolute best turkey I’ve ever had! Super moist and so much flavor. Thank you for sharing! This will be the only way we cook our turkeys from now on.

  110. 110
    Rachel Heidenreich says:

    Hey Kate! Thanks so much for the terrific turkey tutorial! Our turkey totally rocked this Thanksgiving . . . the meat was so flavorful and moist! My husband was impressed (which is hard to do) We also used your World’s Best Dinner Rolls πŸ™‚ Awesome. Thanks again πŸ™‚

  111. 111
    Stephanie C. says:

    Can I just say YUM?! I made this for our Thanksgiving dinner today and it turned out absolutely perfect! I did, however, use a larger bird, 19 lbs. in fact, but it still turned out very moist and absolutely scrumptious. As someone posted earlier, I also realized after I’d already brined my turkey that I left out the dehydrated onions and sugar but I just ended up omitting them altogether and it still turned out great. The fact that the bird was stuffed with onions I think added enough of that flavor it needed. The flavors were so good, the seasoning was perfect, and I ended up using this particular recipe because I love using sage butter (I used it on a couple of small cornish hens for my husband and I on Christmas last year) and I also wanted to do a brine. And so you know, this was my very first time making a turkey and although I felt a little intimidated to attempt it in the beginning, this recipe helped take out the guess work and I’m quite proud of the result! Thanks so much for such an awesome recipe that made our Thanksgiving Day dinner!

  112. 112
    Leigh Ann Sheffield says:

    I used the brining portion of this recipe, and got many comments on how moist and flavorful the turkey was. I’ve always been intimidated by Alton’s brine recipe, but you made it much more accessible (I wouldn’t have a clue where to find an allspice berry!). Thanks!

  113. 113
    Emily says:

    I followed your recipe almost exactly (except I couldn’t find a turkey injector!) and we all swear it was the best turkey we’ve ever had. I feel very grown up (at 25) for making my very own turkey!

  114. 114
    Brooke Nelson says:

    Thanks for this recipe! I used it today and it was AWESOME! My husband liked it and he doesn’t like turkey, so you know it was good. Our Thanksgiving guests all loved it as well.

  115. 115
    Sarah says:

    I know it’s kind of late, but we had Thanksgiving at MIL’s, and the turkey was way dry and small. We have no leftovers, so I went to Walmart and bought a boneless breast. Could I use a smaller version of this brine, do you think? I would love to have good turkey even if it is a little late. I really should just do the turkey next year so I don’t have to suffer again.

    • 115.1

      Yep, absolutely! I wouldn’t even stress THAT much about cutting down on the brine–the turkey will take what it needs, but it might be tricky to cut down on some of that stuff (like the fresh herbs).

  116. 116
    Judy says:

    So, I have a delayed question since my turkey turned out like crap. Should have used your recipe… so, if you brine a turkey, can you use the drippings to make gravy? What do you do for gravy?

  117. 117
    Maria says:

    Wow – what an awesome turkey! It was also my first turkey, and everyone was so impressed!

    On a side note I too noticed that in the area where you describe what to do (with all the pictures), there was no mention of the sugar – I didn’t look for the onion. I just went with what was listed in the bottom instruction part, so I did get them in.

    Thanks again!!!

  118. 118
    Sue says:

    It’s Friday night – a little late to find this, but I’ll bookmark for next year. I noticed you used a Butterball, but doesn’t that already have broth injected into it?

  119. 119
    Tara says:

    My first turkey was a hit yesterday!! I did it exactly the way you said and it was delicious! THANK YOU!!!

  120. 120
    D says:

    this is my husbands exact facebook quote ” Don’t know how my wife does it but our Holiday meals get better and better every year. Is it Christmas time yet? By the way, if you’re wondering if you should brine your turkey next year, the answer is YES!”
    Thank you so much for this turkey recipe. My husband, my mother in law and my friend and her husband all complemented me greatly on how moist and yummy it was. The gravy was left on the stove and not even one drop used. It was way too good to cover.

  121. 121
    Kathy says:

    I didnt cook for Thanksgiving, (I mooched). However, I just went to my local fresh market and bought a free range whole chicken, and Im going to do your “turkey recipe” on the chicken. Can’t wait to try it.

  122. 122
    Rachel Heidenreich says:

    Hey Kate . . . I think the flavor injector was one of the funnest things in this tutorial, and I was able to involve my boys πŸ™‚ They enjoyed giving the turkey “shots.” So much fun.

  123. 123
    Lilah says:

    My turkey turned out so great!! Thanks so much for posting this recipe!

  124. 124
    Nicole Skowronek says:

    Made this turkey today for our family “After Thanksgiving dinner because we’re craving leftovers” feast and OH MY! This was hands down THE BEST turkey I have ever had. My turkey cooked super fast (12.5 lbs in under 2 hours) and ended up overcooking a tad, and was still so juicy. Mmmmmm….lunches this week are going to be heaven! Thank you thank you! This is my new turkey tradition!

  125. 125
    Teresa says:

    I used this recipe last week, and it was so much better than the dull, dry turkeys I’ve baked the past few years. Thank you!

  126. 126
    Kelly says:

    Kate…the turkey was perfect!!! I will never search for another way to cook it. Moist tender and juicy just like you said it would be.
    Thanks for making this the best Turkey yet!!

  127. 127
    Juliana says:

    I made this turkey for Thanksgiving (my first time EVER!) and it turned out PERFECT!! Thanks so much!

  128. 128
    Kathy says:

    So I got some of those turkey cooking bags, and when I read the instructions, it says for turkey to cook until 180 degrees. Your directions say 165. Which is it?

    • 128.1

      The breast needs to be 165 and I’ve generally found that if you cook the breast much beyond 165, it will be too dry. Also, it will continue to cook after you pull it out of the oven. I like the bags because it’s been my experience that they help get the dark meat done quicker at around the same time as the breast (every time I’ve cooked a turkey without a bag, the breast comes out perfect, but the dark meat is never done, or the breast is dry, but the dark meat is perfect). That’s also why I like smaller birds. If you feel more comfortable, you can find a temp somewhere in between! πŸ™‚

  129. 129
    Jen Meeks says:

    You made Thanksgiving amazing this year. I followed your instructions and we had a fabulous turkey. Thanks so much!

  130. 130
    Kathy says:

    Thanks for clearing that up re: the temperature. That makes sense. Cant wait to try this.

  131. 131
    Becca says:

    Thanks for this great recipe! I made my turkey last evening and it turned out not just delicious, but beautiful as well.

  132. 132
    joy brow says:

    I would love to win the jam, I like it on toasted English Muffins and on Waffles yum thanks

  133. 133
    joy brow says:

    I would love to win the jam for my toasted Englist Muffin or Waffles

  134. 134
    joy brow says:


  135. 135
    Angie says:

    This is the most delicious turkey ever! My mom refused to brine the turkey for Thanksgiving and I was very disappointed. My sister used this recipe and had my mom over for Christmas eve dinner and she said she will always use this recipe from now on. Yay! I am making it for Sunday dinner and can’t wait. Thanks!!

  136. 136
    Teandra says:

    I was wondering, do you still use a bag if you are using a roasting oven and not a conventional oven? Thanks!

  137. 137
    jude jam says:

    i use more or less the same brine method, except i put the frozen bird in the brine and let it defrost and brine in one. i use the frozen birds with the popup thermometer and never had any problem. the brining makes the meat moist, flavorful and adding butter under the skin, makes it juicy. we never use the gravy, the meat is already moist by itself. thanks for your very useful comments and suggestions.

  138. 138
    Holly says:

    I agree–brining is best!! I use my (sterilized) cooler to brine it in if I don’t have room in my fridge for the water bath canner I also use. And you are right about cooking it to a temperature as opposed to a time to weight ratio; my first turkey that I brined was overdone the first time I checked it (something about the salt makes it cook faster than normal). I’ll have to try your herb combination in my brine–I generally just do molasses and rosemary, but I love sage and parsley too, that sounds delicious. πŸ™‚

  139. 139
    Melinda says:

    This will be my first year making turkey since we live far from family.. can you tell me what thermometer you have? Also what is a good gravy that doesnt require me using the giblets? the thought of that makes me want to gag lol (can you tell i havent cooked much?!)
    anywho LOVE your blog! thanks so much for everything!

  140. 140
    Kristen says:

    Kate, we are having about 26-28 people over for Thanksgiving and so I am making 2 turkeys. Do you think using this recipe for 2 18lb turkeys will still turn out OK?? I know you say no more than 14lbs, but 2 14lb’ers just won’t be enough for my family!! πŸ™‚

    • 140.1

      The thing with larger turkeys is that they just don’t taste as good and they’re harder to cook accurately because the outside is done long before the inside. BUT. This will still make it better than your average turkey. πŸ™‚

  141. 141
    Jenny Fugler says:

    I made this turkey last year. It was my very first EVER time hosting a Thanksgiving and making a turkey and this recipe was my HERO! The turkey was beyond moist, flavorful, and DIVINE! Almost a year later, I still have saliva coming down my mouth from the memories. No one could believe that it was my first time making a turkey. I’m so excited to make it again this year!

  142. 142
    Johan says:

    I have used Alton Brown’s brining recipe for 4 years and this will be my 5th. Turkey always comes out very moist and tender with wonderful flavor. As you stated in your disclaimers, “salt, salt, salt…” It makes for great taste, HOWEVER, last year I made the mistake of using a Butterball turkey, which has already been heavily salted and injected. It made for a turkey which was almost uneatable because of the overload of salt. I researched it later and found numerous sites stating Butterballs should not be brined for this reason. I plan to brine my turkey again, but not a Butterball. Just my personal experience.

  143. 143
    Emilee says:

    The next time I’m in charge of the turkey, I’m going to try brining. I wanted to last year, but I was 8 1/2 months pregnant and had to scale back my ambitions. I may even make a small turkey just for my family and for plenty of leftovers after Thanksgiving and will definitely brine if I do.

    None of the rest of my family is really into trying new recipes or cooking methods, and frankly, they’re not the best cooks. But we have always used turkey bags and the turkey is always good and moist (even if the gravy is lumpy and the mashed potatoes are bland).

  144. 144
    Ned says:

    This looks great!

  145. 145
    Lark says:

    Wow, this is more like a medical procedure. I was going along with it just fine until the rubbing of the butter into the meat under the skin…then I shivered and gagged. A hypodermic needle?! Oh my, no, my legs went all jelly on me. This isn’t for the squeemish. But I do know well that a brined turkey makes all the difference in the world to a quality end product. I remember so many tasteless, dry, stringy turkeys past. This is a great step-by-step brining tutorial. I especially like the herb varieties you’ve included. I just love the addition of apple with veggies in the cavity of the turkey, a brilliant idea. I’ll bet it has a heavenly fragrance. Thank you for sharing this recipe and technique.

  146. 146
    Alyssa G says:

    I made this turkey last year, and it was well worth every step! I love it. Thanks again for this one!

  147. 147
    Rachael F. says:

    Since 2006 I have used the Good Eats turkey that uses a brine. I have been a brine lover ever since. And frankly often disappointed when I go to other people’s houses for Thanksgiving and the turkey is bland and dry – bleck!! We are back to hosting T-day at our house and I am glad! I might try yours -although I must say, turkey bags DO freak me out ;o)

  148. 148
    jacky says:

    i’ll be brining this year too! the only part of this post that unnerved me was the fact that Kate won’t use a better turkey. I’m committing to buy organic and free range for 2013 and I already ordered my Diestel turkey! So excited to try brining!!! won’t be using a bag though..i’m a baster!

  149. 149
    DrPepper says:

    I was going to say – pretty much the same method as Alton Brown. I’ve been using Alton Brown’s brine recipe and Roast Turkey recipe for a few years now and it is truly THE BOMB. My husband says it’s the best turkey ever. So, I’m sure yours is great.

    I do, however, make homemade veggie broth. I like the smell on Tuesday of having vegetables cooking in a gallon of water in the crockpot (carrots, onions, peppers, green onion stalk, celery, etc.). Makes a wonderful (and cheap) broth.
    Then I refrigerate it Tuesday night & it’s ready to brine the turkey on Wed.

  150. 150
    Rachel says:

    Woah, does this mean you made a turkey the week before turkey week JUST to show us how to make a turkey?? You need an award.

  151. 151
    Jenn says:

    I made this last year and it was awesome. Thanks!

  152. 152
    Michigan M. says:

    Very interesting roasted turkey. I really love the idea of inserting the thermometer into the bag. Never think about it. Can I do it with other kinds of food? (But I fridge it instead of using some ice tubes.

  153. 153
    Runedraggie6987 says:

    So I’m hosting Thanksgiving for the first time ever! I’ve decided that this recipe sounds AMAZING! But I am curious as to what you do for gravey then? Should I just put the Gibblets in the bottom of the roasting pan with some stock and use that for the gravey?

  154. 154
    Asia says:

    I made this turkey last year exactly as directed but used a slightly larger bird. In any case it is IMPERATIVE to cut slits in the BOTTOM OF THE BAG so some of the juices can drain out. I didn’t do that last year and the bottom of the turkey basically boiled in it’s juices and the skin was all white and rubbery down there. I had to remove it from the bag and put back in the oven to try and get the skin browned on the lower half of the turkey. Which made for overcooked meat. I will try again this year with some slits in the bottom so it can drain.

  155. 155
    Liz Peterson says:

    Mmm-KaY. That just looks outta this WoRLD DeLiCiOuS!!! I so wanna try it. Thanks for sharing…your recipes never disappoint. <3

  156. 156
    Marina says:

    Can not wait to try this! I have everything ready to go!!! Looks amazing!

  157. 157
    Lindsey says:

    Hey I didn’t read all the comments but I was wondering about flour in the bag. I know you talked about it but I didn’t catch if you actually do it or not. My bag says to do the flour… so should I? Can I just skip that step?
    Thanks this is awesome. I’m so excited!

  158. 158
    Lindsey says:

    Hey I too just wanted to say your so awesome for answering all these questions. I’m sure it takes a lot of time, It’s nice your trying to make everyones thanksgiving work:)

  159. 159
    Carolyn Christensen says:

    I am so excited to try this recipe, but I have a question about the best way to cook stuffing. Because it isn’t “stuffed” inside the turkey, what is they best way to make it so that it stays really moist?

    • 159.1

      I usually just make it in a casserole dish covered with foil or in a Dutch Oven with a heavy lid. You can always add a little additional broth or liquid to the stuffing to keep it moist. Hope that helps!

      • Melinda says:

        I have been trying to ask how much sodium the turkey should have I begin with… I don’t want to have a salty non edible turkey! I know you say the least possible but all the turkeys in our store already were injectedwith a salt solution. So when looking at the amount of salt per serving what amount would you be looking for?! I have never cooked a turkey before and don’t want to ruin the big meal!!

  160. 160
    Jane says:

    I do use your recipes for Thanksgiving – I must be unusual in that I am always searching for new recipes to go with traditional family recipes. This year I plan on making the Banana Cream Pie, I have been requested to make the Bacon wrapped Green Beans and the corn spoonbread posted today looks great! Did you do a recipe compilation a few years ago for Thanksgiving?

  161. 161
    Tiffany K says:

    We brine our turkey in one of those orange drink containers! haha. It gets washed out REALLY well. πŸ™‚

  162. 162
    Elizabeth C. says:

    I am so excited to try this recipe this year! It’s my second time cooking a turkey–last year was my first and I didn’t find this in time, but it turned out just fine. This year we are having company, so I’m a little nervous about my turkey cooking abilities. πŸ™‚ This might be a silly question…is it okay to use vegetable broth instead of chicken? Or is the chicken broth a must? Thanks!

  163. 163
    Jessica says:

    You mentioned to keep the turkey in a cold place while brining…can I put the bucket back into the fridge? Or is it better to put the bucket in the tub? I live in Southern Cali and its not real cold here.

  164. 164
    Kim S says:

    I am nervous and excited to host Thanksgiving this year! I never dreamed I would be doing a turkey anytime in my youngish life, but here I am and I’m so grateful you have shared your delicious recipe! OBB has never steered me wrong. πŸ™‚ two things: I bought a disposable turkey cooking pan, and have yet to purchase the meat thermometer. This may be the dumbest question, but where will I place the box part of the thermometer with the numbers once in the oven? :/ On top of the turkey? Also, being that I just found your recipe last night and I honestly didn’t/ don’t know the first thing about cooking a turkey, I just bought my 13.5 lb Butterball today. Do you think it’ll be thawed by Wed? I’m a little nervous! PS: I followed one of your commenter’s advice and got my bucket today from the bakery! πŸ™‚

    • 164.1
      Kim says:

      those really were dumb questions…I’m so embarrassed! how I wish there were a way to delete my comment! ha!

  165. 165
    Ashley says:

    I made Alton Browns turkey last year…which is basically this and it was a hit! Made my first turkey for my inlaws who always serve dry and tasteless turkey and I was so proud;) thank you for all the extra tips!!! Love it!

  166. 166
    Melinda says:

    You say make sure to get a turkey with little salt… What measure per serving would you say?!
    Every turkey in our stores had salt, all had some injected solution so I just want to make sure my first turkey doesn’t turn out all salty.

    Is it typical for a turkey to have salt already?! What is the most in a serving you would buy?

  167. 167
    April says:

    Seriously, your recipes have NEVER let me down! We celebrated Thanksgiving on Saturday – this turkey preparation ROCKS! Our turkey was the best yet! I normally do all the baking of sweets and make all the salads as our family is full of professionally trained chefs. This year none were on hand to make the turkey – so as you do frequently OBB had my back and I made this turkey. Best ever! I want to tell everyone – make your turkey just this way and you will smile all day!!!
    Mahalo for the awesome recipe!
    April in Maui

  168. 168
    Lynn says:

    Just got my free bucket from the bakery at the local grocery store. Thanks for the tip!

  169. 169
    Lynn says:

    So with using the turkey bag I’m assuming all the dripping stay in the bag with the turkey? Does the skin still get crispy?

  170. 170
    Mindi says:

    Some people say to tie the legs together, but I did not see that in your instructions. What are the pros/cons to doing that? Also, for those people who like to touch raw meat as little as possible, you can loosen some of the skin with a flat spatula–nothing sharp so you don’t tear the skin–but then you don’t have to put your hand in there!

  171. 171
    Tiffany says:

    Totally going to try this! However, I won’t have a full 24 hours to brine the turkey, and I’m hoping that’s not a problem. Have you ever cooked two turkeys in the same oven and had a problem with it? I’ve heard from multiple sources to get two smaller turkeys…I’m just worried about them fitting, and still having the air circulate… Any thoughts?

  172. 172
    Reyhan says:

    oh my yum, I gotta try this! thank you!

  173. 173
    AshleyC says:

    I am making this turkey and I am super excited! I start the brining process tomorrow. Wish me luck…first turkey ever!

  174. 174
    Lori K says:

    Okay, I am going to try this…..brining always seemed way too intimidating! I was wondering how cold is cold enough to have the turkey outside for 24 hrs? Unfortunately I don’t think I need to worry about it being too cold.

  175. 175
    Lynn says:

    I bought a turkey that states that it has 8% of a solution to enhance juicenss and tenderness. contains broth, salt, etc etc. should I still brine or would it be too salty?

  176. 176
    Tiffany says:

    I was wondering, if I am keeping the bucket in the fridge, do I still need to add the 8 cups cold water and 8 cups ice to the mixture? Thanks!

  177. 177
    Leesa W says:

    The bucket is a great idea! I feel so ghetto… I use a garbage bag and a cooler for brining. LOL

  178. 178
    Michelle B says:

    Best turkey ever! We had the 4 elders serving in our ward over for Thanksgiving dinner and I feel really bad for their future wives because they all went on about how great the turkey was. Hopefully their future wives all know about your blog and cookbooks.

  179. 179
    Christi says:

    Made this yesterday. Awesome! Well worth the extra effort. All my guests said it was the best turkey ever.

  180. 180
    Teresa says:

    We followed your recipe step by step and everything was delicious. Thanks for a detailed tutorial.

  181. 181
    Heather says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! This was my first attempt on doing the turkey and it was a huge success. Everyone loved it. This is definitely a keeper.

  182. 182
    Tanya says:

    I didn’t do the injection part of the recipe so I can only imagine how much better it makes the turkey but even without it, this was the best turkey I’ve ever had! And it was the first turkey that I ever made that didn’t just taste like meat (if that makes any sense) Thanks so much!

  183. 183

    […] husband and kids came from CA and my parents came down from Provo. We had 15 people. I roasted the turkey (and it turned out pretty good!), we tried a handful of new recipes like candied coconut sweet […]

  184. 184

    […] Our Best Bites, who adapted it from Alton Brown Share this:PrintEmailFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like […]

  185. 185
    Elizabeth says:

    Thanks for saving the Thanksgiving (and Christmas!) turkey ladies. As a mom of a household with food allergies I want to gently remind you that this recipe is not gluten free if wheat flour is used in the roasting bag. Those of us used to cooking gluten or wheat free will quickly pick up on this but for all of those in-laws (bless them!) and grandparents who are cooking a special meal for visitors, this may need to be spelled out. From experience, it is sad to see many hours of preparation and cooking negated by something so simple as a Tablespoon of flour in the turkey bag.

  186. 186
    Claudine says:

    Just popped my bird in the oven, I can’t wait! I think this will be the best Christmas dinner ever. Thanks for the recipe!!

  187. 187
    Helen says:

    Made this for Christmas dinner. WOW! I’ve experimented with several turkey recipes, this one is by far the best I’ve tried…so far πŸ™‚ I’m always trying new recipes, but I don’t think I’ll be able to top this one. The meat was tender and juicy. I cooked it till it was just at 180 degrees, the thermometer was really trying to push it’s way up to the 180 and was about a hair away and I took it out of the oven…oh so delicious!!! I think one of my main problems with turkey cooking was that I always over cooked it, so thanks for that info about not over cooking.

  188. 188
    Emily says:

    Just got assigned to do THE TURKEY for Thanksgiving with the in-laws this year…they are a freezer food type of family, so I’m thrilled that at least the main course will be homemade, and even more excited to try this recipe!

  189. 189

    […] Kate’s Thankgiving Turkey – Our Best Bites […]

  190. 190
    shahira says:

    Ever use wine to brine with or just water? after the brine process, I read to leave uncovered in fridge overnight to get crispier skin.. true?

  191. 191
    Tiffany says:

    Will this method of cooking provide enough juice to make gravy for a large group of people?

  192. 192
    Ambra says:

    Would you suggest this brining/injecting method for a bone-in turkey breast cooked in a slow cooker? I’m assuming I would just reduce the amounts according to the size of the breast I’m using. Should I put the apples, onions, etc. in the slow cooker with the breast? This is my first time making a turkey and since it’s just my young family and 3 guests, we don’t need a ton of turkey. Thanks!!

  193. 193
    Rachel says:

    I made this last year and am so excited to do it again this year!

  194. 194

    […] fromΒ the bird itself, some people might venture to say that the gravy is the most important (and […]

  195. 195
    Amy says:

    I have brined our turkey for the past few years and it makes a huge difference. I am excited to try this recipe, although the bag scares me because I am wondering about the turkey sitting in all the juices instead of being held over the juices by the rack. Still, I will try it.
    My main question I am hoping someone can answer is how do you dispose of the turkey brine when the turkey is done brining? My husband does not want to pour it down the sink because he thinks all the salt will mess up the pipes. He usually takes the cooler down into the woods and dumps it far from the house. I think that is too much effort! Do you all just dump it down the sink? (He does not want me to dump eggshells or potato peels down the garbage disposal, either, so I am thinking he is probably over cautious.)

  196. 196
    Heidi says:

    I read through your comments to see if anyone had substituted apple cider for the chicken broth. I have seen other recipes that use apple cider and thought it might help with the salty drippings. Any thoughts? Love your blog!

  197. 197
    Erika says:

    I’ve used this recipe every year since it was posted! Can’t wait till tomorrow when I do my brine again!

    Amy, I always dump mine down the sink. My pipes have seen worse lol! πŸ™‚

  198. 198
    Michelle B says:

    My turkey is in the brine. It was so yummy last year I can’t wait to eat it again this year!

  199. 199
    Natalie M says:

    What kind of apples are you using when stuffing the turkey?

  200. 200
    Jenny Bay says:

    My husband and I made this for Thanksgiving yesterday and it was AMAZING!!! It turned out so well, we will make this every year. Thanks so much!!

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