Brined Whole Turkey

Make your next turkey the most moist and succulent one you've ever tasted!

  • Prep Time 15 min
  • Total Time 12 hr 30 min
  • Servings 14


gallons cold water
cups kosher salt or 1 cup table salt
whole turkey, not prebasted (12 to 14 pounds), thawed if frozen
medium onion, cut into fourths
medium carrot, coarsely chopped
medium celery stalk, coarsely chopped
teaspoon dried thyme leaves
tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

  • 1 Mix cold water and salt in a large clean bucket or stockpot (noncorrosive); stir until salt is dissolved. Add turkey. Cover and refrigerate 8 to 12 hours.
  • 2 Heat oven to 325°F. Remove turkey from brine; discard brine. Thoroughly rinse turkey under cool running water, gently rubbing outside and inside of turkey to release salt. Pat skin and both interior cavities dry with paper towels.
  • 3 Fasten neck skin to back of turkey with skewer. Fold wings across back of turkey so tips are touching. Toss onion, carrot, celery and thyme with 1 tablespoon of the melted butter; place in turkey cavity.
  • 4 Place turkey, breast side down, on rack in large shallow roasting pan. Brush entire back side of turkey with 1 tablespoon melted butter. Turn turkey over. Brush entire breast side of turkey with remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter. Insert ovenproof meat thermometer so tip is in thickest part of inside thigh and does not touch bone. (Do not add water or cover turkey.)
  • 5 Roast uncovered 3 hours 30 minutes to 4 hours, brushing twice with pan drippings during last 30 minutes of roasting.
  • 6 Turkey is done when thermometer reads 165°F and drumsticks move easily when lifted or twisted. If a meat thermometer is not used, begin testing for doneness after about 3 hours. When turkey is done, place on warm platter and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. Let stand about 15 minutes for easiest carving. <BR><BR><B>All About Brining</B><BR> For exceptionally moist and tender meat, brining is the way to go! Immersing your turkey in a saltwater bath (the brine) overnight draws water into the cells of the turkey so it stays juicy and moist when cooked. For this method, you'll need a large clean plastic bucket or noncorrosive stockpot (not aluminum), enough refrigerator space and time, but it's a great do-ahead.<BR><BR> <LI>Use a large clean plastic bucket or a stainless steel stockpot or other noncorrosive container that can fit the turkey and enough brine to keep turkey submerged. <BR><LI>Keep turkey refrigerated while it is brining. You may have to clear a space in your refrigerator to accommodate the bucket or stockpot. <BR><LI>Check the temperature frequently as the turkey is roasting since a brined turkey may cook slightly faster than an unbrined one. <BR><LI>Do not soak turkey in brine for more than 12 hours because it will absorb too much salt. <BR><LI>Do not stuff a brined turkey with stuffing. <BR><LI>Some brines create turkey drippings and juices that are too salty to make good gravy while others make delicious gravy, so follow the recipe directions carefully.

Expert Tips

Turkey can be brined a day ahead. Rinse well, cover and refrigerate until time to roast.

Frozen turkey tastes just as good as fresh and is easily available at any supermarket. Just remember to allow enough time for thawing, since the turkey must be completely thawed before brining. To thaw this size of whole turkey, place the turkey (in its original wrap) in a pan in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.

Nutrition Information


Serving Size: 1 Serving
Calories from Fat
135 ),
% Daily Value
Total Fat
15 g
15 %
(Saturated Fat
5 g,
5 %
145 mg
145 %;
620 mg
620 %;
Total Carbohydrate
(Dietary Fiber
47 g
47 %
% Daily Value*:
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
7 Lean Meat;
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.