This Roast Turkey Recipe is the absolute best. A flavorful turkey brine, robust aromatics and many tips and tricks results in the most delicious Thanksgiving turkey ever. Learn how easy cooking a turkey can be with our step-by-step photos and video.
If your turkey is frozen, place it in the refrigerator 2-3 days before brining, 3-4 days before roasting to thaw completely.
Make the brine (the day before you want to roast the turkey):
Remove the turkey from the packaging, and throw away the neck & innards (if you don’t want to use them for anything). Rinse the turkey and set it aside.
The day before you want to roast the turkey, combine vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice, and ginger in a large stockpot, stir.
Bring mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally.
Once the mixture comes to a rolling boil, remove the pot from the heat and let it cool.
Once the brine is cool, pour it into a large, 5-gallon bucket (We have a special bucket we use only for our Thanksgiving turkeys).
Add ice water and stir to combine.
Place the turkey into the bucket of brine and make sure it is covered completely with the brine.
Place in a cool place (we put it in the garage in the winter), in the refrigerator, or in a cooler filled with ice and water, to brine for 12-24 hours, turning it once halfway through.
On Thanksgiving (or the day you want to roast the turkey)
Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse it with cold water, then discard the brine. Be sure to strain out the berries/ginger because they should not go in the garbage disposal.
Place the turkey on a metal wire rack in a roasting pan.
Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.
Make the aromatics:
Combine water, apples, onion, cinnamon sticks, rosemary and sage in a microwave safe bowl.
Cover and microwave on high for 5 minutes.
Pour aromatics into the cavity of the turkey in the roasting pan.
Roast the turkey:
Place the butter pieces under the skin of the turkey, evenly spread out, making sure to put many on the breast.
Brush the outside of the turkey with olive oil.
Place turkey on the lowest rack of the oven, and roast in the preheated oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes.
Place a probe thermometer into the thickest part of the breast and set the alarm to 160 degrees F.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and baste the turkey.
Cover the turkey loosely with aluminum foil (to prevent over-browning) and roast at 350 degrees for about 2 to 3 hours (for a 14-16 lb. turkey, a larger turkey will take longer to cook completely), whenever the thermometer reads 160 degrees F (make sure to test the thickest parts of the bird if it goes off too soon). Basting every 30 minutes.
Towards the end of cooking, remove the foil to brown the bird the rest of the way – but save it.
Once the turkey reaches temperature, remove it from the oven and let it sit for 15 minutes loosely covered with foil.
This leftover turkey can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 5-6 days.
Let the roast turkey cool completely and then freeze leftovers in an airtight container for up to 2 months. Reheat in the microwave or covered with foil in the oven until warmed through.
I don't recommend making any substitutions in this turkey brine recipe, however I will discuss some of the ingredients in more details since they are a bit unique.
Coarse Kosher Salt. It's important to use coarse, kosher salt when brining. It dissolves easily in water and creates an even brine.
Light Brown Sugar. Dark brown sugar can be used here if desired.
Candied Ginger. AKA: Crystalized ginger. The ginger adds an amazing flavor to the turkey brine, don't leave it out. I usually find it in the bulk section of my grocery store, at Trader Joe's, or I just order it on amazon.