Herb-Brined Roast Turkey

  • Active Time 10m
  • Total Time 5h
  • Rating ****

Makes 15 to 20 servings

This method only works with fresh turkeys -- self-basting, frozen and kosher turkeys have already been salted. To estimate the amount of brine, place the turkey in the container and measure in enough cold water to cover the bird completely. The amount of brine can be adjusted as needed: for each 2 quarts water, use 1/2 cup kosher or 1/4 cup plain table salt (kosher salt is less salty than table salt), 1 1/2 teaspoons each of dried rosemary, thyme and sage, and 3/4 teaspoon each of dried marjoram, celery seeds and peppercorns.


  • One 15- to 20-pound fresh turkey
  • 2 cups kosher salt or 1 cup plain (non-iodized) table salt
  • 2 tablespoons dried rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons dried sage
  • 1 tablespoon dried marjoram
  • 1 tablespoon celery seeds
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 1 medium celery rib, chopped
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • About 1 1/2 quarts Homemade Turkey Stock (see recipe), plus more as needed for gravy
  • Pan Gravy 101, as needed (see recipe)

Companion recipe: Homemade Turkey Stock 101 Pan Gravy 101



Large (over 6-gallon) stockpot or other receptacle (holds a 15-18 pound bird)

The night before roasting, rinse the turkey inside and out with cold water. Reserve the turkey neck and giblets to use in gravy or stock.

In a very large stockpot, mix 2 gallons cold water with the salt, rosemary, thyme, sage, marjoram, celery seeds and peppercorns, stirring until the salt dissolves. Place the turkey in the pot. Cover and place in a cold spot (lower than 40 degrees) or the refrigerator and let stand overnight.

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. In a small bowl, mix the onion, carrot and celery.

Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse well, inside and out, under cold running water. Pat the skin and body cavities dry with paper towels. Turn the turkey on its breast. Loosely fill the neck cavity with the onion mixture. Using a thin wooden or metal skewer, pin the neck skin to the back. Fold the turkey's wings akimbo behind the back or tie to the body with kitchen string. Loosely fill the large body cavity with the remaining onion mixture. Don't run the risk of baking the stuffing in the turkey, as the salty juices could ruin it. Instead, loosely fill the cavities with seasoning vegetables and bake the stuffing on the side. Place the drumsticks in the hock lock or tie together with kitchen string.

Place the turkey, breast side up, on a rack in the roasting pan. Rub all over with the butter. Tightly cover the breast area with aluminum foil. Pour 2 cups of the turkey stock into the bottom of the pan.

Roast the turkey, basting all over every 30 minutes with the juices on the bottom of the pan (lift up the foil to reach the breast area), until a meat thermometer inserted in the meaty part of the thigh (but not touching a bone) reads 180 degrees, about 4 1/2 hours. Whenever the drippings evaporate, add stock to moisten them (about 1 1/2 cups at a time). Remove the foil during the last hour to allow the breast skin to brown.

Transfer the turkey to a large serving platter and let it stand for at least 20 minutes before carving. Meanwhile, make the pan gravy. Carve the turkey and serve the gravy alongside.

Recipe reprinted by permission of Broadway Books. All rights reserved.

RecID 2466

nutrition information per serving

408 calories; 13g total fat; 177mg cholesterol; 858mg sodium; 2g carbohydrates; 1g fiber; 67g protein

These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.

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