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Brined Whole Turkey

  • Serves: 22
  • Cook Time: Allow 6 to 8 hours for brining before turkey is to be roasted
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Brined Whole Turkey


  • Brining Procedure
  • 15-pound whole turkey, (not self-basting or kosher) fresh or thawed if frozen;
  • giblets and neck removed
  • 2 cups table salt (do not substitute equal amounts of kosher salt)
  • 2 gallons* icy cold water
  • 4 cups brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup dried rosemary leaves
  • 1/2 cup dried thyme leaves
  • Roasting Procedure
  • 1 small onion, peeled and quartered
  • 1 carrot, washed, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 small stalk celery, washed and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 4-6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • Fresh fruit for garnish, as desired


  1. Brining Procedure: (allow 6 to 8 hours for brining before turkey is to be roasted):
    Pat turkey dry with clean paper towels and set aside.
  2. In very large clean container (non-corrosive pan or stockpot such as stainless steel, glass, or food-grade plastic container), mix salt and water together until salt dissolves. Stir in brown sugar and herbs; mix well until sugar dissolves.

  3. Totally submerge poultry in solution and store, covered, in refrigerator for at least 6 hours and up to 8 hours. Because brining does not preserve meat, turkey must be kept below 40 °F throughout entire brining process. Ice packs may also be used in refrigerator to keep turkey at safe temperature of below 40 °F.

  4. When brining is complete, remove turkey from brine. Discard brine. Thoroughly rinse interior and exterior of turkey by placing it on wire rack and setting both rack and turkey in clean, empty sink. Use cool water from sink’s spray hose and rub gently to release salt and sugar from turkey. Pat skin and both interior cavities dry with clean paper towels.

  5. NOTES: Ratio of water to salt is appropriate for 15-pound turkey. If larger or smaller turkey is brined, please calculate accordingly.
    Combinations of herbs may be added including 6 to 8 bay leaves, 3 cloves garlic and 2 teaspoons black peppercorns. Or spicy flavor may be achieved by addition of 1 cup small dried red chili peppers.
  6. Roasting Procedure:  Preheat oven to 325 °F.
  7. Pat turkey dry with clean paper towels. Place onion, carrot and celery in turkey cavity. Brush turkey with melted butter. 
  8. Roast turkey, basting 4 times with melted butter and pan drippings.

  9. Cook to a minimum internal temperature of 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer. Check the internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. For reasons of personal preference, cook turkey to higher temperatures but not to exceed 170 °F in the breast and 180 °F in the thigh.

  10. When turkey has reached proper internal temperature as checked by a food thermometer, remove turkey from oven and allow to stand for 20 minutes before carving. Transfer to large platter, garnish with fresh fruit, and serve.

  11. NOTE: A brined turkey cooks slightly faster than an unbrined turkey, so check internal temperature frequently with meat thermometer.

Recipe Source

National Turkey Federation