Brined Whole Turkey

brined whole turkey
The National Turkey Federation
  • Yield: 22 servings


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


  1. To brine the turkey, rinse turkey in cool water.
  2. In a very large, clean container (non-corrosive pan or stockpot such as stainless steel or glass or a food-grade plastic container), mix salt and water together until salt dissolves. Stir in brown sugar and spices, mix well until sugar dissolves.
  3. Totally submerge turkey in solution and store, covered, in refrigerator for at least 6 hours and up to 8 hours. Since brining does not preserve meat, the turkey must be kept below 40F throughout the entire brining process. Ice packs may also be used to keep turkey at a safe temperature of below 40F.
  4. Remove turkey from brine. Discard brine. Thoroughly rinse the interior and exterior of the turkey by placing it on a wire rack and setting both rack and turkey in a clean, empty sink. Use cool water from the spray hose and rub gently to release the salt and sugar from the turkey.
  5. Pat skin and both interior cavities dry.
  6. To roast the turkey, place onion, carrot and celery in the cavity of turkey.
  7. Brush turkey with melted butter.
  8. Roast turkey, breast side down, in a preheated 325 degree F oven for 2 hours. During this time, baste legs and back twice with melted butter.
  9. Remove turkey from oven and protecting your hands, grasp turkey with several layers of clean paper towels at both ends, and turn turkey, breast side up.
  10. Return turkey to oven and continue to roast, basting twice with pan dripping. Continue to roast until internal temperature reaches 170F in the breast and 180 degrees F in the thigh. NOTE: A brined turkey cooks slightly faster than an unbrined turkey, so check the internal temperature frequently.
  11. Remove turkey from the oven and allow to stand for 20 minutes before carving.
  12. Transfer to a platter and garnish with fresh fruit.

Note: The ratio of water to salt is appropriate for a 15-pound turkey. If a larger or smaller turkey is brined, please calculate accordingly. Other combinations of herbs may be added including 6 to 8 bay leaves, 3 cloves garlic and 2 teaspoons black peppercorns. Or a spicy flavor may be achieved by the addition of 1 cup small dried red chile peppers.

Nutritional Info *per serving

  • Calories 380
  • Fat 18g
  • Cholesterol 145mg
  • Sodium 550mg
  • Potassium 513mg
  • Carbohydrate 1g
  • Fiber 0g
  • Sugars 0g
  • Protein 50g