Call me crazy, but one of the things I look forward to each Thanksgiving is making Thanksgiving dinner! I roll out of bed bright and early, and am ready to get the day started. There is just something about all the aromatics filling the kitchen, and Christmas music playing in the background that puts me in the holiday mood. I especially enjoy making the turkey, and pride myself in making non-dry turkeys. I’m normally not a picky eater, and will eat just about anything… but dry protein is hard for this girl to stomach. I mean, you’re talking to someone who likes to eat their steak rare.

I’ve tried a few really great turkey recipes over the years, but my absolute favorite has to be the one from Alton Brown! That man is like the protein god to me!

To ensure a moist turkey, brining is key. It’s a little intimidating if you’ve never done it before, but the execution itself is pretty simple. All you’re really doing is immersing the bird in a huge bucket of salt water for a few days.


  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 gallon vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger
  • 1 gallon heavily iced water

Directions: Start defrosting the turkey if you bought a frozen one (the rule of thumb is to allow 24 hours of thaw time for every 5 lbs of turkey). Make the brine by combining all the ingredients listed for the brine (except the gallon of iced water) and boil them in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate.

The night before Thanksgiving – combine the brine, water, and ice in a 5-gallon bucket.  Place thawed turkey breast side down in the brine. Cover and place in a cool place for 8-16 hours. Turn the turkey halfway through the brining process.


  • 14-16 pound turkey
  • 1 red apple
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 6 leaves sage
  • canola oil

Directions: Remove turkey from the brine, and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine, then pat the turkey really well until it is as dry as possible (if you have time, put the turkey back in the refrigerator for another hour or two to really dry out the skin – the drier it is, the crispier the skin!).

Preheat oven to 500 degrees, making sure rack is at the bottom third of the oven. Place turkey on roasting rack. Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Place the steeped aromatics, along with the rosemary and sage, into the cavity of the bird. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.

Create a foil tent for the breast portion of the bird (this is to make sure the breasts don’t overcook since that is the least fatty part of the bird). To create the tent, cut a piece of heavy duty aluminum foil that when folded in half is big enough to cover the turkey’s breast. Lay this onto the breast, shiny side up, and mold it into a breastplate (basically, a triangular sheath that covers the breast meat completely).

Roast turkey at 500 degrees for 30 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees for the remainder of the roasting time. For a fresh turkey of this size, that would be about 2-2 1/2 hours. Once the breast meat hits an internal temperature of 161 degrees F, the turkey is done. Let it rest for 20 minutes before carving. Bon appetit!

Some tips:

  • Cooking times will differ depending on whether your bird was fresh or frozen.  Rule of thumb is 20 minutes per pound in a 350 degree F oven for a defrosted turkey, and 10 to 15 minutes per pound for a fresh turkey.
  • For crisper skin, pat the skin of the turkey as dry as possible  Ideally, you’d want to dry it out for at least an hour in the fridge once you take it out of the brine and pat it dry.
  • Once you put the turkey in the oven, resist the urge to open that door and check on the turkey, it will dry it out.
  • Let the turkey have enough rest time once it’s done, so you don’t lose all the juices by carving it too soon.

Adapted from: Good Eats Roast Turkey by Alton Brown

Do you have a go-to turkey recipe?