Herb Brined Turkey

Finding just the right recipe and cooking time for turkey can be tricky, so I've tested a turkey every week for the past month and a half in order to get to the moist juicy bird for this recipe. I was a little concerned that by the time Thanksgiving Day arrived the kids would look at the turkey and say, "again?!", but so far I haven't heard any protests from them (they both adore sliced turkey topped with tons of cranberry sauce, but you never know with kids).

Even though my father-in-law declares in his charming New York accent that my Brined Turkey is "the best turkey ever," I just wasn't sure if I could deal this year with the over-sized stock pot filled with brine and a 16 pound bird. Last year, I nearly threw out my back lugging the pot around and the year before, 1/2 of the turkey brine poured out ALL over the floor when I tripped over it trying to answer the phone. I thought I would never do a brine again, but alas, it's so delicious I can't resist. Oh, the joys of the holidays!

This is the easiest method of brining I've ever tried. Just rub the brine all over your bird and let it sit uncovered in the refrigerator for one to two days to dry out -- easy peasy and no rivers of turkey juice running all over. Tender and juicy inside with crispy herbed skin outside, this turkey will be as delicious on Thanksgiving Day as it is in your leftovers all weekend long!

[amd-recipeseo-recipe:35]

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Herb Brined Turkey (Serves 10-12)

Prep Time: 1440 mins Cook Time: 230 mins

egg free

nut free

dairy free

gluten free

Ingredients

  • One 12-14 Lb Turkey
  • 2 Tbsp Kosher Salt
  • 2 Tsp Dried Sage
  • 2 Tsp dried thyme
  • 2 Tsp Dried Rosemary
  • 2 Cups Turkey or Chicken Stock

Preparation

1. Remove the giblets from the turkey (to save for the gravy), wash and pat the turkey dry with paper towels.
2. Whisk the salt and herbs in a bowl until combined.
3. Rub the salt/herb mixture all over the turkey, inside and out.
4. Place the turkey on a rack on a large plate or baking sheet and refrigerate uncovered, for 36 hours-2 days.
5. Remove the turkey from the refrigerator 1-2 hours before cooking to bring to room temperature.
6. Preheat oven to 450 F.
7. Tuck the wings behind the neck to avoid burning and place the turkey on a roasting rack, breast side down, pour 2 cups of chicken or turkey stock into the roasting pan and reduce the cooking temperature to 350 degrees.
8. Cook the turkey for 30 minutes.
9. Turn the turkey breast side up, roast the turkey an additional 2 hours minutes – 2 hours and 15 minutes, basting every 30 minutes and turning the turkey pan halfway through the cooking time (if the breast becomes too dark cover with foil).
10. Place a meat thermometer in the deepest part of thigh, but being careful not to touch the bone, until you have an internal temperature of 165-170 F.
11. Allow the turkey to rest for 30 minutes before slicing (this allows the juices to redistribute, making the turkey super juicy).
12. Serve.

Accompaniments

Cranberry Orange Sauce, Turkey Gravy

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Hi, I’m Catherine. Mama of three. A Kentucky girl living in California. Here’s what I know: all kids can be great eaters and mealtime must be easy. My passion is creating simple, healthy recipes that can be enjoyed by the whole family.

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28 comments

  • Heather

    Thanks! I like the idea of less liquid because of the mess. Are the herbs dried or fresh?

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      Dried herbs :)

      leave a comment

  • Lisa

    When cooking, do you cover the turkey?

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      Nope. I only cover the breast at the end with a piece of foil if the skin begins to overly darken.

      leave a comment

  • Dahlia

    When a recipe says \"wash\" the bird (chicken or turkey), then pat dry etc.. what exactly does that mean? Rinse with cold water, wash with soap, wash with salt ? Been looking online and I see many different ideas.

    Thank you!! (love all your recipes!)

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      Great question! I just rinse mine with cold water, place it on paper towels and blot until dry inside and out.

      leave a comment

  • Mary

    So it looks like the total cooking time is only 2 and 1/2 hrs. Seems short, so I just wanted to clarify. I'm going to try it on Thursday! Thx.

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      I like to say 2 1/2 hours for a 12 pound turkey. It's so hard to gauge b/c everyone's oven is different. Since the turkey starts at 450 and turns to 350 degrees it's getting a blast of heat. It may take a few minutes more then 2 1/2 hours total for a 12 pound turkey, so it's important to use your meat thermometer to check. The temperature will also rise about 5 degrees in the last 30 minutes when the turkey is out of the oven.

      leave a comment

  • Lydia

    will sea salt work just as well??

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  • Jen

    Do you think I could use this recipe for a turkey breast? It is just my husband and two very young kids (one which will probably totally pass on turkey). Do you know how I can alter the recipe?

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      Yes, you can use it for a turkey breast! I would brine in for a day, but more time is fine too.

      leave a comment

  • Sokha Mccarthy

    I've been making turkey brine for three years now, I fill a cooler with ice and water with 2 cups of kosher salt, immerse the turkey in it overnight. When ready to bake i rub butter and herbs all over and it's the best turkey I ever had. You won't go back to ho-hum turkey recipes.

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      Great idea!

      leave a comment

  • Debbi

    I will be using a 8 - 9 lb turkey this year as only two people eat it. I am assuming you can reduce cooking time because of size difference.

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      Yes. Cook the turkey for 1:45 and start checking it to make sure it gets to the correct internal temperature.

      leave a comment

  • Kurt

    Our turkey is 20#. How long should we plan to cook it if brining as directed?

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      I would cook the turkey for about 4 hours, but you want to start checking it to make sure it's at the correct internal temperature.

      leave a comment

  • Monica

    Thank you for this recipe! Last year I was a mess trying to brine the turkey with all that liquid... Did you use dry herbs or fresh herbs?

    leave a comment

    • Monica

      Never mind I saw your reply above about the herbs... I was wondering the same as someone above about using only a turkey breast... Should I alter the amount of salt/herbs used if its only 7 lbs? Also do you know up to what temperature to cook the breast? Thank you again!

      leave a comment

  • Lois

    I bought a pre brined turkey from the store (not frozen) can i still follow your recipe sans the salt? It's 22lbs and this is my first time cooking a turkey! Help!

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      No, if you're turkey is already brined, I would just let it come to room temp and then rub it with the herbs before baking.

      leave a comment

  • Jill

    Should the turkey be rinsed before cooking?

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      I rinse my turkey first :)

      leave a comment

  • Simple Thanks – Easy Menu And Homemade Cranberry Sauce! « The Caskey Family

    [...] . .a few more sides will be added by a friend tomorrow: (I’ll add links as I find them) * Herb-Brined Turkey * Sweet Potatoes in Orange Cups * Mashed Red Potatoes * Gravy * Cranberry Orange Sauce (details [...]

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  • Kelli

    No water needed? I'm trying this!

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      Yes, this one is a dry brine! Let me know how you like it!

      leave a comment