Maple Brined Turkey

Even for the best of cooks, roasting a turkey can be a huge stress! I've cooked more than my share of turkeys over the years and the one thing that I've come to realize is_ less is more. In my opinion, the key to a perfect turkey is brining. I like to prepare a simple brine for my turkey to sit in for a day or two before cooking (this is one of Kenya's favorite jobs because he loves playing with all the spices involved) and then into the oven it goes.

Remember, when you make a good turkey, people will remember and complimemt you forever. But when you mess up a turkey, no one will let you forget it. So, don’t mess up the turkey! With brining you won’t. No stuffing, no flipping it halfway through, just a few easy steps that make this Maple Brined Turkey the most juicy, succulent turkey you and your family will ever eat!

[amd-recipeseo-recipe:161]

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Maple Brined Turkey (Makes 10-12 Servings)

Prep Time: 5 mins Cook Time: 3 mins

egg free

nut free

dairy free

gluten free

Ingredients

  • Water
  • 1 Cup maple syrup
  • 1 Cup Salt (preferably kosher)
  • 1 12-14 pound turkey (defrosted)
  • 1 Orange, cut in half
  • 1 Onion, quartered
  • 10 Cloves
  • 20 peppercorns
  • 3 Star Anise
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons Vegetable or Canola Oil

Preparation

1. Place the maple syrup and salt in 4 cups of hot water. Stir until the salt dissolves.
2. Place the maple syrup mixture in a large stock pot with a gallon of cold water, the juice of the orange, the orange halves (once juiced, of course), the onion, cloves, peppercorns, and star anise and stir to combine.
3. Wash the turkey inside and out (putting aside the neck and liver to make gravy) and place breast side down in the stockpot with the brine (you want the brine to just cover the turkey).
4. Refrigerate 18 hours to 2 days. (Or, you can set it in a cool safe place outdoors as long as it’s below 55 degrees outside).
5. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
6. Take the turkey out of the brine and rinse inside and out with cold water, discarding brine.
7. Place the turkey on a roasting rack inside a wide low pan and blot the turkey with a paper towel.
8. Tuck back the wings (or cover with small pieces of foil) and rub the skin of the turkey with the oil.
9. Roast on the lowest rack of the oven for 30 minutes and then place a piece of foil just over the breast of the turkey to cover (the breast cooks faster then the legs and wings so this process helps it to cook more evenly).
10. Pour 1 cup of water in the pan, reduce temperature to 350 degrees and continue to roast 1 hour.
11. Remove the foil from the breast, turn the pan so the other side of the breast is towards the back of the oven (most oven’s heat comes from the back, so turning it prevents overcooking) and cook for another hour to 90 minutes. Insert a meat thermometer into the deepest part of the thigh (avoiding the bone) until you reach a temperature of 160-165 degrees. The turkey will actually continue to cook a bit more even after you take it out of the oven (the total cooking time in the oven will be 2 1/2-3 hours total).
12. Let the turkey rest for 20-30 minutes (this is an essential step to allow the juices to redistribute and settle).
13. Slice and serve with gravy or Cranberr-Wee-Sauce.
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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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58 comments

  • [email protected] Mommy Brain...

    This is very close to how I roast my turkeys and I can attest that they always turn out wonderful! I've never used maple syrup in the brine before but I look forward to trying it!

    leave a comment

    • Carol

      Why do you only have to cook a brined turkey for 2 hours? That doesn't seem like enough time, when, usually I have to cook one for 5-6 hours.

      Thanks, carol

      leave a comment

  • Mina

    This sounds wonderful! What would you do with a turkey twice that size? Would you double all that up?

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      How many pounds are you thinking?

      leave a comment

  • Nicole Head

    I am in charge of making a turkey for the first time, and am definitely going to use this recipe. The only part I don't understand, and please don't tease, is what the brine is. Is that the name of all the juices you soak it in for 2 days? Also, am I right in understanding that I don't need to put any stuffing into this??

    leave a comment

    • Emily

      yes, brine is what you soak it in (most basic would be water with salt and some spices)

      leave a comment

  • Lisa

    What a beautiful presentation with the pomegranates and pears. I love the placemats or tablecloth, too. I would love to try this recipe, however, my husband is in charge of the turkey every year. I'll have to show him this and see if he wants to try it. Thanks!

    leave a comment

  • Janaye

    How would you do this with turkey breast?

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      Are you cooking a bone in, skin on turkey? How many pounds?

      leave a comment

    • Jessica

      I have the same question. Would be boneless turkey breast with skin around five lbs or so from whole foods.

      leave a comment

  • Melissa

    I'm interested if you can do this with a small (48 oz) breast as well. I'm a vegetarian, so I only get a small breast for my husband, but this sounds great for him!

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      Of course, you could even do this with a chicken :) I would cook it bone in, skin on at 450 degrees for 20 minutes and then 40-60 minutes at 350 degrees. Make sure to use a meat thermometer to make sure it's cooked to 165 degrees and allow it to rest for 10 -15 minutes to let the juices settle.

      leave a comment

  • Christan

    I so wanted to try a brined turkey this Thanksgiving. I've been scouring recipes. I think this is the keeper!
    Thanks!

    leave a comment

  • Mina

    Hi Catherine, I got an organic turkey from Whole Foods that will be anywhere from 18-20lbs. How would I alter this recipe to accommodate for the bigger bird?

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      Just double the recipe :)

      leave a comment

  • Alice

    Can you deep fry a brined turkey?

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      I don't see why not, but you have to make sure you completely pat out the turkey so that it is dry before frying. Let me know how it turns out!

      leave a comment

  • Lora Davenport

    Any substitution suggestions for the maple syrup? Thanks!

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      You can use honey or agave :)

      leave a comment

  • Cecelia

    can a brined turkey be stuffed??

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      yes it can :) pat it dry after you take it out of the brine and stuff it :)

      leave a comment

  • Mick

    Help! won't all that salt make the turkey very salty???

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      No when you rinse it, it doesn't :)

      leave a comment

  • Alisha

    I got Gooped on this recipe. I saw it just in time for Christmas and it was the BEST turkey I've ever had. I was excited for something straight forward and easy, this recipe totally fit the bill! I put a 14 pound turkey in the oven and it was fully cooked in 2.5 hours. (Love it!)I've never had turkey that is packed with flavor in the meat. Thanks! ... I also made the individual Pumpkin Cheesecakes and the Sweet Potato Biscuits and they were all divine!

    leave a comment

  • Dara

    I followed your recipe last year and it was not only my first bird ever--it was delicious! I am planning to do it again but am wondering if it sits in the brine for less than 18 hours, is that going to work ok? Thanks so much.

    leave a comment

  • Courtney

    This is the first Thanksgiving where I've been responsible for preparing the turkey and this was the brine I chose to use. The turkey turned out amazing, was super flavorful and juicy, and had an interesting flavor, thanks to the syrup. Awesome, awesome brine! I'll definitely use this again!

    leave a comment

  • Kitchen Small Appliances.

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  • Tori

    I would like to try this recipe and noticed that the directions mention adding an orange but I don't see that in the list of ingredients. Is it one orange? Thanks for the great sounding recipe!

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      Yes, 1 orange! I have updated the recipe. Thank you :)

      leave a comment

  • Mallery

    I've never cooked a turkey before and I'm in charge this year. I'm a little confused about step 8. So you Don't put the oil on the wings?

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      Nope! It's fine if some gets on the wings, but you don't want the wings to cook faster than the rest of the bird and burn/dry out!

      leave a comment

  • Jennifer

    Hi! This is my first year cooking a turkey and I want to use this recipe. Can you please recommend a good roasting pan?
    Thank youn

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      There are so many great brands out there! Here are some links:
      <a href=\"http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003YLJZ6M/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B003YLJZ6M&linkCode=as2&tag=weelicious-20\" rel=\"nofollow\">Cuisinart</a><img src=\"http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=weelicious-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B003YLJZ6M\" width=\"1\" height=\"1\" border=\"0\" alt=\"\" style=\"border:none !important; margin:0px !important;\" />

      <a href=\"http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000BOKJS8/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B000BOKJS8&linkCode=as2&tag=weelicious-20\" rel=\"nofollow\">KitchenAid</a><img src=\"http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=weelicious-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B000BOKJS8\" width=\"1\" height=\"1\" border=\"0\" alt=\"\" style=\"border:none !important; margin:0px !important;\" />

      <a href=\"http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0042HCDIE/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B0042HCDIE&linkCode=as2&tag=weelicious-20\" rel=\"nofollow\">Rachael Ray</a><img src=\"http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=weelicious-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B0042HCDIE\" width=\"1\" height=\"1\" border=\"0\" alt=\"\" style=\"border:none !important; margin:0px !important;\" />

      <a href=\"http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0000DI4P6/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B0000DI4P6&linkCode=as2&tag=weelicious-20\" rel=\"nofollow\">All-Clad</a><img src=\"http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=weelicious-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B0000DI4P6\" width=\"1\" height=\"1\" border=\"0\" alt=\"\" style=\"border:none !important; margin:0px !important;\" />

      leave a comment

  • Brenda

    Two questions:
    Is it OK to leave the turkey in a metal pot? I thought you weren't supposed to store food in metal?

    Can you cook a brined turkey on a gas BBQ ? I need my oven for other things and my husband usually does the turkey outside.

    Thanks!

    leave a comment

  • Crystal

    I can't wait to try this this year. We brined a turkey last year for the first time and it was amazing! Just one question ... I've never heard of star anise before .... do I just find it on the spice aisle??

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      Yes, it is in the spice aisle! And it is in the shape of a star! :)

      leave a comment

  • Rachel

    have a 21 pound turkey to make next week… I will double the recipe for the brine, but will I have to cook it longer? Thanks! I am so excited to make this. :) (I’m using your whole menu for hosting my first thanksgiving this year!)

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      That is so exciting! Good luck! A 20-25 pound turkey will take 4 1/2-5 hours! Follow the recipe as it is written, but leave the foil on the breast until the last hour of cooking!

      leave a comment

  • Debbie

    How long do you cook a 20 pound or heavier turkey? After you double the recipe for the brine, how many hours do you cook a 21-22 pound turkey?

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      A 20-25 pound turkey will take 4 1/2-5 hours! Follow the recipe as it is written, but leave the foil on the breast until the last hour of cooking!

      leave a comment

  • Malini

    I'd love to celebrate my first thanksgiving.could you please let me know the procedure with chicken.and does adding maple syrup for brining makes meat sweet?
    My family likes spicy kind of food.please let me know the spice details too.and stuffing for chicken.
    It might sound crazy but we came to know about this celebration and tradition recently as we came from other country.hence,lot of doubts.
    Thanks!

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      You can definitely brine a chicken if you would like. Although, chicken doesn't dry out quite like turkey does so I don't think it is necessary. If you still want to brine a chicken, just follow this recipe! Everything in the brine adds a hint of flavor to the turkey, but you won't really taste the maple syrup or any of the other ingredients in an overpowering sort of way.

      I have a few stuffing recipes that would work well with chicken as well as turkey. Here they are: http://b12.ba4.myftpupload.com/2010/11/18/cornbread-cranberry-stuffing/
      http://b12.ba4.myftpupload.com/2008/11/24/kids-apple-sausage-stuffing/

      I hope this helps! So fun to be celebrating your first Thanksgiving! Here is a post with a bunch more recipes and cooking tips that I'll be cooking this year!
      http://b12.ba4.myftpupload.com/2012/11/12/thanksgiving-made-easy/

      leave a comment

  • Aprille

    What about using an electric roaster oven? Would it be nice to finish the turkey by browning in the oven? If so, how and when?

    leave a comment

  • Denise

    I have never brined a turkey. Will the maple syrup and orange make the turkey sweet tasting? I usually make a sausage and sage dressing instead of stuffing the turkey. Would the flavor of this turkey pair well with sage and thyme?

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      The brine does add flavor, but it isn't overwhelming. So you can serve this brined turkey with whatever you would normally and it won't affect the flavors! Brining adds tons of moisture so your turkey doesn't get dried out!

      leave a comment

  • Susanna Faygenbaum

    Catherine,

    Is this for a comercialy already \"injected\" turkey? If that's the kind I have can I still brine it?.

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      I would not brine an already injected turkey because it will make the turkey too salty!

      leave a comment

  • Carolyn

    If I'm brining a turkey breast, how long should I brine it?

    leave a comment

    • Catherine

      You can brine the breast for 4-24 hours!

      leave a comment

  • Aprille

    Is the foil step still necessary in an electric roaster? Any other tips for cooking a turkey in an electric roaster? I am doing my turkey on Sunday.

    leave a comment

  • Stephanie

    I roasted my first turkey ever for Christmas this year using your Maple Brined Turkey recipe. It was a HUGE success!,, Thank you so much this and many, many other recipes I have tried from weelicious. I also made my first pecan pie and Shredded Brussels sprouts using your recipes!

    leave a comment

  • Christine

    HI there,
    Going to try this out! Can you tell me what 3 star anise means? Is the 3 referring to tablespoons, teaspoons, or the name of the seasoning?

    Never used star anise, otherwise it would probably make sense to me...or not! :)

    Thank you for all you do!

    leave a comment

  • Adrimolina

    How should I alter quantities for a 17lb turkey? First time I am making a turkey and starting the brine right now, please help! :) thanks!

    leave a comment

  • Adrimolina

    Where do you use the 12 tbsp of oil?

    leave a comment

    • Catherine McCord

      1-2 tablespoons! Step 8 you rub it on the turkey!

      leave a comment

  • Adam Kramer

    I love your site! Everything my wife has made for me, from your recipes is quite possibly the best tasting food I've ever had!!! Now...., I decided for our first Thanksgiving in our new home I'd use your turkey recipe. The only thing I wish you mentioned was that some turkeys are, 'pre-brined' or 'infused'. I bought a Butterball and after soaking my 20lbs'r in your brine recipe for hours found out that its been infused. Hope it comes out ok, super bummed that this possibility wasn't mentioned in your instructions, as a warning I mean.. I ended up just adding a couple more gallons of water in hopes to cut the saltiness down. Any thoughts? Regardless of all this, I thank you for posting such amazing recipes for so many families to enjoy:) Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving!!!:)

    leave a comment

  • Adrimolina

    Do I add anything to the pan before setting the turkey on it? (Butter or spray oil..) thanks! It's my first time..

    leave a comment

  • Adrimolina

    Best turkey ever! Thank you, thank you!! :)

    leave a comment