The secret to a delicious, juicy Thanksgiving turkey is all about the brine. This Maple Brined Turkey recipe is sure to have your Thanksgiving turkey be the talk of the dinner table. 

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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. This recipe is so easy it will make even a turkey roasting first timer look like a seasoned (pun intended) pro!

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Remember, when you make a good turkey, people will remember and compliment 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!

Here’s a few tips that will guarantee you make a turkey that will make you a legend in your family!

1. No maple syrup on hand, but still want to make a brined turkey? Make my Best Brined Turkey which is a game changer. 

2. Your turkey is totally frozen? You can totally add it to any brining recipe and brine it for 3 days (even better) adding more ice to cover on day two. 

3. After your turkey cooks at 450 degrees for 30 minutes, cover the breast with a piece of foil to prevent further browning in order to make sure the legs cook and brown even. You’ll thank me later!

4. You don’t have enough room in your oven? Open your grill to cook your turkey in a way that will blow your guests mind (and love more space in your oven for stuffing and sides.) 

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Of course, every Thanksgiving turkey is supported by the delicious sides it’s served with. Pair this scrumptious Maple Brined Turkey with some of my favorite Thanksgiving sides like Cornbread Cranberry StuffingMaple Roast VegetablesShredded Brussels Sprouts with Lemon and Poppy Seeds, and Sweet Potatoes in Orange Cups. Still hungry? You need dessert! Gluten free Apples Pie, Pecan Pie, Maple Pumpkin Pie or Cinnamon Apple Crisp will change your world and create desserts that are so simple you can make them with anyone in your family who’s never even cooked before with perfect results.  

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What do you have on the menu for Thanksgiving this year? Let me know in the comments, and tag @weelicious on social media so I can see your recipes!

Maple Brined Turkey from Weelicious.comPin

Maple Brined Turkey

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Author: Catherine McCord
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 3 minutes
Total Time 1 day


  • 1 12-14 pound turkey (defrosted)
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1 orange, cut in half
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 10 cloves
  • 20 peppercorns
  • 3 star anise
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
  • water


  • Place the maple syrup and salt in 4 cups of hot water. Stir until the salt dissolves.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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).
  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  • Take the turkey out of the brine and rinse inside and out with cold water, discarding brine.
  • Place the turkey on a roasting rack inside a wide low pan and blot the turkey with a paper towel.
  • Tuck back the wings (or cover with small pieces of foil) and rub the skin of the turkey with the oil.
  • 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).
  • Pour 1 cup of water in the pan, reduce temperature to 350 degrees and continue to roast 1 hour.
  • 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).
  • Let the turkey rest for 20-30 minutes (this is an essential step to allow the juices to redistribute and settle).
  • Slice and serve with gravy or Cranberr-Wee-Sauce.


Calories: 920kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 109g | Fat: 42g | Cholesterol: 380mg | Sodium: 9800mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 18g
Did you make this recipe?Mention @Weelicious or tag #weelicious!

About the Author

Catherine is a 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. I create simple, healthy recipes the whole family will love.


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

  2. 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!!!:)

  3. 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!

  4. 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!

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. Catherine,

    Is this for a comercialy already “injected” turkey? If that’s the kind I have can I still brine it?.

  8. 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!

  9. 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?

  10. 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?

  11. 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:

    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!

  12. 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.

  13. 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!

  14. 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?

  15. 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!

  16. 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!)

  17. 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??

  18. 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.


  19. 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

  20. 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!

  21. 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?

  22. 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!

  23. kitchen small appliances….

    […]Maple Brined Turkey | Weelicious ™ – Fast, Easy & Fresh Homemade Home Made Baby Food Babyfood Recipes, Toddler Food and recipes for the entire family![…]…

  24. 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!

  25. 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.

  26. 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!

  27. 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!

  28. 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?

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

  30. 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.

  31. 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!

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

  33. 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!

  34. 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??

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

  36. 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

  37. 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!

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