Thanksgiving Turkey

Over 1,900 votes for a 5 star recipe. Thanksgiving is a tradition that is always held at my mother's house. Since I was a little girl, I've been watching her make the family turkey for 20-something guests. Here is a recipe for a brine turkey. A brine simply referres to a recipe for allowing the turkey to soak in a salt/water mixture for several hours in the refrigorator. The mixture is then washed off and patted dry before cooking. I've also included a non brine turkey (read below). Why brine the turkey? This makes the juiciest turkey with skin that will brown and crisp. The brine process makes the turkey superbly moist and flavorful. The meat comes out succulent. The meat is not salty, so don't be afraid to use the amount of salt directed in the recipe since it is rinsed off afterwards. If you do not want to brine a turkey, simply seperate the skin from the turkey just enough to rub a few tablespoons of butter under the skin (If not brining, use salted butter).
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 17 hours
Servings 18 -22 servings
Author Jessica (


  • 1 (18 pound) whole turkey, neck and giblets removed
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter , melted
  • 2 cups kosher salt *This is for brine , see below
  • 2 large yellow onions , peeled and chopped
  • 5-6 carrots , peeled and chopped
  • 5-6 stalks celery , chopped
  • 1-2 granny smith apples , peeled and halved - optional
  • 1 cup dry white wine (chicken broth will work too)
  • 2 springs fresh thyme
  • fresh sage
  • 1 bay leaf
  • peppercorn to taste - optional
  • rosemary - optional


  • 1. Rub the turkey inside and out with the kosher salt. Place the bird in a large stock pot, and cover with cold water. Place in the refrigerator, and allow the turkey to soak in the salt and water mixture 12 hours, or overnight. If you have not room in refrigerator, use a cooler. Place brine mixture and turkey in a zip-lock bag. Squeeze air out and tie. Place a few bags of ice in cooler to keep turkey cold.
  • 2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Thoroughly rinse the turkey good, and discard the brine mixture.
  • Brush the turkey with 1/2 the melted butter. Place breast side down on a roasting rack in a shallow roasting pan.
  • 3. Boil vegetables before stuffing them in the turkey. This will ensure the vegetables are done.
  • 4. Stuff the turkey cavity with 1 onion, 1/2 the carrots, 1/2 the celery, 1 sprig of thyme, and the bay leaf (rosemary and sage optional). Scatter the remaining vegetables and thyme around the bottom of the roasting pan, and cover with the white wine. Apples can also be placed inside and around.
  • 5. Roast uncovered 3 1/2 to 4 hours in the preheated oven, until the internal temperature of the thigh reaches 180 degrees F (85 degrees C). Carefully turn the turkey breast side up about 2/3 through the roasting time, and brush with the remaining butter. Foil should not have to be used when flipping a bird, but it can be if wanted.
  • *Allow the bird to stand about 30 minutes before carving.


1. Vegetables can be made separately. Simply stuff the bird with apples, onions, thyme, sage and bay leaf for flavor. Add peppercorn if desired.
2. When flipping a turkey, place 2 potholders in zip-lock bags. This will ensure the potholders will not get wet.
3. When brining a turkey, always use UNSALTED butter. Salted butter will make the turkey too salty in addition to brining.
4. If you don't have any room in the refrigerator, place brine mixture in an oven bag/zip-lock bag with the turkey, squeeze out the air and tie the bag. Place the bagged turkey in a cooler with plenty of ice (3 bags or so) to sit over night for the duration.
5. For more helpful tips and notes on Thanksgiving and turkey visit