Thanksgiving Turkey – Tips for a Delicious and Juicy Turkey

Thanksgiving Turkey – Tips for a Delicious and Juicy Turkey

Thanksgiving is almost here! Are you as excited as we are? This week, Chef J shares a delicious and easy recipe to get that Thanksgiving turkey on the table. Check back next week for Chef J’s tips on carving your bird.

Turkey is my favorite poultry (as well as one of my favorite things to call bad drivers while I’m on the road…) so I take Thanksgiving dinner very seriously. Cooking a turkey and then carving that turkey can be very intimidating, especially if you have friends and relatives coming over that you would like to impress! Fear not!

With a few simple tricks you will end up with a delicious Thanksgiving turkey that your guests will just gobble up.

They will be stuffing themselves with your perfect poultry (Thanksgiving is also a great holiday for terrible puns, you jive turkeys!).

The most common problem people face on their plates is a dry bird- this doesn’t have to happen to you! For a moist turkey the key is time: take as much of it as you need. If you follow these steps, by the time you are ready to carve your Thanksgiving turkey you will have nothing to worry about. Brining the bird the day before will help it retain moisture, a little butter under the skin will add flavor and richness, and (most importantly) letting it rest before carving your turkey will keep all of the juices where they should be.

Brined Thanksgiving Turkey

As far as flavor goes, you can use whatever herbs and spices you like, but here is my favorite recipe:



  • 1 gallon of water
  • 4 cups kosher salt
  • 2 cups honey
  • ¼ cup peppercorns
  • 1 small bunch fresh rosemary
  • 1 small bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 small bunch fresh sage
  • 1 TBS whole cloves
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1 gallon cold water
  • Ice

Bring the first gallon of water to a boil. Add the remaining ingredients (except the cold water and ice!), lower the heat and let the mixture simmer for a few minutes until everything has dissolved.
Combine the hot brine with the cold water in a separate container; add ice until the mixture is cold.
Place your turkey into a container large enough to hold it and the brine, but small enough to fit in your refrigerator, positioned so that the drumsticks and cavity opening are facing upward.
Pour the brine over and into the bird, cover tightly, and refrigerate for 24 hours.
When your bird has been sufficiently brined, remove it from the liquid. Give it a quick rinse and pat it completely dry. Let it sit at room temperature while preparing the rub and heating your oven.

turkey sq 1


  • 4 oz unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1 TBS orange zest
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced

Combine all ingredients.Gently rub the mixture evenly under the skin of the entire turkey.Heat your oven to 325.
Place the bird on a rack in a large roasting pan. Cover completely and tightly with heavy duty foil, tent it so that it is not touching the turkey.
If you have a thermometer that can stay in the turkey while in the oven this is the time to use it! Roast until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 in the thigh. You can estimate about 10 minutes of cooking time per pound, but this is really just a guess. The only accurate way to cook poultry is by temperature.
Pull it out of the oven and turn the heat up to 375. When your oven is ready remove the foil from the turkey (but save it for later!) and place the bird back in until an internal temperature of 170 is reached and the skin has browned up a bit.
If you like your turkey really brown you can help it out by brushing it with a bit of honey and finishing it with your oven on the convection setting.
Remove from the heat, cover with foil and let it sit for 30-60 minutes before carving.

Check back next week for the basics on carving your Thanksgiving turkey.

Printer friendly recipe: Brined Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe

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