In my family, we have always had our Turkey prepared the exact same way at both Thanksgiving and Christmas. Only difference was on Christmas we would serve both Ham and Turkey…you know to mix it up a little. Our turkey has always been the classic stuffed turkey and to be honest…I always thought there must be more to turkey. It was always all family members please look away slightly dry. This year when my Mom was asking what I wanted to be in charge of for Christmas, I told her the turkey. And surprisingly she was completely ok with it! I did a ton of research, studied lots of recipes, and really put in the time to make sure I wouldn’t make a stupid mistake and waste a 20lb turkey.

For the first time ever we brined our turkey. And instead of stuffing it with traditional stuffing, we did aromatics. I bought a really nice meat thermometer for the oven so we would never have to open the oven door…and I cooked the turkey exactly as God Alton Brown said to. And it was perfect. It was moist, delicious, and perfectly golden. Everyone at dinner thought it was great and even 3 days later I reheated the leftovers for my girlfriend and she asked if the turkey was fried because it was so juicy. Definitely the ONLY way I will be making a Turkey from now on!




1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young turkey

For the brine:
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger
1 gallon heavily iced water

For the aromatics:
1 red apple, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup water
1 lemon
1 orange
4 sprigs rosemary
6 leaves sage

For the turkey:
canola oil
black pepper
garlic salt


2 to 3 days before roasting:

Begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees F.

Combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, and candied ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.

Night before you'd like to eat:

Combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.

Day of:

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.

Place the bird on roasting rack inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels. Allow turkey to rest for 15 minutes to warm up a little.

Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil. Then using your hands, rub canola oil, pepper, and garlic salt UNDER the skin of the turkey. It works best if you have someone pouring the oil, pepper and garlic salt into your hands as you do this.

Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add steeped aromatics to the turkey's cavity along with the orange, lemon, rosemary and sage.

Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees F. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large bowl for 30 minutes before carving.

Adapted from Alton Brown


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17 Responses to “Turkey!”

  1. 1

    notyet100 — December 27, 2010 @ 11:51 pm

    platter looks so yum..

  2. 2

    Amy @ The Nifty Foodie — December 28, 2010 @ 2:33 pm

    Alton Brown is so genius! I can’t even imagine how wonderful the kitchen smelled with those aromatics! YUM!

  3. 3

    The Teacher Cooks — December 28, 2010 @ 2:41 pm

    I have used this same recipe for the last two years. There is no better way to cook a turkey.

  4. 4

    sweetlife — December 28, 2010 @ 9:52 pm

    oh yes Alton is God..lol
    glad your turkey came our great, my mom has also passed the load of holiday cooking..to me, lol!!


  5. 5

    Anna Johnston — December 29, 2010 @ 12:22 am

    This is so interesting. I’m not the biggest fan of turkey for all the same reasons and over the Turkey-thon (aaahhh Thanksgiving); I saw some awesome cooks do the whole brine thing…, but apart from salt it up a bit I had no idea exactly what it’d be like.., so thanks for the description of the results Lovely…. appreciate it :)

  6. 6

    Chiara — December 30, 2010 @ 7:36 am

    Brine makes a great difference, doesn’t it? I’ll never make a turkey without brining it again!

  7. 7

    Sharlene — December 31, 2010 @ 4:14 pm

    Stuffing the turkey with aromatics sounds like a wonderful change to the typical turkey recipe!!

  8. 8

    Haley :D — January 2, 2011 @ 6:01 pm

    Time for a new blog please and this is your Mom not Haley she was already signed in. Love you!

  9. 9

    Dot — January 10, 2011 @ 11:25 am

    Ahhh… another worshiper at the shrine of Alton I see. I adore him!

  10. 10

    Sandy — November 16, 2011 @ 11:29 am

    Where can you find candied ginger? Or is that something you make yourself? I also had trouble finding allspice berries. Are they in the local grocery store? Thanks so much! It looks delicious!

    • Jessica replied: — November 16th, 2011 @ 11:54 am

      You can find candied ginger just about anywhere! I personally like to buy it at Trader Joe’s if you have one near you. They have a large bag of it for a very reasonable price (like $3 I think). Do not buy it in the spice aisle…you will get about 1 oz for $10. It’s a rip off!

      If you do not have a trader joe’s, check your normal grocery store in the dried fruit section. I can usually find a large (like 12oz size) for around $3-5 dollars at The Fresh Market, Publix, Winn Dixie or Whole Foods!

      As for the all spice berries, I have always found them in the spice section at Publix, Fresh Market, or Whole Foods!

      Good luck!! ;-D

  11. 11

    Sandy — November 16, 2011 @ 11:32 am

    Also, where did you get your oven thermometer at? Thanks again! I love your blog by the way :)

  12. 12

    Jessica @Sunny Side Up — November 16, 2011 @ 12:31 pm

    I didn’t brine mine, but I was using Alton’s videos for trussing and carving. My husband was totally making fun of me because I kept saying, “Well Alton says…” And I made him be in charge of pausing, rewinding, and restarting the trussing video when I was up to my elbows in turkey. :)

    I do however need to get a better thermometer.

  13. 13

    JulieD — November 17, 2011 @ 2:02 pm

    Your photo looks fine! BTW, I know all about dry turkey growing up and so does Curtis! Love it when you find the perfect recipe.

  14. 14

    Julie — May 14, 2015 @ 4:05 pm

    Thanks for share, I am trying it tomorrow. Tasty turkey

  15. 15

    » 10 Must Make Thanksgiving Recipes — November 17, 2015 @ 10:30 pm

    […] If you are looking for how to make the best turkey ever, I make Alton Brown’s turkey every year and it’s […]

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