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The perfect roasted turkey www.loavesanddishes.net
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5 from 1 vote

The Perfect Roasted Turkey

One of the best dinners I've made this year (and every year, frankly) is this roasted turkey dinner that I make for Thanksgiving.  You can't go wrong, and I've got all the photos in the post to help you! 
Prep Time2 d
Cook Time5 hrs
Total Time2 d 5 hrs
Course: main
Cuisine: American
Keyword: roasted turkey, how to cook a turkey
Servings: 15
Calories: 220kcal
Author: Loaves and Dishes


For the Brine

  • 1 Cup kosher salt for up to a 16 lb turkey – if more than 16lbs, use 1 ½ Cups
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar 3/4 cup is greater than 16lbs
  • 1 gallon chicken stock
  • 1 ½ TBS black pepper corns
  • 1 ½ tsp allspice berries
  • 1 head of garlic sliced in half through the perimeter don’t worry about the papery outside
  • 1 onion cut in half across the perimeter
  • 2 bay leaves

For the Butter Rub

  • 3 sticks of butter allowed to come to room temp
  • 1 bunch of rosemary – finely chopped
  • ¼ Cup kosher salt

Before roasting the turkey add aromatics

  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 red apple cut in quarters
  • 1 onion cut into quarters
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 4 sprigs of rosemary
  • 2 bunches of sage
  • Olive oil
  • During Baking
  • Chicken Stock


  • On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving or two days before you plan to serve the turkey, clean your kitchen sink very well and rinse well. Remove the turkey from the packaging and rinse the turkey well under running water in the sink – make sure to remove any extra parts from inside the turkey (neck, gizzard, heart, etc). – allow the turkey to sit in the sink while you prepare the brine.
  • On the stove top in a large pot (in the pot you will soak the turkey in ideally – but if you are soaking in a container that can’t go on the stove, then in a large pot will be fine) add the chicken stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice, garlic, onions and bay leaves over medium heat and stir constantly until the sugar and salt are melted and the water has started to become warm. Remove from the heat.
  • Add 2 cups of ice to the stock mixture and stir. When cool enough to touch, put this brine mix in the container where the turkey will brine. Place the turkey into the stock mixture breast side down. Add cold water to the mixture enough to cover the turkey. If the turkey floats, add something heavy to the top to cause the turkey to sink in the water and become completely submerged. Cover your container well with a lid or plastic wrap and place in the fridge (or the iced cooler) for 24 hours.
  • After 24 hours, clean the sink and rinse very well again. Remove the turkey from the brine solution and allow to drain well in the sink. While the turkey is draining, prepare the butter rub. Once the butter is ready, dry the turkey VERY WELL using paper towels. Keep drying. The butter won't stick if the turkey is wet. It will just make you mad. Using your hands mash the butter, chopped rosemary and salt together to form a paste.
  • Using your hands, peel the skin up some from the neck area and with butter in your hands, stuff the butter down between the skin and breast meat – massaging in as best you can. It is ok if the butter is in little pockets. Once the under skin area of the bird has been buttered, butter the outside of the skin both upper and lower areas and all over the legs, thighs, wings and breasts. Keep massaging until you have used all of the butter.
  • Place the bird on the roasting pan rack and into the pan and place uncovered in the fridge overnight. Yes, uncovered. This dries out the skin so that it will be crispy after roasting. Do not place any other food that needs to be cooked near the turkey in the fridge.
  • Preheat the oven to 450 and place the oven rack on the lowest position. On removing the bird before roasting, liberally salt and pepper the inside cavity of the bird. Then stuff the inside cavity of the turkey with the aromatics and pour the 1 cup of stock inside the bird. Any place that the butter appears to have flaked off of the bird, rub well with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. If you are using a remote thermometer, place the thermometer probe.
  • Place turkey in the oven at 450 for 30 minutes (uncovered). After 30 minutes, if there are no juices in the roasting pan, add 1 cup of chicken broth. Use the turkey baster to baste the turkey with the chicken broth. Reduce the oven temp to 350 and then baste the turkey every 30 minutes for the duration. When the turkey reaches 161 degrees, remove from the oven and cover loosely with foil until ready to serve. Do not recommend that you eat the aromatics from inside the turkey.


If you can find a "fresh" and never frozen and locally grown turkey right straight from the farmer, that will be your best bet at the best tasting turkey you ever put in your mouth, period. 


Calories: 220kcal