Brined and Roasted Turkey

Brining turkeys has become de rigueur in many American households. How does it work? Soaking the bird in a salty brine causes it to absorb some of the seasoned liquid, which breaks down the proteins and seals in flavor and moisture. Some people cook their turkey to 175° or above; we like to cook ours to a lower temperature to preserve its moisture, as the bird continues to cook once it is removed from the oven.

What You Will need

Brined and Roasted Turkey Brined and Roasted Turkey
Brining turkeys has become de rigueur in many American households—this recipe shows you how it's done.
Yield: serves 8-10


  • 1 (10 to 20 lb.) natural turkey (giblets and neck removed)
  • 2 cups kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 10 cloves garlic
  • 20 fresh sage leaves, half finely chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. Toast whole sage leaves in a skillet over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Put sage into a large pot with 2 cups salt, sugar, and 2 quarts water. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, and stir in 6 quarts water; let cool completely.
  2. Put brine and turkey into a brining bag; seal and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 325°. Mix chopped sage, butter, garlic, salt, and pepper to form a compound butter; set aside. Remove turkey from brine; pat dry. Lift skin at neck of bird; cut and remove wishbone (make a wish and discard, if you like). Place turkey on a rack in a roasting pan, breast side up, and tuck wings under the body. Rub turkey all over with half of compound butter; rub remaining compound butter under skin of turkey. Tie legs together with butcher’s twine. Roast turkey, basting every 30 minutes, until deep golden brown and a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh (not touching bone) registers 165°, 2 12–3 hours. Let turkey rest for 20 minutes before carving (see How to Carve a Turkey).