On Friday I posted on my facebook page asking what you the readers wanted to see on the blog.  If you have any ideas hop on over to the Multiply Delicious facebook page and leave your comments or just leave me your comments below.  I would love to hear what you guys are dying to hear.

One of the comments on Friday asked for Thanksgiving recipe ideas.  Can you believe Thanksgiving is next Thursday!  Wow!  This year is totally flying by!  With that being said, this week is going to be all about Thanksgiving!  I’ll be posting recipes all involving one of my favorite holidays….Thanksgiving!  Thanks Ericka for the idea too!

First up is the recipe for my favorite Turkey Brine and Thanksgiving Roasted Turkey.  I have been using this recipe since 2006.  I’m amazed I’ve never posted it on here either.  Shame on me!  This brine is my favorite and it’s my families favorite too.  If I even think of changing it up I would have upset people in my life.  So I haven’t switched up, after all I don’t want to have anybody upset on Thanksgiving.  Ha!

Now what is a turkey brine you may ask?  A turkey brine is basically a water bath/marinade which causes the meat tissues to absorb water and flavorings by breaking down the proteins.  It is my favorite way to prepare my Thanksgiving turkey because any moisture loss while roasting still produces a juicy and flavorful turkey.  With brining your turkey you have to start the day before to get the best results.

A few tips when choosing to brine your turkey:

  • You do not want to brine a kosher or self-basting bird.  Otherwise the turkey will be too salty.
  • Many people will tell you to brine your turkey in heavy duty garbage bags, Home Depot style pails, and XXL size ziplock bags.  I’ve read that garbage bags shouldn’t be used because they are not made from food-grade plastic.  I usually buy the XXL Turkey Brine Bags from Williams-Sonoma or buy the ones Whole Foods sells.
  • I suggest you at least brine your bird for 1 hour for every pound.  If you go over the 1 hour per pound that is fine but try not to do less.

Now let’s drive into the recipe, because it is a long one.

Thanksgiving Turkey Brine


1 – 12-16 pound turkey (neck and giblets removed and discarded)

1 small yellow onion, diced

1 celery stalk, diced

1 medium carrot, diced

3 garlic cloves, sliced

3 bay leaves

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

3 sprigs each rosemary, thyme and sage

6 sprigs Italian parsley

1/2 cup iodized salt

3 gallons cold water

One day before baking turkey, prepare brine.  Combine all brine ingredients.  Place the turkey in extra large brine bag and pour brine over turkey submerging it.  Place in a cooler surrounded by ice in your hopefully cold garage or if you have room, in your refrigerator.    Let turkey sit in brine for 12 to 24 hours.  Remove turkey from brine; dry off turkey with paper towels.  Discard brine.

Thanksgiving Turkey Preparation

Inside the turkey:

2 carrots, roughly chopped

2 celery sticks, roughly chopped

1 apple, sliced into wedges

1 orange, sliced into wedges

4 garlic cloves, peeled, whole

Under the Bird:

1 medium onion, diced

1 medium carrot. diced

1 stalk celery, diced

3 cloves garlic, whole

3 sprigs each of sage, rosemary, thyme

6 sprigs Italian parsley

3 bay leaves

On the Bird:

4 tablespoons ghee, sliced into pats – plus 1 more tablespoon

5 cups low sodium free-range chicken broth

2 tablespoons rosemary, diced

1 tablespoon honey (optional)

sea salt and black pepper to season


Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Brine turkey as instructed above.  Salt and pepper the brined turkey and cavity.  Fill the cavity with carrots, celery, apple, orange, and garlic; bind the legs with kitchen twine.

In a large roasting pan, spread onion, carrot, celery, garlic, sage,rosemary, thyme, parsley and bay leaves.  Place the turkey on top of the bed of vegetables and herbs.

Put ghee on turkey, or between skin and breast meat (or a combo of both).  I usually melt the ghee slightly if I place on the outside of the turkey.

Place the turkey in the oven and roast for 45 minutes.  Pour half the chicken stock over turkey; roast an additional 45 minutes.  Pour remaining stock over turkey and roast 45 more minutes; it will start turning golden brown.  Baste with pan juices.

In a small bowl, mix together honey, rosemary, and 1 tablespoon melted ghee.  With a pastry brush, brush mixture on the turkey.

Cover loosely with foil and roast an additional 45 minutes.  When the turkey has reached an internal temperature of 165 or 175 degrees, remove from oven, keep covered and let rest at least 20 to 30 minutes before carving.  Transfer to platter and serve.

For a simple gravy:

From the bottom of the roasting pan, discard herbs and measure out 1 cup of vegetables and 3 cups of pan juices; puree in a blender or food processor.  To thicken, add more vegetables; to thin add more pan juices.  Pour through a mesh strainer to make smooth gravy.


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16 Responses to Best Thanksgiving Turkey Brine

  1. ginny says:

    I am cooking a 12 pound bird. Your recipe calls for 3 hour roasting time. Does that work for a 12 pounder?

  2. MDelicious says:

    Hi Ginny,

    I usually have a 10 to 12 pound bird too and 3 hours is perfect, just make sure the turkey is at the temperature above (165-175).

  3. Carisa says:

    Am I missing something? This is my first time brining a turkey and other recipes call for boiling the brine and then cooling it before pouring over the turkey. Should this still be done? Thanks for your help. Im stressing!!! :)

  4. MDelicious says:

    Hi Carisa,

    No need to boil the brine before pouring over the turkey. Just follow the directions above and you should be good to go. :)
    Don’t stress and good luck!

  5. […] Best Thanksgiving Turkey Brine by Multiply Delicious (contains ghee, which may be okay for some on a dairy-free diet) […]

  6. Carisa says:

    Hi, I hope you had a great Thanksgiving. I just wanted to let you know that I followed your recipe and the turkey was absolutely delicious!!! Thank you so much for your quick response to my frantic question last week. :)

  7. ginny says:

    Heather, I already posted and pic and thank you for your incredible turkey recipe. I made soup with the pan drippings and leftover dark turkey meat by basically adding a little more broth and kale…the soup is better than the meal we had Thanksgiving day. So, I’m wondering – could I use this same recipe complete with brine on a large roasting chicken? What went “under” the turkey makes the best tasting soup I have ever eaten. I’m hooked.

  8. MDelicious says:

    Hi Ginny!
    I saw your photo on facebook. Thanks so much for posting on the page. Made me smile. Sometimes recipes that might work for you may not work for others so I’m soooo happy you love it. It’s been our Thanksgiving Turkey tradition to make this brine for about 6 or 7 years now.
    As for a chicken brine…I would say go for it. I haven’t tried it myself but I’m sure it would be delicious. If you try it please come back and let us know how it compares to the turkey recipe. :)

  9. MDelicious says:

    Hi Carisa,
    I’m so happy to hear the brine worked for you. And no worries about the email. I’m happy to help! :)

  10. Menaka says:

    This is so late minute oops! Am planning to brine my turkey tonight if possible.
    So I have all the ingredients for the brining but I am not quite sure what type of salt you use. I have fine sea salt and coarse sea salt. Both are iodized.

  11. MDelicious says:

    Menaka, Either of those will work fine :)

  12. Jennifer says:

    I’ve never brined and I have a 20 pd turkey, how much do I need to adjust this recipe?

  13. Jessica says:

    Do you have to boil the brine first?

  14. Jessica says:

    Oops read it up top! Thank you ! Excited to try this!!!:)

  15. Kerry says:

    I followed this recipe and directions for our Thanksgiving turkey. It was a huge hit! Best turkey I’ve ever made. Thank you so much!

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