Good Eats Roast Turkey

"from Alton Brown's show. Brining the bird is the key to moist meat. Made this again this year, only brined in just water instead of stock to save some dough. Again, the bird turned out perfect. Growing up, I hated white meat because it was always dry and grinding on your teeth ;-), now I love white meat. Cook time includes the brining time."
photo by IngridH photo by IngridH
photo by IngridH
photo by Blackhawkmunn photo by Blackhawkmunn
photo by Blackhawkmunn photo by Blackhawkmunn
photo by loudulien photo by loudulien
photo by Motivated Mama photo by Motivated Mama
Ready In:
15hrs 20mins




  • Combine all brine ingredients, except ice water, in a stock pot and bring to a boil.
  • Stir to dissolve solids, then remove from heat, cool to room temperature refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
  • Early on the day of cooking, (or late the night before) combine the brine and ice water in a clean 5 gallon bucket.
  • Place thawed turkey breast side down in brine, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area (like a basement) for 6 hours.
  • Turn turkey over once, half way through brining.
  • A few minutes before roasting, heat oven to 500 degrees.
  • Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick and cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes.
  • Remove bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water.
  • Discard brine.
  • Place bird on roasting rack inside wide, low pan and pat dry with paper towels.
  • Add steeped aromatics to cavity along with rosemary and sage.
  • Tuck back wings and coat whole bird liberally with canola (or other neutral) oil.
  • Roast on lowest level of the oven at 500F for 30 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and cover breast with double layer of aluminum foil, insert probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and return to oven, reducing temperature to 350°F.
  • Set thermometer alarm (if available) to 161°F.
  • A 14-16 pound bird should require a total of 2-2 1/2 hours of roasting.
  • Let turkey rest, loosely covered for 15 minutes before carving.

Questions & Replies

Got a question? Share it with the community!


  1. Cooked up my last turkey this way--used everything exactly per recipe except didn't have allspice berries. The meat was tender and moist and not the slightest bit salty. A(lton showed the science behind why the salt isn't absorbed into the meat, but I don't remember the specifics.) I'm a brining convert!
  2. Although I use a different brine, there is no question that I will not ever roast a turkey without brining. Those who haven't tried it owe it to yourself to give it a shot. You will not be able to go back.
  3. Great recipe!!! I'll never be able to go back to an unbrined turkey.
  4. "More work, but more better! Juicy meat, crispy skin, and complex, subtle flavors. Also BEAUTIFUL coming out of the oven! My boyfriend thought I had someone over because I couldn't quit ooh-ing and aaah-ing! I'd never do it differently... -- posted Apr 2, 2003, 2 members found this helpful" Updated 11/27/04 - This is a lot of work and SO worth it! I cooked the turkey for the first time for my family and my BF's (the latter family is used to dining at very nice holiday buffets). I brined for 24 hours, and let sit in an empty pot to air dry for another 12 (saves a few paper towel rolls). I depended on a probe, and when it read 161 at the breast and 175 at the thigh, I removed it from the oven. My 17 pound bird only roasted for 2 hours to reach these temps. My mom raved, and my BF's stoic father said mid-feast, "This is the best turkey I have ever had." BF summed it up very well: "Moistest white meat in the world, but a little flavorless in comparison to the dark meat, which is has great flavor (from the aromatics)." Next year, I may rub a salt-garlic-rosemary paste under the breast skin. PLEASE TRY THIS RECIPE. You won’t be sorry.
  5. i made this turkey when this episode first came on. the brining makes it do juicy, i never knew it was so easy to make turkey. try it, it is eaiser than it sounds! thanks for posting!


  1. Alton is the MAN!! I miss his Good Eats, but do watch his old episodes on NetFlix.<br/><br/>I adapted Alton's recipe and use pickling salt, since it dissolves better in water. I also use water instead of broth. In addition, I do brine over night, use different seasonings (like any other cook has the right to), stuff the cavities with onions, but I smoke the turkey low at 200 degrees and, most important, with the breast down over a pan of the brine to keep the heat moist. At 200 degrees, it takes a 20# bird about 6 hours, so get up early!! However, the work and wait is worth it; the most delicious turkey you can ask for!! And don't let the 161 degrees scare you, the carry-over will take it higher and today's birds are cleaner than before.<br/><br/>The only thing I will do differently is smoke with the breast up for the first 1-2 hours for better smoke flavor in the breast.<br/><br/>Don't restrict yourselves to just turkey. I brine pork, beef, poultry, and it is excellent for venison; my wife even ate it. The brine time is about 1 hour per pound. I did do a chicken over night and my son and I had to drink a gallon of water after our 2-bite dinner. FUNNY!!
  2. Awesome!!!! I can't believe how incredibly moist it was. All my dinner guests raved about it! Every year I try a new turkey recipe because I am never satisfied...but after 11 Thanksgivings and 11 different turkey recipes, my search is over! I will be making this turkey from now on. I followed the recipe exactly but substituted ground allspice for the berries and used a home depot 5 gallon bucket to brine my 17 lb turkey in. Then I set the bucket in an ice chest filled 1/2 way full with ice. It was easy and so incredibly flavorful!
  3. I will never make a turkey any other way again. I used vegetable bouillon instead of stock to save money - it was very economical to do it that way. My husband says he's never had a moister turkey - ever. He can't stop talking about it. From a 20 lb bird - there was no leftover! Our guests DEVOURED it.
  4. I used water instead of stock, and didn't use the allspice berries. It turned out beautifully - the flavors of the brine really permeated the meat and it was delicious!
  5. I was always a drumstick girl...until this year! The white meat was so moist and tender that I think next year I will make two breasts instead of a whole turkey. Followed the recipe exactly except I used a 2 quarts of stock and 2 quarts of water for the initial brine mixture. I will never make turkey any other way again.


I'm really just learning how to cook, but I hope that my skills at eating will really guide me in this endeavor. ;-) I think that sharing recipes on the internet is better than any cookbook. Of course, I founded Recipezaar, so I might be a little biased.
View Full Profile

Find More Recipes