Herb-Brined Turkey

One serving of this juicy and flavor-filled herb-brined turkey will quickly quiet all those who complain that turkey is dry and tasteless. The key to a successful roasted turkey is in the prep work - everything from choosing the right bird, adequate thawing time, a healthy dose of seasoning, and the correct time in the oven, all combine to create a succulent and savory Thanksgiving centerpiece that can hold its own alongside the favorite holiday casseroles and side dishes. Before roasting, the turkey rests in an herb turkey brine which imparts extra flavor and moisture, which in turn helps the bird stay moist during cook time.

Herb-Brined Turkey
Photo: Antonis Achilleos; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis; Food Styling: Emily Nabors Hall
Active Time:
20 mins
Bake Time:
2 hrs 15 mins
Rest Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
11 hrs 5 mins


  • 2 cups hot water

  • 1 cup kosher salt

  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar

  • 1 large (12 oz.) yellow onion, quartered

  • 1 head garlic, halved crosswise

  • 3 lemons, halved

  • 3 bay leaves

  • 1 (1/2-oz.) pkg. fresh sage, torn

  • 1 (1/2-oz) pkg. rosemary, torn

  • 10 thyme sprigs

  • 3 tablespoons black peppercorns

  • 1 (14- to 16-lb.) fresh or frozen, thawed whole turkey, with giblets and neck reserved for Homemade Turkey Stock

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


  1. Stir together hot water, kosher salt, and packed light brown sugar in a large stockpot or plastic container until dissolved. Stir in quartered large yellow onion; halved garlic head; halved lemons; bay leaves; fresh sage and rosemary, torn; thyme sprigs; and black peppercorns. Add thawed whole turkey (giblets and neck removed and reserved for Homemade Turkey Stock) to brine mixture. Add enough cool water to cover by 2 inches. Cover and chill at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours

  2. Preheat oven to 450˚F with rack in lower third of oven. Place a roasting rack in a large roasting pan lined with aluminum foil. Drain brined mixture, discarding brining liquid. Place brined vegetable mixture in cavity of turkey. Pat turkey dry with paper towels. Tie ends of legs together with kitchen twine, and tuck wing tips under. Place turkey on rack in prepared pan, breast side up, and brush with olive oil.

  3. Bake in lower third of preheated oven 45 minutes. Loosely cover turkey with aluminum foil, and reduce oven temperature to 350˚F. Continue baking until golden brown and a meat thermometer inserted in thickest portion of thigh registers 165˚F, 1 ½ to 2 hours. Transfer to a cutting board, and rest 30 minutes before carving. Pour pan drippings through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl; discard solids. Reserve 1 ½ cups strained drippings for Old-Fashioned Turkey Gravy or Mushroom Gravy.

Related Articles