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Roasted Brined Turkey

Wow your family by debuting this flavorful turkey preparation next Thanksgiving.

  • Servings: 10
Roasted Brined Turkey

Source: The Martha Stewart Show, November Fall 2007



  1. Remove turkey from brine. Discard brine. Pat turkey dry inside and out with paper towels. Place, breast side up, on a rack set in a roasting pan. Let stand at room temperature for up to 1 hour.

  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, with rack in lowest position. Fold a piece of cheesecloth (about 3 feet long) into thirds, place inside turkey cavity, and open up to create a pouch. Loosely fill cheesecloth pouch with stuffing (do not pack tightly), and tuck in ends of cheesecloth to close.

  3. Tuck wings underneath the turkey, and tie legs together with kitchen twine. Brush turkey all over with butter, and season generously with salt and pepper.

  4. Roast turkey, basting with pan juices every 30 minutes and rotating the pan after 2 hours, until a thermometer inserted into the thickest portion of the thigh registers 165 degrees, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Remove stuffing pouch, and then empty it into a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Cover if desired, and return stuffing to oven; bake until it registers 165 degrees, about 30 minutes more. Transfer turkey to a platter, reserving pan juices for gravy. Let turkey stand for 30 minutes before carving.

Cook's Note

Trussing the turkey ensures even cooking; lining the cavity with cheesecloth before adding the stuffing means easy removal later (simply transfer the stuffing to a baking pan, and return it to the oven to finish cooking while the turkey rests). To check for doneness, insert a meat thermometer in several different places; don't disregard the resting time, which allows the juices to redistribute.

Reviews (62)

  • karlanna2001 18 Nov, 2012

    I have prepared this special turkey for my family for the last several years. Everyone loves this brined recipe which has made me the "it" person for the main dish every year!

  • easygurrl 29 Dec, 2011

    better than a stiff italian sausage stuffed into my english muffin

  • Tomnorcal 26 Dec, 2010

    We made a lot of changes and used a diffrent (maple) brine but the method of using the cheesecloth worked really well. We basted with melted butter and chicken broth in place of the wine. We also placed garlic and onions with broth in the bottom of the roaster. We had to add water during the bakeing The gravy made from this was fantastic.

  • anamariandreu 25 Dec, 2010

    Fabulous taste, easy to make when you have all the ingredients, no mess if you use a bag to brine and my family absolutely loves it. This is the third year in a row I cook this recipe for my Christmas Turkey. Highly recommended!!!

  • tulachase 14 Dec, 2010

    I tried this last year and it was salty, salty, salty. I felt like I had ruined a perfectly good turkey.

  • SickittenDC 24 Nov, 2010

    Even if you 1/2 ass this, it works out great.

  • gretalee7 23 Nov, 2010

    Should I rinse the turkey after bringing it out of the brine before roasting?

  • rlbvw 30 Oct, 2009

    I'm concerned about the drippings from the brined turkey being too salty for gravy, as a few mentioned. Is that a concern? What should I do?

  • LauraWaugh 28 Nov, 2008

    I followed this brine (minus the juniper berries), and roasted/basted as directed. It turned out soooooooo good. It was my first time making the Thanksgiving turkey and it was so easy and tasty. I will definitely be using this recipe next year!

  • taydaz5 27 Nov, 2008

    OMG...I left the gizzards and liver inside the turkey while it was with the brine!!!! That's going to affect it flavor?????? I hope not...This is my first time roasting a Joe!!!

  • taydaz5 27 Nov, 2008

    This is my first time roasting a turkey...I've watched this tutorial several times and after struggling getting my turkey in the bin with the brine in the refrigerator, today's morning I realized when I started to diiiscard the brine that I left inside my JOe the gizzard and the liver, that going to affect the flavor of the brine???? I hope not! That was the awful smell, yeah, I thought it ws the wine effect...jejejee...but I'll let you know later how it came out...

  • amgodfrey 27 Nov, 2008

    I made this recipe last year, and that was my very FIRST time even making a turkey! My husband LOVED it (even better than his mom's...shhh), and it was requested of me again this year. The turkey comes out beautiful--golden brown, and it is very juicy and flavorful. I hope you have the same success! :)

  • ImaCook 26 Nov, 2008

    Janluvs411...Look at the recipe, the 2nd item is the Turkey Brine. Click on it and it will take you to the brine recipe. Happy Thanksgiving All. We all have so much to be thankful for!!!

  • cnusbaum 26 Nov, 2008

    Doesn't the turkey have to reach a temp of 170 before you remove it from the oven? Then it reaches 180 while resting. The recipe says 165, is that right?

  • katie2000 26 Nov, 2008

    ah man, i already washed it, do you think i wasted all my brining effort??

  • janilov325 26 Nov, 2008


    Does anyone have the recipe for brining????? I watched it on her Thanksgiving Show 2007...I remember onions, oranges, Kosher salt..

  • porter081081 26 Nov, 2008 only pat the turkey dry after taking it out of the brine. Don't wash it. And yes, butter the skin and put a bit of salt and pepper on it before placing the soaked cheesecloth on the top. Good luck! (This will be my first year making this recipe, too!) HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

  • katie2000 26 Nov, 2008

    These two questions are urgent for me and appreicate any reply ASAP.
    1- does anyone know if i have to wash the turkey after taking it out of the brine?
    2- also, do i have to salt the skin after brining and before placing in the overn?
    Many thanks!

  • katie2000 26 Nov, 2008

    These two questions are urgent for me and appreicate any reply ASAP.
    1- does anyone know if i have to wash the turkey after taking it out of the brine?
    2- also, do i have to salt the skin after brining and before placing in the overn?
    Many thanks!

  • swind001 25 Nov, 2008

    Absent the brining, I have been using this recipe since 1997 and it's a no fail recipe - the turkey is alway moist and delicious! I am excited to try to brine the turkey this year to rejuvenate the recipe. I have used all types of turkeys, fresh, organic, and frozen (when money was tight!) and it always turned out delicious! The basting may seem like a lot of work - but it's definately worth it. Don't cover the turkey with a lid.

  • MrMonroe 24 Nov, 2008

    Where is the Bourbon Brine Turkey recipie from Chef Chris that Martha used to have on the site?

  • kcrichto 24 Nov, 2008

    I made this recipe last year and I didn't cover it. I just left the cheesecloth on top and it came out AMAZING...

  • katie2000 21 Nov, 2008

    Does anyone know if I have to use a turkey pan lid to cover the turkey while in the oven or only the cheesecloth on top would be enough?
    Thanks a lot.

  • scott m dennis 17 Nov, 2008

    I have cooked my Christmas turkey this way for the past two years and everyone has thoroughly enjoyed it and made very positive comments. Easy to prepare and cook. The Turkey is very moist and is golden brown. I use a Pear and Pecan Stuffing

  • Trishy 20 Jun, 2008

    I made this for Christmas 2007. I bought the brining bag online ( and ordered a fresh turkey from the meat shop. Sensational. I made my own bread

  • LindaSchmutz 30 May, 2008

    Thanksgiving 2007 was my first attempt at brining. I used a Organic Turkey and bought all of the brine ingedients with the exception of the wine at our local health food store. I used to think it would be too much work, but it was real easy. I used my turkey fryer pot placed into a larger cooler and kept ice around it. I always use a Nesco roaster which makes it very tender but the brining made It the best roast turkey I have made. Very flavorful,tender and juicy.

  • sonyapiredda 18 Jan, 2008

    I made this turkey for the first time Christmas 2007 with my husband, who refuses to cook, but insisted he help with this one! We made the brine together, and he even insisted on tasting it, and he said the brine tasted fantastic. This is the most amazingly juicy and moist turkey and the brining process and the soaked drunken cheesecloth are to thank for this. This recipe is well worth the effort. I had my local butchers hanging on my every word for this recipe!

  • ginou 12 Dec, 2007

    I didn't try it yet

  • alidat 1 Dec, 2007

    This was my very first time making the entire Thanksgiving dinner for my family of 15. They all loved the brine turkey. I will never do it any other way. It was juicy, and I didn't rinse it because the directions didn't say to. I had a lot of salt left at the bottom of the bag, but I didn't worry about it. I also put a half of a cup of gin in instead of juniper berries. the stock and stuffing were also delicious. I used a granny smith apple and frozen chestnuts instead of sausage.

  • Yellowmoonbeam 28 Nov, 2007

    Question: What type of turkey should be used for this recipe? Most turkeys are already pumped full of tenderizing agents. Is this recipe best used with a farm raised/free range/organic bird? Would love to try the recipe but I don't really think a bird most of us see at the supermarket is the right choice.

  • dladd21 27 Nov, 2007

    Used this recipe for the first time and couldn't be happier with the results! Everyone wants me to cook it again for Christmas!!!

  • jetlag 26 Nov, 2007

    Brine was simple but I substituded the juniper berries for 3 oz of gin. I agree this turkey was the best ever, flavorfull and moist. I wonder if instead of basting you could put in an oven bag with vegetables and get the same flavor.

  • cdl 26 Nov, 2007

    THe same thing happened to me. I followed the directions and even rinsed the bird after brnning. I will never brine a turkey again.. I would like to know how Marthas team tested this receipe because I don't know what I did wrong.

  • ankec 23 Nov, 2007

    The turkey was wonderful! Very moist and very flavorful. I will definitely make it again next Thanksgiving.

  • beth033 23 Nov, 2007

    This turkey is amazing! Everyone said it was the best turkey they ever ate. It was so juicy and flavorful.

  • barbaranne 23 Nov, 2007

    ALERT to readers: Drippings from roasting a brined turkey CANNOT be used to make gravy!! Big disaster at my house. Nor can the drippings be used to flavor anything: TOO SALTY, of course.

  • sierramalnove 21 Nov, 2007

    Earth Balance Buttery Spread is dairy-free and an EXCELLENT substitution for butter when going kosher. it is also vegan

  • PatKauf 21 Nov, 2007

    To JanMM...on her recent Thanksgiving Special, Martha stuffed her bird. She warned the audience to do it "loosely." It's the packed stuffing that can go sour if the heat doesn't penetrate quickly.
    To DSP... yes, a smaller bird is cooked more quickly. Be sure to take the bird out about 15 degrees early because it continues cooking. I learned this from a Martha tip years ago.

  • PatKauf 21 Nov, 2007

    Elanshore olive oil is too distinctive. I've never used the butter step for health reasons and the turkey was always great. Follow everything else Martha recommends and remember to take it out about 15 degrees earlier because it keeps cooking. I learned this from a Martha tip a few years back and never again have had a dry bird.

  • eeron 21 Nov, 2007

    suehusa-we were having the exact same problem...I think it's beacuse the solution is more salt will dissolve. We just added an extra 4 cups of water (subtracted from the 28 cups) and the salt dissolved within 10 minutes. Hope this helps!

  • hris 21 Nov, 2007

    This is the first year I have tried a brine method. I enjoyed 'searching' for the ingredients and found all the spices at a local health food store at a very resonable price (MUCH less than the supermarket!). I am using a 10 gallon zip lock bag - I got a box of 5 for $5.00 at Big Lots. I tied the bag up and set it in a large roasting bag and it fits nicely on a shelf in the frig.

  • elanshore 21 Nov, 2007

    I need help!

    I have ONLY ever used this turkey recipe for thanksgiving. The problem is that I now have someone coming who keeps kosher and so I cannot use butter. What can I substitute for it? I know margarine is out, but what about olive oil?


  • suehusa 21 Nov, 2007

    i have been stirring my salt for the brine for over an hour and the salt is still now disolved, what should I do?

  • Dovie 21 Nov, 2007

    Trying the brining method for the first time. Does the turkey have to be thawed before brining? I'm not serving dinner until Sat. so I have time....

  • coloradokim 20 Nov, 2007

    BarCar, you're welcome! And I was wrong, turns out it is yellow mustard seeds I have as well, I could not find the others at the grocery store after all. So I will be making that substituion as well. And gin for juniper berries, great idea! I may try that if mine from the trees don't work (I have to figure out how to dry them first.) Good luck ... I am curious to hear after Thanksgiving how everyone's turkey turned out!

  • BarCar 20 Nov, 2007

    Thanks for your response, coloradokim! I looked at many stores and finally settled for yellow mustard seeds. I found a website that suggested 1 tsp gin = 2 juniper berries so off to the liquer store I went!

  • coloradokim 20 Nov, 2007

    BarCar, I don't know if you have juniper trees where you live, but I was able to go outside to pick teh berries from a juniper tree in my backyard. If I didn't have one, I could have picked them from my neighbor's tree, they are everywhere here! I found mustard seeds at the supermarket in the spice section. Good luck!

  • cookingbob 20 Nov, 2007

    Cooking a 10 lb turkey. (empty nesters) How does that effect the cooking time at the various temperatures and the removal of the cheesecloth. (fourth hour?)

  • BarCar 19 Nov, 2007

    I can't find juniper berries or brown mustard seeds! Where should I be looing for them, and what would be a suitable substitute if I can't find them?

  • kathy8722 18 Nov, 2007

    I have used this recipe for many years. The turkey comes out perfect; however, my stuffing is bloody and I have to discard it immediately. I always have extra cooked in a separate dish but geez - I love stuffing straight from the turkey. My husband and I have cleaned the turkey obsessively - it doesnt make a difference. Any ideas why my stuffing is bloody?

  • cjowens 16 Nov, 2007

    These brining and giblet broth methods were so well received, the members of my church club/fellowship at Rolling Hills Moravian Church, Longwood, FL, asked for copies of the pages I pulled out of "Martha Stewart Living" magazine. This is the second year I have used your brining method to prepare turkey for our group. And my daughter-in-law is also going to prepare our turkey this way next week. Thank you. Caroline Owens

  • lynneamelia 16 Nov, 2007

    We use the Reynolds turkey cooking bag to brine our bird. We went to a fast food resturant and paid $ 5.00 for a used 5 gal pickle container, with a lid. They are bright green and easy too find in the storage cabinet every year...

  • bethmeendering 16 Nov, 2007

    I live in the middle of nowhere Iowa, nowhere close to a BBB, so I just went to WalMart and bought one of those giant ziplock bags, I found them in the storage section! I hope that helps and I hope they work!!

  • superkungfugirl 16 Nov, 2007

    the brining bags are at bed, bath and beyond for $5 and the container is at the container store. hope that helps!

  • carolc 15 Nov, 2007

    where can I find those giant ziplock bags???? The container is amazing as well...HELP!!!!!!!

  • carolc 15 Nov, 2007

    where can I find those giant ziplock bags???? The container is amazing as well...HELP!!!!!!!

  • carolc 15 Nov, 2007

    where can I find those giant ziplock bags???? The container is amazing as well...HELP!!!!!!!

  • dsp 14 Nov, 2007

    Does the cooking time change if the turkey is only 12-14 pounds?

  • regirl77 14 Nov, 2007

    I have made this turkey before, and if you don't want to stuff it you can still cook the turkey the same way. Also, the turkey does not need to be rinsed off before patting dry.

  • MissTammie 14 Nov, 2007

    when cooking the turkey, do i do it the same way if i don't want to stuff the turkey?

  • ljdemarco 12 Nov, 2007

    When the turkey comes out of the brine, should it be rinsed off with fresh water before patting it dry with paper towels?

  • JanMM 12 Nov, 2007

    Is it safe to cook the stuffing inside the turkey? I have heard so many chefs say "no" lately. I think if anyone would know for sure, it would be Martha and her staff.
    I prefer to cook it inside, I love the exchange of flavors between the meat and the stuffing, neither one taste as good when the stuffing is cooked elsewhere.

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