Rating: 3.14 stars
250 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 34
  • 4 star values: 43
  • 3 star values: 113
  • 2 star values: 45
  • 1 star values: 15

A simple brine and a thorough brushing of butter before roasting yields moist turkey with perfectly crisp skin every time.

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Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • 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 up to 1 hour.

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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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, 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 30 minutes before carving.

Cook's Notes

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 (64)

250 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 34
  • 4 star values: 43
  • 3 star values: 113
  • 2 star values: 45
  • 1 star values: 15
Rating: 5 stars
11/04/2017
This is an amazing recipe. I actually brine my turkey for 48 hours and it is perfectly juicy!
Rating: 4 stars
12/28/2016
This recipe just "works" for turkey and I bet chicken as well. The gravy made from this is the richest best tasting you'll ever make!
Rating: 5 stars
11/18/2012
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!
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Rating: Unrated
12/29/2011
better than a stiff italian sausage stuffed into my english muffin
Rating: Unrated
12/26/2010
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.
Rating: Unrated
12/25/2010
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!!!
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Rating: Unrated
12/14/2010
I tried this last year and it was salty, salty, salty. I felt like I had ruined a perfectly good turkey.
Rating: Unrated
11/24/2010
Even if you 1/2 ass this, it works out great.
Rating: Unrated
11/23/2010
Should I rinse the turkey after bringing it out of the brine before roasting?
Rating: Unrated
10/30/2009
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?
Rating: Unrated
11/28/2008
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!
Rating: Unrated
11/27/2008
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!!!
Rating: Unrated
11/27/2008
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, jajaja...is 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...
Rating: Unrated
11/27/2008
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! :)
Rating: Unrated
11/26/2008
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!!!
Rating: Unrated
11/26/2008
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?
Rating: Unrated
11/26/2008
ah man, i already washed it, do you think i wasted all my brining effort??
Rating: Unrated
11/26/2008
HELP!!!!!!!! Does anyone have the recipe for brining????? I watched it on her Thanksgiving Show 2007...I remember onions, oranges, Kosher salt..
Rating: Unrated
11/26/2008
Katie2000...you 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!
Rating: Unrated
11/26/2008
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!
Rating: Unrated
11/26/2008
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!
Rating: Unrated
11/25/2008
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.
Rating: Unrated
11/24/2008
Where is the Bourbon Brine Turkey recipie from Chef Chris that Martha used to have on the site?
Rating: Unrated
11/24/2008
I made this recipe last year and I didn't cover it. I just left the cheesecloth on top and it came out AMAZING...
Rating: Unrated
11/21/2008
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.
Rating: Unrated
11/17/2008
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
Rating: Unrated
06/20/2008
I made this for Christmas 2007. I bought the brining bag online (goldaskitchen.com) and ordered a fresh turkey from the meat shop. Sensational. I made my own bread
Rating: Unrated
05/30/2008
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.
Rating: Unrated
01/18/2008
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!
Rating: Unrated
12/12/2007
I didn't try it yet
Rating: Unrated
12/01/2007
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.
Rating: Unrated
11/28/2007
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.
Rating: Unrated
11/27/2007
Used this recipe for the first time and couldn't be happier with the results! Everyone wants me to cook it again for Christmas!!!
Rating: Unrated
11/26/2007
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.
Rating: Unrated
11/26/2007
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.
Rating: Unrated
11/23/2007
The turkey was wonderful! Very moist and very flavorful. I will definitely make it again next Thanksgiving.
Rating: Unrated
11/23/2007
This turkey is amazing! Everyone said it was the best turkey they ever ate. It was so juicy and flavorful.
Rating: Unrated
11/23/2007
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.
Rating: Unrated
11/21/2007
Earth Balance Buttery Spread is dairy-free and an EXCELLENT substitution for butter when going kosher. it is also vegan
Rating: Unrated
11/21/2007
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.
Rating: Unrated
11/21/2007
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.
Rating: Unrated
11/21/2007
suehusa-we were having the exact same problem...I think it's beacuse the solution is saturated....no 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!
Rating: Unrated
11/21/2007
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.
Rating: Unrated
11/21/2007
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? HELP!!!!
Rating: Unrated
11/21/2007
i have been stirring my salt for the brine for over an hour and the salt is still now disolved, what should I do?
Rating: Unrated
11/21/2007
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....
Rating: Unrated
11/20/2007
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!
Rating: Unrated
11/20/2007
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!
Rating: Unrated
11/20/2007
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!
Rating: Unrated
11/20/2007
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?)
Rating: Unrated
11/19/2007
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?
Rating: Unrated
11/18/2007
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?
Rating: Unrated
11/16/2007
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
Rating: Unrated
11/16/2007
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...
Rating: Unrated
11/16/2007
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!!
Rating: Unrated
11/16/2007
the brining bags are at bed, bath and beyond for $5 and the container is at the container store. hope that helps!
Rating: Unrated
11/15/2007
where can I find those giant ziplock bags???? The container is amazing as well...HELP!!!!!!!
Rating: Unrated
11/15/2007
where can I find those giant ziplock bags???? The container is amazing as well...HELP!!!!!!!
Rating: Unrated
11/15/2007
where can I find those giant ziplock bags???? The container is amazing as well...HELP!!!!!!!
Rating: Unrated
11/14/2007
Does the cooking time change if the turkey is only 12-14 pounds?
Rating: Unrated
11/14/2007
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.
Rating: Unrated
11/14/2007
when cooking the turkey, do i do it the same way if i don't want to stuff the turkey?
Rating: Unrated
11/12/2007
When the turkey comes out of the brine, should it be rinsed off with fresh water before patting it dry with paper towels?
Rating: Unrated
11/12/2007
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.