Everyone wants their Thanksgiving turkey to be perfect! Here is a simple, foolproof recipe that makes a juicy, flavorful turkey for your holiday.
Thank you to Ohio Poultry Association for sponsoring this post. All opinions are, as always, my own.
The turkey is the center of your Thanksgiving table. You don’t want to screw it up. At the Happy Healthy Mama household, we’ve tried a number of methods for preparing our Thanksgiving turkey and have landed on the simplest method that produces the best results. Let’s talk turkey!
To brine or not to brine? That is the question. Brining a turkey is what many claim to be the best way to produce a juicy, flavorful turkey.
In the past, we tried wet brining our turkey. Traditionally, to brine a turkey, you soak it overnight in a salt water solution. We have done it more than once, and we didn’t find it to be worth the effort.
You have to use a huge bucket and make sure the bird stays cold enough. It’s just a pain.
Maybe if it resulted in the best turkey we ever had it would be worth the time and effort, but we never thought there was enough of a difference for it to be worth the step.
We figured skipping the brine altogether was our best bet. Until we tried a DRY BRINE. We found that using a dry brine is EASIER and results in BETTER turkey. The foolproof Thanksgiving turkey recipe I’m sharing today involves a very simple dry brine.
Using the dry brine method is just how it sounds: you simply salt the turkey (with some herbs) ahead of time and the salt soaks into the turkey and helps lock in the flavor and moisture.
As the salt dissolves into the juices, it begins turning into a natural brine without the added liquid. Then, the natural brine is reabsorbed into the meat and starts breaking down the tough muscle proteins.
It’s not messy. It’s so simple. And the result is a juicy, flavorful Thanksgiving turkey that your guests will rave about. Seriously succulent!
You can dry brine for as short of a time as the day before you want to cook your turkey, but plan ahead because it’s recommended to prepare your turkey with a dry brine for two to three days for the very best results.
You salt it, place it on a baking sheet, and let it rest uncovered in your refrigerator. The open air actually helps the skin to seal some and retain moisture.
Tips for Making the Best Roasted Thanksgiving Turkey
If you want to make your Thanksgiving turkey the best (and healthiest you can), you’ve got to start with the best turkey.
Here’s what to look for when choosing a turkey:
- Turkeys that have not been administered antibiotics.
- Turkeys that have access to the outdoors and pasture. (Free-range turkeys)
- If possible, buy a fresh turkey.
- Buy a turkey that has not been pre-seasoned, salted, or injected.
I had the privilege of visiting the turkey farm where we get our Thanksgiving turkey every year that we host, Bowman & Landes Farm. I’ve said it before, but I think it’s so important to know where the meat you’re feeding your family is coming from.
I loved meeting Ohio turkey farmer Drew Bowman along with fellow Ohio food blogger Tastes of Lizzy T . He gave us a tour of his family’s farm and chatted with us about how farmers provide excellent care for their turkey flocks and ensure safe turkeys for families on Thanksgiving and year-round.
Farmer Drew’s tip for cooking the best Thanksgiving turkey? Don’t overcook it!
I couldn’t agree more. Follow this simple recipe for the best Thanksgiving turkey and you won’t have to worry about that!
The printable recipe includes dry brining instructions. I highly encourage you to not skip that step and give dry brining a try. We’ve been converted and will always dry brine our Thanksgiving turkey!
The Best and Easiest Thanksgiving TurkeyPrint
Foolproof Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe
Follow these simple instructions for the most succulent Thanksgiving turkey you’ve ever had! It’s juicy, flavorful, and a foolproof recipe you’ll make year after year.
- Prep Time: 30 hours
- Cook Time: 3+ hours
- Total Time: 33 hours
- Yield: 12 servings 1x
- 1 (15 pound) fresh or completely thawed turkey
For the Dry Brine
- 3 tablespoons kosher salt (do not substitute fine salt here)
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
- 2 teaspoons dried parsley
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
For Roasting the Turkey
- 3 carrots, chopped into large pieces, divided
- 3 celery stalk, cut into pieces, divided
- 6 whole, peeled garlic cloves, divided
- 1 large onion, cut into large chunks
- 3 sprigs each of fresh rosemary, sage, and thyme
- 1 apple, cut into wedges
- 1 orange, cut into wedges
- 1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup), sliced
- 5 cups chicken stock, divided
For the Dry Brine (1-3 days before ready to cook the turkey)
- Mix the dry brine ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside
- From the turkey, remove the giblets and neck from inside the cavity and save for another use. Remove or discard any plastic or metal cages or pop-up thermometers.
- Pat the turkey dry with paper towels and set on a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan.
- Sprinkle the brine mixture all over the turkey on the inside and outside.
- Refrigerate for 1-3 days, uncovered.
To Roast the Turkey
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
- To the bottom of a large roasting pan, add one of the chopped carrots, one of the cut celery stalks, 2 of the garlic cloves, the onion, and the sage, rosemary and thyme.
- Place the turkey on top of the vegetables/herbs. Add the rest of the carrots, celery, and garlic, along with the apple and orange wedges into the center of the turkey. Bind the legs with kitchen twine. Place the slices of butter all around the outside of the bird; it will stick.
- Roast turkey in the preheated oven for 45 minutes. Pour half of the chicken stock over the turkey. Roast another 45 minutes, then pour the rest of the chicken stock over the turkey. Roast another 45 minutes, then baste with the pan juices. Roast another 45 minutes, and baste again. Continue to cook until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. If the skin ever starts to get too brown, cover loosely with foil. Remove from oven and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes before carving. Enjoy!
You can use the pan juices and vegetables to make a simple gravy. Discard the herbs, and puree 1 cup of the vegetables in a blender. Add three cups of pan juice. If it needs to be thicker, puree more vegetables. For a smooth gravy, strain through a fine-mesh sieve.
- Calories: 130
- Fat: 3 grams
- Saturated Fat: 1 grams
- Protein: 26 grams
More Thanksgiving Recipes
Sweet Potato Casserole (vegan and gluten-free recipe)
Perfect Bread Machine Dinner Rolls (non-bread machine instructions included)
Butter and Herb Roasted Turkey Breast (perfect if you have a small Thanksgiving)
Homemade Cranberry Sauce (4 ways!)
Hot Mulled Apple Cider (Crockpot Recipe)
Healthy Green Bean Casserole (vegan and gluten-free!)
Pumpkin Pie Bars (gluten-free and dairy-free!)
Leftover Turkey Recipes