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  • Writer's pictureJorge Martinez


Sometimes people dread having to bake a turkey on Thanksgiving day. Most of the fear is based on the chance of overcooking the turkey and having it come out dry. There are a few things that can be done that will help retain the turkeys moisture and give you a little bit more wiggle room in case you cook it too long.

The one thing that I always do is to brine my turkey. Depending on size, it can take about one to two days to fully brine your turkey. A basic mixture of salt, sugar, water, herbs and spices is what typically makes up a brine.

On Thanksgiving Day you'll need to remove your turkey from the brine and pat it dry. You can fill the cavity of the turkey with some loosed veggies and herbs. I also like to put pats of butter and fresh sage, in between the skin and the turkey meat by the breasts and thighs.

Place your turkey on a rack in a roasting pan and place in you preheated oven that is at 475°F, for 20 minutes. This initial blast of heat is going to sear the outside of your turkey and will give you a nice crisp skin when done. After the 20 minutes is up, turn the oven down to 325°F and continue to cook until the turkey is done. Length of time will be determined by the size of your turkey.

Now here are a few crucial tips.

After the first hour you are going to want to spin around your roasting pan in the oven, Also you are going to want to baste your turkey, every 30 minutes or so. If at some point you notice that the skin might be getting too dark and the turkey is still not close to being cooked all the way through, what you're going to want to do is cover the turkey in foil. Doing this will allow the turkey to continue to cook while keeping the skin from burning.

Finally, remove the turkey from the oven when the thermometer reads 155°F degrees. I know, I know. They tell you to cook it to 165°F for it to be fully cooked, which is true. What they don't tell you about is "carry over cooking". Carry over cooking is a very common term in the food service industry. The short of it is, your food will continue to cook even though it may not still be in the oven, grill, pan, etc. This is especially true with something as large as a turkey. So rest assured that if you pull the turkey from the oven when it reads 155°F it will continue to cook for the next half hour to forty five minutes that you let it rest and it will get to 165°. End result, you will have a moist turkey. Have doubts? I've been preparing my turkey this way for 20 years. Either way, if you're apprehensive about removing your turkey at 155° and you choose to go to 165°, brining the turkey will keep it from getting too dry.

Brine Recipe

  • 6 ozs - Kosher Salt

  • 6 ozs - Sugar

  • 2 gals - Water

  • 40 ea - Juniper Berries, crushed

  • 40 ea - Whole Allspice, crushed

  • 2 tsp - Whole Black Peppercorns, crushed

  • 8 ozs - Celery, sliced thin

  • 6 ozs - Carrot, sliced thin

  • 4 ozs - Yellow Onion, sliced thin

  • 6 sprigs - Fresh Thyme

  • 6 sprigs - Fresh Parsley

  • 6 ea - Whole Bay Leaf

Place All of the ingredients into a large pot and bring to a boil.

Boil for 5 minutes then remove from heat and let cool.

Once cool submerge they turkey in the brine and let brine for 1 to 2 days depending on size of turkey.

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