Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe

Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe Resting After the Oven
This is a thanksgiving turkey recipe that I have used for 10+ years, and it includes a method of ensuring we get enough gravy.

This is a Thanksgiving turkey recipe that I have used for 12+ years. It is based on Alton Brown’s roasted turkey recipe. I adjusted the spices a bit so they were easier to measure. Using a fresh rather than frozen turkey makes a big difference. Brining the night before and cooking to the right temperature keep the turkey super moist.

Size of the Turkey

We like to have extra if possible to feed all of the overnight visitors for lunch the next day, so we typically get a large turkey. For us a 22 pound turkey works for about 16 adults. If we have more adults we get a second meat like a ham. Since we only have two ovens and side dishes take one, we get a honey baked ham that doesn’t require heating.

The estimate of 16 people for a 22 pound turkey is based on the number of adults. If you find a smaller turkey, but can subtract 2 people per pound as the size goes down to 16.

22 pounds = 16 adults

20 pounds = 14 adults

18 pounds = 12 adults

16 pound = 10 adults

 

Brine

The mix for the brine is vegetable stock with salt, whole pepper corn, allspice, and ginger. Combining these and letting the turkey sit overnight pulls a lot of moisture into the meat. It is super juicy as a result.

Thermometer

One piece of equipment that makes cooking the turkey easier is a good thermometer. I have a few, but the best for turkey is the kind with a long cable. The probe stays in bird as it cooks. The electronics connect to the cable and sit on the counter. Cooking until the breast meat is exactly 161 F makes a really big difference. The turkey isn’t dry if you cook it just to temperature.

 

Side Dishes

One trick I learned along the way was that the turkey needs to rest for at least 20-30 minutes after you take it out of the oven. That let’s the liquid in the meat move around and makes it juicier. This also lets you reheat several side dishes. After we pull the turkey out, we rest it on the counter and shift a bunch of 13×9 pans of side dishes into the oven that had the turkey.

 

Gravy

The roasting pan develops some great flavors as the turkey cooks. You can capture those by adding chicken stock to the pan a few minutes before you pull it out of the oven. Then you can use it with this gravy recipe. 

 

Equipment

Note these are affiliate links, so if you buy them from amazon, they might give us a few dollars.

This is the pan I use: All-Clad 51114 Stainless Steel Tri-Ply Petite Roti Pan with Nonstick V-Shaped Roasting Rack/Cookware, Silver

We like this thermometer for Turkey. OXO Good Grips Chef’s Digital Leave-In Thermometer, Stainless Steel

Our favorite fat separator for gravy is this one: OXO Good Grips 4-Cup Fat Separator

 

Print Recipe
Thanksgiving Turkey
This is a thanksgiving turkey recipe that I have used for 10+ years. It is based on Alton Brown’s roasted turkey recipe. I adjusted the spices a bit so they were easier to measure, and I added a method for making a large amount of gravy.
Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe Resting After the Oven
Prep Time 8 hours
Cook Time 3 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
The Bird
Brine
Aeromatics
Other
Prep Time 8 hours
Cook Time 3 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
The Bird
Brine
Aeromatics
Other
Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe Resting After the Oven
Instructions
Brine
  1. Combine salt, sugar, stock, pepper, allspice, and ginger a stockpot and bring to a boil. Let the mixture cool. Then refrigerate until ready to use.
    Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe Brine
  2. On the night before Thanksgiving dinner, place the turkey in a clean 5 gallon bucket. Make sure to remove the gizzards that are often placed in the cavity so that the brine can easily soak through the turkey.
  3. Add the brine, ice, and enough water to cover the turkey. Cover with foil and set in a cool place, out of reach of animals, for the night.
    Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe During Brine
Roasting
  1. Early the next morning, preheat oven to 500 F, remove the turkey from the brine, rinse, pat dry with paper towels, set in a roasting pan, and cover skin with canola oil.
  2. Add the aeromatic ingredients including apple, onion, sage, rosemary, and cinamon with water to a glass bowl, cover, microwave for 5 minutes on high, and then spoon into the cavity of the turkey.
    Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe Aeromatics
  3. Tie legs with kitchen twine, fold the wings behind where the neck used to be.
  4. Insert counter top thermometer deep into the turkey breast.
    Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe Ready for the Oven
  5. Roast turkey for 30 minutes at 500 F
    Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe-1925
  6. Decrease the oven temperature to 350 F and cover the turkey breast with a double layer of aluminum foil.
  7. If you want to make gravy, add it to the roasting pan as the internal temperature of the turkey reaches 155 F, or about 15 minutes before you will remove the turkey from the oven.
  8. Cook until breast meat is 161 about 2 1/2 – 3 hours for a 20-22 pound turkey.
  9. Remove turkey from oven, cover with foil and let rest for at least 20-30 minutes while you prepare gravy and heat the side dishes.
    pulling liquid from the turkey pan for gravy
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