How to Brine and Roast a Turkey
Bring a gourmet bird to your table this year with these instructions to brine a turkey or chicken and roast it to plump golden perfection! No one gets excited over a dry, overcooked turkey… blah. Keep it juicy this year with my downloadable recipe for Savory Maple Turkey or Chicken with all the details included for soaking it in brine and roasting it for a meal fit for foodie.
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Soaking your poultry in a brine solution helps keep the meat moist during cooking. Some birds should not be brined, like self-basting birds (check the label).
If you don’t have time to brine your turkey or chicken, try a savory salt rub to draw out the poultry’s juices. This can be as easy as rubbing the surface and inside of your dressed poultry with sea salt and ground, dry herbs. Use your imagination and add these seasonings to taste.
Here are some great choices for a dry rub combination…
- Himalayan pink salt, sage, rosemary, thyme, and garlic powder
- Hickory smoked salt, onion powder, and poultry seasoning
- Sea salt, sage, marjoram, and lemon thyme
Savory Maple Brined Turkey Recipe
The following recipe was inspired by my cousins’ maple syrup business! My great-uncle Lyle started a sugarhouse way back before I can remember and his family has kept the business going for ages. We get real maple syrup from them every year and I love using it in my recipes in place of sugar. Check out my easy recipe for Maple Spice Applesauce!
Because I like to raise my own turkeys and chickens for meat, I’m always on the lookout for ways to keep the meat juicy and tender. Those pasture-raised birds use their muscles more than their grocery store counterparts and they have less fat, which gives a leaner, firmer meat.
Soaking your pasture-raised turkeys and chickens in this Savory Maple Brine is a great way to add a gourmet flavor and keep the meat tender and dripping with juice! I hope you get a chance to try this recipe, too. 🦃
Feel free to download this recipe and print it out to save for later! If you like it… I’d appreciate it if you’d share a link on social media. Thanks!
Savory Maple Brined Turkey or Chicken
- 1 large non-reactive stock pot
- 1 turkey roaster or large roasting pan (with roasting rack)
Savory Maple Brine
- 1 gallon water Reduce recipe by 1/2 for brining a chicken
- 1 cup sea salt Or non-iodized salt
- 1 cup maple syrup
- 1 tbsp ground sage
- 1 tbsp ground thyme
- 1 tbsp ground rosemary
Savory Maple Turkey or Chicken
- 1 turkey or chicken, whole Reduce ingredients by 1/2 for roasting a chicken
- 2 tsps ground sage
- 2 tsps ground thyme
- 1/4 cup olive oil
To Make the Brine…
- Prepare the brine solution at least an hour before soaking your turkey or chicken.
- Place all brine ingredients in a large stock pot on a medium-high burner. Stir the brine solution to dissolve the salt in the water.
- When the salt is fully dissolved, remove the pot from the burner and chill it until you are ready to add the turkey or chicken.
To Brine Your Turkey or Chicken…
- Place the brine solution into a stainless steel pot (or other non-reactive container, a large, heavy-duty plastic freezer bag may work for chickens and small turkeys) that is large enough to hold the brine and your turkey or chicken.
- Remove the giblets and wash the bird in cold water.
- Place the whole bird in the chilled brine and make sure it is covered with the solution. Add more brine if needed or weigh the bird down to keep it submerged.
- Cover the pot and place it in the refrigerator for 1 hour for each pound of meat. For example, a 12 pound turkey should brine for about 12 hours.
To Roast Your Turkey or Chicken
- Remove your bird from the brine solution and rinse it under cold water to remove the excess salt. Pat the bird dry.
- Place your bird on a roasting rack in a covered pan or an electric roaster.
- Use your hands or a basting brush to coat the entire bird in olive oil to help seal in the juices.
- Rub the ground herbs over the outside and inside of the bird.
- Place aluminum foil over the top of the turkey to prevent over-browning the breast meat.
- Place the covered pan in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Baste the bird occasionally with the drippings.
- For a finished bird with crispy skin, raise the temperature to 400 degrees Fahrenheit for the last half hour to hour of the roasting time and remove the aluminum foil and lid.
- Roast the bird for approximately 13 minutes per pound (without stuffing), until the internal temperature is 160 degrees Fahrenheit when tested with a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh.
- Allow the bird to cool for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.
Customize Your Brine Recipe
Did you know that you can create your own brine recipe? You just need to stick with a few simple rules to prevent an overly salty turkey. Remember to use 3/4 to 1 cup of non-iodized salt for each gallon of water. After that, it’s totally up to you which seasonings are added. Do you want a pizza-flavored turkey? Add pizza seasoning!
You don’t even need to add spices or herbs if you don’t want to… just brine your bird in chilled salt water.
Here are a few more guidelines for a juicy brined turkey…
- Brine small turkeys for 7 to 12 hours and large turkeys for 13 to 18 hours
- Very large turkeys may require 2 gallons of brine solution
- Soak chickens for 3 to 5 hours
- Keep the poultry and brine chilled while it is soaking
- Do not brine poultry or meat for longer than 18 hours or the texture of the meat gets weird and chewy
- Try adding sugar, honey, maple syrup, or brown sugar for a lightly sweet flavor
- Be sure to rinse the bird with cold water after removing it from the brine
- Rub the bird with vegetable oil or butter after brining to seal in the juices
Pretty simple, right? Now that you have the basics and a super yummy recipe to try, it’s time to try your hand at brining and roasting your own turkey!
Do you have any suggestions for keeping your pasture-raise turkeys moist and tender during cooking? Please share in the comments!
Check out my free downloadable printable Thanksgiving Gift Tags and Cards and Autumn Mason Jar Labels!
Are you preparing a traditional turkey dinner and need some sides and desserts? Here are some of my other recipes you might like to try along with the Savory Maple Turkey…
- Cranberry Jelly
- Cranberry Jam
- Pumpkin Cranberry Bread
- Old-Fashioned Boston Brown Bread
- Pumpkin Butter
- Butternut Custard
- Mincemeat Pie Filling
- Salted Cinnamon Shortbread Cookies
- Applesauce Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
- How to Cook and Use Pie Pumpkins
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Good question. I just updated the instructions to make this clear.
The general rule of thumb is to brine the turkey or chicken for about 1 hour per pound of meat. So you would want to soak a 12-pound turkey for 12 hours.
Thanks for checking!
What is considered a “small” or “large bird”…..I have a 13# turkey this year.