How to Brine and Roast Turkey

Thanksgiving without a turkey just isn’t Thanksgiving. And a turkey that’s been sitting in a good brine bath will make your turkey juicy and flavorful, which is why this step is so important when baking a bird.

We have done our turkey’s every which way, but raw over in the Bidwell and Bishop households! From frying, to buying, to roasting, to burning! Yep, that burning part REALLY happened the first year Fred and I hosted at our new home! The bottom oven had yet to be used, malfunctioned and caught on fire! Thank heavens, I realized it before something major happened!. Aside from the drama that sometimes it takes cooking it, nothing beats a good juicy oven roasted turkey!

The very first year that Fred and I were married we hosted the holidays. I had longed forever to have my own home and be the next Rachel Ray hosting the perfect little Christmas Dinner. To my dismay, the lower part of our double oven literally caught on fire and charred the bird. You live and you learn.

The following year we went back to frying that little puppy in the garage, but that’s a whole other story! For now, just stick with this recipe that’s a Williams-Sonoma favorite and comes out flawless in a working oven!!!


6 to 7 lb. turkey breast, bone-in with skin

Williams-Sonoma Autumn Fruits Turkey Brine

water and ice

Directions for  Prepping Turkey:

Place turkey in your refrigerator THREE days prior to serving to thaw (I cannot express how important this step is…please do not forget to thaw your turkey)!

Rinse turkey inside and out.

Remove giblets (the plastic bag in the inner cavity of the bird) You can also put these parts minus the liver in a pot for the gravy for turkey added flavor, but that’s a whole other post)!

Cut off the “tail” of the meat that was covering the hole of the cavity and place in the pot with the giblets.

Dry the turkey on the inside and out so that it can get that crispness on the outside.

Liquid Brining Instructions:

**Must be done 24-36 hours prior to cooking your turkey**

Bring a gallon of water to a boil and add brine mix.

If you have a stockpot, line it with a brining bag. If you don’t, no worries, just use a clean bucket or kitchen sink (if you choose not to use a brining bag)!

Once salt is dissolved, turn off heat, add several ice cubes and let cool to room temperature.

Submerge the turkey, breast side first, and completely submerge in the liquid brine.

If you are using a brining bag, remove and place on a baking sheet and place in refrigerator. If you are using a bucket or sink, be sure to use PLENTY of ice cubes to keep bacteria at bay.

Leave in the brine for 24-36 hours.

Remove from bag or bucket and pat dry.

Directions for Baking:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Place turkey in roasting pan, ideally with a metal rack inside to separate the juices, and fold in wing tips so that they do not burn.

Place in oven.

Set your timer for 3 hours to make sure you do not forget you turkey is in the oven!

Using a meat thermometer check temperature of the turkey in the middle of the thigh registers part at 170 degrees after about 3.5 hours for approximately a 13 lb. bird

If bird is at the proper temperature, take out, cover with foil and let rest. If it is not, set your timer for another 15 min, and check again.

Let bird rest and cool 15-20 minutes uncovered before carving to let juices settle (DO NOT skip this step, as it will make it way more flavorful)!

Carve with an electric knife and serve.

Gravy Ingredients:

4 cups of reserved juices from baking the turkey (pan drippings) *If you did not bake your own turkey or don’t have enough pan drippings, substitute low sodium chicken broth (if you are only using chicken broth you will need 4 cups and 1 tablespoon of chicken bouillon powder for flavoring).

1/2 – 1/4 cup flour

One hard boiled egg

1/2 teaspoon pepper

A hint from my Aunt Norma, who told her mama (my Grandmother Dycie), that she would never make her own gravy, because she wouldn’t touch those inner parts of that turkey! If you are like my Aunt Norma and don’t want to either, just pick up the Campbell’s Turkey Gravy at your local grocery, that she swears by! Put it in your gravy boat, add a chopped up hard boiled egg, and we’ll keep it our little secret!!!!!!Campbell's Turkey Gravy - Crockpot Empire - Kim BishopDirections for Gravy:

Boil the neck and the giblets that you remove from the turkey cavity in two inches of water for about one hour.

Remove neck and shred into fine pieces and finely dice giblets (reserve water you boiled it in).

Reserve all of the drippings from the pan of the roasted turkey and skim off the fat. Set drippings aside.

Add 1 cup of fat, some flour and pepper to a medium skillet, whisking consistently until you have a smooth paste (roux) that is golden brown in color. If it looks greasy you are going to need to add more flour to find that right consistency.

Turn heat down to medium-low keeping a simmer and cooking for a few minutes until you have a thick paste. Whisk in about 2 cups of resting juices and bring to a boil, whisking continuously.

Add in four cups of turkey broth and continue simmering and whisking for about 8 minutes or until the gravy is thick.

Add a small amount of the neck and giblets pieces to the gravy and stir.

Chop up one hard boiled egg and add to gravy.

Serve in a gravy boat with ladle for dipping.

Hope you and your families have a Happy Thanksgiving full of happy hearts and stuffed bellies! 

Kimberly Bishop Crockpot Empire Signature

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