Better brined turkey



15 min


6 to 8 servings

* PLUS Marinating Time: 1440 minutes, Standing Time: 15 minutes, Roasting Time: 120 minutes


  • 5 kg up to 6 kg turkey
  • 2 cups kosher or coarse salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme , or 4 tbsp dried thyme leaf
  • 1 whole head garlic


  • Find a pan large enough to hold turkey when it’s completely covered with water and that will fit in your refrigerator. We took the bottom shelf out of the refrigerator and used a crisper drawer, setting it right on the bottom of the refrigerator. (Do not hook drawer back on a shelf; it may break it.) Remove neck and gizzard from turkey. Rinse out body cavity. For brine, place salt and sugar in a saucepan with 4 cups (1 L) water. Heat, stirring often, until dissolved. This can be done in a microwave.
  • Pour mixture into pan. Add bay leaves and thyme. Separate garlic cloves, peel, then add whole to brine. Pour in about 20 cups (5 L) cold water. Add turkey, breast-side down, then enough cold water to cover turkey. We needed a total of 40 cups (10 L). If bird floats, weigh down with a plate topped with a heavy can. Place in the refrigerator. Marinate 24 hours, turning turkey at least once.
  • When ready to roast, preheat oven to 325F (160C). Remove turkey from pan and drain off liquid in sink. If stuffing bird, pat inside dry with paper towels. Place turkey on a rack in a roasting pan. Roast, uncovered, in centre of 325F (160C) oven for 15 minutes per pound (500 g) for unstuffed turkey or 20 minutes per pound (500 g) for stuffed bird. If not stuffed, roast until a meat thermometer inserted in thickest part of thigh reaches 180F (82C). For a stuffed bird, insert thermometer into centre of stuffing. It should reach 160F (71C). Baste bird with pan juices every 30 minutes. The skin doesn’t brown quickly, but turns an even deep golden colour. Remove from oven and let stand for 15 minutes before carving.

Nutrition (per serving)

  • Calories
  • 306,
  • Protein
  • 40.6 g,
  • Carbohydrates
  • 1.3 g,
  • Fat
  • 14 g,
  • Sodium
  • 1600 mg.

In our never-ending quest to bring you the best turkey, we were intrigued by a recipe in The Secrets of Success Cookbook (Raincoast) by Michael Bauer, food editor of the San Francisco Chronicle. Bauer describes the difference between two chickens cooked side by side, one brined and the other simply roasted, as remarkable. The brined bird was “the moistest chicken I can remember eating,” he says. We tested the recipe with chicken and turkey and streamlined the process. Our tasters found brining made the most succulent turkey–with a slightly salty taste–they’ve ever enjoyed. Before you start, read the entire recipe–the process takes up a lot of fridge space.