How to Brine and Roast Your Turkey

Season: Winter

Wayne Bachmeier, Meat & Seafood Manager, 16th & Madison

Brining involves soaking food in salted water, sometimes with herbs and spices, to help it retain moisture and flavor.

When it comes to adding additional flavors, use your imagination! Citrus and herbal flavors (like thyme, rosemary, and juniper) and classic favorites. If you're adding these things, throw some of each into a pot with a bit of water and your salt and warm it to dissolve and infuse the salt and ingredients.

The "helmet method" for roasting helps keep in that moisture from brining during cooking.


  • Turkey of your chosen size
  • A 5-gallon bucket or brining bag
  • If using a brining bag, have a second bag on hand to wrap around it to prevent leaks
  • Salt
  • Desired seasonings


  1. Put the turkey in a 5-gallon bucket or brining bag, and cover it with cold water.
  2. Dissolve a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of salt in it.
  3. Leave the turkey in your fridge for 24 hours.
  4. Remove the turkey from the brine, and pat dry.
  5. Season turkey how you'd like, then tuck the wings underneath and loosely tie the legs together.

To roast:

  1. Cover the turkey breast with foil and follow the cooking times included with your turkey, or see these Roasting Tips. 
  2. If your oven's big enough, then put the turkey in legs-first because the fatty dark meat can handle more heat. If not, cook it sideways and rotate it halfway through. 
  3. Important: One hour before the turkey is finished, take the foil (the helmet) off!
  4. Check the temperature of the turkey with a digital thermometer. When the breast reaches 161° and the thighs and drumsticks are between 170° and 172°, take the turkey out. Put some foil over the turkey, but just sort of scrunch it over the top (wrapping it all the way around will cause the skin to gey soggy.)
  5. Finally, just let it sit like that for 20 to 30 minutes. It will continue to cook about 5° more, and give you time to prep your sides before dinner is served.
  6. Happy Thanksgiving!


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