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Alton Brown’s ‘Good Eats’ best-ever turkey brine recipe

Looking to upgrade your turkey prep? This tried-and-true, never-fail turkey recipe from Alton Brown will guarantee happy bellies at your Thanksgiving table.
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Thanksgiving dinner

Editor’s Note: Content distributed by Zap2it

Working at Zap2it, one’s life becomes consumed and influenced by television. The holidays are no different.

As I was pulling together the recipes for this year’s turkey dinner I noticed just how many of them were printed out from the Food Network website. This was driven home as I made the shopping list accompanied by “Iron Chef America’s” Thanksgiving dinner battle.

So, in the spirit of holiday giving, we wanted to share with you our tried-and-true, never-fail turkey recipe, courtesy of Alton Brown and “Good Eats.”

RELATED: Alton’s best-ever green bean casserole

It’s so easy and impressive that my husband has taken over cooking the bird, leaving me to concentrate on the Brussel sprouts with white beans, chipotle mashed potatoes and chocolate pecan pies.


* 1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young turkey

 For the brine

* 1 cup kosher salt
* 1/2 cup light brown sugar
* 1 gallon vegetable stock
* 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
* 1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries
* 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger
* 1 gallon heavily iced water

 For the aromatics

* 1 red apple, sliced
* 1/2 onion, sliced
* 1 cinnamon stick
* 1 cup water
* 4 sprigs rosemary
* 6 leaves sage
* Canola oil


2 to 3 days before roasting:

Begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees F.

Combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, and candied ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.

The night before you’d like to eat:

Combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once halfway through brining.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.

Place the bird on roasting rack inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels.

Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add steeped aromatics to the turkey’s cavity along with the rosemary and sage. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.

Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees F. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving.


Editor’s Note: Since originally published in 2009, this post has taken on a life of its own. It makes a comeback every year in November like some sort of delicious ghost of Thanksgivings past. So, we’ve decided to hit the republish button to make it even easier for you to find. Happy holidays!