Thanksgiving Roast Turkey

Every year we rush around to get things done in a hurry so we can spend time with the family. This ” Thanksgiving Day Turkey” is a great way to do that.  A few simple steps and you have a gorgeous Turkey. I came up with this recipe about 8 years ago and it has been a part of our Holiday Season ever since. I love the soft flavor of the citrus in this recipe. I accents the Turkey really well but not  have a potent flavor blast of orange. It is very subtle but so flavorful and yummy! I brine the turkey overnight in a 5 to 10 gallon ziplock zipper bag so the Turkey soaks up all that wonderful flavor and stays moist during the cooking process.

This recipe requires a lot of time but very little work. You do all the work the day before and just throw it in the oven the morning of and a few hours later you have a delicious Turkey.  Let it set for a while covered and plate it up and bring it out to “WOW” your guests. I have also made this for Christmas as well just to swap out all of the other flavors around the Holidays.  You can also make this during the summer months with Turkey Breasts instead of the whole Bird. Also, you can swap out the orange and use other citrus like lemons, limes and grapefruits as I have in the past. They all turn out delicious and moist. Just adjust the citrus to your liking and go from there.

Now here is all of the ingredients you will need:


3 cups of Apple Juice

4 cups of water

2 sprigs of Rosemary ( whole)

3 cloves of Garlic, smashed or minced

1 tbsp of Thyme

3/4 cups of Salt ( I use Kosher)

1 cup of Brown Sugar, Tightly packed

1 cup of Granulated Sugar

3 tbsp of  Tri-color Peppercorns ( if you only have black then use those it is alright to use them)

3 to 4 Bay leafs ( depending on size)

Peel of 1 Orange ( scrape off the pith)

2 tsp of Whole Cloves ( do not use ground cloves as the flavor will be to potent)

1 large 15 to 20 lb Turkey, (thawed or fresh which ever one you have at the moment)

1 large 5 to 10 gallon Ziplock Zipper Bag


Now this is the easiest way to brine the Turkey that does not dirty every dish in your house. Not to mention it makes your house smell Devine.

(1) Place a large Dutch Oven or large boiling pot on the stove and add all of the above ingredients except the Turkey. Turn Heat on medium heat and whisk together until the sugar melts. Let cook for 5 minutes so the flavors start to come together. Remove from heat and cover with a lid. Allow to cool completely, About 2 hours or so.  This allows the flavors of the mixture to come together into a wonderful brine. Now the mixture has to be completely cool before pouring over the Turkey so that it does not start the cooking process.

(2) In the meantime remove the packaging from the Turkey and discard. Rinse the Turkey in luke warm water to clean the Turkey. This will allow the brine to penetrate the Turkey better. Place the Turkey in the large bag and pour over the brine. You can add more cold water to brine if it does not cover the Bird completely.  Release all air from the bag and zip closed. place on a sheet pan to catch any leakage from the bag if needed. You can place the Bird in a brining tub and just cover with the lid. Flip the Bird to ensure even brining half way through brining process if needed. Place the Bird in the fridge for about 6 to 8 hours preferably over night.  This allows all of the flavors to penetrate the whole Bird so it comes out moist when the cooking process is complete.

(3) The next morning I presume: Remove the Turkey from fridge and drain out all of the liquid from the bag and discard. Rinse the Turkey in luke warm water to remove any extra stick on herbs or spices. Make sure to rinse inside, outside and underneath the legs and wings. When the Bird is clean the place in a large pot of  luke warm or cold water and let set 10 minutes. I like to do this because the salt does not rinse off completely It makes double sure that all of the salt is off of the Bird. Drain and place on a sheet pan lined with paper towels. Pat the Bird as dry as possible inside and out.

(4) Place the Bird on a baking rack that is place inside the baking pan. Tuck the wings back behind the Bird so they do not burn during the cooking process. Tie the legs with kitchen twine to ensure the legs stay together and do not burn also. At this point you can stuff the Bird with Onion halves, Whole Garlic Cloves, and Halved Citrus to make for more flavor. This is totally optional and is up to you if you want to do this. ( Please, Please do not stuff the Bird with Stuffing at this point. The juices from the bird will contaminate the stuffing and will not be good for your health) Now that we have established that you can now tightly cover the Bird with Tin Foil. This allows all of the steam to stay inside and keep the Bird nice and moist. Place the Bird in a 300* oven and cook for 3 1/2 to 4  hours for  a 15 lb Bird and 5 1/2 to 6  hours for a 20 lb Bird.

At this point: You can do other things that need to be done like cooking other things or reheating cooked things that you have already prepared the day before. What ever your heart desires. Just don’t forget to set the timer to remind you when you need to pull the Bird out.

Here are some more Ingredients you will need later on:


2 Sticks of Butter, Room Temperature ( I leave it out over night on the counter)

1/4 cup of Apple Sauce ( Do not get the one with cinnamon because it will affect the over all flavor of the Turkey)

Peel of 1 orange, minced ( or other citrus fruit that you put into the brine. Use the same in citrus flavor in both)

1 tsp. Thyme


(5)  About 15 to 20 minutes before the Bird is done mix together in a bowl the Butter, Apple Sauce, Minced Orange Peel and Thyme until well combined. Set aside until ready to use. Pull the Bird out of the Oven and remove the Foil. You can let this set a minute or two to cool just ever so slightly. If you have stuffed the bird with onion, garlic and citrus please remove and discard them carefully. Brush the Butter mixture over the entire Bird making sure to put a dab or two on the inside of the Bird. Now at this point you can stuff the Bird with your desired Stuffing. The bird is almost cooked through and all bacteria is no longer affective at this point, So stuff away. Do not cut strings on the legs yet.  Raise the Temperature on the oven to 375* and place a meat thermometer in between the leg and thigh of the BIrd and put back in the oven. Cook for 45 to 55 minutes or until deep golden brown in color or thermometer reads 165*. Dont forget to bast the bird every 15 to 20 minutes so the skin of the meat does not get to dry. Remove from the oven when done and let rest for about 25 to 3o minutes before moving to a serving platter.  Do not discard the pan juices as it makes wonderful gravy to go along side the Bird.


Now we like our Turkey a little on the deeper golden brown side so I left it in a few minutes longer than others might like. It turned out Beautiful, Moist and Delicious. I made a wonderful Giblet Gravy with the pan juices from this wonderful Turkey. If you would like the recipe for that please let me know and I will post it for you.

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