Alton Brown’s Classic Brined And Roasted Turkey Recipe

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Roasted turkey is always the star of the show when it comes to Thanksgiving. Although, quite often, it happens that the turkey does not turn out to be as juicy as you would expect. But if you try out this recipe for Alton Brown’s classic brined and roasted turkey, I can guarantee that you will be able to enjoy the juiciest turkey ever on Thanksgiving!

Classic Brined And Roasted Turkey

Alton Brown is a very renowned chef, surely for all the right reasons! Some of his recipes are truly remarkable, and they end up making the best things ever. So is the case with this classic brined and roasted turkey recipe. The secret to making this turkey as juicy as it is, you guessed it, the brine! 

Roasting a turkey on Thanksgiving is almost a tradition for everyone. No one can, however, disregard the fact that getting that perfect turkey can be a really long process. In the case of this recipe, too, the process is a little longer as the turkey does require a long chilling and resting period before eventually roasting it. 

But, in any case, the process is long! So, why not give it a little extra time to put together and then get the best-roasted turkey possible? This recipe is so worth it that I can guarantee that once you have the first bite, you will surely realize that all of that waiting was completely worth it! 

So, in this article, you will find a complete step-by-step guide on how to prepare this turkey at home from scratch. From the equipment, you will need to the time, ingredients, method, and everything in between, all the information you need to make this recipe is in this article. Now, let us dive into this recipe for a lovely turkey on Turkey day! 

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What Equipment Will You Need To Make Alton Brown’s Classic Brined And Roasted Turkey? 

  • Cooler – The process of making this turkey starts with thawing, as that, too, is a really important step before we begin properly brining the turkey. So, to ensure even and proper thawing of the turkey before you begin brining it, you will need a 5-gallon cooler. 
  • Probe Thermometer – In this entire process of thawing, brining, and roasting the turkey, it will be important to check the temperature as often as possible. Hence, you will need a probe thermometer for the same. 
  • Paper Towels – Paper towels will be needed to pat the turkey dry once the brining is over. 
  • Roasting Pan – You will need a large roasting pan to place the turkey in while it has to go into the oven. 
  • Aluminum Foil – Midway through the roasting process, we will cover the turkey breast with aluminum foil. 
  • Whisk – You will need a large whisk to mix the brine together. 
  • Large Knife – A large knife will be needed to easily remove the turkey’s insides, if any, and chop the aromatic vegetables. 
  • Chopping Board – You will need a large chopping board to chop all the aromatic vegetables. Moreover, this is not completely necessary; however, I believe some procedures will be easier done on a chopping board. 

How Much Time Will You Need To Make Alton Brown’s Classic Brined And Roasted Turkey? 

Thawing TimeBringing TimeCooking TimeTotal Time
8 Hours8 Hours3 Hours19 Hours

What Ingredients Will You Need To Make Alton Brown’s Classic Brined And Roasted Turkey? 

For The Brine :

  • Vegetable Broth – Vegetable broth makes this brine extremely flavorful; hence, you will need 16 cups or 128 oz of the same. 
  • Sugar – To make the brine, you will need ⅔ cups of granulated sugar. 
  • Salt – The brining liquid will need a pound of salt to get a great flavor. 
  • Hot Water – You will need ½ gallon of hot water to make the brine. 
  • Ice – Lastly, you will need 8 pounds of ice for the brining liquid. 

For Roasting :

  • Turkey – Covering the main ingredient of this recipe first, you will need a large, frozen turkey, which is somewhere around 18 lbs in weight. 
  • Onions – You will need a single large onion, chopped up, as one of the aromatics in this recipe. Here, you are free to use whichever type of onion you like. 
  • Carrots – Carrots are another important aromatic, and for this recipe, you will need 2 large carrots, coarsely chopped. 
  • Celery – Celery is yet again an aromatic that imparts great flavor, and for this recipe, you will need two stalks of celery, roughly chopped. 
  • Butter – This recipe requires soft, unsalted room-temperature butter to be rubbed all over the turkey before roasting. I would advise not to use salted butter as the turkey would have already soaked in a lot of salt from the brine. 
  • Herbs – I would recommend using a few sprigs of fresh herbs like rosemary, sage, and thyme for this recipe. 
  • Vegetable Cooking Spray – Lastly, you will need vegetable cooking spray as we will need it while we cover the turkey with foil to keep it in place. 
Classic Brined And Roasted Turkey 2

Steps To Make Alton Brown’s Classic Brined And Roasted Turkey

1. Thaw The Turkey

The first step while preparing this turkey recipe is to thaw the turkey. For that, place the frozen turkey wrapped in plastic in the five-gallon cooler with a drain spout. Place the cooler in a bathtub and cover the turkey with cold water. 

Keep replacing the cold water every 2-3 hours while ensuring the water temperature stays below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. This way, the turkey will take roughly 8 hours to completely thaw. 

2. Brining The Turkey

After your turkey is completely thawed, you can begin brining it. For that, take the turkey out of the cooler and dispose of all the water. Then, clean the cooler thoroughly with soap and water. Once done, add in hot water, salt and sugar. 

Stir this mix thoroughly to dissolve all the salt and sugar with the help of a whisk. Once all of it is dissolved, add the ice and vegetable broth. Then, unwrap the thawed turkey and remove any offal on the inside. Place the turkey in the cooler with the breast side up. 

Make sure the turkey does not float and if it does, then place a plastic bag filled with a gallon of water on it just so that the turkey remains submerged. Set the cooler aside with the lid closed in a cool place. 

Turn the turkey once in between. Check the temperature of the brining liquid every now and then with a probe thermometer. If the temperature exceeds 40 degrees Fahrenheit, add some freezer packs. This way, the turkey should take 8 hours to be done. Once done, remove the turkey from the cooler and rinse it with cold water. Pat with paper towels and keep them aside. 

3. Roasting The Turkey

Once the brining is over, you can finally begin roasting the turkey. For that, remove all the racks from the oven except the lowest one and preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Now, loosely pack the turkey with a combination of herbs, onions, carrots, and celery in a roasting pan. 

Place the lucky turkey in the roasting pan, breast side up. You can place it on a V-shaped rack inside the roasting pan if you have one. Cut a piece of aluminum foil, enough to cover the turkey breast. Mold the foil over the breast, take it off, spray with vegetable spray and keep it aside. We will be using this later. 

Now, rub the room-temperature butter on the turkey, ensuring you get all the corners too. You will have to do this until the turkey is completely covered in butter. Place the turkey in the preheated oven and roast for 30-40 minutes until the turkey is browned. 

Then, remove it from the oven, cover the breast with the foil you had kept aside and place it back into the oven after reducing the temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Poke the deepest part of the breast with a probe thermometer and let the turkey roast for 2.5 hours. 

Once the thermometer reads 161 degrees Fahrenheit for the breast and 181 degrees Fahrenheit for the thigh, you can take the turkey out of the oven. Cover the turkey and let it rest for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, you can carve and serve the turkey with your favorite sides! 

What Sides Can Be Served With Alton Brown’s Classic Brined And Roasted Turkey? 

  • Buttermilk Spoon BreadThis southern delight is a soft and spongy bread that pairs perfectly with this roasted turkey. 
  • Roasted Parsnips And CarrotsThere are no better vegetable sides to a roasted turkey than some roasted parsnips and carrots. 
  • Sweet Potato RollsSweet potatoes are, in general, a great accompaniment to roasted turkey, but a starchy bread roll made with sweet potatoes is even better! 
  • Cornbread Dressing With Sausage And FennelIf you are looking for a more hearty side to serve with your roasted turkey, then this one’s for you! 
  • Slow Cooker Green BeansAgain, sometimes simple sides make up the best accompaniment to a classic roasted turkey, just like slow cooker green beans! 
  • Angel BiscuitsA biscuit that is flaky and also soft? Yes, angel biscuits are the best combination ever of different textures and a great accompaniment to your roasted turkey. 
  • Turkey Gravy You cannot enjoy roasted turkey without gravy; the best part is you can even make your gravy 4 days in advance! 
  • Cranberry SauceA humble cranberry sauce is another favorite on a Thanksgiving spread and a great choice to serve as a side with your roasted turkey. 
  • Corn PuddingThis savory pudding, filled with the goodness of corn, also makes a lovely accompaniment to roasted turkey. 
  • Creamy Au Gratin PotatoesThere is nothing better than combining creamy and cheesy potatoes with a classic roasted turkey, as it makes the best indulgent side! 

Nutritional Information

Calories985 kcal
Fat47 g
Saturated Fat17 g
Cholesterol342 mg
Sodium9405 mg
Carbohydrates21 g
Sugar20 g
Protein109 g
Calcium129 mg
Iron7 mg
Potassium1113 mg

How Will Alton Brown’s Brined And Roasted Turkey Look And Taste Like? 

The wait for this recipe is surely long! But it is completely worth it too! I am sure that before you make it, some of you would like to know what the final product looks like. Well, this is just to prepare oneself for what to anticipate from a recipe. 

As far as the looks go, this turkey will look like just any other roasted turkey. Browned perfectly all over, once you carve the turkey, you will be able to see all the juices dripping out of it. Moreover, accompanied by the aromatics, they add a lot to the look! 

Coming to the flavor, this turkey will be perfectly juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside. The brining helps the salt reach inside the turkey, which surely adds a lot to the flavor. Moreover, combined with aromatics, it creates a very subtle yet delicious flavor that everyone will surely enjoy! 

Recipe Card

Classic Brined and Roasted Turkey 1

Alton Brown’s Classic Brined And Roasted Turkey Recipe

Roasted turkey is one of the mains that is irreplaceable on Thanksgiving. This recipe of Alton Brown's Brined and Roasted Turkey will give you the juiciest roasted turkey you could probably ever enjoy!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 8 hours
Cook Time 3 hours
Thawing Time 8 hours
Total Time 19 hours
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 12 Servings
Calories 985 kcal


  • Cooler
  • Food Temperature Probe
  • Paper Towels
  • Roasting Pan
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Whisk
  • Large Knife
  • Chopping Board


For The Brine

  • 128 oz Vegetable Broth
  • 2/3 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 lbs Salt
  • 1/2 gallon Hot Water
  • 8 lbs Ice

For Roasting

  • 18 lbs Turkey
  • 1 no. Onion
  • 2 nos. Carrot
  • 2 nos. Celery
  • 2 tablespoons Unsalted Butter (at room temperature)
  • 2 sprigs Thyme
  • 2 sprigs Sage
  • 2 sprigs Rosemary
  • Vegetable Cooking Spray


For Thawing

  • Place wrapped turkey in the 5-gallon cooler with a drain spout. Place the cooler in a bathtub and top the turkey with cold water.
  • Drain and replace the water once in 2-3 hours, ensuring the temperature stays below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. This process should take 8 hours.

For Brining

  • Once the turkey is completely thawed, take it out of the cooler and drain the water.
  • Wash the cooler with soap and water, and then add in hot water, salt, and sugar, whisk and let it all dissolve.
  • After the salt and sugar have dissolved, add the vegetable broth and ice.
  • Clean the turkey on the inside, removing any offal, then place it in the brining liquid, ensuring it is completely submerged.
  • Place the cooler in a cool and dry place and turn the turkey once while it is brining.
  • Check the temperature of the liquid and if it goes above 40 degrees Fahrenheit, add some ice packs. This process will also take 8 hours.
  • Once done, take the turkey out of the brining liquid, rinse it under cold water and pat it dry with a paper towel.

For Roasting

  • Remove all the racks from the oven except the last one, and preheat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Loosely pack the turkey with herbs and aromatic vegetables.
  • Place the turkey in a large roasting pan with the breast side up.
  • Take a piece of aluminum foil and cover the breast just to get a mold.
  • Take off the foil, spray vegetable spray on the inside and keep it aside.
  • Rub the turkey properly with room temperature unsalted butter, ensuring you get all the corners too.
  • Place the roasting pan in the preheated oven and let the turkey roast for 40 minutes.
  • Afterward, take the turkey out and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Place the foil on top of the turkey breast and insert a probe thermometer in the thickest part.
  • Put the turkey back in the oven and let it roast at 350 degrees for 2.5 hours.
  • Once the thermometer reads 161 degrees Fahrenheit for the breast and 181 degrees Fahrenheit for the leg, take it out of the oven and cover it with foil for 30 minutes.
  • After that, carve the turkey and serve it with your favorite sides!


Serving: 1Portion | Calories: 985kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 109g | Fat: 47g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Cholesterol: 342mg | Sodium: 9405mg | Potassium: 1113mg | Sugar: 20g | Calcium: 129mg | Iron: 7mg
Keyword Alton Brown’s Classic Brined And Roasted Turkey, Roasted Turkey, Thanksgiving
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What does the brining liquid do to the turkey? 

The brining liquid seeps into the turkey and adds flavor while making it tender. 

Is it necessary to check the temperature of the water and brining liquid? 

Yes, it is important to check and maintain the temperatures of the water and brining liquid. 

Can other herbs be added to the turkey while roasting it? 

Yes, if you want your turkey to taste a certain way, you can add other herbs, too, if you like. 

Can other aromatic vegetables be added to the turkey? 

Usually, onion, carrots, and celery tend to work best in this recipe and are enough for the flavor. But, if you really want to, you can add other vegetables too. 

Can kosher salt be used in place of regular salt for brining? 

Yes, you can use kosher salt for brining, if you would like to. 


Juicy and extremely flavorful, this recipe for brined and roasted turkey by Alton Brown is truly one of the best. The brining makes the turkey extra flavorful and tender, giving you a perfectly juicy turkey to serve on Thanksgiving! 

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