How to Brine, Truss, and Roast a Turkey

When people think of turkey, they think Thanksgiving. Let this article give you a Thanksgiving turkey to remember!


  • 2 cups table salt
  • 2 gallons (7.6 L) cold water
  • One 18 to 22 pound turkey, preferably fresh
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • Cracked black pepper

Optional (for cavity):

  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 5 to 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 10 carrots cut in 3-inch chunks
  • 10 stalks of celery cut in 3-inch chunks


  1. Image titled Brine, Truss, and Roast a Turkey Step 1
    Ensure that you have an ample oven. Turkeys are large birds-usually between 12 and 22 pounds. You should have an oven that allows hot air to circulate the bird at all angles. Be sure your bird has at least 6 inches (15.2 cm) of clear space from skin to oven wall so that it will cook evenly. If your oven is small, try using a breast of turkey or a whole chicken instead.
  2. Image titled Brine, Truss, and Roast a Turkey Step 2
    Get a roasting pan. Any roasting pan will do, as long as it's large enough to allow 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5.1 cm) of space between the pan edge and the turkey, and the bird is suspended above the bottom of the pan. Use a roasting rack, and if you don't have one, improvise. Create a crosshatch of carrots and celery. If you do this, though, it may be trickier to flip the bird during the cooking process.
  3. Image titled Brine, Truss, and Roast a Turkey Step 3
    Brine the bird. Brining involves soaking the turkey in a salt water bath. It makes crispier skin and more flavorful meat.
    • Put cold water in a large container. 2 gallons (7.6 L) is sufficient for most birds, but if your bird is bigger than 18 pounds, you may need more.
    • Add 1 cup of salt per gallon to the container. The size of your turkey doesn't influence the amount of salt used. PLEASE NOTE: unless you want a really salty bird, do not brine a kosher or self-basting turkey. They already contain a lot of sodium.
    • Dunk your turkey into the brine solution and put the container in the refrigerator. Allow the bird to soak in the brine for 4 to 6 hours. The bigger the bird, the longer it should soak.
    • Remove the bird from the brine and rinse it well under cold water. Pat dry with paper towels.
  4. Image titled Brine, Truss, and Roast a Turkey Step 4
    Truss (or tie up) your bird.
    • If you are going to stuff your turkey, do it just before you truss it. If you would rather cook the stuffing separately, try stuffing the cavity loosely with garlic cloves, fresh thyme, carrots, and celery, after salting and peppering it thoroughly.
    • Tuck the tips of the drumsticks into the skin at the tail to secure and tuck the wing tips behind the back.
    • Thread cotton twine through the eye of a trussing needle and sew up the cavity with a few stitches. Only a few-any more and you run the risk of your bird cooking unevenly.
  5. Image titled Brine, Truss, and Roast a Turkey Step 5
    Roast your bird.
    • Adjust the oven rack to the lowest position and preheat the oven to 400 °F (204 °C), or 425 degrees for a turkey larger than 18 pounds. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a saucepan, then brush the butter to cover the surface of the turkey. Grind a lot of cracked black pepper over the bird.
    • Put the turkey breast side down on the roasting rack and roast for 45 to 60 minutes, depending on the size of the bird.
    • Remove the pan from the oven and reduce the temperature to 325 °F (163 °C). Use clean potholders or kitchen towels to rotate the turkey breast side up and baste the entire surface with pan drippings.
    • Continue to roast, basting every 20 minutes, until the thickest part of the breast registers 165 °F (74 °C) and the thickest part of the thigh registers 170 to 175 °F (77 to 79 °C) on an instant-read thermometer. (About 50 minutes to 2 hours longer).
  6. Image titled Brine, Truss, and Roast a Turkey Step 6
    Transfer turkey to a carving board, let rest for 30 to 40 minutes, and carve, serve, and eat your turkey.


  • If your turkey isn't fresh, defrost it a day in advance.
  • To get the bird ready for stuffing and trussing, work on a clean, large, slightly damp towel.

Things You'll Need

  • Roasting pan
  • Large brine container
  • Clean, large towel
  • Trussing needle
  • Cotton twine
  • Meat thermometer
  • Basting brush

Sources and Citations

  • The Prairie Girl's Guide to Life by Jennifer Worick

Article Info

Categories: Turkey Dishes | Meat