The Ultimate Guide to Turkey Preparation

Preparing and roasting a turkey can be an intimidating, so I’ve put together this guide based on my years of preparing turkeys for the holidays. These instructions are based on a turkey that’s around 20 lbs and is broken down into four sections: thaw it, brine it, dry it, roast it.

1. Thaw It

Option 1: Thaw in the Refrigerator
Leave turkey in its packaging and place in the refrigerator. A 20-lbs turkey will take 4 to 5 days to thaw in the fridge; 24 hours of thawing time for every 5 pounds.

Option 2: Cold Water Thaw (Fast)
With the turkey still in its packaging place it breast side down in a bucket or sink. Fill bucket/sink with cold water; ensure turkey is submerged. Change water every 30 minutes until thawed. Allow approximately 30 minutes for every pound of turkey.

2. Brine It: Orange Brine Reip

Once our turkey is mostly thawed you can begin the brining process. Allow for 12 to 24 hours for brining. Do not exceed 24 hours for wet brines. You will need a container/bucket that can hold about 2 gallons of liquid and fit in your fridge. You can consider using a roasting bag in conjuction with smaller bucket/container if necessary.

1 to 1.5 Gallons Orange Juice
1 to 1.5 Cups Brown Sugar
1 to 1.5 Cups Kosher Salt
2 Heads Garlic
2 Tablespoons Cloves
2 Tablespoons Whole Allspice
1/4 to 1/2 Cup Peppercorns
Optional: handfuls of rosemary, thyme, sage

1. Combine all the ingredients except the orange juice, in a medium sauce pan with about 1/2 gallon of water. Heat and stir until the salt and sugar is dissolved. Let the mixture cool.
2. Remove the turkey from its packaging and remove neck & gizzards from cavity. If desired, rinse the turkey.
3. Place turkey breast side down in the bucket/container. Pour in orange juice and salt-sugar solution. Add cold water as needed to ensure that the turkey is completely covered AND the cavity is filled with the brine.
5. Brine for 12 – 24 hours in the fridge; do not exceed 24 hours

3. Dry It

Remove turkey from the brine, pat dry and place it on a tray or roasting pan uncovered in your fridge for at least 12 hours. This allows the skin to dry.

Holiday Thanksgiving Christmas Herb Turkey

4. Roast It: Garlic Herb Turkey

There are so many ways to season and prepare your turkey for roasting. Feel free to modify it as you’d like. I roast my turkey at 325F.

1 to 2 Bunches Rosemary
1 to 2 Bunches Thyme
1 Bunch Sage
1 to 2 Sticks of Butter, softened
6 Cloves Garlic
Black Pepper
Cayenne Pepper
Olive Oil

Aromatics: 1/2 an onion, 1/2 an apple, rosemary, time, allspice, cloves.

1. Preheat oven to 325 F. See roasting times in chart below.

2. In a food processor combine the garlic and leaves of the rosemary, thyme and sage. Pulse until finely chopped.

3. In a bowl combine chopped herbs, butter, salt, black pepper, paprika and cayenne pepper to taste. Mix until combined.

4. Carefully slide your fingers under the skin of the turkey breast to make room for the butter mixture.

5. Working a spoon-full at a time, slide butter mixture under skin of the turkey. Repeat as necessary. Spread the mixture under the skin.

6. Season the surface of the entire turkey (including back) with salt, black pepper, paprika and herbs. Place aromatics inside of cavity.

7. Coat turkey with oil.

8. Place turkey breast side up in roasting pan. If your pan has a rack, add about 2 cups of chicken stock to pan.

9. Tent with foil and roast until the thermometer at thigh reads 165F; avoid touching bone with thermometer. Baste every 45 minutes. See roasting times in chart below.

10. Remove foil about 1 hour before the end of roasting time if you want to add more color to the turkey.

11. Remove turkey from oven and let rest for at least 30 minutes before cutting.

Turkey roasting times at 325F

How long to roast a turkey time table
Source: The Spruce / Sage Youngblood

About MyBodyMyKitchen

I'm Sean, founder of My Body My Kitchen (MBMK). I am dedicated to empowering my readers to live a healthy life. The food we eat and how it is prepared greatly affects our health. Through MBMK I empower my readers to take control of their health by providing them with the tools need to take control of your kitchens. I started MBMK in January 2015, after an overwhelming demand for my recipes on my personal Instagram account.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *