This Simple Turkey Brine recipe and Oven Roasted Turkey recipe is just what you need to make a perfect turkey for Thanksgiving, the holidays, or anytime!
I’ve got a good ‘dad’ joke for you. What’s the number one key to a great Thanksgiving? The tur-key! Ha ha! But seriously, the turkey is key. If you are hosting Thanksgiving, you’re thinking about the best way to roast a turkey at least a month in advance. Just like this guy from Family Feud, you’ve got turkey on the brain.
Simple Turkey Brine & Oven Roasted Turkey
Without a doubt, the star of Thanksgiving dinner is the oven roasted turkey! It has to be moist, succulent, and so flavorful! But most importantly it needs to be easy and straightforward to make. And that’s where my super simple Turkey Brine & Roast Turkey recipe comes in!
This recipe is simply the best because of how easy it is. Roast the turkey in the oven with these instructions and you will find you have spare time to actually enjoy the holiday.
To further help you enjoy the holiday be sure to check out these free Thanksgiving Planner Printable and Thanksgiving Hosting Tips that will help guide you to the perfect Thanksgiving. From planning the roast turkey to the pie, these guides have you covered!
For me, the simpler the turkey brine, the better. My brine has only 3 ingredients:
- Lemon juice
That’s it, nothing fancy.
Oven Roasted Turkey
If you thought that my brine was easy, brace yourself because my roasting method is even easier! Here are all of the ingredients that you need to make a delicious roast turkey:
- A 10-20 pound turkey
- Lemon zest
- Salt & pepper
For my method, you just brush both sides of the turkey with a mixture of melted butter and lemon zest and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. That’s it. I like to first roast the turkey at a high temperature for about 45 minutes, and then drop the temperature and roast for 1-2 hours. For more details instructions, see below.
How to roast a turkey in the oven:
- First brine the turkey by placing 1 cup of salt in a stockpot or bucket. Next, add water and lemon juice and stir until the salt is dissolved.
- Then, remove the neck and giblets from the turkey. Now you can rinse the turkey under cold water before placing it in the brine. Refrigerate for 10-14 hours.
- To roast the turkey start by adjusting the oven rack to the lowest position and preheat to 425 degrees F.
- Next, combine the butter and lemon zest and melt in the microwave until completely melted.
- Then remove the turkey from the brine and rinse under cold water. After tucking the wing tips and drumstick tips back brush the turkey breast, wings, and drumsticks with half of the butter mixture and sprinkle 2 pinches of salt and 2 pinches of pepper. Now, place the turkey breast-side down and brush the back with the remaining butter, adding salt and pepper when finished.
- Set the turkey in the oven and roast for 45-60 minutes depending on turkey size.
- Next, remove the turkey to turn it breast-side-up. Then return it to the oven to roast until the thickest part of the turkey breast reaches 160 degrees, or about 1-2 hours.
- Finally, take the turkey out of the oven and let it sit for 30 minutes before carving.
Brine & Oven Roasted Turkey Recipe Questions Answered:
How long do you cook a turkey for?
The general rule is to cook a turkey for 20 minutes per pound. The cooking time may vary slightly depending on if the turkey is stuffed or not so just keep that in mind when making your preparations.
Do you cook a turkey at 325 or 350?
The temperature you roast a turkey at depends on the size of the turkey. See the guide below to know what to set your temperature to.
If your turkey weighs 15 to 16 pounds, roast it at:
- 425°F for 3 to 3 1/4 hours
- 400°F for 3 1/4 to 3 1/2 hours
- 350°F for 3 1/2 to 3 3/4 hours
- 325°F for 3 3/4 to 4 hours
How do I keep my turkey moist?
The secret to a moist turkey is in the brine. The brine is such an easy step that makes a world of difference. A turkey that soaks in a brine will take in the salt and water. This makes it moist to begin with and it seasons it on the inside at the same time. Score!
Cook’s Note – Simple Turkey Brine & Oven Roasted Turkey:
- If you have a self-basting turkey, then DO NOT BRINE IT! It has already been cured with salt. The same goes for a kosher turkey.
- You will need an extra-large stockpot or clean plastic bucket to brine the turkey.
- After you rinse the turkey in step 2 of the recipe below, make sure that you disinfect your sink afterward!
- Save those pan drippings and make my amazing Turkey Gravy!
- large stock pot OR 5 gallon brining bucket
- roasting pan with rack
- pot holders
- carving board
- turkey carving tools
- turkey serving platter
Simple Turkey Brine & Roast Turkey Recipe
- 1 cup Morton Table Salt
- 2 gallons cold water
- 1 cup lemon juice
- 10-20 pound turkey thawed
- 6 Tablespoon butter cut into 6 pieces
- 2 Tablespoons lemon zest
- salt and pepper
BRINE THE TURKEY:
- Place 1 cup of table salt in the bottom of a large stockpot or clean plastic bucket. Add the water and lemon juice and stir until the salt is dissolved.
- Remove the neck and giblets from the turkey, discard or reserve to use later. Rinse the turkey under cold running water. Place the turkey in the brine and refrigerate for 10-14 hours.
ROAST THE TURKEY:
- 1 hour before you’re ready to roast the turkey, adjust the oven rack to the lowest position and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F for a 10-16 pound turkey, and 425 degrees F for a 16-20 pound turkey. Set a V-roasting rack inside of a large roasting pan, and set aside.
- In a small microwave-safe bowl add the butter and lemon zest and melt in the microwave on HIGH power for 20 seconds. Stir and then continue to heat at 10-second increments until completely melted, and set aside.
- Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse under cold water. Tuck the turkey’s wing tips behind its back, and tuck the drumstick tips into the skin of the tail area.
- Brush the turkey breast, wings, and drumsticks with half of the butter mixture and sprinkle with 2 pinches of salt and 2 pinches of black pepper. Place the turkey breast-side down onto the V-roasting rack, and then brush the back of the turkey with the remaining butter and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Place the turkey in the preheated oven and roast for 45 minutes for a10-16 pound turkey, and 60 minutes for a 16-20 pound turkey.
- Take the turkey out of the oven, and reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Use silicone oven mitts or folded clean kitchen towels to flip the turkey breast-side-up. Place the turkey back into the oven and continue to roast until the thickest part of the breast reaches 160-165 degrees F. This will take about 1 hour for 10-16 pound turkeys and, 1.5 hours for 16-18 pound turkeys and 2 hours for 18-20 pound turkeys.
- Take the turkey out of the oven and let it rest of 30 minutes, and then move it to a large cutting board and carve.
Looking for other Thanksgiving recipes? I’ve got you covered!
- Thanksgiving Salad with Cranberries
- Stuffed Mushrooms with Goat Cheese and Pine Nuts
- Green Bean Casserole
- Charcuterie Board
- Bacon and Apple Stuffing
- Crescent Rolls
- Sweet Potato Souffle
- Turkey Gravy
- Creamed Pearl Onions
- Quick Dutch Apple Pie
- Easy Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
- Buttermilk Pie