Prepare a Beautiful Thanksgiving Turkey

ThanksgivingIf you can even believe it, this was my first year ever roasting a turkey. I know, crazy, right? And even crazier was that I wanted to roast a turkey and prepare an entire Thanksgiving dinner by myself, in my little kitchen without a garbage disposal or dishwasher, for my all friends the week before Thanksgiving.

Us food bloggers are a crazy crew, I’ll tell you what!

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When I was in culinary school, we learned all about the merits of a proper brine and so after much research and debate, I decided to go with a brown sugar cayenne brine on my first ever Thanksgiving bird.

A brine is really just a salt water bath you give your turkey to make it supremely tender, moist and delicious. I added the brown sugar and cayenne pepper because it seemed like the right thing to do. What isn’t made better by those two things?

So, after an extra long (cold!) bath and a quick little truss, my turkey was ready to go.

It turned out delicious and got rave reviews from all my friends. A delicious crispy golden skin and moist, juicy meat; the only other thing this turkey needed to be complete was a boat full of gravy and homemade cranberry sauce!

Brown Sugar and Cayenne Brined Turkey

With so many options for turkey brines, Jenna Weber of Eat, Live, Run recommends this brown sugar and cayenne pepper blend for extra flavor. Jenna shares the story of behind her turkey in a full post on the Fresh Tastes blog.



  • 2 gallons cold water
  • 3 cups brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1.5 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 14-20 lb turkey
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 2-3 large carrots, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tbsp butter


  1. The day before you plan to roast your turkey, wash it with cold water and pat dry. Then, combine the ingredients for the brine (water, sugar, salt, cayenne pepper) in a very large pot (32 quart) or bucket (hey, whatever works! Just make sure it’s clean). Stir until brown sugar and salt dissolve. Add turkey to brine, cover with a lid or plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 12-24 hours.
  2. The day of, remove turkey from the fridge, dump out the brine and pat the bird dry. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  3. Place chopped onion and carrots at the bottom of a roasting pan and place turkey on top of vegetables. Tie up the legs of the turkey with butcher’s twine (easily accessible at your local grocery store this time of year) and tuck the wings under.
  4. Drizzle olive oil all over the turkey and place in the oven to roast for 3 ½ to 4 ½ hours, depending on the size of the bird. When cooked, the internal temperature of the turkey should be 170 degrees.
  5. Right when the turkey comes out of the oven, rub butter all over the skin. Then, let the turkey rest for 30-45 minutes before carving.

Jenna Weber, food blogger for PBS Food's Fresh Tastes blogJenna Weber is half of the Fresh Tastes blog team. She graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in 2008 and, since then, has worked as a pastry chef, bread baker and freelance food editor. Currently, Jenna blogs full-time on where her delicious daily recipes and quirky culinary musings appeal to thousands. She lives in Northern California and, when not in the kitchen, can usually be found on her yoga mat.