Family Secrets for the Perfect Turkey Dinner


This year, skip the dried-out bird and use one of these secret family recipes to make the best Thanksgiving turkey ever. These recipes are sure to please even the pickiest of eaters.

Woman Basting Turkey

Dry Brining

Try a dry brine this Thanksgiving. This is an easy method of cooking that leaves the skin crispy. Dry brine your bird overnight by slathering it with a mix of salt and spices. The following morning brush it with butter and let the skin crisp. Get the full recipe here.

Traditional Turkey Brining

A more traditional method involves soaking the turkey in a liquid brine. Start with a completely thawed turkey and lots of space in your fridge.

This method seasons and tenderizes the meat from the inside out. As the salt and other spices are absorbed, the meat takes on their flavors. Additionally, the salt helps break down some of the muscle proteins, which leaves you with a more tender turkey. 

To brine a turkey:

  • Dissolve 1 cup of Kosher salt and 1 cup of brown sugar in 2 quarts of hot water.
  • Add in 2 cups of apple cider, 2 cups of orange juice, and 1 quart of cold water. Stir to combine.
  • Stir in 8 cups of ice to cool the brine down.
  • Place the turkey in a lidded pot that’s large enough to hold the turkey and the brine.
  • Pour the brine over the turkey and let it rest in the refrigerator overnight. 

Do not brine a turkey that is “Kosher,” “enhanced,” or “self-basting.” These turkeys have already been salted. Turkeys that have soaked in brine tend to cook more quickly, so be sure to check the dish sooner than you normally would. This brine recipe is enough for a large turkey, you’ll only need half the recipe if you’re cooking a small turkey. 

For some delicious side recipes to go along with this turkey, browse 

Roasting a Precut Turkey 

Have you struggled with a dry turkey before?

The solution is to use a sharp knife to separate the wings, breasts, and leg quarters. This tip comes from Put the turkey pieces in a pan and season both sides of each piece with salt, pepper, and 1 tablespoon of poultry seasoning. 

Roasting a precut turkey:

  • Mix onions, celery, and carrots together.
  • Place in the bottom of a large roasting pan. Add ½ cup of the stock to the pan over the vegetables. 
  • Season the vegetables with a little salt, pepper, and a tablespoon of poultry seasoning.
  • Place chunks of butter between the meat and the skin of each piece, leaving a few chunks to put on top of the skin.
  • Arrange the leg quarters and wing pieces around the pan on top of the vegetables. Leave room for the breasts in the pan, but put them aside for now. You won’t put the breasts in the oven at the beginning of cooking. 

In the oven:

  • Cover the pan of dark meat turkey loosely with foil and place in the oven at 350 degrees for about an hour.
  • Remove the foil and turn the leg and wing sections over. Lay the breast pieces meat side down in the pan.
  • Replace the foil and bake for another 45 minutes to an hour, or until the deepest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees and the breast reads 150 on a thermometer.
  • Remove the foil and turn over the breast pieces so the skin side is up. 
  • Turn the oven to broil and put the pan back on the lowest rack until the skin of the turkey is golden brown.

Pro tip: let the turkey rest after cooking to ensure the juices come to the surface.