Maple-Brined Roast Turkey with Sage Butter

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This turkey brine combines the warming sweetness of maple syrup and aromatic herbs and spices which yield a delicious, juicy bird. Before roasting, a compound butter loaded with sage and parsley gets spread under the skin which bastes the meat while is cooks.
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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 3 hr 30 min (plus overnight brining)
  • Active: 40 min
  • Yield: 8 to 10 servings
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Ingredients

Directions

  1. Make the brine: Combine 8 cups water, the salt, maple syrup, sage, bay leaves, peppercorns, coriander seeds and lemon zest in a very large pot. Bring the liquid to a simmer and cook, stirring to dissolve the salt. Remove from the heat and add 1 1/2 gallons cold water. Stir to combine. Set aside to cool slightly, then refrigerate until cold.
  2. Once the brine is cold, slowly add the turkey, allowing time for the brine to enter the cavity so the pot doesn’t overflow. Cover with a lid or a large plate and refrigerate overnight. 
  3. Remove the turkey from the brine (discard the brine). Drain any brine from the cavity, then blot the turkey very dry with paper towels and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Refrigerate, uncovered, until ready to cook. 
  4. Meanwhile, make the sage butter: Combine the butter, sage, parsley and a big pinch each of salt and pepper in a small bowl. Loosen the skin from the breast, thighs and drumsticks with your fingers, being careful not to tear the skin. Rub the sage butter under the skin, pressing down on the skin to help spread out the butter. (This can be done several hours before cooking.)
  5. Put an oven rack in the lowest position and remove the other racks. Preheat to 350˚ F. Set a metal cooling rack on a rimmed baking sheet. Season the turkey lightly inside and out with salt and pepper. Place on the rack on the baking sheet, breast-side up, and roast, rotating the pan after 1 hour, until the turkey is well browned all over and a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 155˚ F, 2 1/2 hours to 2 hours 45 minutes total. (Start checking the internal temperature at 2 hours 15 minutes.) If the breast starts to get too dark, cover loosely with foil. Remove the turkey from the oven and let rest at least 30 minutes before carving. 

Cook’s Note

Make sure you have a pot that’s big enough for brining. The brine should fill the pot about halfway so you have room for the turkey. Be careful not to overseason a brined bird — it absorbs some salt from the brine. Use a rimmed baking sheet instead of a roasting pan ; a baking sheet is better for heat circulation and browning, especially around the thighs.

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