This Thanksgiving-ready wet brine is a riff on a recipe from longtime Food52 community member, dymnyno. After giving her sublime sage honey-brined roast chicken a try, I began to wonder if those flavors might work on turkey (spoiler: they do). So I made a few adaptations to the ingredients list and made the method more turkey-friendly. The result was a crispy-skinned, tender, subtly earthy bird fit for any holiday table.
A gallon's-worth of brine worked well for my relatively small turkey (I flipped it halfway through brining), but if your bird is bigger, you can easily scale up the proportions of this recipe.
For the brine: Put all the ingredients, plus 1 gallon of water, in a large pot and bring to a rolling boil for about 5 minutes. The salt should be dissolved and the herbs aromatic.
Remove the brine from the burner and cool until it is room temperature. Refrigerate until ready to use. (It should be completely cooled before brining the turkey.)
Place the turkey in a large pot (or brining bag or non-corrosive plastic bucket) with the cooled brining liquid. You can weight down the turkey with a plate (or something else heavy), if needed. Brine the turkey for 12 to 24 hours, flipping the turkey halfway through.
Once the turkey is brined, discard the brining liquid and run the turkey under cold water. Pat dry with paper towels (including inside the cavity) and truss the turkey.
Stuff the cavity with the sage leaves, thyme, halved lemon, and smashed garlic cloves.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Let the turkey come up to room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Roast the turkey at 350°F for about 13 minutes per pound, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F in the innermost part of the thigh and the thickest part of the breast. Or, you can use your preferred roasting method.
Let the turkey rest for at least 30 minutes before carving.
Erin Alexander is the Associate Editor at Food52, covering pop culture, travel, foods of the internet, and all things #sponsored. Formerly at Men’s Journal, Men’s Fitness, Us Weekly, and Hearst, she currently lives in New York City.