Change up your usual Thanksgiving turkey routine. Using pickle juice in brine adds loads of flavor and guarantees a tender and juicy turkey.
Swap options: The weight of kosher salt varies by brand. If you prefer to use iodized table salt or fine sea salt, reduce the salt by half to about 2 ⅛ ounces by weight.
For a spicy version add 1 roughly chopped jalapeño, Fresno, habanero or Thai chile pepper to the brine when simmering (depending on your preferred level of heat), and use the brine from 2 jars of zesty or spicy pickles instead of dill pickles.
For a bread and butter brined version, omit the garlic from the brine, add 1/4 cup of granulated sugar to the brine when simmering. Then use the brine from 2 jars of bread and butter pickles instead of dill pickles.
- 1 gallon of water plus 3 quarts water, divided
- 3/4 cup kosher salt, preferably Diamond Crystal
- 2 large cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
- 2 teaspoons celery seeds
- 2 teaspoons dill seeds
- 3 cups dill pickle brine (from two 24-ounce jars of pickles)
- One 10- to 15-pound turkey
To brine the turkey:
1. Add 4 quarts (or 1 gallon) of the water, along with the salt, garlic, peppercorns, mustard seed, celery seed and dill seed, to a large stockpot. Cover and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
2. Remove from the heat and allow to cool until the brine is no longer steaming. Transfer the brine to the refrigerator until the liquid is cool.
3. Remove brine from fridge and pour in remaining 3 quarts water and pickle brine.
4. Place the brining bag in a large roasting pan or baking pan to support the bottom of the bag. Add the turkey to the brining bag. Pour the brine over the turkey into the bag. Seal the bag, pressing out as much excess air as possible.
5. Return to the refrigerator. Use a Dutch oven lid, cast iron pan or heavy casserole dish to weigh the turkey down so it remains submerged. Brine overnight or for up to 12 hours.
To roast the turkey:
1. Remove the turkey from the brine and discard the brine. Place the turkey on the rack of a roasting pan.
2. Pat the turkey skin and cavity dry with paper towels and let sit for an hour at room temperature.
3. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
4. Roast the turkey for 45 minutes. Then reduce the oven temperature to 325°F and continue to roast the turkey until a thermometer inserted into both the thickest part of the thigh and the breast registers 165°F (this can take between 2½ to 4 more hours, depending on the weight of the turkey). If the skin starts to burn before the turkey is done, loosely tent the turkey with foil.
5. Remove the turkey from the oven and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet or serving platter. If uncovered, loosely tent with foil now. Let the turkey rest for 30 minutes to redistribute the bird's juices before carving.