3 Secrets of Moist and Perfect Turkey

by Charity Curley Mathews ; Updated March 13, 2018

The perfect turkey is deep brown on the outside and so flavorful and moist on the inside that every bite practically melts in your mouth. Follow our foolproof guide to delicious results every time.

Brine the Turkey in Advance

Brining the turkey ahead of time infuses it with moisture and flavor. Most brines include some combination of salt, chicken broth, bay leaves, pepper corns and sometimes something tangy like apple cider.

This classic combination is a good place to start.

Put all your ingredients in a large stock pot and bring to a simmer just long enough for the salt and sugar to melt completely, about 3 minutes, while stirring often. Allow to cool.

Place the plastic oven bag inside your roasting pan, leaving the opening wide. Set your thawed turkey inside the bag and pour the brine over the top. Close the bag.

Refrigerate for AT LEAST overnight but up to 3 days, flipping the turkey every 12 hours.

Prep Your Turkey Inside and Out

Coating your bird's skin with oil or butter will create a gorgeous caramelized effect on the outside, while sealing the moisture and flavor inside. But don't stop there. Adding fresh produce to the cavity of a turkey also helps create savory juices.

Brush the outside of the bird with either vegetable oil, olive oil or melted butter. Season with salt and pepper.

Prepare the inside of your turkey by also adding salt and pepper, then stuffing with an onion cut in quarters, a lemon cut in half, plus fresh sage, thyme and rosemary.

Get the Time and Temperature Just Right

For a turkey that looks fresh off the cover of a magazine, start at a high temperature and lower after the turkey becomes golden brown. Cook your glazed and stuffed turkey at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Once it's brown, turn the heat down to 350 degrees F. Cover the breast portion of your turkey with foil to prevent overcooking and roast for about another 2 hours until the internal temperature of your turkey reaches 165 degrees F.

Let your turkey rest under a blanket of aluminum foil for at least 15 minutes before carving.


  • An average 14 to 16 pound bird should roast for a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours .

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About the Author

Charity Curley Mathews is a mom, media consultant, food writer and founder of Foodlets.com. Her dream is to help families raise children who eat—and enjoy—real food. You can find her most recent posts, recipes and stories on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.