This foolproof Thanksgiving turkey recipe produces a holiday centerpiece that is excellent in every way other whole turkeys often fall short: It’s full of flavor and juicy as heck, thanks to an easy dry brine. And cooking the turkey on a rimmed baking sheet, not in a deep roasting pan, is great for all-over browning—just be extra careful as you remove it from the oven so that the drippings don’t slosh over the sides.
You’ll start by administering that dry brine, a simple mix of kosher salt and brown sugar, at least 12 hours before you plan to cook the turkey. If you can manage it, a full two days uncovered in the fridge will make your brined turkey even better. We swear by dry brining, which ensures a well-seasoned, tender, juicy turkey, over wet brining, because the latter can be messy and waterlog the bird.
After the turkey goes into the oven, you’ll whip together a quick glaze with vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, honey, and a few aromatics. The recipe calls for fresh rosemary, but if you have another hearty fresh herb on hand, like sage or thyme, feel free to use it instead. Brushing, rather than basting, will help ensure every inch of the broad turkey breast gets an even lacquer, which means more crispy skin to go around.
This roast turkey recipe demands patience, so plan accordingly. Once the bird hits the optimal internal temperature (highly recommend getting your hands on a meat thermometer if you don’t already own one), it must rest out of the oven for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour so that the turkey juices have time to redistribute. Don’t cover it in aluminum foil or anything else—doing so will cause all that hard-earned crackling skin to go limp. Trust us, it’s fine: the cooked turkey will not go cold. Use the time to put the finishing touches on your green beans, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and the other side dishes for your Thanksgiving dinner (or to consider all the things you’ll do with your leftover turkey in the days to come).
If you’re still not convinced that this is the perfect roast turkey for you, try your hand at our garlicky spatchcock turkey, or roast your turkey in parts for breast meat and turkey legs cooked to their particular optimal doneness.