Chef Kyle’s Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

+ 3 tips to make it the most delicious roasted turkey you’ve ever had, even for a newbie like me.

For my entire life, I was pretty much out of the kitchen for Thanksgiving. Even when I finally got into cooking, shortly after marrying the Pilot and just before starting this little blog, I was pretty much the “I’ll bring a side dish” kind of person. My family takes Thanksgiving seriously, and my nana and aunts do the entire thing. At my dad’s house, there’s an entire feast of everything you wish for, and at least 6 different types of homemade pie even though you’re in a coma from drowning in main course delights. 

Thanksgiving pies

Then there’s my mom’s house. She makes the entire feast and we go over there for round 2. I’ll usually make a side dish or dessert, but the main parts of Thanksgiving are already done by others in the family… and done quite well.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love everything about it: getting to see pretty much my entire family in one day, spending time together, and eating amazing food. Also, the golfing and the poker. (Does anyone else have random Thanksgiving traditions?? I’ll usually go for a run or workout in the morning, eat breakfast at my mom’s, go to my uncle’s house with dad’s side of the family to eat, the guys take off to go golfing and the girls stay back to chat, we all play poker until it’s late, then we go to my mom’s for round 2 of eats and late-night shopping.)

As much as I love Thanksgiving, and looooooooove Thanksgiving food, I’ve never been super into the turkey. My Thanksgiving plate is precious real estate (there’s so much to choose from!), and while turkey is really good, it’s never been one of those “omg I’m obsessed with this” kind of things. And then, I had turkey that my brother Kyle had cooked. I had to stop myself from repeatedly going back to the platter like a creeper.

“Wait, what did you do to this? Why is it so good?”

“Dude, I just brined it in some beer and citrus.”

Apparently beer and citrus is the combo if you want to make an amazing turkey.

His recipe was foolproof, even for a turkey noob like me.

The best and easiest thanksgiving turkey recipe

I made a turkey feast here at home last year since we stayed in town, and there was even a point where I tried to poach the turkey in the brine. Nope. Not how you do it hahah.

This year I did it right.

Brining the Turkey Makes the Difference

Pouring beer for turkey

Turkey brine

(For my fellow turkey newbie friends: you make the brine, let it cool, and submerge turkey in said brine in the fridge overnight.) 

Here’s the recipe for the best Thanksgiving turkey ever, just in case you find yourself on turkey duty this year.

Perfect roasted thanksgiving turkey


The best and easiest Thanksgiving turkey

A delicious, moist, flavorful turkey recipe, infused with beer, citrus and fresh herbs.



For the brine

  • Equal parts beer and water
  • 23 bay leaves
  • 23 oranges, halved
  • Fresh thyme
  • Fresh sage
  • Salt and whole peppercorns
  • 2 heads of garlic, halved lengthwise
  • Sugar to taste
  • A bunch of scallions, rough chopped

For the turkey

  • A whole turkey! You can also do this with turkey breasts
  • 1 bunch of carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 sweet onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch of celery, roughly chopped
  • Butter
  • To stuff the turkey: oranges, garlic, fresh thyme, fresh rosemary


  1. 1. In a huge stovetop, combine equal parts beer and water, and then salt and sugar to taste. You will use a decent amount of salt and sugar. Season to taste so that it tastes noticeably salty and sweet.
  2. 2. Stir in the scallions, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, oranges (squeeze the juice out of each half into the mixture before adding the orange), 2 tablespoons of peppercorns. Bring the liquid up to a boil, then immediately remove from heat and let cool completely.
  3. 3. In a brining bag or large pot, add the turkey. Make sure the remove the neck and gizzards that are inside. Pour the brine on top, and seal completely or cover. Store in the fridge overnight. Make sure the turkey is fully submerged.
  4. 4. The next day, preheat the oven to 350 and grease a large turkey roasting dish with butter or nonstick spray. Place the carrots, celery and onion on the bottom, and season well with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil.
  5. 5. Place the turkey on top, and secure the wings under the bird. Fill the turkey with oranges, halved garlic, fresh thyme (almost and entire bunch) and fresh rosemary.
  6. 6. Melt 1-2 sticks of butter, and drizzle over the turkey. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together and cover the dish with foil before placing in the oven.
  7. 7. Check the turkey after 1 hour to start basting. Using a turkey baster, cover the turkey in the juices every 20 minutes until it’s finished cooking. Watch it to make sure it doesn’t burn, and start checking the temperature in an hour or so, depending on how large your turkey is.
  8. 8. When the internal temperature reaches about 140, remove the foil to let the turkey brown as it finishes cooking. Remove the turkey from the oven when the internal temperature is at least 155 degrees.
  9. 9. Allow the turkey to rest for at least 10 minutes before carving. After carving, use a spoon to over it in the juices from the pan and the vegetables.


3 tips for an awesome turkey

  • -Brine it. Don’t skip this step! It makes it so much more flavorful and keeps it from drying out
  • -Baste the heck out of it. This keeps it from burning and makes it taste amazing
  • -Use a meat thermometer to make sure you don’t overcook/undercook.


  • Serving Size: 8

Please let me know if you give it a try! If anything, you’ve gotta make it for the leftovers. The turkey, stuffing and cranberry sandwiches are bomb dot com. 


Thanksgiving side dishes

I have so many things to be thankful this year, and am always thankful for this little blog. It allows me the opportunity to connect with you lovely friends, and also eat a Thanksgiving feast over a week early. 

Perfect roasted thanksgiving turkey

If you’re a side dish or dessert kinda friend (I’m right there with you), here are some ideas:

An awesome and secretly healthy sweet potato casserole

Cranberry sauce

Quinoa stuffing

Lentil chopped salad

Honey-Dijon roasted root vegetables


Pumpkin pie brownies

Raw chocolate tart

Flourless pumpkin chocolate chip bars


I’d love to hear about any random holiday traditions!! Also: fave Thanksgiving food?



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  1. Brittany on November 15, 2016 at 7:08 am

    we usually end up at my aunts house in Vermont. My grandmother makes the turkey and he rest of the girls pitch in with the rest. Every year, someone makes the joke “are we going to list what we’re thankful for?” We have never done that so it’s a family joke. Then we eat ourselves into a food coma! Won’t be doing that this year unfortunately. I got stuck working 2 days before and after thanksgiving this year!

  2. Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious on November 15, 2016 at 7:58 am

    I never actually made a real turkey. There’s something so horrifying about touching the inside. I had to make a whole chicken recipe for a site a freelance for recently and thought I would die touching the bones, etc. This is what my mother is for. I’ll pass the recipe onto her so we can make it. LOL!

  3. Mary Carter on November 15, 2016 at 11:13 am

    I always brine my turkeys, using Alton Brown’s recipe. His brine is so salty that you have to limit the brining time to 6 hours or so or else it comes out a little ham-like, but supposedly if the brine’s not salty enough you don’t get the best osmosis into the meat cells or something. I think I’ll try some beer and OJ in my brine this year, though. Thanks!

    • Fitnessista on November 15, 2016 at 9:54 pm

      ahhh alton brown always does it right

  4. Lorna on November 15, 2016 at 1:01 pm

    DH and I usually do a Turkey trot for Thanksgiving, whether it’s an organized one or just one we plan for the two of us. It’s supposed to make us feel better about how much we eat of.. the amazing French Silk Pie from EatLiveRun. I miss her recipes so much!

    • Fitnessista on November 15, 2016 at 9:54 pm

      love turkey trots that morning. and yes, i love jenna’s blog. i still go back to check it often!

  5. Kelley on November 15, 2016 at 1:05 pm

    Do you think swapping a hard cider for beer would work? My husband recently found out he has celiac disease, so we were going to make a separate stuffing-less turkey for him.

    • Fitnessista on November 15, 2016 at 9:54 pm

      i think so!

  6. Sam @ Hygge Wellness on November 15, 2016 at 1:50 pm

    Thank you, Chef Kyle!!!

  7. on November 15, 2016 at 4:43 pm

    I’ve always been scared to make a turkey but we will be doing it this year! I love to start the day with a run because of the massive amounts of calories I will be consuming. 🙂 Also to end the day we always watch Elf with all of my cousins!

    • Fitnessista on November 15, 2016 at 9:53 pm

      ohhh i love that idea! elf is the best

  8. Holly Boswell on November 15, 2016 at 6:33 pm

    Any certain kind of beer? Would love to try this recipe out one day!!

    • Fitnessista on November 15, 2016 at 9:53 pm

      yep, i think any beer would work!

  9. Shannon on November 21, 2016 at 3:06 pm

    Do you make gravy with the turkey drippings? If so how do the vegetables in bottom of pan affect the gravy?

    • Fitnessista on November 21, 2016 at 3:12 pm

      last year we left the onion in for a little bit of texture. you could also just easily spoon them out!

  10. Kelsey on November 12, 2017 at 1:48 pm

    So excited to try this this year as a turkey newb! So you remember about how much beer you used ? Also, just making sure that we’re talking the FULL head of garlic ? Peeled or literally chopped in half and thrown in?! Lol

    Thanks Gina !!!!

    • Fitnessista on November 12, 2017 at 10:02 pm

      it was less than a bottle (like 2/3). i drank the rest 😉
      and yes, just toss in the whole head of garlic!

      • Stephanie on October 4, 2018 at 10:47 am

        So you only used a few cups liquid total? That doesn’t seem like it would be enough to fully submerge a turkey?

        • Fitnessista on October 4, 2018 at 12:33 pm

          i used mostly water to cover the turkey. kyle said equal parts beer and water but i was scared to make it too beer-y

  11. Dina on November 21, 2017 at 12:44 pm

    Can children still eat this even though the brine includes beer? Sorry if this is a dumb question!

    • Fitnessista on November 22, 2017 at 9:40 am

      Not a dumb question! The alcohol is cooked out so totally fine for kids

  12. Ladyjorns on April 21, 2020 at 5:57 am

    Looking for a classic turkey with some added depth of flavor? This is the one for you. The meat tastes of sage, rosemary, and thyme.

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