Super Juicy Thanksgiving Turkey (No Brine!)

4.84 from 37 votes

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Sharing my secret to super juicy no brine roast turkey recipe that will make you a hero of your Thanksgiving dinner. It involves a bottle of champagne and melted butter! Seriously, unless you want to, you really don’t have to brine your bird any more.

Sharing my secret to super juicy no brine roast turkey recipe that will make you a hero of your Thanksgiving dinner. It involves a bottle of champagne and melted butter! Seriously, unless you want to, you really don't have to brine your bird any more.


 

The Best Moist Turkey Recipe

You read that right, my friend. Not brining the turkey this year.

Year after year, my husband was in charge of our Thanksgiving turkey. Every year, he brought out a large bucket and made his brining solution to brine the bird. We always enjoyed the juicy turkey.

But I was curious if we could get that succulent turkey without hassle of brining. So this year, I started the testing early. You know, typical extreme type A over here. 😉

The real motivation was that I read this brine injecting method in Real Simple magazine (November 2016 issue) a while back, and I really wanted to try it. It said to inject a brining solution, or melted butter into the breast and legs before roasting.

Sounds intriguing, right?

Well, I tried this method, and happy to report – it works! I injected melted butter, because I’m using lots of herbs on the outside, but I think, next time herb infused melted butter, or even brown butter would be fantastic!!!

For this method, you’ll need a marinade injector, that you’ll fill with melted butter and inject into the meat before roasting. You don’t want to poke too many times into the bird though, or you may damage the skin. I showed you exactly how to do this in the video below, but here’s a quick visual. (And yes, I have 4 hands that multitask pretty good. Jealous?)

And that’s not the only magic trick I used for this Thanksgiving turkey recipe. This roast turkey is special one, because it’s also roasted in champagne!

I know, fancy, huh?

Roasted Turkey Ingredients

  • Turkey – Estimate 1.5lbs of turkey per person. For this recipe, you don’t have to brine the turkey. But it’s ok if your turkey is kosher or it’s already been injected with saline solution.
  • Butter + seasonings – Compound butter can be made with any kind of seasoning.
  • Lemon juice – is mixed into the butter mixture. Touch of acid brightens the flavor and tenderizes the meat.
  • Apples, carrots and fresh herbs – are for the cavity. They infuse the turkey with delicious aromatics. You may use oranges, lemons, onions, etc.
  • Champagne –  is the secret ingredient in this recipe! You don’t need anything fancy. I use Korbel Brut champagne. The champagne concentrates during roasting and makes the most amazing dripping!
  • Chicken broth or stock – either one works!

Champagne not only adds an amazing tang to the drippings, but it keeps the bird nice and moist!

I have to give credit to this recipe on Allrecipes.com though. It has so many rave reviews, and rightly so!

How To Make The Juiciest Turkey

  • Prep the turkey
    • Begin to thaw the turkey in the refrigerator 2-3 days before roasting.
    • Pull the neck and giblets out of the cavity.
    • Thoroughly pat dry the turkey with paper towels.
    • Carefully run your hand under the breast skin to create a pocket.
  1. Make the compound butter
    • Combine 1 stick of butter, garlic, parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme, salt and lemon juice. Mix until well combined. It’s ok if the lemon juice isn’t fully incorporated.
  2. Season the turkey
    • Smear the compound butter evenly all over the turkey and under the breast skin. (TIP: If the skin is wet, butter won’t stick. So be sure to dry the skin with a paper towel well.)
    • Place the turkey breast side up on a V rack in a large roasting pan and fill the turkey cavity with carrots, apples, and fresh herbs.
    • If desired, tie the legs of the bird with twine. (I prefer this method over the whole trussing because it’s easier.)
    • Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter in a bowl.
    • Using a marinade injector, slowly inject each thigh and breast half with about 1 tablespoon of melted butter.
  3. Roast the Turkey
    • Pour champagne and chicken stock over the turkey and into the cavity.
    • Roast the turkey until it’s golden brown, about 3.5 hours for 14lbs turkey, basting it every hour using a turkey baster. (Check on turkey after 2 hours. If the skin isn’t browning fast enough, increase the oven temperature by 50°F/10°C. If the skin is browning too much, cover it with foil.)
    • The turkey is cooked, when the deepest part of the breast and legs registers 165°F (74°C) on an instant-read thermometer.
    • Remove the turkey from the oven, cover it with foil and let rest for at least 30 minutes before carving.

What to put inside a Turkey to make it moist

I like to inject the breast and thighs with melted butter to keep the meat extra moist and flavorful.

How to season my turkey

Compound butter is a fantastic way to season the turkey. I like to rub some of the herb butter under the breast skin right over the meat for the best flavor.

How long to roast Turkey?

Roast the turkey until it’s golden brown, about 3.5 hours for 14lbs turkey. Unstuffed turkey will take anywhere between 2.5-5 hours at 350°F, and 15-30 additional minutes for a stuffed turkey.

How to keep a Turkey moist

Injecting the turkey with melted butter keeps the turkey moist and juicy!

How to serve Oven Roasted Turkey

Be sure to rest the roasted turkey for at least 30 minutes before serving. You may serve the whole roast turkey on a large serving platter garnished with fresh herbs, fruits, and veggies. Or you may carve it for easy serving.

Roasted Turkey Recipe FAQs

Do you cover a turkey when you are roasting it?

I don’t cover the turkey when roasting unless the breast skin starts to brown too much. In that case, I simply place a small sheet of aluminum foil to shield the breast.

Do you put water in the bottom of a roasting pan for turkey?

It’s not required, but for this champagne roast turkey, I recommend adding chicken broth along with a bottle of champagne for the most flavorful dripping.

Now I’ll have to warn you about that tangy pan dripping. Because the champagne is reduced significantly, meaning the flavors are more concentrated, it has quite a tang. But IF used carefully, your gravy will be to die for!

And I’m not saying this lightly. We’re not talking boring, same old turkey gravy here. (Nothing against tried n’ true gravy, but let’s be honest, it can get a little boring.) We’re talking bold flavorful turkey gravy that’ll go around the table non-stop. I’m telling ya, when we had faux-Thanksgining in September, I had to get up and refill the turkey bowl 4 times!!! It was that good!

And when I say, use the dripping carefully, I mean add it little by little and adjust it to your taste. You can get the complete gravy recipe here.

Now go on and give this recipe a test run before the big day. And please share your feedback. Thank you!!!!

Watch Video: How to Roast a Turkey

Watch How to Make This Below!

4.84 from 37 votes

Oven Roasted Turkey Recipe

Sharing my secret to super juicy no brine roast turkey recipe that will make you a hero of your Thanksgiving dinner. It involves a bottle of champagne and melted butter! Seriously, unless you want to, you really don’t have to brine your bird any more.
Prep: 30 minutes
Total: 4 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 8 -10 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 whole turkey (I used 14lbs turkey)
  • 1 ½ sticks (170g) unsalted butter softened, divided
  • 1 tablespoon grated garlic about 4-5 cloves Note 1
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon ground dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon rubbed dried sage
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 apples cored and roughly chopped, optional
  • 2 large carrots roughly chopped, optional
  • A bunch of fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, marjoram
  • 1 bottle (750ml) champagne
  • 2 cups chicken broth

Instructions 

  • Begin to thaw the turkey in the refrigerator 2-3 days before roasting.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C).
  • Pull the neck and giblets out of the cavity. Pat dry the turkey with paper towels.  Carefully run your hand under the breast skin to create a pocket.
  • In a small mixing bowl, combine 1 stick of butter, garlic, parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme, salt and lemon juice. Mix until well combined.
  • Smear the butter evenly all over the turkey and under the breast skin. (If the skin is wet, butter won’t stick. So make sure to dry the skin with paper towel well.) Place the turkey breast side up on a V rack in a large roasting pan.
  • Fill the turkey with carrots, apples and fresh herbs.
  • If desired, tie the legs of the bird with twine. (I prefer this method over whole trussing, because it’s easier.)
  • Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter in a bowl.
  • Using a marinade injector, slowly inject each thigh and breast halves with about 1 tablespoon of melted butter.
  • Pour champagne and chicken stock over the turkey and into the cavity.
  • Roast the turkey until it’s golden brown, about 3.5 hours for 14lbs turkey, basting it every hour using a turkey baster. (Check on turkey after 2 hours. If skin isn’t browning fast enough, increase oven temperature by 50°F/10°C. If the skin is browning too much, cover with a foil.)
  • The turkey is cooked, when the deepest part of breast and legs registers 165°F (74°C) on an instant-read thermometer.
  • Remove the turkey from oven, cover with foil and let rest at least 30 minutes before carving.
  • Reserve pan juices to make gravy. But add the drippings into the gravy little at a time, as the champagne is reduced and flavors are concentrated. So adjust it to your taste.

Tips & Notes

Note 1: I like to grate the garlic on microplane zester over pressing it, because it yields super fine puree that’s easy to smear.
For complete turkey guide, read this TURKEY 101 post, where I cover everything you need to know from brining to carving.
Don’t have Thanksgiving Menu yet? Check out my Thanksgiving Menu for inspiration. Plus, it includes complete schedule for prep and checklist for stress-free hosting!

Nutrition

Calories: 698kcal
Carbohydrates: 13g
Protein: 71g
Fat: 36g
Sugar: 9g
Sodium: 1468mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Thanksgiving Turkey 101: Everything you need to know about cooking a turkey from brining to carving!

Hi, I’m Shinee!

Welcome! I’m so happy you’re here! I believe anyone can cook restaurant-quality food at home! And my goal is to help you to become a confident cook with my easy-to-follow recipes with lots of tips and step-by-step photos.

4.84 from 37 votes (4 ratings without comment)

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207 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    My turkey came out soooo unbelievable juicy. The white meat was was succulent! I followed each step on a 13.5 pound turkey and it was just superb. I’m sure I will keep this recipe going for many more years to come! 

  2. BY FAR the best turkey I’ve every cooked and I’ve been cooking the family turkey dinner for over 30 years!! I had a 25lb Butterball for 14 people. I was left with almost NO leftovers and what little there was left was quickly taken home by guests. It was easier than I expected to make. I am not a cook and need to follow a recipe pretty closely. It was the most flavorful, moist turkey I believe I’ve ever had. The one change I did make was I cooked it at 325 in my convection oven. It was done in approx 3 1/2 hours. I will never again look for a new turkey recipe!!! Thank you!!!

    1. Hi, Kim! Thank you soo much for your feedback. I’m so happy to read your comment!! And your tip on convection setting is super helpful!!

  3. 5 stars
    The. Best. Turkey! I bought a 21 lb Turkey and I made a family recipe for stuffing-so yes, I stuffed our Turkey. I still used the champagne but tried not to let too much get in the stuffing. I roasted it in an electric roaster at 350° to free up my oven. I figured 15 min per lb = 5 1/2 hrs. To my surprise, it was done in 5 hrs! Thermometer read 220° (check in 2 different areas) when it only needed to be internal temp of 165°. I immediately started “resting” the turkey and I finished baking all other dishes for our Thanksgiving dinner. I sliced the meat and it was perfect! Moist & juicy! My mom is food snob and she said it was the best turkey she has had in yrs and I have to agree. I hate dry turkey and this was NOT dry. Will be making again! Thank you for the recipe! Loved it!

    1. Hi, Kimberly. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. A lot of readers ask about making this recipe in an electric roaster, and now I can refer them to your comment. I’m so happy everyone, including your mom, loved the turkey.

  4. Hi there, 
    I am wanting to make this recipe in my steam oven. Any thoughts on cooking time? 
    Thanks in advance, 
    Alexis

  5. 5 stars
    Thank you for sharing this recipe it was outstanding!! By far the best Thanksgiving Turkey i have ever made and the gravy was out of this world! 

  6. 5 stars
    Used this recipe for my turkey, and it was AMAZING!! Made the gravy too. My family loved it! Thank you so much for sharing!!

  7. I used your recipe last year and it was absolutley fantastic! This year I want to make it again. However, my husbands mom bought us a 22 1/2lb turkey. Could you please tell me how to use this recipe given that it is 8 1/2lbs larger? Thank you!

    1. Hi, Laura. I’d increase the butter and spices by about 1.5 times, and extend the cooking time. So, the ingredients would be:
      2 ½ sticks softened unsalted butter, divided,
      1 ½ tablespoons grated garlic* (about 6-7 cloves)
      3 teaspoons dried parsley
      1 ½ teaspoon ground dried rosemary
      1 ½ teaspoon rubbed dried sage
      1 ½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
      1 ½ tablespoon salt

      General rule on roast time: 15min per pound. Hope this helps. Let me know how it turns out. Happy Thanksgiving!

  8. Hello Shinee,

    I am going to be cooking a small 3lb turkey breast for Thanksgiving this year as it is just going to be for me and my fiancé. This recipe looks great, and I want to try it, but I’m not sure how much I should scale back the ingredients for such a small turkey. I’m afraid I might over season it. I was wondering what amount of seasoning you would recommend? And obviously my turkey doesn’t have a cavity to stuff with the apples, carrots, and herbs, so I would just skip that part. Do you think it would still taste okay? Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi, Kaitlyn. Yeah, skip the apples, carrots and herb stuffing. It’ll be fine. And I’d suggest using about 1/3 of other ingredients. Let me know if you have any questions.

  9. 5 stars
    I made this turkey recipe last year for my whole family, about 30 people and I made the gravy from the turkey stock with her gravy recipe as well and it was a hit!!! The turkey was so delicious that I demanded I make it from now on so I know it’s done right! Lol thank you so much !! Looking forward to making it again in a week!