October 15, 2012

Jive Turkey - Brined & Herbed Slow-Roasted Turkey

A brined and slow-roasted turkey seasoned with a special blend of herbs and spices cooked UPSIDE DOWN for the juiciest turkey ever!

My family has cooked turkey six ways from Sunday. We've baked it, fried it and smoked it.

We've injected it, marinated it and rubbed it down with seasonings and butter

You name it, we've probably cooked it that way. And I never really loved any of it.

A brined and slow-roasted turkey seasoned with a special blend of herbs and spices cooked UPSIDE DOWN for the juiciest turkey ever!

Then years ago my mom discovered a recipe by Pam Anderson in the cookbook The Perfect Recipe that totally turned my turkey world upside-down.

Pam experimented with cooking techniques and came up with the idea of cooking the turkey upside down and on its sides – rotating the bird throughout the cooking process.

Pam also introduced us to brining.

A brined and slow-roasted turkey seasoned with a special blend of herbs and spices cooked UPSIDE DOWN for the juiciest turkey ever!

Over the years I've added and omitted a few steps and ingredients and come up with what I think is the best turkey recipe EVER.

There are two secrets to this recipe: the brine and the cooking process. When you brine any cut of meat, the proteins soak up the salt water and retain it throughout the cooking process. This is one of the steps that makes the bird so juicy.

I decided that as long as the salt water was going to serve as a flavor train to Turkey Town, we might as well add other flavors to the process which is why I make the concentrated vegetable/herb stock to add to the brine.

A brined and slow-roasted turkey seasoned with a special blend of herbs and spices cooked UPSIDE DOWN for the juiciest turkey ever!

The second secret is cooking the turkey upside-down in the beginning. This helps to ensure the breast meat doesn't dry out because the juices and fats from the dark meat will seep down into the breast-side and this helps to protect the breast-side from the arid oven climate during part of the cooking process.

You're going to look at the length of this recipe and think, DANG this is involved! But it's really not. Read the entire recipe through so there are no surprises (start the brine the day before).

And seriously, you're prolly only going to cook this once a year so why not go all out! Be sure to serve this with some homemade Cranberry Sauce too!

Jive Turkey - A brined and slow-roasted turkey seasoned with a special blend of herbs and spices with a special cooking method that makes it SO moist!

This recipe was shared at the Weekend Potluck!

recipe, best, easy, ideas, brine, brining, turkey, thanksgiving, slow, upside down, secret, salt, sugar
Yield: 18-20 Servings


prep time: 1 hour and 10 minscook time: 4 hours and 30 minstotal time: 5 hours and 40 mins


  • 1 18 lb. turkey*
  • 2 gallons brine (recipe below)
  • Jive Turkey Seasoning (recipe below)
  • 2 gallons water, divided
  • 4 onions, quartered
  • 8 carrots, chopped
  • 8 celery stalks, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons dried thyme
  • 4 tablespoons dried rosemary
  • 1 cup table salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
Jive Turkey Seasoning:
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder


For the brine:
Bring two quarts of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add onions, carrots and celery then reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer for one hour. Remove from heat and add thyme and rosemary.  Cover and cool to room temperature. Once cool, add to a large stock pot, clean bucket or small cooler.

Add remaining water (6 quarts), salt and sugar to vegetable stock and stir to dissolve sugar. Add turkey (neck and giblets removed from cavity and set aside for gravy if desired) to the brine, cover and refrigerate overnight (at least 12 hours or up to 24 hours). If the weather is cool enough, I just set mine on the screened porch overnight.

*If you’re cooking a larger turkey and need more brine, use 1/2 cup salt and 1/4 cup sugar for every gallon of water needed to cover the turkey. Also, cooking times are listed below for smaller or larger birds.

Cooking the turkey:
Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse inside and out. Tie the legs together with kitchen string (or tuck them back into the skin as some manufacturers prep them). Place the turkey BREAST-SIDE DOWN on a roasting rack (if you don’t have a roasting rack, rough-chop onions, celery and carrots and place on the bottom of the pan so that the turkey can rest on the veggies and not on the bottom of the pan). Season the turkey with about 1/2 of the Jive Turkey Seasoning. Add just enough water to the pan to cover the bottom. Bake, uncovered, at 325 degrees for 1 1/2 hours, basting twice.

Remove the pan from the oven. Using barbeque gloves or clean oven mitts, flip the turkey so that it is setting BREAST-SIDE UP in the pan. Baste with pan juices and season with remaining Jive Turkey Seasoning. Return the pan to the oven and continue cooking for an additional 2.5 - 3 hours or until a meat thermometer registers 165 degrees and skin is golden brown, basting every 30 minutes.

Remove the pan from oven. Remove turkey from pan (reserving pan juices for gravy), cover loosely with aluminum foil and allow the turkey to rest for 20 minutes before carving.
Recipe card created using The Recipes Generator

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Jive Turkey - A brined and slow-roasted turkey seasoned with a special blend of herbs and spices with a special cooking method that makes it SO moist!


  1. I seriously just want to come and eat the skin off that entire turkey!! MMMMM

  2. This looks sooo good. This is the turkey I will make this year. Thank You!

    1. I hope you do! I've yet to find anyone that didn't love it!

  3. Gonna try this with my 28lb bird on the grill! along with some of your other recipes, mmm mmm can't wait. Btw found your blog last night and almost peed my pants laughing, stayed up way past my bedtime giggle snorting

  4. I don't think I'm even going to wait for Thanksgiving.

  5. I have great plans for my turkey this year!!!! Thank you!!!! xoxo

  6. can this be done for just the turkey breast?

  7. I live in North Carolina, after being born and raised in Michigan. One year, a woman I knew cooked her turkey upside down. I thought that was just crazy. But, it was the best Turkey I have had. I am definitely going to try your recipe this year. Love your recipes!

  8. I always brine my turkey and it is really moist and tasty. I am going to try the upside method this year to hopefully make it even better. Love, love, love this site!!!

  9. Do you have to make any adjustments to the salt if your turkey is prebasted?

    1. Skip the brine. A pre-basted turkey is injected with broth, seasonings, flavor enhancers, salt, etc., so the brine would make it way too salty. But the cooking method should work just fine :)

  10. Hi! If I Brine, can I still use the turkey injector throughout the cooking process? Thanks!

    1. Also... what is cool enough to leave it outside overnight in a cooler? Thanks again.

    2. I think things might get too salty if you brine and inject but I guess it depends what you're injecting it with. The temperature needs to be 40F or below to safely store the turkey outside. Good luck!

    3. Mandy, Why do you suppose we need to add the salt and sugar, after the vegetable broth reaches room temperature? It seems like the sugar would dissolve more easily in warm broth. I know you are a brining genius, I'm just wondering what the idea is behind it. I also wanted to ask if you can make the brine a day or 2 ahead of time, store it in the refrigerator, perhaps minus the salt and sugar, then add those 2 ingredients later and begin the brining process? I defer to your culinary brilliance.

    4. You can certainly add them in while it's warm! And yes, you can prepare the brine ahead of time!

  11. best turkey the family has ever had thank you very much

  12. i made it last year for a gf and her family and swore a sacred oath to return home to my parents and to forever end thanksgiving feast mediocrity. My mom (bless her heart) has put less and less into thanksgiving every year and crossed the line when i found out she was ordering essentially hot garbage ( Luby's turkey) and then made her still delicious sides in hopes they would drown out the dry flavorless turkey we had come to expect. Never again will the Jones family have to add gravy or cranberry sauce per bite to choke down that terrible turkey. My mom hates to be beaten in anything (especially coooking) i sincerely hope this turkey brings about a culinary renaissance for my mom or at least leaves her silent in awe of the "mythical" juicy breast. Thank you for declaring war on blandness, i may be old but im not dead yet although Luby's should die in a horrible fire/bankruptcy for the atrocities and assault on holiday dinners and my taste buds

    1. Aside from the book I'm currently reading which is proving to be quite the find (Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine), your commentary is hands-down, the best thing I've read all month! Maybe in the last six months! Thank you for your service in the fight to save Thanksgiving dinner!!!

  13. Does brining the turkey make the drippings too salty for gravy?

    1. Not quite but you won't need to add any salt, that's for sure. I keep a carton of turkey or chicken broth on-hand in case I need to cut it a little.

  14. Do I strain the brine before putting the turkey in?


Hi there! While I'm not able to respond to every comment, I try hard to answer any questions that haven't been addressed in the post, recipe or in other comments. And though I may not respond to them all, I do read each and every comment and I LOVE to hear from you guys! Thanks, y'all! - Mandy