The key to this juicy turkey is to dry brine it, which means coating the bird with a seasoning salt and letting it rest in a sealed plastic bag for 3 days. I always wondered what a butterflied turkey would taste like and this recipe outdid my expectations. Juicy, highly flavorful and firm meat with a crisp crust. And best of all it cuts down on your cooking time.

If you want to try another idea stuff the bird under the skin with your favorite stuffing mixture. This is great for a party because you carve the turkey in the kitchen and place it finished on a beautiful platter. An instant read thermometer is a must to ensure a perfectly cooked bird. Know that the temperature will increase a few degrees once you remove the thermometer.

The Clever Cook Could: Use the rub on a whole chicken. Roast a 3 1/2 to 4lb bird for about 1 hour at 425°F, covering with foil if the bird becomes too brown.

Recommended Wine: The underrated Riesling is magic with the sweet and savory tastes in this turkey recipe. Similarly, lighter reds such as Beaujolais Nouveau, Grenache, Pinot Noir, and Cotes du Rhone are excellent choices. Take a peek out our Blue Lifestyle Wine Reviews if you want some more ideas!

Serves: 10 to 14
Time: 3 days (for the brine) + 4 hours (for roasting the turkey and gravy)



For the Brine

  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp of chopped fresh thyme leaves or 2 tsp dried
  • 3 tbsp Kosher Salt (or 1 tbsp for every 5lbs of bird)

For the Roast

  • One 14- to 16-pound turkey, butterflied (see headnote) and patted dry
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 apples peeled, cored and sliced
  • 2 cups of chicken or turkey broth
  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup

For the Gravy

  • ½ cup of APP flour
  • 4 cups of turkey or chicken broth
  • ½ cup of Apple brandy
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Garnish

  • Lady Apples



For the Brine

  1. Three days before you cook the turkey, combine the lemon zest, thyme leaves and salt in a small bowl.
  2. Wash the turkey inside and out.
  3. Dry the turkey on both sides.
  4. Place the butterflied turkey skin side down on a sheet of foil or the rack of a roasting pan.
  5. Rub a tablespoon or so of salt all over the bird, making sure the meat is well coated. Turn the bird over, skin side up, and rub in the remaining salt, concentrating on the breast and thigh areas.
  6. Place the bird in plastic 2 ½ gallon sealable lock-top bag. Place in the refrigerator and turn every 12 hours, rubbing the salt in to coat the bird evenly.

For the Roast

  1. On the morning of cooking, remove the turkey from its bag and place it on a jellyroll pan.
  2. Pat the outside dry and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. This will help make the skin crisp.
  3. Remove the turkey 1 hour before roasting to bring to room temperature.
  4. Preheat an oven to 425°F.
  5. Place a wooden skewer through the thighs to hold the drumsticks together.
  6. Place the chopped onions, apple and carrot slices on the bottom of a large roasting pan. Pour the stock over the vegetables.
  7. Place a nonstick roasting rack in the roasting pan and place the turkey on top, breast side up.
  8. Combine the melted butter with the maple syrup. With a silicone brush, glaze the turkey with the melted butter mixture.
  9. Place the turkey in the center of the oven and roast it for 30 minutes.
  10. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F, basting about every 45 minutes with the accumulated pan juices and melted butter mixture, until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, but not touching the bone, registers 170°F and the juices run clear. You may need to add more stock if the pan becomes too dry. If the bird becomes too dark, place a tented piece of aluminum foil loosely on top. A 14-16-pound turkey should take a total cooking time of 3 ¼ hours.; Be sure to check the temperature at 30-minute intervals as the finish time approaches. There are a number of variables here that affect the cooking time.
  11. Remove the turkey from the oven and transfer it to a large platter or carving board. Tent with foil  and let the turkey rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.
  12. Garnish with whole and sliced Lady Apples.

For the Gravy

  1. Place the turkey roasting pan on top of a stove on medium-high heat.
  2. Add the flour to the drippings, whisking until blended.
  3. Cook the roux for about 5 more minutes or until nicely browned.
  4. Add the broth and cook for about 3 minutes or until the gravy is slightly thickened.
  5. Add the apple brandy and cook another 5 minutes or until the gravy has no more floury taste.
  6. Puree the gravy with an immersion blender.
  7. Season with salt and pepper to taste.



  1. Place the turkey on a cutting board.
  2. Using kitchen shears or a chefs knife cut along both sides of the backbone, removing a strip, backbone included, about 2 inches wide. You should have one long turkey piece once the backbone is removed.
  3. Refrigerate the bone for making turkey stock or soup.
  4. Turn the turkey over and with the heel of your hand press down with firm pressure on the breast bone to crack it. The goal is to have a flat bird.

Diane Rossen Worthington
Tribune Content Agency Syndicated Columnist
Cookbook Author
James Beard Award Winner Best Radio Show
James Beard Broadcast and Media Awards Committee

Pair the turkey with Diane’s sumptuous Chocolate Pumpkin Bread Pudding. Recipes and more on the Blue Lifestyle Blog.