Vanilla Brined Thanksgiving Turkey

Serves 16 to 18. Recipe is from Spice Islands.

1 (16- to 20-lb.) whole turkey, giblets removed, cleaned and patted dry

Vanilla brine:

3/4 cup kosher salt

2?3 cup light brown sugar

1/4 cup Spice Islands Old Hickory Smoked Salt

2 tbls. ground white pepper

1 tbl. ground cardamom

2 cinnamon sticks

2 tsps. mustard seed

1/2 gallon vegetable stock

1?3 cup vanilla extract

1/2 gallon heavily iced water

Vanilla Bourbon Butter:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

3 tbls. vanilla extract

2 tbls. sweet bourbon

Salt and pepper to taste


1 green apple, halved

1 yellow onion, halved

1/2 bunch fresh thyme

1/2 bunch fresh rosemary

1 cinnamon stick

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. Place the first 8 ingredients of the brine in a large pot and simmer until the spices dissolve. Allow to cool completely. Pour the cooled stock mixture into a large container (bucket) and stir in vanilla and iced water. Completely submerge the turkey into the liquid, breast side down, and brine for 10 to 16 hours, refrigerated.

3. While the turkey is in the brine, make the Vanilla Bourbon Butter. Place the ingredients into a bowl and whisk together until completely combined. Set aside.

4. When ready, remove the turkey from the brine and pat dry. Stuff the cavity of the turkey with aromatics and rub the skin, both under and over, with the Vanilla Bourbon Butter. Season the turkey with salt and pepper.

5. Tie the legs together tightly, tuck the wings under the back, and transfer the bird to a roasting pan. Place the turkey into the oven and roast for 30 to 40 minutes, allowing the skin to brown. Remove the turkey from the oven and cover the breast with aluminum foil to prevent burning.

6. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue to roast the turkey for 21/2 to 3 hours, basting every 30 minutes. Thirty minutes before the turkey is ready to come out of the oven, remove foil from the breast and continue to roast until an instant read thermometer reads 161 degrees. Remove turkey from the oven, loosely covered with foil and allow to rest for 20 to 30 minutes before carving.