Cane-Brined Roast Turkey
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
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Serves: 10
  • 2 cups table salt
  • 2 cups sugarcane molasses
  • 1 cup Acadiana Table Cajun Seasoning Blend, see recipe here
  • 1 (18-pound) whole fresh turkey
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 large lemon, quartered
  • 1 cup tightly packed flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 stalks sage leaves
  • 2 large yellow onions, halved
  • 2 large carrots, chopped into 2-inch pieces
  • 4 large celery ribs, chopped into 2-inch pieces
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 large romaine lettuce leaves, for garnish
  • 6 stalks green onions, for garnish
  • 1 bunch red grapes, for garnish
  1. In a stockpot just large enough to fit your turkey, fill half way with water. Add the salt, bring to a boil and continue cooking until the salt dissolves. Add the molasses and Cajun seasoning, and stir to combine. Let cool.
  2. Remove and reserve any turkey parts (giblets, liver, gizzard, and neck) from the turkey cavity. Add the turkey to the brining container and add ice to cool. If necessary, weight the turkey down to submerge it. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
  4. Remove the turkey from the brine and pat dry.
  5. In a mixing bowl, combine the butter, rosemary, thyme, garlic, and Cajun seasoning. Using your hands, lift the skin away and rub the seasoned butter generously underneath and on all sides of the turkey. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
  6. Stuff the inside of the turkey with lemon, parsley, and sage. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine.
  7. Line a large roasting pan with aluminum foil and add the onions, carrots, celery, and any turkey parts (giblets, liver, gizzard, and neck) to the pan. Position a metal rack on top and pour in enough chicken stock to cover the bottom, and remember to add more chicken stock as needed during the cooking time to prevent burning. Add the turkey with the breast side up and place in the hot oven. Lower the heat to 350ºF and let cook.
  8. After 1 hour, check to see if the turkey is cooking properly and that there is plenty of liquid in the bottom of the pan. Total cooking time at 14 minutes per pound should be a little over 4 hours. Once the turkey reaches an internal temperature of 165ºF, remove from the oven. The meat should be done and the skin should be crispy and browned. Move the turkey to a platter, tent loosely with foil, and let rest for at least 30 minutes before carving.
  9. Remove all the vegetables and turkey parts, and strain the cooking liquid from the roaster into a saucepan. Add any remaining chicken stock. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer. Add a knob of butter combined with a tablespoon of flour to the pan. Stir to incorporate while it thickens. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Garnish the platter with romaine leaves, green onion stalks, and grapes. Before carving, present the roast turkey on the center of the table. For serving, slice one side of the turkey at a time, and serve with the gravy on the side.
A good rule of thumb for a salt brine is ¾ cup of salt to every gallon of water. Brined and buttered, I find it unnecessary to baste the turkey during cooking; just let it roast undisturbed. For moist turkey, inspect carefully during the final hour of roasting. When you see that the breast meat is browning too fast, cover with foil to prevent burning and overcooking.
Recipe by Acadiana Table at