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Epic duck fat roasted turkey recipe baked with oranges and fresh sage


Take your Thanksgiving turkey to whole new level with these 4 simple, yet genius ways create the most moist and flavorful bird EVER!
Course Dinner, Main Course, Thanksgiving
Cuisine American
Prep Time 8 hours
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 11 hours
Servings 8 people


  • 1 12-16 pound turkey remove organs from the cavity and check the neck too!

For the Brine

  • 1 gallon water 16 cups
  • 1 gallon ice 16 cups
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 5-6 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 Tbsp peppercorns

Seasoning the Turkey

  • 3-4 Tbsp duck fat
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 onions quartered
  • 2 oranges sliced
  • handful fresh sage leaves

For the Roasting Pan

  • 2-3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup dry white wine


Brining the Turkey

  • For the brine, mix 1 gallon of water with the salt, brown sugar, orange juice, fresh sage, and peppercorns.  Bring the mixture to a simmer, take off of the heat and pour into another bowl to let cool.  Stirring for a few minutes at a time will help speed up the cooling process.  Add the ice while it's still a bit warm so that it will melt and help cool the mixture down.   
  • While the brine is cooling, prep the turkey.  Remove any organs from the cavity and check the neck cavity too!  You can make the most excellent gravy from the giblets and the neck bone, so don't throw those away.
  • Pour the brine in a large stockpot or food-safe storage container with a lid, making sure the brine is at room temp or cooler so as not to cook the bird.  Submerge the turkey in the brine with the legs facing up so that the cavity fills up with the brine which helps to weigh it down.  You might need to place something on top of the turkey to weigh it down (like a small bowl).  Make sure you can cover it with a lid.  Place the stockpot in the fridge and let brine for 8-12 hours.

Prepping the Turkey

  • Remove the turkey from the brine and pour out all the liquid inside the bird.  RINSE under cold water briefly to remove excess salt.  Dry the entire turkey really well with paper towels.  
  • Truss the turkey with butcher's twine.  This step is essential for helping the turkey to cook evenly and it helps to easily flip the turkey over without damaging the bird.  Plus the presentation of the bird is more beautiful this way.  Place the turkey in a large roasting pan with a rack.  Glide your hands under the turkey breast skin to separate the skin from the breasts.  Place the turkey in the fridge for 8 hours or overnight uncovered to help the skin dry out to allow it to crisp.

Baking the Turkey

  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  • Before baking the turkey, fill the cavity with a quartered onion, an orange cut in half, some fresh sage, and crushed black pepper.  Rub some duck fat under the turkey breast skin that you separated and place two fresh sage leaves under the skin as well.
  • Rub the entire bird with duck fat and season it with fresh cracked pepper and cinnamon.  Sprinkle the cinnamon with your fingers as to not dump too much on the surface.  DO NOT season with salt, as the brine has sufficiently seasoned the turkey already.
  • Add a half-inch worth of chicken broth to the bottom of the pan.  Add the one cup of white wine as well. 
  • Place the rack on the second to the last rack on the bottom.
  • Start baking the turkey BREAST SIDE DOWN first.  Bake for 30 minutes at 450 degrees.  Turn down the heat to 350 degrees and continue to bake breast side down for one hour.
  • Take the roasting pan out of the oven and with a wooden spoon and a pair of thongs inserted in the neck and cavity, gently flip the bird over to breast side up.  Insert a thermometer into the turkey breast, making sure to avoid touching bone (the temp won't be accurate).  
  • Place back in the oven and bake until the breast meat reaches 155 degrees.  Remove the thermometer so it doesn't burn.  At this point, squeeze a fresh orange over the surface of the skin.  Turn the BROILER on and keep the door OPEN to crisp the skin.  Don't walk away as you don't want anything to burn.  Turn the roasting pan a half turn after a few minutes to ensure even browning.  This should take 5-10 minutes TOPS.
  • Once the skin has browned, remove the turkey from the oven and check the temperature again.  If it has reached 161-165 degrees, the turkey is done (it will continue to bake while it's resting).  If the temperature hasn't reached 161-165 degrees yet, turn the oven back to 350 degrees and finish baking for a few minutes.  I don't recommend waiting until the turkey has reached 161 degrees before you start broiling, as it might over cook the turkey.

Let the Bird REST!

  • DO NOT EVER start carving a turkey the minute it comes out of the oven as the juices will start running OUT of the bird.  Instead, let the bird rest for 30-45 minutes to allow the juices to reabsorb into the meat.  


Please see the "Time management for prepping the bird" in the post for how to prepare the turkey in advance for the big day.  You will need to allow for thawing time, brining, and drying out the skin in the fridge for best results.
While the bird is resting, this is the perfect time to finish baking your dressing, and finishing up any last minute dishes.
Here is a link for How to Truss a Turkey.