‘The Pioneer Woman’: Ree Drummond Shares the Secret to Perfect Thanksgiving Turkey

Ree Drummond shared her secret to making a perfect Thanksgiving turkey and she’s a big believer in being prepared for the day. That starts with prepping the turkey the day before so it’s ready to cook on Thanksgiving Day.

The Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond wears a bright shirt and smiles on the set of the 'Today' show in 2019
Ree Drummond | Tyler Essary/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images

Ree Drummond shares her secret for perfect Thanksgiving turkey

Drummond knows exactly how to avoid a dry Thanksgiving turkey but it takes a bit of forethought. She shared her secret to perfect turkey that “turns out beautiful every time” in a September 2021 blog post on The Pioneer Woman website.

“It’s beautiful!” she wrote. “It’s stunning! It’s the centerpiece of the whole Thanksgiving meal! And here’s the great news: It’s not hard to make at all. Promise.”

Drummond continued, “The secret to roasting the perfect Thanksgiving turkey is planning. First, you have to get the turkey in the brine the day before the big feast. Second, you have to make yourself get up early enough on Thanksgiving morning to get the bird in the oven for a noontime feast.”

The Pioneer Woman star shared how she’s hit the snooze button in past years and that throws off the dinner schedule. “I’m a cautionary tale,” she noted. “Don’t let this happen to you!”

Drummond makes a brine by boiling apple juice or cider, water, rosemary leaves, garlic, salt, peppercorns, brown sugar, bay leaves, and orange peels in a large pot. After the brine cools, she puts the turkey and brine solution in a brining bag and refrigerates it for at least sixteen hours.

Drummond makes an herb and citrus butter for the turkey

When she’s ready to cook the turkey, Drummond rinses it under cold water. She also soaks the turkey in a sink filled with cold water for 15 to 20 minutes. “This will remove any excess saltiness on/under the skin and just leave you with wonderfully brined, tender turkey,” she wrote.

She places the turkey breast side up in a roasting pan with a rack, tucks the wings under the body, and ties the legs with kitchen string. Drummond covers the turkey with aluminum foil and roasts it for 10 minutes per pound in a 275 degree Fahrenheit oven.

“For a 20-pound turkey, it would roast at this temperature for about 3½ hours,” she explained.

Drummond makes a rosemary-citrus butter while the turkey cooks. She slices a peel off an orange and cuts it into strips, then adds it to a bowl with softened butter and rosemary, salt, and pepper.

When the time is up on the turkey, Drummond removes the foil and rubs the butter mixture over the turkey skin. She places a meat thermometer in the turkey thigh and increases the oven temperature to 350 degrees. The Pioneer Woman star roasts the turkey uncovered, basting it every 30 minutes.

She roasts the turkey for another 1 ½ to 2 hours, until it reaches 165 degrees. After removing it from the oven, Drummond covers it and lets it rest 15 to 20 minutes before carving.

The full recipe is available on the Food Network website.

‘The Pioneer Woman’ star’s fans love her roasted Thanksgiving turkey recipe

Drummond’s roasted Thanksgiving turkey recipe has earned 5-star reviews on the Food Network website.

“This was my first time making a turkey. The brine is the magic,” one person commented. “It smelled delicious as I was putting the ingredients together. The results surpassed my expectations.”

Others left simple but glowing reviews. “Turns out perfect every time,” one person noted. Another fan shared, “I have been making this turkey recipe for years now and it is the most delicious turkey I’ve ever had!”

Another fan wrote, “I think this was the best turkey I’ve ever made. I had my doubts, but it was moist and flavorful, unlike any turkey I’ve had in the past.”

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