Perfectly roasted turkey with red wine gravy made with pan drippings. A fool-proof, easy recipe for roasted turkey with a sauce that will impress the guests!
This turkey with red wine makes the perfect Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey dish. Moist, flavorful meat, crispy skin, and rich, smooth gravy make things perfect. And if you would like another whole turkey recipe, try the Slow Cooker Turkey or the Dutch Oven Turkey! Or try some Slow Cooker Turkey Legs.
Why love this recipe?
- The meat is incredibly moist, including the breast, and the skin is crispy.
- The bird is dry brined and thus easier to brine than when using a wet brine.
- Thawing and brining are happening together.
- Reduced roasting time due to brining.
- Lower chance of overcooking; the brine will help keep the meat moist.
- The gravy is made with pan drippings; it's incredibly aromatic and requires no extra seasoning.
What do you need?
- My turkey was rather small, about 4.2 kg/ 9 lbs. If you are cooking a larger one, just adjust the cooking time (see recipe card).
- It was frozen, so I needed three days to thaw it in the refrigerator.
- After one day in the fridge, I rubbed it with the dry brine spice mixture and continued thawing and brining it for the remaining two days.
- Needed for roasting and for making red wine gravy.
- Use a dry, medium-priced wine. You will definitely not need something expensive, but don't choose the cheapest cooking wine either. Choose something that you would also enjoy drinking.
- Onions and oranges. I love to use oranges when cooking a turkey for Christmas; they impart the meat that beloved Christmasy fragrance.
- However, you can definitely use lemons instead. Or mandarins/satsumas.
- It is preferable to use organic, unwaxed oranges. In any case, wash and dry the citrus fruit very well before inserting it into the turkey's cavity.
- Rosemary: one large twig or several small ones. You can replace it with a small bunch of fresh sage or thyme.
- A mixture of salt, dried herbs, and spices.
- I always use fine sea salt or Kosher salt.
- The pan drippings.
- Red wine, chicken, or turkey stock.
How to dry brine the turkey?
- Mix all the ingredients for the dry brine.
- Pat the turkey dry with kitchen paper; remove the neck, and gizzards, if possible. If the turkey is frozen and only thawed for one day, you might not be able to remove the insides at this point. It doesn't matter; you will remove them once the bird is completely thawed.
- Don't wash it! It is unnecessary and unrecommended by the FDA: “Do not rinse raw meat and poultry before cooking. Washing these foods makes it more likely for bacteria to spread to areas around the sink and countertops.”
- Rub it with the dry brine all over. Use your hands and massage it well, under the wings as well.
- Wrap it well in cling film/plastic foil.
- Place in a roasting dish and refrigerate for 24 hours and up to 48.
- I always thaw it for one day, brine it and continue thawing while brining it for 2 days, turning the bird in the dish after the first 24 hours.
Prepare for roasting:
- Remove from the refrigerator and unwrap.
- Leave at room temperature for one or two hours before roasting.
- Preheat the oven in time.
- Smear the cavity with melted butter, and rub with salt and pepper inside.
- Stuff with rosemary, onion, and orange.
- You will need a roasting rack.
- In case you don't have one, you can replace it with something else. It is important that the turkey doesn't sit in the cooking liquid, or it might not roast so nicely once you turn it breast side up.
- I have an alternative for the roasting rack, which I found at Food Hacks.
- Take a large piece of aluminum foil, and scrunch it up lengthwise to form some kind of a rope. To make the rope thicker, take another piece of the same size, use it to wrap the first “rope,” and scrunch it up again. Form a loop or a spiral and place it in the roasting tin.
- Arrange the orange and onion pieces in and around it.
- Roughly 12-13 minutes per 500 g/ 1.1 lb. Always check the internal temperature.
- 4 kg/ 9 lb: 1 hour 30-40 minutes
- 5 kg / 11 lb: 1 hour 45 minutes – 2 hours
- 6 kg / 13 lb: 2 hours 15-25 minutes
- 7 kg / 15.5 lb: 2 hours 40-50 minutes
- 8 kg / 17.5 lb: 2 hours 45 minutes – 3 hours
How to check the internal temperature?
- Check the temperature with a meat thermometer.
- Insert it into the thickest part of the thigh, not the drumstick.
- Stick the thermometer into the meatiest part of the thigh, which is a little under the drumstick but not as obvious as a chicken thigh is.
- Insert the thermometer into the thigh, keeping it parallel to the body of the bird.
- Make sure that you don't touch the bone when measuring the temperature.
- If the turkey has the right temperature, remove it from the oven. If not, give it 10 more minutes and check again.
Red wine gravy for roasted turkey
- Sieve the pan drippings through a fine-mesh sieve into a larger bowl (a larger bowl will help the drippings cool quicker).
- Place in the fridge for 10 minutes; the fat will separate from the rest and rise to the surface.
- Remove the fat with a larger, flatter spoon. If you have it, use a fat separator.
- While the drippings are in the refrigerator, pour the wine into a small saucepan.
- Reduce: Bring to a boil and cook on medium heat until it reduces by half, about the time it takes to cool the drippings and remove the fat.
- Add the drippings and the chicken/turkey stock to the saucepan.
- Thicken: In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and the cold water. Slowly pour the mixture into the gravy while whisking continuously to avoid lumps. Let bubble for one minute until thickened to your liking.
- Transfer to a gravy boat.
FAQ and Expert Tips
Dry brine is much easier to work with than any wet brine; you will not need a huge food-safe container that fits in the fridge.
Most of all, the turkey will not be watery. It will be perfectly moist (all parts, including the breast) and incredibly flavorful.
Dry brining the meat also makes it cook faster. For a turkey this size (4.2 kg/ 9 lbs), you will only need 1 hour and 30 minutes. An unbrined bird of the same size will need over 2 hours.
Tip: You can dry brine a partially thawed turkey; I always do that. I let it thaw in the refrigerator for about 1 day until the skin is softer. I rub it with the spices and place it back in the fridge. It will continue thawing and brining until you are ready to cook it.
Use a large sharp chef's knife.
Place a kitchen towel on the working surface and a large cutting board on top. The towel will help stabilize the board.
Cut the thighs at the joint. Separate the drumsticks from the thighs by cutting at the joint as well.
Carve down the breast bone of each breast to remove the breasts from the bones. Slice the breasts thickly.
Remove the wings by cutting at the joint.
You can serve the thighs whole or slice off the meat as well.
Pick all larger meat pieces still hanging on the bones.
Use the carcass (and the neck and gizzards) to make turkey bone broth.
I hope you like our turkey with red wine; it is one of our favorite roasted turkey recipes! A delicious and festive meal, perfect for Thanksgiving or Christmas.
Favorite sides for turkey:
- Green Bean Casserole without Soup
- Cornbread in the Cast-Iron Skillet
- Green Peas
- Dinner Rolls
- Cornmeal Potatoes
- Confit Potatoes
- Garlic Mashed Potatoes
- Canning Cranberry Sauce
Check out the web story for this recipe: Thanksgiving Turkey with Red Wine
Turkey with Red Wine Recipe
- 1 whole turkey fresh or frozen (Note 1, 2)
- Dry brine:
- 2 tablespoons fine sea salt Note 3
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- For stuffing and roasting:
- ½ cup (scant) unsalted butter 100 g
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- some freshly ground black pepper
- 2 onion divided
- 2 oranges divided
- 1 large twig rosemary Note 4
- 1 ¼ cup red wine 300 ml
- 1 cup (scant) water 200 ml
- For the red wine gravy:
- pan drippings
- ⅔ cup red wine 150 ml
- 1 cup (scant) chicken/turkey stock 200 ml
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- Defrost: If the turkey is frozen let thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours before dry brining.
- Mix the salt and all the spices in a small bowl. Rub the turkey very well all over.
- Refrigerate: Wrap it well in plastic wrap/cling film, place in baking dish upside down, and brine and thaw for 48 hours. Turn it over after the first 24 hours.
- Prepare turkey: Remove from the fridge and unwrap one-two hours before roasting. Remove the giblets if they are inside the turkey. Carefully pat the skin dry with kitchen paper.
- Preheat oven: Start preheating the oven to 220 degrees Celsius/ 430 degrees Fahrenheit about ½ hour before the turkey needs to go in the oven.
- Season: Melt the butter in a small pan. Use 1 tablespoon of it to smear the turkey inside the cavity. Rub it inside with 1 teaspoon fine sea salt and some pepper as well.
- Stuff: Quarter one onion and one orange. Place the wedges and the rosemary inside the body.
- Bind the legs with kitchen twine.
- Assemble: Place the remaining halved or quartered onion and orange in the roasting tin. Place a rack on top (See note 5 for substituting a rack). Place the turkey, breast side down, on the rack. Brush with half of the melted butter. Pour the red wine in the tin, around the turkey, not on it.
- Roast at high temperature for 30 minutes.
- Flip: Remove from the oven and turn the heat down to 170 degrees Celsius/ 340 degrees Fahrenheit. Turn the turkey breast side up and brush well with the remaining melted butter (if the butter is not melted anymore, reheat).Pour the water into the tin around the turkey.
- Roast at a lower temperature for one hour. Check from time to time, if the skin turns too brown too soon, cover it loosely with aluminum foil (it depends on your oven). Check 10 minutes before the roasting time is over. If the skin is not brown enough, increase the temperature to 220 degrees Celsius/ 430 degrees Fahrenheit again.
- Check the internal temperature with a kitchen thermometer: it should be 75 degrees Celsius/ 165 degrees Fahrenheit (Note 6). If the turkey is not quite there yet, roast for 5-10 more minutes and check again.
- Rest: Remove from the oven and transfer to a large plate, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 30 minutes.In the meantime, make the red wine gravy.
Red wine gravy:
- Strain the pan drippings through a fine-mesh sieve into a larger bowl. Refrigerate for about 10 minutes to allow the fat to separate from the rest. Remove the fat from the surface of the bowl with a flatter spoon.
- Reduce wine: In the meantime, pour the wine into a small saucepan, bring to a boil on medium heat and reduce by half. It will take about the time you need to cool and remove the fat from the drippings, but keep checking.
- Boil: Once the wine is reduced, add the drippings and the stock. Bring to a boil again.
- Thicken gravy: In a small bowl, mix the starch and the cold water. Carefully, pour into the gravy while whisking continuously to avoid clumps. Let bubble for 1 minute or until the sauce is thickened to your liking.
- Size: My turkey weighed 4,2 kg/ 9 lbs. If roasting a larger one, increase the roasting time as indicated below.
- Frozen: If the turkey is frozen, it will need about 3 days to thaw in the refrigerator. Brine the partially thawed bird after 1 day, and continue thawing and brining it for the following two days.
- Salt: I always use fine sea salt (or Kosher salt).
- Herbs: Substitute 1 small bunch of sage or thyme.
- Rack substitute: Take a large piece of aluminum foil, scrunch it up lengthwise to form some kind of a rope. To make the rope thicker, take another piece of the same size, use it to wrap the first “rope” and scrunch it up again. Form a loop or a spiral and place it in the roasting tin.
- Internal temperature: Stick the thermometer into the meatiest part of the thigh, which is a little under the drumstick, but not as obvious as a chicken thigh is. Insert the thermometer in the thigh keeping it parallel to the body of the bird. Make sure that you don't touch the bone when measuring the temperature.
- Roasting time:
Roughly 12-13 minutes per 500 g/ 1.1 lb. Always check the internal temperature.
4 kg/ 9 lb: 1 hour 30-40 minutes
5 kg / 11 lb: 1 hour 45 minutes – 2 hours
6 kg / 13 lb: 2 hours 15-25 minutes
7 kg / 15.5 lb: 2 hours 40-50 minutes
8 kg / 17.5 lb: 2 hours 45 minutes – 3 hours