Primal Brined Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe

For years I’ve brined my Thanksgiving turkey with this recipe. But, this year we’re primal, so I had to make some modifications to the recipe – and the good news is that it’s as awesome as ever. :)

Below are two “primalized” ingredient lists – one for the turkey brine and one for cooking the turkey after you’ve removed it from the brine. Happy Primal Thanksgiving folks!

Primal Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe (Brined)

Primal Thanksgiving Turkey


  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup pure organic honey (allowed in the primal diet in moderation, which this qualifies as to me)
  • 1 gallon vegetable broth (you can find a good recipe for homemade primal vegetable both here)
  • 1 tsbp black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 tsp chopped ginger
  • 1 gallon heavily iced water


  • 1 red apple, sliced
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 6 leaves sage
  • 8 oz. block of grass fed butter (I use Kerrygold)


2-3 days before roasting your turkey, it’s time to start 1. thawing the turkey and 2. making the base for the brine.

Combine the vegetable stock, salt, honey, peppercorns, ground cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir the mixture occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate it.

Late in the evening before you make the turkey, combine the brine base you made above with the ice water into a 5 gallon bucket (with a lid!). Note that this assumes you’re making a 14-16 pound bird. I typically make a much larger bird, so I double the above brine recipe and thus, the size of the bucket – opting to use a 10 gallon bucket as a result (which I toss after Thanksgiving).

Place the turkey (with the “insides” like the neck, etc removed) in the bucket and place breast side down. Weigh it down if necessary to make sure it’s immersed. Then refrigerate it or set it in a cold place (like your garage if you live in a cold climate) until morning – being sure to turn once halfway through. Be sure to secure the lid (especially if you’re storing in a cool place vs. the fridge).

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse it thoroughly in the sink (both inside and out). Discard the leftover brine. Place the turkey on a roasting rack and pat it dry with paper towels.

Combine the apple, onions, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe bowl and microwave it on high for about 4-5 minutes. Once it’s done microwaving, add the mixture to the turkey’s cavity along with the rosemary and sage. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with your grass fed butter (you can do this by merely using the stick or by melting the butter in a bowl and using a basting brush).

Roast the turkey on the lowest rack of your oven at 500 degrees for 30 minutes. The original recipe never mentioned anything about covering the turkey with foil halfway through the first 30 minutes, but I do because otherwise it gets too browned for my taste. I simply cover it loosely (essentially merely laying some foil on top of the bird).

Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and then remove the foil if you chose to use it. Give the bird another butter rub down / basting.

Primal Turkey Basting

You’ll need to cook the turkey until it has an internal temperature of about 161 degrees (which is about 2 – 2 1/2 hours for a 14-16 pound bird) – rubbing it down or basting it with butter as necessary to ensure the outside doesn’t dry out.

When the turkey is done, remove it from the oven, cover with foil and let it sit for about 15-20 minutes before carving.

Carved Primal Turkey

The original recipe this was based off of was the best turkey I’d ever had. And even with the above primal modifications, it retains that title. ;-)

Primal Salisbury Steak Recipe

If you’re like me, then Salisbury steak may bring up thoughts of frozen dinners as a kid. It’s been decades since I’ve had Salisbury steak, so last night I set out to make my own version of it.

By my own version, I mean that I used actual steak in the recipe versus creating hamburger like patties (though you totally could choose to go that route and still make the Salisbury steak gravy listed below. The results went over really well with my kids. :)

We’re not mushroom fans, so I didn’t use them, but if you are I’ve listed how to sub them in below.

Steaks Smothered with Primal Salisbury Steak Gravy

Primal Salisbury Steak Recipe
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Primal Garlic, Lemon and Cilantro Cauliflower Rice Recipe

I think when I went Primal, giving up rice was on my list of rough spots. There are some dishes that just feel like something is missing without rice. So when I found this post regarding how to make cauliflower rice, I pinned it with the caption “this just changed my life.” ;-)

Last night I decided to give it a whirl for the first time and was pleasantly surprised to find it is indeed a fantastic substitute for rice. Wanting to “spruce it up” a bit, I decided to add in some garlic, lemon juice and cilantro. I definitely plan to try some other variations in regards to sprucing in the future, but this one worked out quite well. :)

Primal Garlic, Lemon and Cilantro Cauliflower Rice

Garlic, Lemon and Cilantro Cauliflower Rice
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Primal Buttercream Chicken Recipe

I love butter. It being “allowed” on the primal diet is one of the reasons I’m able to stick to it. For the last week or so, I’ve been trying to find a good primal recipe for chicken in a butter cream sauce. Not being able to find one, I finally gave up and decided I’d need to find a “typical” recipe that was close to what I was hoping for and adjust it to make it primal.

Yesterday, I came across a butter cream friend chicken recipe at Jamie cooks it up. It was close to what I was looking for and I decided to adapt it last night to be primal (thanks to Jamie for giving me a starting point).

The results were awesome.

Primal Buttercream Chicken Recipe

Primal Buttercream Chicken Recipe
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Primal Baked Garlic Cauliflower

I’m going to tell you something you’re probably not going to believe. Until last night, I’d never eaten cauliflower before in my life. Dead serious. I grew up in a “if you don’t like the look of it, you don’t have to try it” household.

After going primal, I started trying a lot of things I’d never eaten before – mainly to try and switch things up a bit. And last night, I finally gave cauliflower a whirl. And I really liked it.

Primal Garlic Cauliflower

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Primal Pork Chops with Dijon Mustard & Dill Sauce

Seriously? Oh. My. God. I decided to play around with making a Dijon Mustard & Dill sauce and I ain’t gonna lie. It came out amazing. Framazing even (you guess what the F stands for).

I’m not a huge fan of Pork to be honest – it’s my “mix it up a little” meat choice. But this recipe will have me making pork more often, that’s for sure.

Primal Pork Chops with Dijon Mustard Dill Sauce

Pork Chops with Dijon & Dill Sauce
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Primal Dijon Mustard and Garlic Glazed Pork Chops Recipe

When I first went primal, I thought it would be a fairly “boring” way to eat. Just meat and veggies? How do you survive without “sides”? The truth is, it made me have to go outside my typical box in order to keep some variety in the meals we eat.

Tonight I cooked up some pork chops with Dijon mustard and garlic “gravy” so to speak. It was really, really good – so I was glad I decided to take pictures during the process even though it was my first shot with this one.

Primal Dijon Mustard and Garlic Pork Chops Recipe

Dijon Glazed Pork Chops
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