How To Brine A Turkey

Giving your Thanksgiving turkey an ice bath in salt water isn’t hard, but there a few tips you should know before you start the process.. Here, we outline exactly how to brine a turkey for delicious results.Are you in search of the perfect turkey? One often overlooked step is bringing a turkey. Here is our step by step guide to brine a turkey. Keep reading to learn more!

Turkey can be a tough meat to cook properly because it’s a pretty lean but he muscle isn’t really distributed evenly. For example there is much more meat in the breast area then there is the thigh. Many people like brining a turkey to combat this issue trying to avoid dryness at all cost. If you didn’t know soaking a turkey in salt water prior to cooking is known as brining a turkey.  Others may call this marinating a turkey but it’s called brining because of the salt in the water. It results in moist and juicy dark and light meat.

Make sure you plan ahead. The proper brine can take some time to properly come together, sometimes, 8-18 hours. You have to make sure the salt dissolves completely in the water. You may need to heat the water to make sure it absorbs. Then of course it needs to be cooled to room temp. Do not pour hot water over a cold turkey as you can cause bacterial growth in the turkey and get sick from consumption. Set a timer or reminder to take the turkey out of the brine so you can flip it at the right time.

What should you add to your brine? Water and salt are the main ingredients but after that you can get creative.  Some cooks like to add classic vegetables like carrots and celery, fresh garlic, fresh thyme and sometime fruit like lemon and orange.

This recipe makes enough brine for one 18- to 20-pound turkey.


7 quarts (28 cups) water
1 1/2 cups coarse salt
6 bay leaves
2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
1 tablespoon dried juniper berries
2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon black or brown mustard seeds
1 fresh whole turkey (18 to 20 pounds), patted dry, neck and giblets reserved for stock, liver reserved for stuffing
1 bottle dry Riesling
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, crushed
1 bunch fresh thyme

Tools and Materials

5-gallon brining container (tub, stockpot, or bucket)
Large brining or oven-roasting bag
Refrigerator (or a cooler with ice)

Step-by-Step Guide to Brining a Turkey
1. Make The Brine
One day before , bring one quart water, the salt, bay leaves, and spices to a simmer, stirring until salt has dissolved. Let cool for five minutes.
2. To minimize cleanup, line a five-gallon container with a large brining or oven-roasting bag. Place turkey in bag.
3.Add salt mixture, remaining six quarts (24 cups) water, and the other ingredients. Tie bag; if turkey is not submerged, weight it with a plate.
4. After 12 hours flip turkey. Refrigerate 12 more hours.
5.If there isn’t room in your refrigerator, place the bagged bird inside a cooler, and surround it with ice.
6. Check on the turkey every hour or 2 to make sure the environment is staying at 40 degrees.
7.Remove turkey from brine one hour before you’re ready to roast it, and pat it dry inside and out.
8.Let the brined turkey stand for up to one hour before roasting it following your recipe’s specifications.

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