How To Brine A Turkey

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Transform your holiday turkey with the ultimate brining technique, ensuring a juicy and flavorful bird that’s bound to impress your guests. Follow my step-by-step guide for How To Brine A Turkey and make the best turkey you’ve ever had!

A whole turkey submerged in a brine with herbs, garlic, carrots, and lemon slices.


Ready to roast the most memorable Thanksgiving turkey yet? Follow my simple brine recipe guaranteed to enhance moisture and flavor, making your turkey the highlight of the feast. This method is the secret to a perfectly seasoned and tender bird. A savory brine blend with garlic, citrus zest, mixed herbs, spices, and chicken stock concocts an ideal combination, ensuring your turkey is the star of the show.

What Is Brining?

Brining is a simple technique using saltwater to lock in moisture and flavor in your turkey (and it works wonders for chicken and pork, too!). This approach guarantees a juicy, flavorful result with minimal fuss. If you’re acquainted with the magic behind my juicy oven baked chicken breasts, you’re already halfway there.

How To Brine A Turkey


  • Find a big container—pot, bucket, or even fridge drawer—anything that’ll hold your turkey and the brine.
  • Dissolve salt and sugar in a gallon of warm water. Infuse it with chicken stock, garlic, carrots, citrus slices, peppercorns, and herbs.
  • Submerge your turkey, weigh it down to keep it under the brine, and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.
  • Rinse the turkey, pat it dry, and cook it with minimal salt.
Turkey sitting in a brine solution, and it's covered with a plastic bag.

Why Brine Your Turkey

Turkey is naturally lean, especially the breast. Brining infuses the meat with both moisture and flavor, dramatically reducing the risk of dryness. A saltwater bath also tenderizes the meat by breaking down proteins, ensuring that even if you cook it a tad too long, it will still remain juicy.

Brining a turkey in a bin.

Tips For Brining A Turkey

  • Make sure that the turkey wasn’t previously brined. It should say it on the packaging or take a look at the ingredients.
  • Plan ahead. You want to brine the turkey for at least 12 hours.
  • For the brine solution, salt to liquid ratio is 1 cup of salt per 1 gallon of water. Then, you can add in all the aromatics that you want. I use a blend of rosemary, thyme, parsley, citrus, and garlic, but you could swap in any other herbs and/or spices that you have on hand.
  • Use a large bin that will fit the turkey and liquid but that will also fit inside the fridge. The turkey needs to be refrigerated during the brining process.
  • If fridge space is limited, consider using a cooler: place the brine and turkey in a large brining bag – you can get those at your grocery store or Amazon. Seal the bag closed and place it inside the cooler. Cover with lots of ice and set in a dark, cool place until ready to use.

Can You Brine A Frozen Turkey

I would recommend going with a fresh turkey each and every time, but if you’re a last-minute-let’s-get-it-together-Mary like myself, then we’re in luck! Stick that frozen turkey inside the brine for a couple of days, even up to 3 days, and the turkey will brine and thaw at the same time. 

Saltwater-brined turkey that's been roasted and cut into slices.

How To Cook A Brined Turkey

  • After the brining period, rinse the turkey with cool water and pat it dry. This is crucial for achieving the perfect roast.
  • Follow the recipe for Juicy Roast Turkey. When roasting, you may find that a brined turkey cooks quicker, so start checking the internal temperature about an hour before the anticipated end of the cooking time.
  • Aim for a minimum internal temperature of 165°F in the breast meat before removing it from the oven.

Holiday Turkey Recipes


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5 from 15 votes

How to Brine a Turkey

Turkey Brine is made with a simple blend of liquid, salt, sugar, herbs, citrus, and spices to create the most tender, deliciously moist turkey you will ever make! 
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Brining Time: 1 day
Total Time: 1 day
Servings: 20 servings


  • 12 to 20 pound turkey
  • 1 gallon warm water
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 10 cloves garlic,, smashed
  • 1 large carrot,, thinly sliced
  • 1 large lemon,, sliced, slices cut into half-moons
  • orange peel of 1 large orange,, torn into several pieces
  • 1 tablespoon peppercorns
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley leaves
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  • Place a gallon of warm water in a large pot, bucket, or bin. Stir in the salt and sugar and continue to stir until dissolved. Then, stir in the chicken broth.
  • Add garlic, carrot slices, lemon slices, orange peel, peppercorns, thyme, rosemary, and parsley; stir to combine.
  • Carefully submerge the turkey in the brine. Add more water, if needed, to make sure the brine covers the turkey entirely.
  • Cover with a plastic bag and top with a heavy item, like a brick or a heavy plate, to keep the turkey submerged.
  • Refrigerate for a minimum of 12 hours and up to 24 to 48 hours.
  • If fridge space is limited, use a cooler. Place brine and turkey in a large brining bag. Seal the bag closed and place it inside the cooler. Cover with lots of ice and set in a dark, cool place until ready to use.
  • When ready to cook, take the turkey out of the brine, rinse it under cold water, and pat dry with paper towels.
  • Roast the turkey as usual or according to the recipe you are using.


  • Select a turkey that isn’t pre-brined; this should be indicated on the label or ingredient list. Don’t use a kosher, saline-injected, or previously brined turkey.
  • Brine for at least 12 hours for optimal flavor.
  • Mix 1 cup of salt with 1 gallon of water for the brine, and infuse it with aromatics like rosemary, thyme, parsley, citrus, and garlic.
  • Choose a container large enough for the turkey and brine, but make sure it fits in your fridge.
  • For tight spaces, use a cooler. Seal the turkey in a brining bag, pack with ice, and store in a cool, dark spot.
  • Keep the turkey submerged in the brine with a weighted plate or brick for 12 to 24 hours.
  • You might want to use a brining bag for cleanliness and ease of handling, though it’s optional.
  • Top up with water or broth if more liquid is needed to cover the turkey.
  • For smaller turkeys or turkey breasts, halve the brine mixture.
  • For a frozen turkey, immerse it in the brine for up to 3 days; this will simultaneously thaw and season the bird.
  • After brining, rinse and dry the turkey well and cook with limited or no additional salt, as it’s already seasoned from the brine.


Calories: 394kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 53g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 174mg | Sodium: 5946mg | Potassium: 616mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 720IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 41mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.

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  1. Les says:

    This brining recipe is the best!!! I used it for christmas last year and it was a huge hit with the family, so much so that I’ve been nominated to cook the turkey from now on. It was just so tender and flavorful, I will be using this recipe for years to come.