How To Brine A Turkey

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Are you wondering how to brine a turkey? My homemade turkey brine recipe is so EASY and the BEST method for brining a turkey. Follow my step-by-step instructions and make the juiciest, most flavorful roasted turkey of your life. Everyone will be impressed by your Thanksgiving turkey!

Brine for turkey with herbs, garlic, carrots, and lemon slices.

THE BEST TURKEY BRINE RECIPE

Want to know how to make THE BEST Thanksgiving Turkey?!? Then, check out THIS recipe for my simple turkey brine that will inject that bird with loads of flavor and help prevent the turkey from ever drying out.

A brine prepared with garlic, citrus, herbs, spices and chicken broth creates the perfect combination to yield the tastiest, most succulent turkey. 

WHAT IS BRINING?

If you are one of the very many readers that’s already had a taste of my Juicy Oven Baked Chicken Breasts, then you are already very familiar with the magical powers of brining. 

BRINING is a very simple method prepared with salt and water to help the turkey (chicken and pork, too!) absorb extra moisture and flavor during cooking, and it also prevents the turkey from drying out after it’s been cooked. The result is a much juicier and tastier turkey without a lot of effort. 

WHAT DOES A BRINE DO?

The reasons are plenty;

  • Don’t like dry turkey? BRINE IT❗️
  • Aunt Dorothy’s last Thanksgiving turkey had zero flavor? She didn’t BRINE IT. ✅
  • Too panicked to make a turkey because you just “know” it won’t be good? BRINE IT. 😊 

Basically, a brined turkey will stay juicy and taste pretty darn awesome even if this is your first time taking care of a Holiday dinner.

Brining a turkey.

HOW TO BRINE A TURKEY

What I’m trying to say is that the simple and easy shortcut to the perfect Thanksgiving bird is a basic brine solution. Get awn it! 😉 

  1. Grab a LARGE pot, bucket, or a bin that can fit gallons of liquid plus a 12 to 20 pound turkey. My mom uses the refrigerator’s vegetable bins/crisper drawers. I use whatever I can find. 😃 
  2. Next, pour in a gallon of warm water and stir in salt and sugar until dissolved.
  3. Add chicken broth, smashed garlic cloves, carrot slices, lemon slices, orange peel, peppercorns, sprigs of fresh thyme, rosemary, and fresh parsley. 
  4. Place the turkey inside the brine, top with a heavy plate or even a brick to keep the turkey submerged, and refrigerate for a minimum of 12 hours, and up to 24 hours. By the way, I first cover the turkey with a brining bag and then I top it with a brick or plate. You don’t have to do this, but I thought I should mention it. 👌 
  5. If you feel that the turkey needs more liquid, just pour in more water or chicken broth. You only need enough brine to cover the meat, so adjust as needed.
  6. If you are cooking a turkey breast or a smaller whole turkey, you can just halve this recipe.
  7. When ready to cook, take turkey out of the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Then, follow this recipe for Roast Turkey. GO EASY on the salt, or use none at all, because the brined bird has been salted, already.

Turkey in Brine Solution

TIPS FOR BRINING A TURKEY

  • Make sure that the turkey you have wasn’t previously brined. It should say it on top of 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 ONE cup of salt per ONE gallon of water. Then, you can add in all the aromatics that you want. I love the combo of rosemary, thyme, citrus, and garlic, but you could swap in any other herbs and/or spices that you have on hand.
  • You want to 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 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.

SHOULD YOU BRINE A FROZEN TURKEY?

  • I would recommend to go 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 days, even up to 3 days, and the turkey will brine and thaw at the same time. 

saltwater brined turkey

MORE TURKEY RECIPES

ENJOY!

TOOLS USED IN THIS RECIPE

5 from 9 votes
Brine for turkey with herbs, garlic, carrots, and lemon slices.
How to Brine a Turkey
Prep Time
15 mins
Brining Time
1 d
Total Time
1 d
 

A simple blend of liquid, salt, sugar, herbs, citrus, and spices creates the most tender, deliciously moist turkey you will ever make! 

Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Servings: 20 servings
Calories: 394 kcal
Ingredients
  • 1 12-pound to 20-pound turkey, (not kosher, saline-injected, or previously brined)
  • 1 gallon warm water
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 10 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
  • 1 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
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
Instructions
  1. Place a gallon of warm water in a large pot, bucket, or bin.
  2. Stir in salt and sugar; stir until dissolved.
  3. Stir in chicken broth.
  4. Add garlic, carrot slices, lemon slices, orange peel, peppercorns, thyme, rosemary, and parsley; stir to combine.
  5. Carefully submerge the turkey in the brine. Add more water, if needed, to make sure the brine covers the turkey entirely.
  6. Cover with a plastic bag and top with heavy item, like a brick or a heavy plate, to keep the turkey submerged.

  7. Refrigerate for a minimum of 12 hours, and up to 24 to 48 hours.
  8. 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.
  9. When ready to cook, take turkey out of the brine and pat dry with paper towels.
  10. Continue to roast the turkey as usual.
Nutrition Facts
How to Brine a Turkey
Amount Per Serving
Calories 394 Calories from Fat 126
% Daily Value*
Fat 14g22%
Saturated Fat 4g20%
Cholesterol 174mg58%
Sodium 5946mg248%
Potassium 616mg18%
Carbohydrates 12g4%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 10g11%
Protein 53g106%
Vitamin A 720IU14%
Vitamin C 5mg6%
Calcium 41mg4%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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10 Responses
  1. April

    For whatever reason, I’ve always been nervous about brining a turkey. But definitely going to give it a try this Thanksgiving! Thanks for the tips!

  2. Trang

    This is so helpful! To be honest, I never knew about brining until my husband taught me! This is going to be useful for Thanksgiving.

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Katerina
I'm a cookie-maker & picture-taker! For me, eating is a moment to share, an enjoyment, a passion. I hope you enjoy my recipes!
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