This easy turkey brine gives great flavor and makes for the most tender juicy turkey you’ve ever had! It’s very simple to make and filled with herbs and a hint of citrus.
Truly, once you learn how to brine a turkey, you’ll never want to prepare it any other way.
What is Turkey Brine?
As the name suggests, turkey brine is a salt and sugar solution that the turkey is soaked or brined in. Ingredients can be as simple as salt, sugar, and water but we like to add even more flavor with herbs and a bit of citrus.
Why Brine a Turkey?
Brining a turkey adds flavors throughout the meat while making it incredibly tender and juicy. The secret is in the salt, which dissolves some of the proteins.
This easy turkey brine is a wonderful mixture that adds very subtle flavors that will have everyone wondering what magic you used to make turkey taste so delicious!
Turkey brine does infuse the meat but it does not make the meat taste overly salty, just seasoned!
How to Brine a Turkey
You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to turn your bird from ordinary to extraordinary.
Thaw the turkey if needed and ensure you have a container large enough for your turkey. The brine below should be enough for a 12-15lb turkey. If yours is larger you might like to make extra or add extra water to ensure the turkey is covered.
- Prepare the brining solution (see recipe below) and cool completely. (I add a bit of ice to cool it quicker).
- Place the turkey in a brining bag or container. Add brine and refrigerate up to 24 hours turning occasionally if needed.
- Discard the brine when done, and roast turkey till the juices run clear and a meat thermometer register 165°F.
Tips for Safe Brining
- Ensure the brine is cool before adding to the turkey.
- Store turkey in the fridge while it brines (not at room temperature).
- Ensure turkey is sealed or covered in the fridge as to not contaminate other foods.
- Do not brine longer than 2 days (this recipe recommends up to 24 hours).
- If rinsing the turkey, remove all items such as, dishes and dishcloths from around the sink area and cover the area around your sink with paper towels to avoid cross contamination according to the USDA.
- Ensure the turkey meat (and center of the stuffing if you’re stuffing the turkey) reaches a safe 165°F.
How Long to Brine a Turkey
Every brine recipe recommends a different time in the solution, depending on the amount of salt. If you leave it in too long, your poultry can get too salty.
This turkey brine calls for leaving the turkey in the brine for no more than 24 hours for a 12 to 15-pound bird. Follow these steps and it won’t be long before you’re enjoying the best turkey you’ve ever tasted!
Delicious Turkey Recipes
- Herb Roast Turkey – perfect holiday meal
- Roast Turkey Breast – tender & juicy every time!
- Turkey Tetrazzini – great for leftover turkey!
- Turkey Soup – ready in 25 minutes
- Spatchcock Turkey – just 3 ingredients!
- Crock Pot Turkey Breast – perfect for a small feast!
- 12 cups water divided
- 1 cup kosher salt
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
- 5 cloves garlic halved
- 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 3 whole bay leaves
- 2 sprigs fresh sage
- 4 cups broth chicken, turkey, or vegetable, or apple cider
- 1-2 oranges sliced, optional
- In a soup pot, on the stove over medium-high heat, add 4 cups water, kosher salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, garlic, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, and sage.
- Bring to a gentle simmer while stirring to help dissolve the sugar and salt.
- When the sugar and salt are fully dissolved remove the pot from the heat.
- Pour in the remaining water (or add some ice to cool it faster). Add the cold broth and allow the mixture to fully cool.
- When the mixture is cooled add to a large food-grade container or zippered bag and brine turkey for up to 24 hours.
- Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse with very cold water. Discard brine, do not reuse.
- Dab dry with paper towels and cook according to your favorite roast turkey recipe.
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)
Brine adapted from Canadian Living