Easy Turkey Brine

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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.

Raw turkey with turkey brine in a container

A simple brine for 24 hours before roasting a turkey is a total game-changer. Once cooked, serve with a side of mashed potatoes, a green bean casserole, and a cranberry Waldorf salad.

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!

Ingredients for turkey brine on a marble board

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.

  1. Prepare the brining solution (see recipe below) and cool completely. (I add a bit of ice to cool it quicker).
  2. Place the turkey in a brining bag or container. Add brine and refrigerate up to 24 hours turning occasionally if needed.
  3. Discard the brine when done, and roast turkey till the juices run clear and a meat thermometer register 165°F.

Turkey brine in a glass container

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!

Raw turkey with turkey brine in a plastic bag open and closed

Delicious Turkey Recipes

Raw turkey with turkey brine in a container
5 from 8 votes
Review Recipe

Turkey Brine

Prep Time 3 hours
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 15 minutes
Servings 1 turkey brine
Author Holly Nilsson
Packed with herbs, aromatics, and a hint of citrus, this mélange infuses your turkey with complex flavors and succulent tenderness.


  • 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

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  • 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.

Recipe Notes

Makes enough for 12-15 pound turkey.
If using apple cider, ensure it's not apple cider vinegar.
I use this roast turkey recipe.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 528, Carbohydrates: 135g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 117120mg, Potassium: 339mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 115g, Vitamin A: 2432IU, Vitamin C: 12mg, Calcium: 364mg, Iron: 5mg

(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)

Keyword turkey brine
Course Main Course
Cuisine American

Brine adapted from Canadian Living

Turkey in a container with Brine and writing
Raw turkey in a container with Brine and a title
Turkey brine ingredients on a marble board and a turkey in a container with Brine and a title
About the author


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Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!

More Posts by Holly

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Recipe Rating


  1. Love your recipes; we’ve made several never been disappointed. On the brine recipe ya list oranges as optional but don’t mention in the instructions when to add them.

  2. When do you add the oranges? Don’t see the oranges in the directions. We are going to have this for our Thanksgiving if not before!

    Anyone have any hints on how to do this with a turkey breast? There are only two of us. Thanks!

  3. Hi Holly!
    So happy to have found your cooking site! What better way to spend a day and collect recipes for future use. Love this brine recipe . I used to buy the packaged brine but the one above is a keeper! Hope you and yours are safe and well during this terrible time for the USA and the rest of the world. Take care.5 stars