The Best Turkey Brine Recipe
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The Best Turkey Brine Recipe – A simple blend of salt, sugar, and spices will create the moistest and most flavorful turkey you’ve ever made. Give our easy brine and roasting recipes a try for your Thanksgiving turkey!
It’s Brine Time!
Every year around this time I get questions about turkey brining. You ask…
- Should I brine my Thanksgiving turkey?
- Does brining really make that much of a difference? What does it do to the turkey?
- How do you make a turkey brine?
- How long should I brine a turkey before cooking?
- What’s the easiest and cleanest way to brine a turkey?
- Does the turkey need any seasoning after brining?
- Can I take the turkey straight out of the brine and put it in the oven?
- What happens if you brine a turkey too long?
As you can see, it’s high time I wrote a post about turkey brine.
Today I will try to answer all these questions as thoroughly as I can and offer simple roasting steps, so that this year you can serve the plumpest, most flavorful turkey you’ve ever roasted. Perfect for Thanksgiving or any holiday gathering!
Should I Brine My Thanksgiving Turkey?
In short, YES you should always brine your turkey. It makes a huge difference in taste and texture.
I have heard many arguments over the years that brining isn’t worth the time and effort. Or that it doesn’t really enhance the flavor of the bird. But after roasting well over 50 turkeys in my lifetime, I can firmly state, brining makes all the difference.
In fact, every time I try a different method of preparing my turkey, I’m always disappointed. Always.
In my opinion, a simple brined turkey, without any extra seasoning, stuffing, or glamor is always the ultimate winner at any holiday gathering.
What Does Brining Do To Turkey?
Soaking poultry in brine does three things that improve the overall dining experience.
- Brining seasons the meat all the way through, not just on the surface, for the best possible flavor.
- Brining locks in moisture, plumps the poultry, and lightens the color of the meat, for the most tender juicy bite.
- The salt alters the skin quality, so it bakes to a crispy golden brown.
Pretty good results, don’t you think?
How Do You Make A Turkey Brine?
Brine in its simplest form is just water and salt. However, our Best Turkey Brine Recipe offers a little more flavor from sugar, herbs, and spices.
You simply mix the salt with warm water so it dissolves into the water. Then add in any additional ingredients.
- Gallon Warm Water – more as needed
- Brown Sugar
- Sea Salt – or kosher salt
- Shallots – roughly chopped, or sweet onion
- Garlic Cloves – smashed
- Whole Peppercorns
- Dried Juniper Berries – optional (or allspice berries)
- Fresh Rosemary – roughly chopped
- Fresh Thyme
What’s The Easiest And Cleanest Way To Brine A Turkey?
Honestly, I find brining a turkey to be a life-saver several days before Thanksgiving or Christmas. After all, refrigerator space is limited, so I want to move the turkey out for other items.
Therefore I always brine the turkey in a cooler. I wash the cooler. Mix the brine in it. Then submerge the turkey in the brine and cover it with ice. It can stay in the cooler for several days, leaving more room in the fridge for pies and side dishes.
You can even dry the turkey in the cooler, resting on ice.
When I’m done with the cooler, I simply dump the brine in the garden, spray the cooler with a disinfectant kitchen cleaner, and spray the cooler out with the hose. Simple.
How To Make The Best Turkey Brine Recipe Ever
- Mix – Pour a gallon of warm water into a clean cooler or large 3-5 gallon bucket. Add the brown sugar, salt, shallots, garlic, herbs, and spices. Stir the mixture to dissolve the salt and sugar.
- Dunk – Lower the turkey in the brine. Add additional water to make sure the brine covers the whole turkey entirely, so you don’t have to flip in.
- Soak – Determined brine-time based on the size of your turkey. For a turkey 15 pounds or under, brine for just 24 to 36 hours. For a turkey larger than 15 pounds, brine for up to 3 days.
- Dry – Before you roast the turkey, take it out of the brine water and place it on a rack to dry. Use paper towels to pat the turkey dry if needed. You can place the roasting pan in the refrigerator (or back in the cooler) if you want to give the bird a longer time to dry. For the best results, allow the turkey to dry overnight.
- Roast – Rub the turkey skin all over with butter. This helps create that perfect golden exterior. Roast the turkey at a low temperature for 15 minutes per pound.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are The Pros and Cons of a Brine?
The greatest benefits of brining are juicy meat, enhanced flavor, and golden crispy skin. A con would be having to think ahead 2-3 days before cooking your turkey, and having to clean a bucket or cooler, twice. However, we believe the pros far outway the cons of brining.
How Long Should I Brine A Turkey Before Cooking?
This depends on the size of the turkey, and how much salt you add to the brine.
The general rule is 1 cup of salt for each gallon of water. Then brine the turkey overnight.
However, I find if you add a bit more water you can brine the turkey longer for a better overall bird. I like to brine a large turkey for 3 days.
What Happens If You Brine A Turkey Too Long?
If a turkey is left in the brine too long it will absorb too much salt. Therefore, I usually make sure I add more water than traditionally recommended.
Does Turkey Need Any Seasoning After Brining?
No additional seasoning is needed after brining! It’s perfectly seasoned from the skin down to the bone.
Can I Add Extra Ingredients to the Brine?
Of course! Consider adding in apple juice or apple cider, lemons, baking spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, additional fresh herbs, or even a splash of bourbon or brandy.
Can I Take The Turkey Straight Out Of The Brine And Put It In The Oven?
Technically, yes. However, for the best golden-brown crispy skin, you should allow the turkey to dry thoroughly before placing it in the oven.
Then butter or oil the skin to improve the texture even more.
Will the Pan Drippings Be Too Salty to Make Gravy?
Not if you don’t keep the turkey in the brine too long. If you taste the turkey drippings and feel they are overly salty for turkey gravy, you can thin them out with low-sodium turkey broth, or even water.
Dry Brine vs Wet Brine?
Dry brining is a method of covering a turkey (or chicken) in a thick layer of salt, without the water. With this preparation, the salt pulls the turkey juices to the surface, fuses with them, and releases them back into the turkey. Yes, a dry brine does offer a little less clean-up than wet brining, and gives the turkey greater flavor and moisture than no brining at all. But in my humble opinion, it is still not as effective as a traditional wet brine.
Wet brines allow you to infuse much more flavor than just salt. You’re flavoring the turkey with a touch of sweetness, fragrant herbs, and spices. Plus, the liquid is able to work its way inside all the nooks and crannies of the turkey much better than a dry brine.
We’ve tried both methods, and although a dry brine is better than no brine, I would go with a wet brine every single time! You can also brine a whole chicken for amazing flavor.
More Delicious Recipes For The Holidays
- Garlic Butter Scalloped Sweet Potatoes
- Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Beer
- Asian Spiced Thanksgiving Turkey – How to Cook Turkey in the Oven
- Apple Cider Turkey Gravy Recipe
- Sausage Mushroom Thanksgiving Stuffing
- The Best Creamed Spinach Recipe
- Cranberry Jalapeno Honey Baked Turkey Breast
- Best Mashed Potatoes
- Turkey Meatball with Orange Marmalade
- Low Country Boil
- Southern Butter Beans with Bay Leaves
- Harry Potter Pumpkin Juice Recipe
- Moist and Fluffy Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread Recipe
- Best Southern Sweet Potato Casserole Recipe (with Marshmallows and Pecans)
Check out the printable recipe card below for the nutrition information including calories, protein, sodium, and fiber percentages.
Best Turkey Brine Recipe
- 1 gallon warm water (more as needed)
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 1 cup sea salt
- 3 shallots, roughly chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, smashed
- 2 tablespoons whole peppercorns
- 2 tablespoons dried juniper berries (optional)
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
- Place a gallon of warm water in a clean bucket or cooler. Add the brown sugar, salt, shallots, garlic, herbs and spices. Stir to dissolve the salt and sugar.
- Carefully submerge the turkey in the brine. Add an additional 1/2 gallon of water to make sure the brine covers the turkey entirely. (Or more water!)
- If using a bucket, cover the bucket with plastic and place in the refrigerator for 1 to 3 days. If using a cooler, filled it with ice to keep the turkey cold for up to 3 days.
- The brine time should be determined based on the size of turkey. For a turkey 15 pounds or under, brine for just 24 to 36 hours. For a turkey larger than 15 pounds, brine for up to 3 days. *If you want to brine a smaller turkey for a longer period of time, reduce the salt to 1/2-3/4 cup, so it is not overly seasoned.
- Before roasting, take the turkey out of the brine water and place on a rack for at least a couple hours. Allow the turkey skin to dry thoroughly. Use paper towels to pat it dry if needed. You can place the roasting pan in the refrigerator (or back in the cooler over ice) if you want to give the bird longer to dry. (The dryer the skin, the better it browns. Drying it overnight is best.)
- Once dry, rub the turkey skin thoroughly with butter. Sometimes I stuff the turkey with herbs, but this is not necessary.
- Roast the turkey at 325° F for 15 minutes per pound. Roast uncovered for the first couple hours, then tent with foil the last hour to make sure the breast meat doesn’t overcook. When using a meat thermometer, the breast meat should be 165° F.
- Allow the turkey for rest for at least 25 minutes before serving to allow the juices to redistribute.
Making this recipe? Follow us on Instagram and tag @ASpicyPerspective so we can share what you’re cooking!
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So good! Made this xmas and family loved it
Thanks for posting
I made this for Thanksgiving, and it was sooo good, I made it again when the first one was gone. Now I am getting ready to make it a third time for Christmas!!!
Sommer this was GREAT! When I started out the brine was really salty and I was afraid it was too salty, so I added another 3 quarts of water. Brined it for about 30 hours. Next time I’ll know better and not add more water. Great flavor and not the least bit dry. I am now a brining convert. Thank you
Hi Sommer! I’ve been wanting to brine my bird for years and decided to go with yours for my first go. I didn’t have brown sugar (wife cookies) or enough Morton’s so I ended up using some extra salt potato salt as well.(way too fine) Only thing I did extra was add a mirepoix base that the turkey cooked on. It tasted wonderful and juicy. So now I’m about to try again with all my ingredients. Because at 49c a pound you buy two turkeys. I can’t wait to try some of your other recipes.
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Our First Brine ~ Great Tips & Recipe!!!
Thank you so much for sharing all these tips and recipe. Happy ThanksGiving!
Question: Do you still need to baste the turkey while roasting, or no?
No, not if you brine it! :) :)
So good! Brined my freshly harvested turkey for 3 days! Came out perfect!!
Second year using this recipe!!! Can you say AMAZING. Thank you for sharing. 💗
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Hi there, Do you not boil the brine and then let it cool prior to submersing the turkey. Many other brining recipes I’ve read suggest you do this. Any thoughts. Thanks for sharing by the way.
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I bought an already ‘seasoned’ bird! Can I still do this or will it be too salty? Maybe I could decrease the salt?
Hmmm… It depends on how it was seasoned. If the seasoning was only rubbed over the surface, it should be fine to brine! However, pre-seasoned might mean it has been brined already. I would read the package closely to find out.
My favorite brine of all time! but this time im doing a 33 pound free range turkey, EEKS!!
I was wondering do I need to double up on the recipe or use it the way it is? I will be brining it in a cooler cause it wont fit into a bucket.
OR do I just brine it for 3 to 4 days
Do you have to rinse turkey after taking out of the brine ?
If you are worried about it being too salty, you can rinse it, but you don’t have to.
I love this recipe and will be my ongoing traditional recipe from now and on. The meat was tender, it was so flavorful and everybody loved it.
Hi! I’m preparing 5lbs of turkey breast, how long should it brine? Should I make any changes to the recipe? Thank you for the recipe.
You can brine a large turkey breast for 12-18 hours using the same recipe. :)
Perhaps this is a stupid question, but can you brine a frozen turkey or does it need to be thawed first? Like could it brine while it thaws?
If you’re in a pinch, you can place a frozen turkey in brine, but you will need to give it an extra day to thaw in the brine.
if using this brine method will it affect the drippings to make dumplings with?
P.s) never brined before!
Yes, the drippings are a bit saltier than normal, so I would reduce the amount of salt used in the recipe.
Curious why you don’t brine in a bag. Seems like it would make cleanup of the cooler/container so much easier.
You can brine in a bag! However, you still need to place the bag in a bucket or cooler so if it leaks or pops you don’t have an even larger mess.
I even overcooked the turkey (185 degrees) oops and it was so juicy and flavorful. This will be my brine recipe from now on. I really liked the fact that you could do it in a cooler. It worked out perfectly. I will slice the turkey and put it in my seal a meal bags. Drop in boiling water and heat through and turkey is on the table.
This is the brine recipe I used last year for Thanksgiving and I ma happy to find it again this year. It creates almost deli style meat right off the bird! I smoked my bird last year and I can say it is easily the best turkey I have ever made. I owe it all to starting with this brine.
QUESTIONS! 1st off , thanks for the great recipe. Q1- can I brine or do I need to brine a Turkey that is going to be smoked? Q2 I see where you adjust the salt for a larger bird, do I just double or triple the recipe til the gird is covered? I think he’s going to be a 30 pounder, ( I had the privilege of raising my own organic guy this year)so It’ll have to be a bigger ice chest. Q3, why can’t I stuff a brined bird? Thanks for your help
Hi Concetta, Good questions!
Q1) I would DEFINITELY brine a turkey going on the smoker. The slow dry heat can dry out the lean turkey breast so brining is a great idea.
Q2) Yes, just multiply the ingredient proportions until the whole turkey is covered in brine.
Q3) You can stuff any turkey. The reason cooking a turkey unstuffed is often suggested is because it takes longer to cook and it can be hard to get the stuffing (with ingredients like egg and meat juices) to a safe temperature without overcooking the meat. However, brining the turkey ahead of time does help keep the meat moist, even if you slightly overcook it.
Thank you for all the tips! I will always brine a turkey. It truly makes a big difference!
This was an incredible brine, it added so much flavor to the turkey, I could not get enough!! This turkey turned out perfectly juicy!
I’m planning to brine an 18lb turkey for 36 hrs. It’ll take about 2 gallons to cover it, so should I use 2 cups salt or 1 as you suggested for the larger turkey over 24hrs? Thanks!
First time brining a turkey….fingers crossed! Thanks for all the tips and hints. May you and yours have a blessed day.
I’d never brined a bird before, mostly because of a space & time issue, but this is really a good brine! I’m really happy with the way this turns out. Lots of moisture, lots of flavor, and perfect crispy skin!
I never brine turkey because I think it’s not worth the mess. Your recipe has me rethinking. I think it’s worth a try. Thank you!
this gives me more peace of mind when I think about making my first turkey this year!
Can I substitute honey for the brown sugar I am making a brine in 100 gallons of water .Iam doing 19 turkeys at once
Whoa! That is a lot of turkeys! Yes, you can substitute honey for brown sugar in the same proportion. Make sure to stop back by and let me know your turkeys came out. :)
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I used this recipe and love the results and this year I am brineing 20 birds could you give me the amounts for that many
yes, I would take it out on the 24th to dry. When I did this for Thanksgiving this year, I left the turkey in the roaster and in the fridge and just left it open to air so it could thoroughly dry.
Hi, does the turkey need to be thoroughly thawed before placed in the cooler for 3 days? I just found this recipe and would like to make a 24 lb turkey but if I do 5 days of thawing time and 3 days of brining time, that’s not enough time to get it done by Christmas Eve. Is it okay to just thaw it most of the way and then brine it?
I just have to say how wonderful this made this years turkey! I will never not brine a turkey again. This added so much flavor. It was most definatly the juiciest bird I have ever cooked! Thanks for the idea and recipe!
100% hands down the best damn turkey I’ve ever had. We used a fresh (non frozen) bird with this recipe and sweet mother of gawd, it was incredible. Extremely moist and tender and PACKED with flavour.
Kind of lowkey glad we didn’t have to share it with extended family this year, hahahaha.
Hey Al, did you use a cooler? How much water did you end up using? Thanks!
I don’t normally write reviews, but this one deserves it. Recipe is a keeper! I brined our 12.28# turkey for 12 hours (one of those turkeys from the market that has up to 10% salt solution in it already). Didn’t use juniper berries because I didn’t have. I also used dried thyme and rosemary (half what the recipe called for, since they were dried) because that’s what was in the cupboard. Beautiful turkey! Tasty and not dry. Thanks for the recipe!
Turkey was moist with a crispy crust- just perfect. As easy as it could get! Thanks. This one’s a keeper.
I live overseas so the birds are smaller, frozen and “seasoned” whatever that means. I put in a cooler for 24 hours defrosted already and didn’t adjust the recipe at all. I returned to the fridge to dry for 24 hours.
My bird was about 9 lbs. cooked for an hour at 162 Celsius, tented, cooked for 45 minutes, . Then rested for 35, breast down.
There were not juniper berries here so that part I omitted!
Loved this recipe. It was a hit for our thanksgiving turkey this year, 2020.
I did not use the juniper berries, but I did use elderberries. I also added a sprig of sage. Lastly, I brined my 11 pound turkey for 24 hours.
I can’t wait to try this! I am doing a family Thanksgiving tomorrow and have brined my 8.5 lb turkey breast for 32 hours. I just took it out of the brine to dry out overnight. My question is, how to cook it? I’ve always cooked a whole turkey. I’ve read to do it around 20 minutes per pound @350 degrees. Do you agree? And should I cover it in the beginning to keep it from drying out? Thank you so much and happy thanksgiving!
I suggest that you follow the recipe which says 15 minutes per pound at 325 degrees. Brined turkey supposedly cooks faster, so don’t follow 20 minutes per pound.
This made the best turkey I have ever had in my life hands down. Honestly don’t feel the need to try another one ever again. This is a new Thanksgiving staple for my family. Thanks so much for posting it!
You should not stuff a brined turkey or your stuffing will get very salty. Just cook it in a separate dish. This advice is from my own experience but you should rinse the turkey very well with fresh water after removing it from the brine and letting it dry. It’s better to use non salted butter to rub on the turkey before cooking. One last thing to keep in mind is you should plan to make gravy separately. If you are using the drippings to make gravy, the gravy will also be too salty. I normally only use some and taste before adding more drippings. Happy Brining.
If you don’t want to use fresh herbs, Italian seasoning is a great alternative for brining.
Can this be used on a 16lb. spatchcocked bird? I have read the prior questions and was also wondering about a fresh Butterball Natural Fresh with 4% solution. I’m thinking of going for it with 1/2 the salt. Thank you,
Absolutely! We have a post to help with that: https://www.aspicyperspective.com/spatchcock-smoked-turkey-recipe-roasted-or-smoked/
Is it okay to substitute regular sugar for brown sugar? Or should I just omit the sugar?
You can use granulated sugar if you like. :)
Hi, I just purchased a beautiful fresh 17lb Turkey today (Tuesday) I will not be cooking it until Saturday. Is this too long to leave it fresh? It will probably be in the brine for 72 hours. Should I take it out of the brine on Friday afternoon to dry before starting to cook it Saturday morning?
It should be ok in the brine if you add extra water and keep it very cold. Yes, then take it out of the brine to dry on Friday. :)
Is it necessary to use sea salt or can use kosher salt?
Kosher salt is fine. :)
So, I am buying my turkey today. I live in minnesota…. if I get a big home improvement store bucket and submerge the turkey in that and leave it outside (temp should be around 32-40° till Thursday) will this be okay instead of adding ice or am I asking for a spoiled turkey?
I just did this but removed a shelf in my fridge so the bucket would fit!
As long as the temperature stays at or under 40 degrees, it should be fine. I would just be worried about critters getting it! (We have bears and coyotes here. LOL!)
I tried this brine a month ago to see how it would turned out, AMAZING! This time I had to submerge turkey in 4 gallons of water to cover in a cooler. When you said earlier to double the brine but the species would be okay, what exactly were you referring to? Thanks for sharing!!!!!
Wow, can not wait to try this recipe. I have a question. I have a small turkey, about 9 1/2 lbs. I have a large stockpot that I can use instead of a cooler. May I just place the brine and turkey in the fridge? Would I still need to add ice?
Brining a turkey in a stockpot in the refrigerator without ice is perfectly fine!
Hi!! I’m sorry if this is a dumb question, very nervous to cook my first thanksgiving, let alone a 20 pound turkey. If I use a cooler, I technically would rely on the ice to keep the turkey cool and “refrigerated” correct? I’m just nervous about the temperature, don’t want it to go bad if it’s not in the fridge but will be in a cold storage room.
Yes! Exactly why the ice is needed for the cooler.
I am very excited to try this recipe! Do you think there would be a difference if I boiled the brine first and let it cool before placing the turkey in? Thank you!
Interesting idea! That might intensify the flavors if you plan to brine for a shorter period of time. However, if you plan to brine the turkey 2-3 days, you shouldn’t need to do that. :)
I noticed nobody has asked about butterball, kosher, or other turkeys that have a “4-8% solution of water, salt and spices”, sometimes they are also called self basting turkeys. Is it ok to brine these types of turkeys with this recipe? I have spent a lot of time researching this and initially found an overwhelming response of “Do Not Ever Brine a Butterball (pre-brined) turkey”, they say it comes out way too salty. Then I found others saying they have brined a butterball and it was the best ever.
Is your recipe intended only for fresh or fresh frozen birds without a solution containing salt? Do you know of anyone who has tried it and what the results were?
Thanks and I appreciate your detailed recipe!
I can tell you, I have brined all types of turkeys over the years… Fresh, frozen, wild, free-range, and even good ol’ butterball. I have never had an issue with brining a turkey. It ALWAYS improves the overall tastes, skin texture, and moisture in the meat. If you are worried about it being overly salty, you can cut back on the salt in the brine a little bit, but I wouldn’t skip it. Hope this helps! :)
I had to add an additional gallon of water to cover the turkey fully in the water. Should I double the brine recipe Or just add more salt? I don’t want it to end up being too salty. It’s an 18 lb turkey. Our friends made this recipe for our Friendsgiving and it was so good I’m may for our own thanksgiving!
It should be fine as-is. No need to add more salt. Happy Thanksgiving!
Does the turkey need to be defrosted all the way before brining? Also, can I still use a turkey bag when I cook my turkey if I do this?
Hi KATIE, I keep checking to see if anyone answers your question because I also have your exact same questions
I defrost enough where I’m able to clean the bird and remove the innards. Then I place the Turkey in the brine for 1-1/2 days. The years I’ve cooked my brined turkey in a bag were the years I get the most compliments. Hope I helped.
If you start it today Tuesday and leave it in the fridge or cooler with ice it will continue to defrost and be ready to cook Thanksgiving.
Where does the ice go ? Into the cooler to melt
Yes, you only need ice if you are brining the turkey in a cooler. Use as much as needed to keep the turkey cold until it’s time to dry and roast.
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I have a 15 pound turkey and would like to try brining in a cooler. If the cooler needs 5-6 gallons of water to cover the bird, do I need to add more salt and seasoning? Or, just stay with the 1 cup salt and listed seasonings?
Yes, I might double the brine recipe for this size of cooler. The brine will dilute as the ice melts, but you should still have plenty of seasoning for a perfectly brined turkey. :)
This sounds amazing..I love the idea of adding juniper berries!
This brine is our favorite to use on our turkey at Thanksgiving! The turkey is so juicy and flavorful!
I love how tender and juicy my turkey is with this brine! So amazing! Thanks for sharing!
This brine brings in some amazing flavors and keeps this super tender and juicy!
Ok so I had never made a turkey before but I had a freebie so I thought – I’m going to try! Oh my word… BEST TURKEY I’VE EVER had. Although I didn’t have all the ingredients on hand I made due and well it did not disappoint. So I failed to give myself as much time as I needed – so I had to call for reinforcements which combined a few different recipes and wow… sometimes multiple cooks in the kitchen was the BEST combination! So here it goes…
This brine – YES… tweaked with a whole jar of epicure “roasted vegetable blend” (has rosemary, garlic, and well it did the trick beautifully!” I only thawed out my 12 lbs turkey the night before so it only had time to marinade 12 hours. I failed to give myself enough time to let it dry for 2 hours with this allotted drying time so I called in for reinforcements… my sister said – don’t cook it for 3-3.5 hours not necessary… follow Alton Brown for aromatic (stuff turkey) which is what I did… so I pulled out my turkey – let it dry for 2 hours – patted it down with a paper towel (more so the interior of the cavity) then I added a peeled cut up apple, 1 pepper, 1 cinnamon stick, one onion, it called for rosemary which I didn’t have but it was in the brine so I skipped this step) microwaved these items in 1 cup of water and put the cooked items inside the turkey. Add the rest of the water in the base of the turkey. I then tweaked again the recipe* I then covered the bird with butter, added 3 Peeled halved cut up garlic and put those between the skin and the bird in different locations around bird. Sprinkled with Montreal steak spice and Done! Then I placed bird into a 500 degrees oven and cooked it uncovered for 30 minutes. This brought the temperature of the bird up quick and gave it its gorgeous color!
I then added my lid. Turned the oven down to 350 and cooked it for another 1.5 hours. (Basting every 30 mins) At that point I checked my thermometer. It read 170. I pulled it out and let rest for about 45 mins. When I took the lid off – oh my word the smell of the cinnamon, Apple, onion mixture was beyond expectations! My gravy was by far the best I’ve ever had!
My turkey was falling off the bone cooked to perfection! *** A trick I learnt from International Chef Rob Thomas – carve any bird add a little juice at the bottom use the skins on top of your cut up meat cover with plastic wrap. Then add your foil. Place into your oven to reheat and your meat will get warm and NOT dry out. How COOL is that!!! You can also warm up anything that way. You don’t need to add juices unless it has it in the recipe… LOVED this tip!!! Had I not done this or seen it work in action I wouldn’t have tried it but it’s amazing if you want to pre-cut your meat in advance! Anyways message is long but it will NOT be wasted! ☺️ Enjoy and happy thanksgiving!!
My turkey is in the brine my family loves my stuffing and there isn’t anything here regarding stuffing the turkey and that is something I’ll be doing on Monday so if you could just let me know if that is going to work
I’m very interested in trying this for the first time. All the comments have been helpful but nobody has asked if you can brine a butter infused turkey. I imagine you can because everything remains chilled and plan to try it placing it frozen, into a stock pot with the brine, into the fridge for a few days. Likely 5. 3 to thaw and 2 to brine. Any thoughts?
Yes, you can! Just follow the steps as directed. :)
Hi. I tried this brine for the 1st time on Thanksgiving last year. It was GREAT! I have tried turkey in every way imaginable and this recipe is by the greatest. I had guess over who said they do not eat turkey but they could not stop eating the one I cooked with this recipe. I am planning in having turkey for the Saturday before Superbowl, saving the left overs (carcas and bones) for a soup on Superbowl Sunday.
I’m just now roasting a turkey that I bought during Thanksgiving. I’ve brined it for three days, but don’t know if I cover it in the fridge. I don’t have a true roasting pan, with a lid, so I’m not sure what I should do.
My family stated, “This is the best turkey we’ve ever tasted! Perfectly flavored, tender, juicy, wonderful!” I stuffed me with apple and orange bits before roasting, which enhanced its flavor! Thanks!
I’m using this brine, for the first time, to make my Christmas turkey this year. I’m wondering if I still add water, to the bottom of the roaster, when I cook the bird? I normally add a little bit of water to the bottom of the roaster.
No, you don’t need to add water to the pan. The turkey juices will drip down and collect in the pan for later use.
Easy recipe, makes flavorable turkey stock from bones and skin later. I used dried and freeze dried spices, and doubled the water. Also made great gravy. It might be too strong if spices are used full strength, but we prefer subtle flavors.
PS, I use an Igloo beverage cooler instead of a traditional cooler, uses less water.
This brine made my turkey so good everyone raved about the flavor. I will definitely use this recipe from now on. So good!!
I never comment on these sites but I did a chicken and a Turkey in a cooler for Thanksgiving added extra water chicken stock honey and Toneys cajion seasoning none was left after dinner what wasn’t left was took home by guest was the best I ever made,I smoked it out side on a shop.made smoker.will do the same for Christmas this year
Made this for our 16 pound turkey this week and just brined it in a big stockpot in my fridge for 24 hours. I was worried to leave it in too long and be too salty, but it was amazing! So juicy and tasty! Thank you for the great recipe and making me look like I know what I’m doing. ;) Will definitely be saving this recipe and using it again!
I just took my bird out of the brine and gonna let it dry. Do you let the turkey come to room temperature before rosting or take it out of the fridge and into the oven? Thanks in advance
You can take it straight out of the fridge (or cooler) and place it in the oven, because you are relying on internal temperature to determine when it’s done. Just make sure it’s VERY dry, so the skin gets crispy. :)
Should you brine a turkey that you be deep frying?
Absolutely, you should brine it before frying. Just make sure to give it ample time to dry out before placing in the fry oil.
Can you brine a turkey in less than 25 hours?
Sure! I would use less water to make sure the brine is strong. Brine for 12-18 hours. Then let the turkey dry out several hours before roasting.
This will be the 5th time I have used this brine and I will never make a turkey without it! But this year I am going to make a turkey breast instead of a full bird, is there anything I would need to change with the brine or time for the smaller size?
I would brine a turkey breast for 12-18 hours, with or without bones.
Trying this tonight!!! So exited!!😁😁
I am doing turkey pieces this year, 4 wings, 2 thighs and 1 breast all bone in all from Whole Foods.
Should I change anything as to amount of salt?
No, you can use the same proportions. I would brine them for 24 hours.
Hi, I have 8 gallons of water in the cooler. Should I double up on the brine ingredients or just the salt? Is it 1 cup of salt per gallon for 24 hour brines?
I would add double the salt and herbs to give the turkey the best flavor. :)
What do you do to keep your turkey from floating in the brine?
If needed, you can place a heavy plate or pot on top to push it down into the brine.
Planning to use this for my Thanksgiving this year. Does turkey need to be thawed before brining?
You can put a frozen turkey in the brine and let it thaw as it brines, if you give it enough time… Maybe 3-4 days.
If i have a frozen 20 pound turkey how long does it need to be in the brine for it to defrost and brine? Will the ice last more than 3 days or do i need to keep adding ice as each day?
I would put the turkey in the brine about 5 days before cooking. The amount of ice needed will be determined on the quality of your cooler and where you keep it. Check the water every day and add ice if the water is not ice-cold. Hope this helps!
I used this brine once back in August this year on a 20lb turkey which I cooked in my smoker and it turned out amazing. It was hands down the most flavorful and juiciest turkey I ever made and the family loved it. So I’m doing the same thing for Thanksgiving on a 22lb turkey which just went into my bucket. I’m also doing another 2 turkeys Both 22 lbs for Saturday for a “Friendsgiving” get together. I will brine those turkeys Wednesday night. All turkeys will be smoked again in my pellet smoker. Thanks for sharing this recipe. Totally the best brine ever!
How big of a cooler do I need for a 13 lb Turkey? Also, howling does it take to dry the turkey?
You can use a 30-40 quart cooler for most turkeys. Then I always dry it overnight before Thanksgiving.
I haven’t tried this yet, but am planning on putting my turkey in to brine tomorrow which is Sunday amd will take out Wednesday before Thanksgiving and drying overnight. My turkey is 22 lbs. Would it be wise to use 3 gallons of water and 3 cups of salt? Would I add more herbs and spices as a result? Also, I only h and very one oven and need it for all the other side items, so I use a roaster to cook my turkey…..any ideas to help with browning the breast?
If you are leaving it in the brine for several days, I would use less salt (or more water) to make sure it’s not over-seasoned. Once it’s brined and thoroughly dried the skin should brown in the roaster. If it doesn’t, you could put it in the oven at the end to brown the top.
Will this be enough brine for a 24 pound turkey
Yes, just add extra water to cover the top. :)
I used your brine recipe and it was delicious!! Had to hunt for juniper berries (Walmart). I will use your recipe again next year (if I’m hosting). What I did different were; used Kosher salt 1cup, 3 cups of apple cider and 2 gallons of water. Brine 2 days. Rinse. Dry 1 day. The cooler method is awesome. I used 3 iced water bottles. Had to a changed them every 12 hours to keep cooler at 40 degrees. I did it all in the basement near laundry sink except the baking part. Bake time was 3hr 20mins for 19lbs. Thank you very much!!
I’ve made a very similar brine and it was tasty. However the brown sugar from the brine drips to bottom of pan and gets burnt and totally ruins my gravy. What am I doing wrong? Not allowing it to drain and dry enough? I though t perhaps because I don’t rinse it after brining it?
Gravy is the gold from roasting a turkey!
In this brine, there should not be enough brown sugar left on the turkey to cause any burning. It will mostly stay in the cooler when you lift it out. However, it is very important to let the turkey dry out, so the skin can turn brown and crispy.
Hello. I am wondering if Kosher salt can easily be used in place of sea salt?
Can you clarify the Notes. 2-3 Gallo s of water per cup of water??
Yes, sorry about the typo! It’s 2-3 gallons of water per 1 cup salt, when brining for longer periods of time.
trying out brining for first time so cant judge your recipe just yet i added 1 lemon, 1 orange to your recipe . I will brine 24 hours then let it dry for another 24 hours want the crispy skin. favorite part of turkey i usualy do brown bag turkey butter inside a brown bag in pan slide turkey in and bake its good but i love trying different methods each thanksgiving. i do love to stuff bird with corndread stuffing im sure this brine turkey will be great by everyones reviews I usualy dont comment till i try recipe first But. just wanted to wish every1 a Blessed and Peacefull THANKSGIVING. stay safe
I rinsed the turkey before roasting; it was great. I see you didn’t recommend rinsing. I was sceptical that it may be too salty?
The main logic that you shouldn’t rinse poultry in general is purely for sanitary reasons . When you take a bird/ poultry to the sink , turning on the tap , you will be splashing the juices from the bird that can contain all sorts of potential bacteria (like SAMONELLA) all over your sink , counter and who knows where , great way to get sick ! Hope that this helps , John Clifton.
We had an early Thanksgiving dinner with our Son’s family yesterday (traveling to daughter’s out of state for Thanksgiving on Tuesday) and I used your brine recipe to brine an 11# turkey for the dinner. I followed your recipe exactly & used a cooler to brine it in. It was the second time I have brined a turkey – ever. I am 65 yrs. old & have cooked countless turkey dinners. This was the BEST turkey we have ever had, hands down! Thank you for sharing. From now on, this is the way I am roasting a turkey. The gravy was so flavorful all I had to do was whisk in some flour and add a few cups of water and it was amazing.
I’m trying this on chicken right now, I’ve never brine a turkey before and I wanted to test it and didn’t want a bunch of Turkey before Thanksgiving I just put it in the refrigerator in the brine about 30 minutes ago.
Great idea, Liza!
Sorry- first time trying this brine. Do I rinse the turkey after I brine the turkey? Thanks!
I don’t rinse it, but some people do. If you are worried about your homemade turkey gravy being too salty, you can rinse it off.
I just met you!! :) I really appreciate how you explain your recipes so very thoroughly. Thank you! I would appreciate receiving your recipes on email. I didn’t see a place to click to do that. Can you please help me to be able to do this?
At the bottom of each post you will find a subscription box to join our email list. :)
Fully Mouth-Watering Recipe I will try it soon
Thank’s for sharing
I wasn’t going to brine this year – my brined birds always seem salty. But, your recipes are so reliable (thank you!). I’m rethinking. Is the beautiful coloring on the bird in your photo enhanced in any way? I have never taken a turkey from the oven and had it looked so gorgeous. Very tempting to give it a whirl. Wish I had the ability between now and T-giving to do a practice bird, but that would be just too much turkey. I probably should make one each quarter of the year, just to get some practice in. Once a year turkey and once a year ham at Easter is not a good way to learn! Thanks for your explicit instructions.
Well, I’m glad I inspired you to try it again! That is the natural brown color of the turkey skin. The key to getting it brown and crispy is to make sure the skin is VERY dry, then buttered, before going in the oven. If it goes straight from the brine to the oven, without allowing it to dry, it will not brown properly. Also, cooking it in a turkey bag inhibits the browning. Hope this helps!
Wow, can not wait to try this recipe. I have a question. I have a small turkey, about 9 1/2 lbs. I have a large stockpot that I can use instead of a cooler. May I just place the brine and turkey in the fridge? Would I still need to add ice?