Only the Best Turkey Brine recipe is good enough for turkey dinner!
Up-level Thanksgiving turkey with this easy to make, and simple to follow, recipe. A savory and aromatic assortment of herbs, spices, and citrus is combined with water, and infused into the meat leaving it perfectly tenderized and ready to cook. Each time, turkey comes out extra juicy and delicious, no matter which cooking method is used. Try roasting, deep frying or even air frying for delicious turkey every time. It’s worth the extra step to get such incredibly tasty results!
Why Brine a Turkey?
Brining is a favorite method for home cooks because it tenderizes the meat with salt and just a few seasonings and some chilling time. The result is a turkey that is so juicy, tender, and flavorful that it’ll be your favorite way, too!
Best Turkey Brine!
- Let the brining process do all the work! It’s a great way to get the most flavor, with the least amount of effort.
- This versatile recipe works for whole turkeys or chickens, breasts or any cut of poultry.
- Brined turkey works with any cooking method. Roast, smoke, grill, or even deep-fry your turkey once it’s brined.
- Fresh or dried herbs and spices, or a combination of both, can be used.
Dry Brine vs. Wet Brine
A dry brine means that the turkey is rubbed with a brine mixture that does not contain liquid (also called ‘salting the turkey), while a wet brine means the brine mixture is first added to water. In either case, they both require refrigeration time.
Ingredients & Variations
TURKEY: Any turkey will work, even a frozen one! Placing a turkey in the brine is a great way to finish thawing it while in the refrigerator.
BRINE SPICE MIXTURE: The main ingredients are a combination of salt and brown sugar. The salt won’t make the meat salty; instead, it helps break down the protein fibers and make the meat tender. Dried citrus peel can be replaced with fresh orange wedges. And while fresh herbs are best, the dried versions will work too. Colorful peppercorns add differing layers of pepper flavor so splurge on a jar of peppercorns if possible.
OTHER ADDITIONS: Apple cider and orange juice are both acidic, and will help tenderize the meat while adding a little sweetness. If adding to the brine, less brown sugar can be used.
This truly is a recipe that works no matter how the ingredients are modified!
How to Brine a Turkey
- Add brine ingredients to a mason jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake vigorously (or whisk in a bowl). Add bay leaves (add these last so they don’t break apart while mixing. (as per recipe below).
- Pour brine into a large pot with water and boil. Remove from heat and add water. Cool brine completely in the refrigerator.
- Place turkey in a brining bag and pour in brine. Add additional water to ensure the turkey is covered, if necessary. This recipe works for a turkey between 12 and 15 pounds. Refrigerate from 8 to 18 hours. Remove turkey from brine and pat dry before cooking as usual.
For Turkey Breasts: Use ¼ brine and water.
For Turkeys 10-12 Pounds: Use ½ brine and water.
Best Turkey Tips & Tricks!
- Make sure all your tools and ingredients are ready before you brine your turkey.
- Be sure you have the right sized brining bags and bowl, or a pot large enough to keep it in while it’s in the refrigerator. Cool the brine down quickly by adding ice cubes or using ice water.
- Always discard used brine. Once raw meat has been soaking in the brine, it becomes contaminated. It’s best to brine a turkey at least 8 hours but no longer than 18 because the meat becomes over-tenderized and spongy.
- Double the batch and freeze for future use. Or freeze some brine in ice cube trays and use to tenderize smaller cuts of poultry as needed.
Other Favorite Turkey Recipes
Try this best brine treatment on these delicious turkey recipes!
- Oven Roasted Turkey – perfect for any special occasion!
- Roast Turkey Breast – for a smaller group
- Turkey Pot Pie – a favorite recipe
- Turkey Noodle Soup – a delicious way to use leftover turkey
Best Turkey Brine
Brine Spice Mixture
- 1⅓ cups kosher salt
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 3 Tablespoons dried citrus peel or dried orange peel
- 1 Tablespoon dried rosemary leaves
- 1 Tablespoon dried thyme leaves
- 1 Tablespoon mixed peppercorns white, green, pink (any combination)
- ½ Tablespoon black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon ground sage or 1 Tablespoon sage leaves
- 2 bay leaves
To Brine Turkey
- 4 cups water
- 1 gallon water
Brine Spice Mixture
- Using a medium bowl or jar, add salt, sugar, citrus peel, rosemary, thyme, peppercorns, and sage. Whisk together, or shake in a jar. Add bay leaves.**
To Brine Turkey
- In a large pot, add 4 cups water and the brine spice mixture. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add 1 gallon water. Refrigerate to cool completely.
- Place turkey in a brining bag breast side down. Pour cooled brine over the turkey. Add cold water until turkey is fully covered. Seal bag and refrigerate for 8 hours, up to 18 hours.
- Remove turkey from brine and discard remaining brine. Pat turkey dry with paper towels.
- Cook turkey per usual. A brined turkey may cook slightly quicker, so use a thermometer to watch the cooking temperature closely.
Nutrition information does not include optional ingredients or garnish and is an estimate. It may change based on actual ingredients and cooking methods used.
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