The Ultimate Guide to Brining a Turkey: Unlock Juicy Perfection for Your Thanksgiving Feast

Turkey Brine is where the juiciest, most moist turkey of your life begins. This post covers how to wet brine a turkey and includes my favorite easy turkey brine recipe.

Brining is THE most important step to cooking a moist roast turkey (other than not overcooking the meat).

Before roasting, meat is brined, or left to rest in a salt solution for about a day.

I’ve tried both types of brine for my Thanksgiving turkey over the years; each has advantages and disadvantages.

Most years, I do a dry brine, because it’s less messy and the results are still stellar.

This post contains all the information you need to make a wet turkey brine that will have your guests drooling (and won’t drive you crazy in the process!) whether you want to roast the most traditional turkey possible, prefer a wet brine, or are just looking to try something different.

Brining a turkey is a culinary technique that elevates your Thanksgiving bird to new heights of juiciness and flavor. This comprehensive guide, inspired by the wisdom of Ree Drummond and Martha Stewart, will empower you to master the art of brining, ensuring a succulent and unforgettable centerpiece for your holiday table.

Unveiling the Magic of Brining:

Brining involves soaking a turkey in a flavorful salt solution for a specific period, allowing the salt to permeate the meat and transform its texture. This process yields a remarkably moist and tender turkey, bursting with savory goodness.

Essential Ingredients for a Perfect Brine:

  • Salt: The cornerstone of brining, salt acts as a moisture magnet, drawing water into the turkey’s cells.
  • Water: The liquid base for the brine, ensuring even distribution of salt and other flavorings.
  • Aromatic Enhancements: Herbs, spices, fruits, and vegetables add layers of complexity and depth to the brine, infusing the turkey with irresistible flavors.

Ree Drummond’s Favorite Turkey Brine Recipe:

Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman, shares her go-to turkey brine recipe, a harmonious blend of apple cider, brown sugar, rosemary, garlic, and peppercorns This simple yet effective brine imparts a touch of sweetness and a delightful herbal aroma to the turkey

Martha Stewart’s Step-by-Step Brining Guide:

Martha Stewart, the queen of culinary expertise, provides a detailed step-by-step guide to brining a turkey. From preparing the brine to timing the soaking process, her instructions ensure a flawless brining experience.

Additional Tips and Resources:

  • Brining Time: Aim for 16-24 hours for optimal results. Avoid exceeding 24 hours to prevent an overly salty turkey.
  • Refrigeration: Always refrigerate the brined turkey to maintain food safety.
  • Rinsing: Rinse the brined turkey before roasting to remove excess salt.
  • Spatchcocking: Consider spatchcocking the turkey after brining for faster and more even cooking.
  • Brining Frozen Turkeys: While brining frozen turkeys is possible, fresh turkeys are generally preferred for optimal texture and flavor.
  • Brine Disposal: Discard the brine after use to avoid cross-contamination.

Embrace the Art of Brining:

By mastering the art of brining, you’ll unlock the secret to a Thanksgiving turkey that’s moist, flavorful, and guaranteed to impress your guests. So, gather your ingredients, follow these expert tips, and prepare to experience the transformative power of brining. Your Thanksgiving feast will be the talk of the town, leaving everyone craving for more!

Remove the Turkey from the Brine and Rinse

  • Your turkey must be rinsed of the wet brine or it will taste too salty.
  • Discard the brining solution once you are finished with it.

what to do with turkey brine

Wet Turkey Brine Ingredients

In a wet turkey brine, the only two ingredients that are required are water and salt. However, if you use just those two ingredients, you will lose the chance to enhance the flavor of the turkey.

I use apple cider or apple juice, whole spices, citrus, herbs, and brown sugar in my turkey brine instead of just water.

  • Kosher Salt. Kosher salt, which is coarser than table salt, is what you HAVE to use. Table salt imparts a metallic flavor to turkey since it is iodized to maintain its flow.

The perfect turkey brine


What can I do with used turkey brine?

Discard the brine solution after use. The brine will contain proteins, blood, and other stuff from the meat that soaked in it. From a food safety standpoint, it is not advisable to reuse brine, even if it is boiled first. You should dump it down the drain after its first use.

Do you rinse brine off before cooking turkey?

❌ DON’T Rinse the turkey. This just spreads bacteria. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels and carry on! (Exception: if you do a wet brine, you will need to rinse).

What does a brine do for turkey?

The purpose of a brine is to produce a more tender and flavorful turkey. According to research published in the Journal of Food Science , the salt in the brine dissolves a bit of the protein in the muscle fibers, and allows the meat to absorb the brine and retain moisture during cooking.

How do you brine a Turkey a day before roasting?

One day before roasting your turkey, bring 1 quart water, the salt, bay leaves, and spices to a simmer, stirring until salt has dissolved. Let cool for 5 minutes. Line the container with a large brining or oven-roasting bag to minimize cleanup. Line a 5-gallon container with a large brining or oven-roasting bag. Place the turkey in the bag.

How do you brine a 20 pound turkey?

This recipe makes enough brine for one 18- to 20-pound turkey. One day before roasting your turkey, bring 1 quart water, the salt, bay leaves, and spices to a simmer, stirring until salt has dissolved. Let cool for 5 minutes. Line the container with a large brining or oven-roasting bag to minimize cleanup.

Can you put brine over a Turkey?

You just don’t want the brine to be piping hot when you pour it over the turkey. If you don’t have quite enough brine solution to cover your turkey, just make more at a ratio of 1 quart water to 1/4 cup kosher salt. Let it cool before pouring it over the turkey. Brine your turkey for 12 to 24 hours.

What can I add to turkey brine?

Brown Sugar: Brown sugar dissolves in the brine perfectly to add a bit of sweetness to the turkey. Vegetables: Celery and onions are key to adding flavor to the turkey brine. You can also opt to add in a carrot or two if desired. Apple: While it sounds odd, adding a sliced apple really helps to add a hint of sweetness to the turkey.

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