A Feast for the Senses: How to Brine Turkey

Oh, the mouthwatering enigma of brining turkeys! Whether it’s your first charity roast or you’ve been crowned the unofficial Thanksgiving host.

Knowing how to garnish your bird with the perfect brine for that unforgettable moist and tender taste is a culinary superpower. Let me share my personal experience of this taste adventure.

So pull up your sleeves and gather your ingredients. This is one flavor adventure you don’t want to miss.

Brining a turkey involves marinating it in water, salt, and various aromatics. It’s akin to giving the bird a savory spa day. Infusing it with moisture and flavor.

Imagine a chocolate chip cookie soaking up a glass of milk. That’s your turkey drinking all that brine goodness.

The process is pretty simple and takes around 24 hours. There’s no rush; slow and steady wins the race here.

At the end of the day. Nothing beats the satisfaction of watching your guests’ faces light up as they bite into the most tender turkey they’ve ever tasted!

Starting with the Basics of a Simple Brine for Turkey

You’ll learn how to brine a turkey in this YouTube video from Allrecipes. The surprisingly simple secret!

Brining might sound like some secret chemistry experiment, but trust me; it’s simpler done than said.

Picture this: It’s just soaking your turkey in a savory bath of salt and sugar.

The creative medley of herbs and spices your kitchen offers. This liquid delight seeps into the turkey, ensuring every bite is seasoned to perfection. It’s like treating your turkey to a spa day before the big event.

You know what they say, “Happy turkey, happy belly!”

Wet-Brine or Dry-Brine: The Taste-Filled Dilemma

Now comes the million-dollar question, “To wet-brine or not to wet-brine.” You see, there are different schools of thought here.

Some swear by wet brining. And others can’t help but chime in about the marvels of dry brining.

Don’t worry; I’ve got you covered on both ends. Let’s dive in!

Wet-Brining: A Taste-Infusion for the Ages

how to brine turkey

Wet brining is like a deep-sea diving adventure for your dear turkey. It involves submerging the turkey in a flavorful concoction of water, salt, sugar, and other seasonings.

This method is like a slow, tantalizing dance, spreading the taste into every inch of the turkey.

Building Your Brine

A simple recipe. I often use 4 quarts of cold water, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1 cup kosher salt. And for the pièce de résistance.

Add tasty goodies like rosemary, thyme, black peppercorns, ginger, and bay leaves. Creating this mixture feels like being a wizard brewing a magical potion!

It’s Bath Time!

Place your turkey in a large pot or a brining bag if you’re making a turkey breast. Weigh the turkey down to ensure it’s completely submerged in the brine.

Think of it like a turkey jacuzzi. The more soaked it gets, the better!

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The Waiting Game

Now comes the hard part – waiting. For a bird larger than 14 lbs, allow it to bask in all that brine goodness for at least 8 hours and up to 16 hours.

For smaller birds or turkey breasts, 12 hours should do the trick. And remember to give your turkey a half-time flip.

Time to towel off

When your turkey is finally brine-tanned, it’s time to give it a good rinse. Pat it dry, and voila, it’s ready to be roasted.

Dry Brining: Marinating to Perfection

Watch Molly from WholeFoodsMarket show you How to Dry Brine a Turkey.

Ever watched a beauty guru apply a face mask? That’s essentially what dry brining is like.

You apply a mixture of salt and your chosen seasonings directly onto the turkey’s skin and let it sit for up to three days. Marination magic in action!

Constructing the Dry Rub

Mix 2 tablespoons of kosher salt with some ravishing rosemary or tantalizing thyme. Any seasoning of your choice will do. The fun part is experimenting with flavors like you’re Picasso playing with paint!

Applying the Magic

It’s time to massage the bird! Rub that great mixture onto the turkey and let it rest in the fridge. This resting period feels like a long, beautiful sleep.

Where the turkey wakes up looking and tasting better than ever.

The Long Soak

Let the brine sit on the bird for 2-3 days for a lavish turkey feast.

But remember. The rule of thumb is to brine at least overnight or up to 2 days for a medium bird or up to 3 days for a large turkey.

There you have it! It’s quite simple. A good soak, some herbs and spices, and voila! You’re on your way to a perfectly moist and flavorful turkey.

Intrigued by the secret to a perfectly seasoned turkey? Discover the magic of dry Turkey Brine from Spiceology. Grab yours today!

How to Brine Turkey for Smoking

This video on YouTube from Cooking With Ry demonstrates How To Brine & Smoke Whole Turkey.

To brine a turkey for smoking. You generally begin by making a basic brine solution with water, salt, and often sugar.

You can add more flavors to your food using wet or dry brine. That incorporates classic BBQ ingredients like brown sugar, chili powder, paprika, and mustard powder.

To smoke your brined turkey. Start by removing it from the brine and discarding any excess liquid. Allow the turkey to come to room temperature before smoking.

man cutting beef meat

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Pro Tips and Tricks

While brining is not rocket science. Some helpful hints ensure your brining process goes as smoothly as a Sinatra song.

  1. Always ensure that your brine is completely cooled before submerging your turkey. Nobody likes a half-cooked, briny bird!
  2. Remember to turn your turkey halfway through the brining process. Think of it as tanning evenly on all sides!
  3. If you’re brining a turkey, avoid using a kosher or pre-seasoned turkey, or it’ll taste saltier than the Dead Sea.
  4. Always remember that the brining process takes time. After all, Rome wasn’t brined in a day!

Lastly, enjoy the process! Brining a turkey is a labor of love. When you play with herbs and spices, experiment with flavors, and take time to prepare your turkey.

You’re creating a feast that’s more than just a meal – a shared experience of flavor, love, and joy. Make each slice count!

After all, Thanksgiving isn’t just about the turkey on the table; it’s about the people around it.

So, next time someone asks you about brining turkeys. Remember, you’re no longer a stranger to this land.

You’re an official turkey-brining expert. Armed with all the knowledge to make that turkey day memorable in every bite! Happy brining!

Turkey Brine Recipe – A Guide for a Juicy and Flavourful Feast

Brining a turkey involves soaking the bird in a solution of salt and water, along with optional flavor-enhancing ingredients, for several hours or even days before cooking the brined turkey breast.


  • 4 quarts 4 cold water

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 sugar

  • 1 cup 1 kosher salt

  • Flavorings, such as parsley stems, thyme stems, rosemary stems, black peppercorns, ginger, and bay leaves

  • 1 1 whole turkey


  • In a large pot, combine all the ingredients except the turkey. You can also add flavorings if desired.
  • Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar.
  • Remove the pot from heat and add 4 cups of ice to cool the brine completely.
  • Place the turkey in the pot with the brine or transfer the brine to a large brining bag (or a 2-gallon resealable bag if you’re only using a turkey breast).
  • If using a pot, weigh down the turkey to keep it submerged. If using a bag, place it in a shallow dish or pan to catch any potential leaks.
  • Cover the pot or seal the bag and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or up to 16 hours for a turkey larger than 14 lbs. For smaller birds or turkey breasts, brine lasts 12 hours. Flip the turkey about halfway through the brining process.
  • When you’re ready to cook, rinse the turkey with cold water and pat it dry with paper towels.

Recipe Video


John Siracusa

John is a passionate food enthusiast and entrepreneur. With over 25 years of experience in the food service industry. He is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Hell's Kitchen Recipes, a website dedicated to providing high-quality recipes and content. He also loves connecting with his audience through social media. And can be found on FacebookTwitterGoogle  Podcast and Hell's Kitchen Recipes YouTube channel.

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