How to Brine a Turkey

Learn how to brine a turkey the right way and then expand of that to add flavors that will make this year's feast outstanding. Kick it up a few notches with these easy to follow step by step instructions.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time12 hrs
Total Time12 hrs 30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 1 8 oz serving of breast
Calories: 227kcal
Author: Dan Mikesell AKA DrDan

Ingredients

The Basic Ingredients for Brining a Turkey

  • 1 turkey Whole and not brined or injected
  • 8 quarts water
  • cup kosher salt
  • enough ice and water to cover the bird in the bag.

Optional / To Taste Ingredients

  • 2 quarts apple cider or juice substitute for an equal amount of water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons allspice
  • 6 slices fresh ginger or 2 teaspoons powder
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 3 oranges cut in quarters

Instructions

  • Combine all of the above ingredients you are using a stockpot but exclude any fresh fruit. Boil 10 minutes then cool.
  • Clean and place the turkey in the brining container (I love big plastic bags, the Ziplocs are great). Add the cooled brine, fresh fruit if using, and enough water/ice to cover the turkey. Use a large pan to help support the brining bag. It will help you handle the very heavy bag better.
  • Seal and refrigerate for 12-24 hours. The bird MUST be kept under 40 degrees Fahrenheit for safety. Please see https://www.101cookingfortwo.com/thanksgiving-food-safety-and-food-help/ for more tips.
  • Be SURE to rinse the bird inside and out when removed from the brine. Pat dry and proceed with the cooking. Be very careful and clean up the area after rinsing. See https://www.101cookingfortwo.com/chicken-rinse-not-rinse/

Notes

Pro Tips:

  1. The ratio of 1 gallon of fluid to about 3/4 cup of kosher salt is a good basic ratio for a wet brining a turkey.
  2. All the other ingredients are for taste.
  3. Be sure to use a food safe bag, not a garbage bag.
  4. Brine for 12-24 hours.
  5. The salt need to be rinsed off after a brine before cooking. This is a food safety issue so lets be careful.
  6. Do not add any more salt to the turkey.
  7. This recipe is a 2 gallon recipe and is good for 12-20 pounds. You can adjust from there.
  8. PLEASE REVIEW FOOD SAFETY: Thanksgiving Food Safety and Food Help and Chicken… To Rinse or Not To Rinse?
  9. Nutrition is for 8 oz of white meat with 200 mg of sodium added per 4 oz. which is an estimate of sodium transfer to the turkey. It may or may not be accurate.
  10. If you have sodium concerns, brining is not for you.
  11. Final Tip: NEVER BRINE AN INJECTED OR PREVIOUSLY BRINED TURKEY- and somebody will still do it.
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Nutrition

Serving: 8oz | Calories: 227kcal | Protein: 35g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 116mg | Sodium: 580mg | Potassium: 361mg | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 90IU | Calcium: 18mg | Iron: 1mg