This may sound like a bold promise, but this is the best turkey brine I’ve ever come across. There are many recipes that are more complicated, but I find that this simple brine, made with very easy-to-find ingredients, produces amazing results!
I started to brine a turkey every year for Thanksgiving over 25 years ago! Once you try it, I promise it will become a yearly tradition for you and your family as well. ♥
I hope you’ll check out more of my family’s favorite Thanksgiving recipes like my green bean casserole (all from scratch!) my family has been making for over 4 generations, my sausage stuffing, and my sweet potato casserole with coconut (ahhhmazing!!), and my make ahead mashed potatoes!
Why Brine Turkey?
It makes the juiciest, most tender, and most incredibly flavorful turkey you’ve ever had. It even adds a slight margin of grace (i.e. keeps it still relatively moist) if you accidentally slightly overcook the turkey.
What Do I Brine My Turkey In?
If you’re using a 10-12 pound turkey, you can likely fit it, with all the brine, in a large stock pot.
If you have a larger turkey, place two clean, unused trash compactor bags, one bag inside the other, (they’re thicker than other types of plastic bags) inside the pan you plan on roasting the turkey in.
Place the bags flat in the roasting pan, don’t use a rack as it may puncture the bags.
Turkey Brine Ingredients
- Salt: I use coarse Kosher salt. Don’t use regular table salt as it doesn’t measure the same as coarse salt and your brine will be too salty.
- Sugar: I like the flavor of dark brown sugar. Be sure to pack it when you measure to get the correct amount.
- Oranges + Lemons: The fresh citrus flavors the brine.
- Herbs: I only use fresh herbs in this recipe. I tie them together in a bundle with butcher’s twine. Doing so makes them easier to fish out of the brine and they don’t stick all over the turkey when you pull it out. If you don’t have butcher’s twine, the brine works perfectly fine if you add them untied.
Can I Make The Brine Ahead Of Time?
Yes! Turkey wet brine can be made 2 days ahead of use and kept in the fridge.
How To Make The Best Turkey Brine
- Chop the veggies and prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- Place salt and brown sugar in a saucepan, add water and boil.
- Place the turkey in a pot. Add water and the rest of the ingredients. Place in the fridge.
- Disregard the brine and cook the brined turkey.
***See the full instructions below.
How Long Should You Brine A Turkey
You can brine a turkey for as little as 4 hours. I greatly prefer to brine for 24 hours. Don’t exceed the 24 hours or the turkey will likely be too salty.
How Do You Store Turkey While Being Brined?
The whole kit and kaboodle must be kept in the fridge. Handle it as you would a raw turkey. It can NOT be left out on the kitchen counter.
What Do I Do After The Turkey Is Brined?
Remove the turkey from the brine mixture, discard the brine, and then rinse the exterior and interior of the turkey well.
I set the turkey on the baking rack in the kitchen sink and drain out the interior cavities. Then dry both interior and exterior well with paper towels, reading turkey for roasting.
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Tried This Recipe?
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The Best Turkey Brine
- 1 cup coarse salt
- 1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
- 2 oranges, sliced
- 2 lemons, sliced
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme
- 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 6 sprigs fresh parsley
- 1 (10-12 pounds) turkey turkey (see note in instructions for how to adapt brine to accommodate a larger turkey)
- Place salt (1 cup) and brown sugar (1 cup) in a saucepan and add 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil over medium heat and whisk until both salt and sugar are dissolved completely. Remove from heat and cool completely.
- Rinse turkey (1 10-12 pounds) inside and out, remove and set aside neck, liver, and giblets. (Save for making gravy or another purpose).
- Place the turkey in the container (see above for suggestions). Add completely cooled salt, sugar, and water to the container. Add oranges (2), lemons (2), and herb bundles (6 sprigs thyme + 3 sprigs rosemary + 6 sprigs parsley). Add 1.75 gallons of water to the container. (The total amount of liquid from the salt and sugar mixture plus the 1.75 gallons will equal 2 gallons)
- If your turkey is larger than 10-12 pounds you will require more brine. Add 1/2 salt, and 1/2 packed brown sugar to 1 gallon of water needed to completely submerge your turkey. This of course will vary on the size of your turkey. I've never needed more than a total of 3 gallons of brine.
- Soak the turkey in the brine, covered and refrigerated, for up to 24 hours.
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