Turkey Brine

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A turkey brine is used to turn an ordinary turkey into something magnificent!

Now most people have never brined a turkey. Some may not know what a brine is.

A brine is simply water with a lot of salt in it. Other ingredients may be added including, sugar, onions, garlic, herbs and spices. It's used to flavor meat and keep it moist.

Most turkeys that are available are injected with a brining solution. You can tell this by reading the label; It will say; contains up to such and such percentage of a solution of various ingredients including; water, salt, sugar, broth, spices, flavorings, modified food starch, sodium phosphate.

Self basting on the label means it's injected.

You should avoid products that have been injected or enhanced. Often these are poultry and pork items.

You don't really know what you're eating and it may not be healthy for you...

Why Use a Turkey Brine?

Now there's a reason why turkey and other meats and poultry are injected with a brine; It's because these foods dry out easily and don't have much flavor. If food companies didn't inject turkeys, they would be dry and tasteless. Sometimes they still are!

But I just said you shouldn't eat these injected foods because of what's in them...

That's why you should buy a fresh turkey that has not been processed with these solutions and brine it yourself; it's much tastier!

Using a many brine has advantages, that's why food companies and good cooks everywhere use them.

  • The brine deeply flavors the meat.
  • When you brine meat the proteins denature and coagulate. This traps in moisture making the food juicier. If you're tired of dry white meat, this is for you!
  • Brined turkey slices very nicely because of the change in the proteins. It doesn't shred when you carve it.
  • It's harder, (but not impossible), to overcook a brined turkey.
  • The turkey meat has a nicer texture and mouthfeel when brined.
Turkey Brine IngredientsTurkey Brine Steeping

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Turkey Brine Recipe

Recipe Notes: I like to use Diamond Crystal Kosher salt for cooking, including this brine recipe. It's pure salt and has no additives. You can use table salt as well. Kosher salt and table salt have different sized crystals. Diamond Crystal kosher salt and Morton kosher salt have different sized crystals as well. The amount you would use for a recipe are different for each type of salt. I will list the different amount for each type of salt. Only use one type of salt.

To crush the peppercorns; place the peppercorns on a large cutting board. Use a medium sized frying pan and press the bottom of the frying pan on the peppercorns. Press down with good pressure and turn the pan at the same time. Don't bang the pan on the cutting board; the peppercorns will go flying all over your kitchen!

Using an ice bath to cool down food is the quickest and safest way to do it. It simple; just fill your sink about half full of ice. Add enough water so that the water comes up to the same level as the brine in the pot. Make sure the pot is resting on the bottom of the sink so it doesn't tip over. Stir the brine occasionally to cool it. If you have enough ice in your ice bath, you can cool your brine down in about 10-15 minutes.

  • 2 gallons cold water
  • 2 cups Diamond Crystal kosher salt or 1 1/2 cups Morton kosher salt or 1 cup table salt
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 Tbsp crushed black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp dry thyme
  • 3 bay leaves
  1. Fill a large stockpot with the water. If you don't have a pot big enough to hold the water, you can fill the pot with one gallon of water and add the other gallon when you put the brine in your brining bucket.
  2. Add the salt and bring to a boil.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer on very low heat for 5 minutes.
  4. Turn off heat, cover and let stand for 10 minutes.
  5. Cool brine completely. See above for instructions on using an ice bath. The brine should be very cold before using. You can refrigerate it overnight if desired.
  6. Pour the turkey brine through a strainer to remove the solids. Add the additional gallon of water if it was left out in the beginning.

Brine your turkey overnight, for at least 12-24 hours.

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