How to Brine Turkey
Come join us as you talk turkey! Our step-by-step guide to moist delish turkey will help you roast the best turkey!
This icon centerpiece to the classic Thanksgiving Feast is much anticipated. We calculate the right amount of turkey needed to feed our guests as well as fulfill left-over needs! Then order it weeks ahead of time.
Next, we worry about how to cook the turkey - The question of “ How to Cook a Thanksgiving Turkey?” is such a conundrum that a turkey hotline was created to help America with the quest for a perfect turkey–or at least a turkey that won’t make Aunt Janet sick!
And sadly, after all that attention, it's still possible to end up with a dry turkey!
Turkey Brine to the rescue! Or Why Brine a Turkey?!
Brining your turkey allows you to flavor and tenderize your turkey all in one step!
But exactly what is brining a turkey?
Brining a turkey is soaking a turkey in a salty solution long enough for the salt to actually penetrate the meat. Unlike marinating, which uses acid to tenderize and flavor meat, brining uses salt to tenderize through osmosis. Brining is an easy way to create a moist delish bird you’ll be proud to serve to friends and family!
Adding sugar and spices to your brine balances out the saltiness of the brine.
6 Easy Steps to Brining A Turkey
If your turkey is frozen, defrost (see FAQ about brining a frozen turkey)
Bring 6 - 8 cups of water with your brine to a simmer to dissolve your brine. Chill the brine mixture.
Add your turkey- breast side down- to the brine mixture and add enough water to cover the turkey.
Brine in the refrigerator or cooler with ice for the proper amount of time (see FAQ How Long Do You Brine a Turkey?)
Rinse and dry your turkey (See FAQ What Does It Mean To Dry Your Turkey?)
Roast your turkey as you normally would. Serve up a moist flavorful turkey!
Turkey Brine Frequently Asked Questions
Can I brine a frozen turkey?
Yes, you can brine a frozen turkey, but only if it hasn’t already been injected with a sodium solution. In a practice called chicken plumping, many commercially processed turkeys are treated with a sodium solution to plump up their weight, preserve the bird, and to add flavor. This sodium solution can account for up to 30% of the weight of the bird and often contains questionable ingredients. So, look for a bird with only the ingredient: turkey! Read more about Chicken Plumping here.
Thaw your bird before brining.
How Long Do You Brine a Turkey?
The time it will take to brine your whole turkey depends on the size of your bird. The rule is one hour of brining for every pound of turkey.
A twelve-pound turkey needs to brine for twelve hours.
A twenty-pound bird will brine for twenty hours.
And if a large chicken or turkey breast is on the menu instead of a whole turkey, the same rule applies. A six-pound chicken or turkey breast will need to brine for six hours.
You shouldn’t brine anything for longer than 24 hours as the meat will actually start to break down and you’ll end up with mushy meat.
Do I Need to Rinse My Brined Turkey?
Yes! Rinsing your turkey after brining will rinse away the salt that has not made it into the meat and will keep your bird from tasting like a big ol’ salt bomb!
What Does It Mean To Dry Your Turkey?
The one thing that is often missing in a brined turkey is nice crisp skin. The brining process can produce flabby skin. If you’ll be removing the skin anyway, skip the drying step. If crispy skin is something you look forward to, dry your skin! Pat it dry with paper towels, and then place your turkey in the fridge uncovered for twelve hours to further dry out the skin.
Can I Brine in a Metal Pot?
The large amount of salt in a brine mixture can create a chemical reaction with certain metals such as copper and aluminum- which could ruin your turkey. Brine in stainless steel, plastic, ceramic, or glass. If you must use a copper or aluminum pan, use a plastic bag inside that pan.
How Much Liquid Do You Need to Brine a Turkey?
There is no set amount of water needed to brine a turkey. The exact amount will depend on the size and shape of your container as well as the weight of your turkey. Add your brining liquid and then up to two gallons of water or until at least 85% of your turkey is covered with the breast and legs completely submerged.
Does the Brine Need to Be Chilled Before Using?
Yes! Food safety is important when cooking a large piece of meat such as a turkey. It should be kept chilled between 33° - 40° F until time to roast the bird. Adding hot or warm brine to the turkey will bring the meat up to temperatures that could cause bacteria to grow! So, chill your brine before adding it to your turkey and continue to chill throughout the brining process.
Should a Brined Turkey be Seasoned Before Roasting?
We love the traditional taste of the herbs usually used in a Thanksgiving feast. While the flavors of spices such as allspice, cinnamon, and pepper make great additions to brine, herbs do not tend to impart much flavor while brining. So, we add those flavors to the skin of our turkey when roasting. You do want to be mindful of adding additional salt to the skin of your turkey.
Can Brine Include Cider or Juice?
Yes! An Apple Cider Brine is a traditional brine that includes the simple addition of cider to a brine. Adding quartered citrus is also a nice fruity addition to brine.
Can I Cook a Turkey Straight from the Refrigerator?
It’s best to take the chill off your turkey by letting it set at room temperature for 30 - 60 minutes before roasting it.
Can I Smoke or Deep-Fry a Brined Turkey? How to Cook a Turkey After Wet Brining?
Yes, a brined turkey can be cooked any way you normally would cook your turkey. If deep-frying your brined turkey, you’ll want to make sure to follow the drying steps mentioned above.
Can I Use the Drippings from Brined Turkey to Make Gravy?
The drippings from your turkey will be saltier than drippings from a turkey that hasn’t been brined. You can use those drippings, but be sure to taste as you go. It may be useful to have some extra chicken or turkey broth to supplement the drippings.
We’ve Made Brining Easy!
At SpiceTopia, we’re passionate about making it easy to cook flavorful food at home! So we’ve created our Everything But The Bird Brining Kit! This turkey brining kit makes brining a turkey at home easy!
Included in this Thanksgiving Turkey Brine Kit (or Christmas Turkey Brine Kit!)
SpiceTopia’s proprietary Turkey Brine which includes not only salt, but also garlic, allspice, cloves, lemon and oranges peels, and sugar to add incredible flavors to your brine! (enough for a 20 lb bird)
SpiceTopia’s Low Salt Turkey Rub was developed specifically to add herbaceous flavor without too much salt!
And of course, a recipe is tucked inside to make sure your Thanksgiving or Christmas Turkey turns out perfectly moist and delicious!
Brining a turkey shouldn’t be complicated. SpiceTopia’s Everything But the Bird Brine Kit makes brining a turkey as easy as possible!
Here’s to many delicious moist turkeys in your future!
"Chicken Plumping - What is it and how does it affect my chicken?"