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One of the secrets to a delicious, moist turkey is the brine. While a brine can be something as simple as salt and water, this turkey brine recipe below will take your turkey to a whole new level.

Many people swear by using a brine and with good reason. Not only does it help add moisture to your turkey, but it also adds great flavor.

It’s the perfect first step for making the perfect turkey this Thanksgiving. Let’s discover how to brine a turkey.

Turkey Brine
Let’s discover how to brine a turkey.

How long should you brine a turkey?

It’s very important that you not under or over-brine your turkey. Not brining for long enough can make the whole process seem pointless because you didn’t give your turkey enough time to absorb the brine.

However, brining your turkey for too long can cause the turkey to be too salty and for the texture to be spongy.

There’s no fixing an over-brined turkey. Brine your turkey for 8 to 18 hours. Overnight is always a good option.

Turkey in brine
You never want to over-brine a turkey.

Why do you brine a turkey?

As discussed above, a brine helps improve the moisture of the meat and the flavor. The salt also helps break down muscle fibers so that they don’t contract as much while cooking.

This will give you more tender meat and help prevent the loss of moisture during the cooking process.

turkey brine mix

Do you rinse a turkey after brining?

No. Remove the turkey from the brine and pat dry. If you rinse the skin, you risk the skin not browning. No one wants soggy turkey skin.

Ingredients for turkey brine recipe:

Each brine is different. However, this turkey brine recipe is packed with flavor and will make your turkey extra juicy and moist. You’ll need the following ingredients:

Pouring apple cider into the turkey brine mix
Apple juice adds great flavor.
  • Turkey Breast (Recommend using a fresh turkey from your local meat market)
  • Cold water
  • Apple cider
  • Cider vinegar
  • Chicken stock
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Brown sugar
  • Garlic
  • Peppercorns
  • Orange peels
  • Bay leaves
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Juniper berries – optional
pouring chicken stock into pan

How do you brine a turkey?

  1. The first step is to combine all the brining ingredients in a large saucepan. You want to bring to a boil and then continue to heat and stir until the sugar and salt have dissolved.
Ingredients in pot for turkey brine
Combine all the ingredients for your turkey brine.

2. Once your brine is ready, place your turkey breast in a large bucket along with the brine mixture. Add enough ice-cold water to cover the turkey breast. You want to make sure the brine completely covers the turkey.

3. Brine the turkey overnight in the refrigerator.

4. Remove the turkey breast from the brine and pat dry. Place on a cookie sheet. Allow to dry and come to room temperature for 30 minutes on the kitchen counter.

Brine the turkey overnight in the refrigerator.

Additional Tips for Preparing a Turkey

You’re not done yet though! Make sure to inject your turkey as well!

Now you’re ready to smoke your turkey. Don’t forget to check out my Step-by-Step guide for Smoking a Turkey.

sliced smoked turkey on black cutting board, served with lemons and apples
Moist & Juicy Turkey every time!
Turkey Brine

Turkey Brine Recipe

While a brine can be something as simple as salt and water, this turkey brine recipe below will take your turkey to a whole new level.
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: brined roast turkey breast, turkey brine
Prep Time: 20 minutes
No more than 24 hours: 12 hours
Total Time: 12 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 1160kcal
Author: Mark Rogers

Ingredients

  • 5 to 6 pound turkey Breast
  • cold water
  • 1/2 gallon apple cider
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1- quart chicken stock
  • 1- gallon water
  • 1 cup salt – helps bird retain moisture not too much since bird is not full size
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3- 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup peppercorns
  • 2-3 orange peels
  • bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp thyme
  • 3 tbsp rosemary
  • 1 tbsp juniper berries optional

Instructions

  • Combine all the brining ingredients in a large saucepan, bring to a boil, stir until sugar and salt have dissolved.
  • Add the turkey breast and brining mixture to a brining bucket or stockpot along with ice-cold water and set in the refrigerator overnight. Make sure brine covers the turkey.
  • Remove from brine and pat dry. Allow to dry and come to room temperature for 30 minutes on the kitchen counter.

Notes

These amounts may be decreased. These amounts are used typically for a whole turkey. Feel free to adjust as needed.

Nutrition

Calories: 1160kcal | Carbohydrates: 130g | Protein: 131g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 313mg | Sodium: 29889mg | Potassium: 2464mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 103g | Vitamin A: 337IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 321mg | Iron: 7mg

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