Every year I test, and test and test recipes for Thanksgiving. But not my turkey brine recipe. It’s perfect, and I use the same one every single year regardless of how I make my bird.

Whether it’s roasted turkey or turkey in a slow cooker, I use the same brine on both of them.

There’s nothing quite like a perfectly cooked turkey and that 100% starts with a turkey brine. You CANNOT skip it. Trust me, I’ve tested enough to know that it really is a game changer.

A photo of turkey brine in a large stock pot with fresh herbs, orange and lemon peels.

Turkey Brine Basics

Brining a turkey needs two specific ingredients and then the remaining ingredients vary based upon your own individual recipes.

  1. Liquid- Your turkey breast (or whole turkey) will sit in a liquid anywhere from 8-24 hours. The kind of liquid does in fact make a difference as they will help to flavor the meat. Brining, as well as marinating, is not made to soak into the center of the meat, but to flavor the outside so well that as it cooks that flavor emerges.
  2. Salt- It’s preferred that you use Kosher salt for brining as it’s a more coarse salt which will help to break down the meat, soak in the liquid for a more juicy meat and finally, the salt helps to flavor the meat more than just a rub later on.

A photo of a whole roasted turkey surrounded by roasted lemon halves and fresh herbs.

How to Brine a Turkey

Brining a turkey might sound fancy or complicated but it’s as easy as dunking a turkey in salty liquid with some extra flavors if desired and letting it sit. Easy peezy! The brine is used to lock flavor and moisture into the turkey.

A few simple ingredients is all you need for my favorite turkey brine:

  • Apple cider
  • Water
  • Brown sugar
  • Kosher salt
  • Bay leaves
  • Garlic cloves
  • Fresh rosemary
  • Orange peel
  • Lemon peel

Grab a large stock pot and put all the ingredients into the pot. Stir everything together until the sugar and salt dissolve. Place the turkey carefully into the brine, put the lid on the pot, and set it in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Why Do You Brine A Turkey?

Brining a turkey adds moisture and flavor to the final product. A basic brine is salt and water. We like to add several extra flavors, but the salt and water is what you need to brine. The turkey absorbs all the delicious flavors to make for the most flavorful turkey after cooking.

Brining breaks down muscle fibers and tenderizes the meat. In other words, forget that dry bird, brining will change your life!

Do You Rinse Meat After You Brine It?

No, just pat it dry. That way all those delicious flavors aren’t diminished. After brining, it’s important to let the bird rest in the fridge as it will dry out the skin which will bake up more golden and crisp.

If have never brined before, do it! It’s simple and totally worth it!. You’ll be using my favorite turkey brine recipe for every turkey you ever make! I guarantee it!

More Turkey Recipes You’ll Love:

The Best Turkey Brine

4.24 from 21 votes
Servings: 1 batch
Prep Time: 1 day 4 hours
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 1 day 7 hours


The most wonderful turkey brine to totally transform your bird from boring and dry to tender, juicy, flavorful perfection



  • 3 Cups Apple Cider
  • 3 Cups Orange Juice
  • 13 Cups Water
  • 2 Cups Brown Sugar
  • 1 Cup Kosher Salt
  • 5 Bay Leaves
  • 5 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 4 Sprigs Rosemary, leaves stripped off
  • 1 Orange peel
  • 1 Lemon peel


  • Place each ingredient of the brine in a large pot and stir until the sugar and salt have dissolved. 
    3 Cups Apple Cider, 3 Cups Orange Juice, 13 Cups Water, 2 Cups Brown Sugar, 1 Cup Kosher Salt, 5 Bay Leaves, 5 Cloves Garlic, 4 Sprigs Rosemary, 1 Orange peel, 1 Lemon peel
  • Add the turkey and put a lid on the pot.
  • Set the turkey in the brine in the fridge for 24 hours. 
  • Remove turkey from brine and pat dry. Allow the turkey to rest in the fridge so it can completely dry.
  • Proceed with classic roasted turkey recipe.


You can make the brine 2-3 days ahead and store in the refrigerator.


Serving: 1batchCalories: 2372kcalCarbohydrates: 599gProtein: 8gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 113490mgPotassium: 2913mgFiber: 5gSugar: 558gVitamin A: 1593IUVitamin C: 408mgCalcium: 730mgIron: 7mg
Author: Sweet Basil
Course: 10 Best Turkey Recipes on the Internet, Over 500 Family Dinner Recipes Ideas
Cuisine: American

A photo of turkey brine in a large stock pot with fresh herbs, orange and lemon peels.


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