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My Favorite Turkey Brine Recipe

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:

Raised in the Kitchen - Carrian Cheney
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A photo of turkey brine in a large stock pot.

The Best Turkey Brine

0 from 0 votes
Prep Time: 1 day 4 hours
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 1 day 7 hours
Servings: 12
The most wonderful turkey brine to totally transform your bird from boring and dry to tender, juicy, flavorful perfection

Ingredients

Brine

  • 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

Instructions

  • Place each ingredient of the brine in a large pot and stir until the sugar and salt have dissolved. 
  • 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.

Notes

You can make the brine 2-3 days ahead and store in the refrigerator.
Nutrition Facts
The Best Turkey Brine
Amount Per Serving (1 g)
Calories 1138 Calories from Fat 405
% Daily Value*
Fat 45g69%
Saturated Fat 18g113%
Cholesterol 394mg131%
Sodium 14889mg647%
Potassium 1401mg40%
Carbohydrates 77g26%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 69g77%
Protein 106g212%
Vitamin A 844IU17%
Vitamin C 18mg22%
Calcium 176mg18%
Iron 5mg28%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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

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About the authors

carrian feik cheney oh sweet basil

Cade and Carrian have three children and love to spend time together whether it’s vacationing or snuggled up on the couch for a good movie.

And this family especially loves to eat.

They love everything from the keep you fit and healthy to the get out your sweat pants indulgent and everything in between.

But most of all, they love the memories made, shared and treasured and it’s all thanks to a meal shared together with loved ones.

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14 comments

  • How many pounds of turkey would this brine work for?

    • Reply
    • We usually get a turkey that’s 12-14 lbs, but it could really be any size as long as your pot is big enough and it’s fully submerged.

      • Reply
  • Do I thaw the turkey breast first or put in frozen?

    • Reply
    • Hi Carol! It needs to be totally thawed!

      • Reply
  • What size turkey would your brine be for?

    • Reply
    • We usually get a turkey that’s 12-14 lbs, but it could really be an size as long as your pot is big enough and it’s fully submerged.

      • Reply
  • I have never bribed and want to try it. Sorry for the silly question but is it apple cider or apple cider vinegar? I am not sure I have seen apple cider in the stores.

    • Reply
    • Just apple cider. It can be a little more difficult to find at the grocery store. Sometimes I find it on the aisle by the apple juice and other times I find it in the refrigerated section by the orange juice. If you can’t find it, just go with apple juice.

      • Reply
  • We’re hosting Thanksgiving this year, can’t wait to try this!! Once we started brining our pork chops, we never looked back, definite game changer!! So I’m sure it’ll be the same with turkey!!

    • Reply
    • After you finished brining the turkey, do you put it in the fridge covered or uncovered? Also, does the salt in the brine make the turkey very salty? My husband can’t have alot of salt. Sounds delicious. Thanks for the recipe.

      • Reply
      • Hi Carol! Put the turkey back in the fridge uncovered after brining. The salt in the brine is mostly for tenderizing the turkey although it does add to the flavor. It’s not super salty though. Enjoy!!

    • Yes, total game changer! Try this and let us know what you think! Have the best Thanksgiving!

      • Reply
  • Looks Great can’t wait for Thanksgiving.

    • Reply
    • Me too!! Thank you for taking time to leave a comment!

      • Reply

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