Poultry and Meat Brine
You may be wondering if brining a turkey really makes a difference. I’m here to tell you that it definitely DOES, and this basic turkey brine recipe is one I’ve used for years. After I began brining my turkey each Thanksgiving and saw the results of this technique, I began brining all of my pork, too – I love serving meat that’s juicy and flavorful.
Please Note: We do use referral and affiliate links here for products and services that Chef Alli loves and recommends.
Brining is uber easy, and once you give it a try, you’ll forever be brining both your turkey and most of your pork – it’s totally worth it and the main ingredient required is TIME. Time for the turkey or pork roast to rest in the brine, while you’re doing other things – yay! You really only need TWO tools for brining: a big stock pot for preparing your turkey brine, and then a large cooler for letting your turkey rest in the brine.
Easy Recipe Tips for Making Turkey Brine
1. Will brining my turkey make it too salty? I get this question ALOT! The only way brining can make your turkey too salty is if you go away and leave it in the brine like FOREVER and I know you aren’t going to do that because, after all, you’ve got Thanksgiving Dinner to get on the table, right?
2. But what about my GRAVY? Will the drippings from a brined turkey make my gravy too salty?? YES….that can definitely happen, so do a taste test of your gravy before adding any salt and pepper. Chances are, you won’t need any additional seasonings at all.
3. How does brining work, anyway? Brining is a technique that restaurant chefs have used for years and now home cooks are jumping in. When you submerge meat or poultry into a brine, three basic things happen:
- The meat slowly absorbs some of the liquid (the brine) and this ultimately helps the end result (the turkey!) be more juicy and moist when cooked.
- The protein/muscle fibers are dissolved and they begin clumping together, which helps reduce the toughness of the meat.
- The muscle/protein fibers denature and essentially unfold; as they unfold, the brine liquid works it’s way in between the fibers so there is more liquid in the meat as it cooks, resulting in more tender cooked meat/turkey.
- Long story short: it’s something you’ve got to experience for yo self and then you’ll be a believer!
Printable Poultry and Meat Brine Recipe
Poultry and Meat Brine
- 6 cups apple cider
- 1 bundle fresh thyme, approx. 1 oz.
- 1 bundle fresh rosemary, approx. 1 oz.
- 6-8 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1 Tbs. allspice berries
- 1 Tbs. peppercorns
- 2-3 star anise
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups water
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 oranges, cut in half
- 2 cups kosher salt
- 1 turkey, frozen or thawed, 15 - 18 lbs.
Prepare herbs by placing them into a gallon bag, using a rolling pin to roll over the bag several times. You will immediately notice the wonderful aroma that releases itself; this makes the herbs extra fragrant for your brine.
To make the brine, place all ingredients (including the rolled herbs) except the turkey and the ice into a large stock pot and bring to a boil; whisk until the sugar and salt are completely dissolved, then remove pot from the heat to let brine fully cool.
Place your turkey into a very large (clean!) chest cooler (cooler lid must close) and pour in the prepared, cooled brine. Add enough water to the brine to completely submerge your turkey. Add ice to the brine to keep it chilled. To keep your turkey fully submerged in the brine, place a large bag of ice on top of the turkey.
If your turkey is THAWED going into the brining solution, let him rest in the brine for 18-24 hours. , keeping the brine chilled at all times, never letting the temperature of the brine get above 40 degrees F, adding ice to the brine as needed.
If your turkey is FROZEN going into the brining solution, let him rest in the brine for up to 48 hours, letting him thaw and brine at the same time. 🙂
To cook your turkey, remove him from the brine and rinse well, both inside and out, then pat dry. Roast the turkey using your preferred recipe.
Here’s my favorite recipe for Simple Delicious Roast Turkey and my Top Thanksgiving Recipe Tips and Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup, too!