Looking to make a super flavorful, juicy turkey for your holiday table this year? You’ve come to just the right place. This Juicy Turkey Brine recipe requires cider, broth, fresh herbs, citrus, ice and a big cooler – that’s it!
Juicy Turkey Brine Recipe
Howdy! Chef Alli Here. Let’s Get You Cookin’…. Shall We?? 🙂
Brining is a culinary technique that is sooooo worthwhile. Yep, you do have to do a bit of advance planning since brining does require some TIME where the turkey rests in the brine so the magic can happen.
Once you give it a try, you’ll be forever brining your turkey each Thanksgiving as well as other meats that you enjoy roasting and grilling.
Brining requires only two tools: a stock pot or Dutch oven for preparing the brine and a large cooler where the turkey rests in the brine.
What to love about brined turkey
- It’s juicy, juicy, juicy!!
- Texture and butter-soft tenderness.
- FLAVOR….finger-lickin’ good.
How to make turkey brine –
Place the fresh herb bundles into a gallon bag. Using a rolling pin, roll over the bag of herbs several times. This is an important step since it forces the herbs to release their oils/essence/aroma, making them extra potent for flavoring the brine.
In a large pot, over medium high heat, place all the brine ingredients (except the ice); bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cooking the brine just until the salt is completely dissolved. Fully cool the brine. You’re ready to brine your turkey!
How to brine a turkey –
Place your cleaned and rinsed turkey into an extra large oven roasting bag; lower the turkey (still in the bag) into a tall beverage cooler, making sure the turkey is legs-up with the cavity open. Insert the garlic and oranges into the cavity of the turkey, then pour the cooled brine into the bag.
Tie the bag closed to keep the brine surrounding every part of the turkey; top the turkey with lots of ice and cover. Let the turkey brine for 18-24 hours, keeping it chilled with lots of ice at all times.
At the end of the brining period, remove the turkey from the cooler into the sink and rinse well, inside and out. Pat dry and begin the process of roasting your turkey, as desired, using your preferred recipe.
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 Juicy Turkey Brine Recipe
Poultry and Meat Brine
- 6 cups apple cider
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 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.
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