Brined Turkey

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Brined Turkey

A good brine is the key to a juicy, flavor, and tender turkey that will impress everyone at your table. Looking for the best turkey brine recipe? We’ve got you covered. This top-rated wet brine, seasoned with aromatic ingredients like rosemary and thyme, will become an annual tradition in your house.

What Is Brining?

Brine adds moisture and flavor to all kinds of meats, including turkey. Since turkey is a lean meat without a lot of fat, this step ensures your dinner isn’t tough and dry.

At its simplest, a brine is a basic solution of water and salt. Many brine recipes, though, contain extra spices and seasonings to amp up the flavor.

Wet vs. Dry Brine

There are two types of brines: wet and dry. A wet brine (such as this one) saturates the turkey in salt water. The meat absorbs the water and the salt helps the muscles retain the liquid, which results in a juicy turkey that isn’t oozing water.

A dry brine, meanwhile, doesn’t contain liquid. It works because the salt mixes with the meat juices and is absorbed into the turkey.

Turkey Brine Ingredients

This brine is easy to throw together with ingredients you probably already have on hand. Here’s what you’ll need:

Vegetable Broth
You can use store-bought or homemade vegetable broth as the base for this recipe. Chicken broth will also work if that’s what you have on hand.

Salt
Sea salt infuses the bird with savory flavor through osmosis. It also helps keep the meat tender and juicy.
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Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, and Savory
Earthy herbs and spices like rosemary, sage, thyme, and savory (an aromatic herb in the mint family) add flavor and complexity.

Water
Ice water adds volume to the brine. Plus, it keeps the turkey juicy and tender.

How to Make Turkey Brine

Making the brine couldn’t be simpler: Just combine all the ingredients (besides the ice water) on the stove and bring to a boil. Stir the mixture frequently. When the salt is dissolved, remove from heat and let the brine cool completely.

How to Brine a Turkey

There are a couple of different ways to brine a turkey. For this method, you’ll just need to follow a few simple steps. You’ll find the full recipe below, but here’s a brief overview of what you can expect:

Make the Brine

Make the brine by boiling the first six ingredients — everything besides the water — in a stockpot. Stir frequently. Remove from heat when the sea salt is dissolved.

Transfer Brine to Bucket

Let the brine cool slightly, then transfer it to a bucket or stockpot that’s large enough to hold the turkey and the brine. Add the ice water and stir.

Brine the Turkey

Make sure your turkey is clean, dry, and that the innards have been removed. Place the turkey in the brine and refrigerate overnight. When your turkey is done brining, remove it from the bucket and drain carefully. Discard the brine, making sure to disinfect anything it comes in contact with. Cook the turkey using the method of your choosing.
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How Long to Brine a Turkey

A good rule of thumb is to brine for at least an hour per pound of turkey. So, if the bird weighs 12 pounds, you should brine it for at least 12 hours. This should ensure that the turkey is completely permeated and the brine has enough time to do its job. If you have extra time, you can brine for up to 48 hours for the juiciest, most flavorful turkey.

To prevent foodborne illness, do not brine for longer than two days and make sure the turkey stays refrigerated throughout the process.

Can You Brine a Frozen Turkey?

It’s best to brine a fresh or thawed turkey. However, if you find yourself in a pinch, you can brine and thaw your turkey at the same time. Of course, it’ll take a little more time when you start from frozen. You’ll need at least 24 hours to simultaneously thaw and brine your turkey in the fridge. Reminder: Never, ever leave a fresh or frozen turkey at room temperature for more than two hours. The turkey should be refrigerated when you’re not actively working on it.

Allrecipes Community Tips and Praise

“I really enjoyed this recipe,” says Gwenn. “I never made a turkey before and was very apprehensive. However, brining it made it so extremely juicy and tasty.

“This is a wonderful brine,” according to Jerome Zawolkow. “I made a small tweak. During the roasting process, I baste the bird with butter that has been warmed on the stove with rubbing sage mixed in. Oh my gosh. I will never cook an unbrined bird again.”
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“WOW,” raves DILETTANTE. “Great recipe. I first tried this recipe a couple years ago. I received so many compliments on Christmas Day. So moist and flavorful. No need to baste at all! I like a bit of sweetness in the brine, so I added 1/2 to 3/4 cup brown sugar. You could also try just plain white sugar, or for something extra special, some maple syrup.”

Editorial contributions by Corey Williams

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