Brining a Turkey

That brine looks fine

A brine seals in all the delicious goodness and makes for a nice crisp skin. It also helps keep the meat juicy during long cooking processes like smoking. The recipe below should cover a 15- to 20-pound turkey.

Do not stuff a turkey that has been brined. Also do not buy a turkey that has had a saline injection if you are planning to brine it. Really try not to buy a turkey with a saline injection at all. Not only are you paying for salt water as part of the weight, it also means the poultry is not nearly as good to begin with. You will need a very large container to hold the bird and the liquid. I have had good luck using the brining bags made by Glad but it still needs a container to hold the bag up. A strong clear trash bag will work as well. There will also need to be a lot of space in the refrigerator for the container to sit.

Here’s a refresher on how to carve the bird.

Turkey Brine

  • 5 liters water
  • 1 1/2 cups sea salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 garlic head, sliced in half horizontally
  • 1/2 orange, squeezed
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns

Add all ingredients to a large stock pot except the turkey. Squeeze the orange juice into the brine and then put the remaining orange peel in. Bring to a boil then remove from heat. Cool to room temperature, then place in refrigerator and let it get cold. Submerge turkey in brine and weigh down with a plate. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours. When time is up, remove bird and discard brine. Rinse off and pat dry. Place on a rack and put back in the refrigerator for 24 hours. The turkey is then ready to roast or smoke just let it come to room temperature before cooking.

About Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide

This blog attempts to collect some of the things I try to create with food and booze. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail. My hope is to entertain and maybe help people think a little harder about what they decide to eat and drink.
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15 Responses to Brining a Turkey

  1. A_Boleyn says:

    I’ve never brined a turkey but I wouldn’t mind trying it. I usually buy my turkeys frozen … does that have an effect on brining as I’m not sure if it’s been injected with anything before freezing?

  2. Wow that turkey in brine looks fine indeed..I might try using a whole chicken, I think

  3. Raymund says:

    Ohh boy this is a big thing to brine, but I guess it will be all worth it

  4. maybe this is a stupid questions… but why not stuff after brining?

    • The cooking time for the most part. If you plan to smoke the bird the cooking temperature is also an issue but mostly a brined bird will cook differently (faster) than an unbrined one. Of course if you are bothering to brine a turkey then I would hope that smoking it would be the end game.

      • Well the reason I ask is because two years ago I did brine my turkey. And stuffed it. We didn’t get poisoned but I think you are probably right. At the time I had no idea how much faster it would cook. Since then I have not made thanksgiving dinner again. My mommy is a better cook anyway πŸ™‚

  5. egg me on says:

    I’m brining with delight. Looks awesome.

  6. Love that golden brown color!

  7. ChgoJohn says:

    I’ve been brining my turkey for a number of years now, though I add some apple cider to the bringing liquid. With or without the cider, brining always delivers a moist bird. πŸ™‚

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