Brining my Turkey

In food preparation, brining is a practice similar to marinating in which meat is soaked in brine before cooking. Brining makes cooked meat moister by hydrating the cells of its muscle tissue before cooking therefore preventing the meat from dehydrating. I have never in my life brined a turkey before and my turkeys were always very delicious. But after looking this up and understanding it a little better, I decided I would give it a try. With all the different stuff you could add to the brine I was determined to make my own recipe up. I have read that the brining process also really infuses the herbs and spices for the drippings making the gravy that much more full of flavor. My Husbands partners are in from France and one will be spending Thanksgiving with us.  I have known them for 15 years and it is so nice to have him and his wife for one of our holidays!

Do not brine a kosher or self basting turkey, they are already infused with a salt solution and will create an overbearing salt flavor if brined.


I am pretty sure this will be a great brine recipe.  I have read up on it pretty well.

6 quarts water (24 cups)
3 1/2 cups sea salt
4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons cracked peppercorns
7-8 cloves garlic
Poultry herbs fresh, bundled (Fresh poultry herbs can be found pre-packaged sometimes in your stores fresh herb section of the produce area. They are a blend of rosemary, thyme, sage, marjoram, parsley, and sometimes other herbs too.)

1 tangerine quartered skin on

14 oz of cranberry juice

14 oz apple juice

1 cup raspberry red wine vinegar

48 oz container vegetable stock


Wash and dry a cooler which is large enough to hold the turkey you will be placing in the brine. (Or use a food grade plastic bag made for the purpose, available at your supermarket; this method will require only half the amount of brine.) I used the bag and placed it in a large cooler, no room in the fridge. I placed the cooler outside in our gazebo and filled with ice.

Prepare brine by combining ingredients in a stainless steel or enamel pan (do not use aluminum). Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, until all of the sugar and salt are dissolved. Allow brine too cool. Pour into cooler (or bag, if using). This made the house smell like thanksgiving, my Husband said “Oh Man, Dinner smells good” I had to tell him it was for the turkey and not dinner. lol

Add 2-3 quarts of ice; enough to bring the temperature of the brine to about 35°F degrees. (Or, if using a plastic bag, add 1 1/2 quarts cold water and refrigerate the brine until it reaches this temperature.) You don’t want the brine to cook the turkey at all.  Make sure it is cold before adding to the turkey.

Remove giblets, neck, etc. from inside turkey, wash turkey well, inside and out. Rub inside of turkey liberally with additional kosher or sea salt.

Prepare sufficient brine to submerge turkey entirely if possible, if not you can turn over the turkey as I am doing. Recipe may be doubled, if required (or halved, if using a plastic bag for the brining).

When the brine is cold, add the turkey to the cooler or plastic bag. Keep the turkey cold (35°F or below). This can be accomplished by adding ice, or placing the cooler or plastic bag in a cold place.

On average they say to brine 1 hour for each pound of turkey. I am brining mine over two nights; the reason is the top of the bird is not fully submerged, so I will be flipping it over tonight to allow the breast to get adequate time in the brine.

I hope this has been helpful and that you may have learned a little bit about this process.


“Just like becoming an expert in wine–you learn by drinking it, the best you can afford–you learn about great food by finding the best there is, whether simply or luxurious. Then you savor it, analyze it, and discuss it with your companions, and you compare it with other experiences.”
― Julia ChildMastering the Art of French Cooking



I love wikipedia

11 thoughts on “Brining my Turkey

    • Thank you for the laugh, and I remember that scene! It is worth the work for me to see eveyones smiling faces! I just finished almost all my pies, and some side dishes. Camn’t wait to blog them.

      Have a Most wonderful Thanksgiving Felicia!

  1. Just an update, the turkey was not unusually pink or salty tasting; it however was probably the most moist turkey we have ever had. I will continue to brine the turkey from now on. I cooked the turkey in a true “New England” fashion, with a maple glaze all over the bird. It was dark and caramelized and soooo tasty! Will post it, just have been soo busy!
    Laura LovingLife

  2. Pingback: Succulent, Juicy, Meaty, Yumminess | J. Keller Ford ~ Author

Let me know what you think!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s