How to Brine a Turkey: Follow these Easy Steps for a Stunning-Looking Turkey

Feb 04, 2021 11:58 PM

How to Brine a Turkey - Photo by Cathy Chaplin from Flickr
SHARE - Serving a memorable dish is very important, especially when you’re celebrating feast like Thanksgiving. One of the most iconic dishes on the table has to be a juicy turkey. Some people have ways to prepare their turkey, while others choose to brine it – which is a popular tradition to create an incredible flavor.

What is Brining a Turkey and Why Do It

How to Brine a Turkey - Photo by Bill Koslosky from Flickr

Before heading right into how to brine a turkey, it’s important for you to know what is brining and why you should do it. Brining a turkey means you’re soaking your turkey in salt water or seasoning it with salt. The reason is because the fact that it can make a huge impact in taste and texture.

Since turkey isn’t a flavorful meat on its own, and doesn’t have a lot of fat to keep itself away from being dry and tough, brining is the right solution for this to produce a flavorful and moist main course for your holiday meal.

How to brine a turkey starts with you knowing what ingredients and equipment you need for the whole process.


  • 1 whole turkey
  • 4 quarts divided cold water
  • ¾ cup table salt or 1 cup kosher salt
  • Aromatic options: peppercorns, cloves, bay leaf, juniper berries, allspice berries, orange peels, lemon peels, etc.


  • 1 large pot or bucket with a lid
  • Measuring spoons and cups
  • Paper towels

How to Brine a Turkey

How to Brine a Turkey - Photo by Jake Ludington from Flickr

After knowing the ingredients and the equipment, now it’s time to brine.

Step 1. Find a pot and make a space in your fridge. The pot or food-safe bucket is the one that’s large enough, so that you will be able to submerge the turkey entirely. And then, clear some refrigerator space and be sure your pot can fit.

Step 2. Put the turkey in the pot. Unwrap the turkey and remove the giblets. After that, transfer it to the pot. You can add any aromatics you’d like to use.

Step 3. Mix the brine solution. Heat 1 quart of water in the microwave until it’s warmed – note: it doesn’t need to come to a boil, just warm enough to dissolve the salt. Then, add the salt and stir it until the salt is dissolve. Let the liquid slightly cool – if it’s still a touch warm, it’s fine.

Step 4. Pour the brine solution over the turkey.

Step 5. Next, pour the remaining 3 quarts of water over your turkey. This process with dilute the salt solution to the best ratio for brining. It also helps further cool the solution.

Step 6. You want to make sure that the turkey is completely submerged. If required, you can prepare more brine solution at a ratio of ¼ cup salt per quart of water – this will help submerge the turkey completely.

Step 7. Cover and refrigerate. If the turkey floats, just weigh it down with a dinner plate. Cover and then place it in the refrigerator.

Step 8. Now brine the turkey in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours.

Step 9. Next, remove the turkey from the brine and rinse under cold running water. Use your paper towels to pat dry. Make sure to clean your sink thoroughly after doing this step to prevent cross-contamination.

Step 10. (Optional) If you have time, you can air-dry your turkey for another 24 hours in the refrigerator. Put the turkey on a roasting rack set inside a roasting pan and then cover loosely with plastic wrap to avoid cross contamination. This optional step will give your turkey crispier skin.

Step 11. Now it’s time to roast your turkey. To do this, you can either roast immediately after brining or after air-drying. Roast as usual and make sure to check the turkey’s temperature an hour before the end of your estimate cooking time.

Now that you’ve known the whole process of how to brine a turkey, you can try these easy steps at home.

How Long to Brine a Turkey

How to Brine a Turkey - Photo by julochka from Flickr

In this writing of how to brine a turkey, you also need to know how long can you brine a turkey. Tripboba has mentioned it earlier that to brine a turkey takes time for about 12 to 24 hours. It’s actually depends on the size of the turkey and how much salt you add to the brine.

The usual rule is 1 cup of salt for each gallon of water. And then, brine the turkey overnight. However, some people also brine their turkey for at least 8 hours and up to 18 hours. Other people also like to brine their turkey for 2 to 3 days – this is usually a large turkey. If you add a bit more water, you can brine your turkey longer for a better overall bird.

The question remind is, what happens if you brine a turkey too long? If this happens, the turkey will absorb too much salt. What you need to do is add more water than traditionally recommended.

No additional seasoning is required after brining the turkey, because it’s already perfectly seasoned from the skin down to the bone.

How to Dry Brine a Turkey

How to Brine a Turkey - Photo by rchip123 from Flickr

There are other things you need to know about how to brine a turkey. One of them is how do you dry-brine a turkey. This happens when you’re dealing with a whole turkey. Remember, the larger the meat, the more time you need to brine.


  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried herbs, such as sage, thyme, and rosemary
  • 1 (14 to 16 pound) thawed whole turkey (remember, not josher or pre-salted)


  • Small bowl
  • Measuring spoons
  • Cutting board
  • Roasting pan or large rimmed baking sheet


Step 1. Mix the dry brine; salt, pepper, and herbs together in a small bowl.

Step 2. Remove the turkey from the packing and put it on a cutting board. And then, get rid of any unnecessary parts, such as giblets and neck from inside the cavity and discard or save for another use. Make sure to get rid of any plastic or metal cages or pop-up thermometers.

Step 3. Pat dry the turkey with paper towels. Note: if you want to spatchcock your turkey, do it now before proceed to the next step.

Step 4. Loosen the skin over the breast and separate it from the meat – do this with your hands. And then, you want to make sure to break through the thin membrane between the skin and breast while leaving the skin itself intact. Loosen the skin over the meaty part of the legs.

Step 5. Now season the cavity. To do this, sprinkle 2 teaspoons of the salt mixture into the cavity of the turkey.

Step 6. It’s time to season the meat by rubbing another 2 teaspoons of the salt mixture the meat of the legs (under the skin). Rub 4 teaspoons of the salt mixture into the meat of the breasts (under the skin).

Step 7. Season the skin by sprinkling the remaining salt mixture over all the skin of the breast and legs.

Step 8. Tuck the wings back under the breast.

Step 9. After that, put the turkey breast-side up in a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan and place it into your refrigerator without being covered for at least 1 day – but ideally 3 days. Tips: You don’t need to pat dry it before cooking, it’s ready to deep-fry, roasted, or grilled.

How to Brine a Turkey Breast

How to Brine a Turkey - Photo by hwicker from Flickr

Another topic that relates to how to brine a turkey is brine the turkey’s breast. You definitely need to know this one, because it can shine your holidays.

Step 1. Mix up your flavorings any way you prefer. You can use bay leaves, onion, garlic, rosemary, peppercorns, citrus, thyme, fresh sage, etc.

Step 2. You can heat the brine to dissolve the salt and sugar – this is optional, depends on how you like it.

Step 3. About 1 minute, stir the salt and sugar in the room temperature water to dissolve it. And then, add your flavorings.

Step 4. Dunk your turkey in the brine and let it soak.

Step 5. And then, remove the turkey from the brine, rinse it, and let it dry for several hours in the refrigerator. For this process, you have to plan ahead – it’s definitely worth the effort.

Step 6. Once you’re ready to roast the turkey, prepare a roasting pan with aluminum foil and put a roasting rack in the pan and place the turkey breast on the rack.

Step 7. You can roast it for 20 minutes per pound at 350 degrees. Make sure to start checking the temperature with a reliable thermometer at about 1 hour of cooking.

Step 8. Let it rest for 15 minutes, slice it, and enjoy your delicious breast turkey.

How to brine a turkey from Tripboba has officially done. Now you can try these steps at your home and create a stunning-looking turkey for your loved ones.


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