Here’s the deal, if you’ve never used a brined turkey for your Thanksgiving feast… you’re missing out. Here’s a step by step guide for an Easy Turkey Brine recipe to get the most delicious juicy turkey you’ll ever eat!
Who here has brined a turkey before?! If you haven’t, prepare for your life to change. It’s everything and this year’s recipe is beyond. It’s loaded with all sorts of aromatics that will infuse the bird with even more flavor.
Why should you brine your turkey and is it worth it?
Good question. Brining your turkey is a key step to making it moist once it’s cooked. Turkeys are mostly lean meat, which means there isn’t a lot of fat to help it from drying out. And really there’s nothing more disappointing than a dry piece of turkey at the Thanksgiving table.
How do you make a turkey brine?
During the brining process, you soak the turkey in a salt and water mixture (with other aromatics if you want to get jazzy) and the turkey absorbs that extra moisture from the liquid. This process helps it stay moist and juicy during cooking! Which then means it’s still moist and juicy once you carve it and serve.
Brining also helps season the turkey from the inside out so no matter what piece you get, it’ll be delicious!
What is a turkey brine and what does it do to a turkey?
It’s basically just water with salt and different aromatics. I like to add brown sugar to give it a little hint of sweetness, some red pepper flakes, sage and lots of garlic. The whole mixture will just give the bird that extra subtle flavor everyone is looking for on Thanksgiving. And it helps the bird make incredible drippings for gravy.
What kind of turkey should you brine?
This is super important!! You basically just want a plain old turkey. Don’t get one with any other “enhanced” or “self-basting” descriptors on the package. Those mean that the turkey has already been brined or treated and I’d rather do it myself so I have full control over what is going into my bird and brine.
How long should you brine a turkey for?
You should brine a turkey for roughly 48 hours. Trust me, its worth it.
Can you over brine a frozen turkey / should you brine a turkey before roasting?
Absolutely! I do almost every year. This process will also help thaw the bird out before cooking.
Can you over brine a turkey?
You don’t want to brine a bird for more than 2 days in my opinion. 48 hours is just the right amount of time for the turkey to soak up those flavors without getting too salty.
What do you do after you brine the turkey?
Treat it like you could a normal bird. Pat it dry, season it accordingly and then roast! This is my favorite recipe for a cooked bird! The herb butter makes for the best drippings which make the gravy out of this world!
Do I need to rinse a brined turkey before cooking?
No. In fact you really shouldn’t rinse any meat before cooking. According to the Center for Disease Control, you should never wash raw meat or poultry before cooking it! Washing it can spread bacteria to surfaces like your kitchen countertop, all over the sink, utensils, and nearby foods. The USDA agrees.
So all that’s left is to grab a large vessel that will fit 1: the liquid brine mixture 2: and the bird and 3: will fit into your fridge. If you have an extra fridge in your garage, that’s the perfect place to store this as it won’t be in your way when you’re stocking your fridge with the rest of the Thanksgiving ingredients.
Get ready guys… THANKSGIVING this year is going to be insane.
Easy Turkey Brine
- 16 cups water divided
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon dried red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon dried sage
- 1 bunch fresh thyme
- 2 heads garlic sliced in half
- 14 to 18- pound turkey cleaned, innards removed
- Combine 8 cups of the water, salt, dark brown sugar, red pepper flakes, sage, thyme and garlic in a large pot and place over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes until everything is evenly combined and the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Stir in remaining water and cool completely.
- Pour the brine into a container just large enough to hold the turkey comfortably. Add the turkey; adding more water if needed to cover the bird entirely. Turn bird a few times and then leave breast-side down in the water. Chill for at least 8 hours, and up to 48 hours. Remove bird from brine, discard brine and roast as needed.