Basic Brine for Turkey

Makes 1 gallon

Here's a simple, adaptable brine recipe that will give roasted turkey a terrific flavor base. This produces 1 gallon, which should be adequate to submerge a small turkey (up to 12 pounds) (or 2 chickens). Double the recipe for birds up to 20 pounds. If you'd prefer to brine overnight (12 to 24 hours), reduce the amounts of sugar and salt by half.

Ingredients: 
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar or brown sugar
  • Small handful of aromatics (garlic cloves, thyme sprigs, whole peppercorns, bay leaves, lemon or orange zest removed in strips)
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Method: 

Combine salt, sugar, aromatics and 1/2 gallon (8 cups) of water in a large pot and place over medium-high heat. Stir until sugar and salt are dissolved. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Stir in remaining 1/2 gallon water (or water and ice) and cool completely.

Pour brine into a container just large enough to hold turkey comfortably. (A 4- or 5-gallon vessel should be good for a 10- to 12-pound turkey.) Add turkey; add a little more water or ice to submerge it if necessary. Turn bird a few times and then leave breast-side down in the water; place a heavy plate over the poultry if it floats. Chill 5 to 6 hours. Remove bird from brine, discard brine and roast as directed.

Three Twists:

Smoky Brine
Use smoked coarse sea salt in place of the kosher salt.

Beer Brine
Replace the water with lager beer.

Spiced Cider Brine
Use apple cider instead of water. Add zest of 1 orange removed in strips with a vegetable peeler, 1 cinnamon stick and 1 teaspoon whole cloves with the aromatics.

Nutritional Info: 
Per Serving:

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