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How to Brine a Turkey

A generous sprinkle of salt and pepper and a brush of butter are delicious and may be all you desire on your turkey. Many of us like to take it a step further to ensure a memorable flavor. Brining is an easy way to do just that. .


Brining basically consists of soaking your turkey in a saltwater solution for 4 to 24 hours. It’s a great way to ensure moist, tasty meat. Keep in mind that a big turkey in a big pot of water can get pretty heavy and take up a lot of refrigerator space, though, so you might want to think twice about the logistics before brining a bird over about 20 pounds.

Brining Basics

  1. Choose a brine recipe or purchase a brining mix.
  2. Find a container large enough to submerge your turkey in; check to make sure it fits in your refrigerator.
  3. Unwrap your fresh or thawed turkey and remove the giblets.
  4. Place turkey in container and pour in enough cooled brining solution to completely cover it.
  5. If turkey floats to the surface, place a heavy plate or lid on top.
  6. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours; the liquid must stay at or below 40°F for safety.
  7. Remove turkey from brine and pat thoroughly dry. Discard brine.

Keep In Mind

  • Containers must be cleaned and sanitized both before and after brining.
  • If you prefer to brine overnight, reduce the salt by about half or your finished bird may be too salty.
  • Do not stuff a brined bird; the stuffing will be too salty.
  • Brining will produce salty pan juices; if making gravy with them, be sure to use low-sodium broth.

Other time-tested methods for a turkey taste explosion are injecting flavor, using fresh herbs and giving a good spice rub down. Learn these techniques plus how to roast for a turkey in our online turkey guide.

Once the cooking is done, we’ll show you how to carve that beauty.

Do you have any secrets for getting the best flavor out of your turkey? How do you ensure a moist bird? Share them in the comments below.

Happy cooking, happy eating and a very happy Thanksgiving!