Super Easy Turkey Brine Recipe – moist, juicy, and succulent meat every time. With very little effort, and a few ingredients including water, apple juice, aromatics, and seasonings, the brine does all the work tenderizing the meat and infusing it with the most delicious flavor!
Whether you’re looking for a new easy turkey brine recipe or you’re just wanting to learn the tips and tricks behind getting more moisture into your meat, learning how to brine a turkey is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
It’s an easy way for any home cook to feel like a professional chef!
You can brine anything from a whole turkey to chicken breast, to pork loin because sometimes cooking lean meat that doesn’t have a lot of fat can be finicky. It’s easy to overcook and dry out, which is why allowing it to sit in a brine ahead of time is magic!
Let’s get started. I promise you’ll want to keep this recipe handy from now on!
Why Brine a Turkey?
A brine is composed of two main ingredients. Salt and water. Sometimes sugar, and of course other ingredients for flavor. There is also often an acidic component whether it be apple juice or lemon juice.
The salt helps the protein in the meat absorb and retain more water. It plumps up the bird and allows it to hold onto that moisture as it cooks. There will always be a loss of moisture as the meat cooks, but because we’re starting off with even more moisture, it balances it out.
If we were to not use brine and still lose that moisture, we may be left with less than moist meat.
Using brine isn’t always a must but it’s definitely always a bonus!
Easy Turkey Brine Recipe Ingredients
- Water: The base of most brine is water. It’s the liquid in which all other ingredients are combined and what helps to add moisture to the meat.
- Apple juice: Adds flavor and acidity which helps break down the fibers to tenderize the meat.
- Herbs: Fresh rosemary, fresh thyme, and dried bay leaves give the brine an herbaceous element.
- Aromatics: Cloves of garlic and sliced onion. They are there to impart flavor, so no need to chop or dice anything. All of the brine will be discarded once the meat is ready to use.
- Seasoning: Salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, Montreal Steak spice or original Mrs. Dash spice. Salty, sweet, and deliciously spiced!
How to Brine a Turkey
Step 1: In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, or whatever big soup pot you have, add all of the ingredients except the onion. Bring it to a boil and turn off the heat.
Step 2: Add a gallon of ice and the onions. Allow it to cool and then add your turkey and make sure it’s completely submerged.
Step 3: Transfer the pot with the turkey to the fridge or cover it and keep it in a cold garage. Leave it sitting in the brine overnight.
Step 4: Once it’s ready, remove the turkey from the brine and pat it dry with paper towels. Use it as directed in any of your favorite turkey recipes like this easy Thanksgiving turkey recipe with stuffing!
How Long to Brine a Turkey?
This depends on how big your bird is, how much time you have, and when you plan on cooking it. If you’re cooking a whole bird, leave it in for at least 8 hours to 18 hours. Depending on the size of your turkey, some people have been known to leave theirs in for 72 hours!
If you plan to leave it for that long, be sure to check on it occasionally. When you leave it for too long, then the salt starts to break down the meat too much leaving it soft and overly salted.
- Bringing a big turkey in a large pot can take up a ton of room in your fridge. If you live in a cold climate, it’s always a great space saver to keep it covered in your garage or cold room.
- If you’ve left the turkey in longer than 8 hours, feel free to rinse it off before patting it dry. You may want to get rid of any salt that’s sitting on the surface of the skin. Or not, it’s up to you!
- You can brine the turkey in advance. Once the 18 hours is up, even if you’re not ready to cook it, rinse it, pat it dry, and leave it in the fridge for up to 2 days.
- Discard the brine. Do not use it! It’s been contaminated with raw poultry, so you can’t use it for anything else.
After brining a turkey, do I still need to season it?
Not necessarily! The brining adds so much flavor, plus there will be residual salt on the skin so some people find this is enough. Others like to season as directed, so it’s really up to you!
How do I ensure crispy skin after it’s been so moist?
The best way is to make sure to pat the bird dry and allow it to sit uncovered in the fridge for a while. Once it’s completely dry, drizzle oil or add some butter to the skin to help it brown up nicely.
Can I brine a frozen turkey?
Yes! It’s actually an easy way to thaw the turkey at the same time. You’ll want to leave it in longer, maybe even up to 48 hours (longer if it’s a huge one) as it’ll not absorb anything until later on in the process.
Best Thanksgiving Recipes:
Thanksgiving Turkey Recipe with Best Turkey Stuffing
Last Minute Turkey Cheese Platter
Cinnamon Roll Apple Roses Recipe
Moist Carrot Cake Recipe From Scratch
Ultimate Pumpkin Cheesecake Balls
Crunchy Bacon Cheddar Jalapeno Poppers
Super Easy Turkey Brine Recipe
- 1 gallon water
- 3 cups apple juice
- 2-3 stems fresh rosemary
- 5 stems fresh thyme & bay leaves
- 1 whole garlic sliced
- 1 cup Kosher salt or to taste
- 5 bay leaves
- 1 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 3 tablespoon peppercorns
- 2 tablespoons Montreal Steak spice
- 1 gallon ice
- 2 onions sliced
- Place all ingredients into a big pot except the onions.
- Bring it to a boil, then turn off the heat. Add 1 gallon of ice and sliced onions. Let the turkey brine cool, then add turkey and soak for over night inside the fridge or if you live in cold place, place the pot in the garage.
- After, remove turkey from the brine and pat dry with paper towels.
When YOU make Easy Turkey Brine Recipe, tag us @munchkintimeblog on Instagram, we would LOVE to see your creation! Thank you!
Thank YOU for YOUR Comment, Share & Recipe Review!
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I stumbled upon this brine about 2 weeks before Thanksgiving this year and it sounded simple enough so I thought I’d give it a try. I am so glad I did. I changed some things around, like I omitted the brown sugar and steak seasoning and added sage to the mix. Then, I coated the turkey in my usual rosemary, sage, thyme and butter spread. The brine made all the difference. My 25 guests raved about the turkey. My dad who is 76 years old said this was the very best turkey he has ever eaten in his whole life. This is a winner for a recipe and I will use it year after year.
WOW!!! Thank you Danielle for an amazing recipe review! I am sooo happy you like this brine recipe and that your family loved it too, specially your dad! Thats awesome!!!
How long do you wait for it to cool before adding the turkey
Hi Rachael! I wait until its cool, room temperature.
Best Turkey I’ve ever made!
I am sooo happy to hear this!!!
How do you cook the Turkey after using this recipe? What temperature should it be cooked at?
Hi Christen! I have more info here: https://www.munchkintime.com/how-to-cook-a-turkey-in-a-bag/ or here –> https://www.munchkintime.com/easy-thanksgiving-turkey-recipe-with-best-turkey-stuffing/
How much is a gallon of ice?
About 16 cups 😀
I can’t wait to try this recipe I brine my turkey before but wanted to try something new this year. Thank you for sharing
Thank you Rebecca! 😀
What type of onion do you typically use?
Hi Erika! I use yellow onion.
I love this recipe! I use it every time I make a turkey! I usually make the brine the night before thanksgiving but can I make the brine ahead of time and let it sit and the put the turkey in the day before?
Thank you, Amanda! I haven’t made it ahead yet, but I think if you make it one day ahead and store it in the fridge, it could work 😀
Hi, will my turkey just have a hint of sweetness adding all this sugar and apple juice or overly sweet. I usually add about 1/2 c white sugar and a little vegtable oil for added moisture. I don’t want a sweet tasting turkey but just the right balance
Hi Annette, the turkey will not be overly sweet, if you want you can always add less sugar:)
First time I have used a brine for my turkey. Awesome!!!!! I will definitely use this recipe again. Thanks
Thank you Mari! I m so happy to hear this! 👏👏👏
Mmm!!! I can’t make this for Thanksgiving- but I sure will be making it for Christmas! Thanks Sydney!
Do I use the 2 x recipe for a 20 lb turkey brine
Yes! I would double the recipe for 20lb Turkey.
Will it be too salty to season the bird in addition to the brine?
Yes, you can add less salt to the brine and then season more with seasoning, or add only 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of salt into the seasoning mixture after brining turkey. Hope this helps!
What size turkey is this for? Mine is 10lbs.
Hi Mindy! This brine is for 10-12lbs turkey. Mine was around 11lb. Here is how I cook my turkey, if you are interested – https://www.munchkintime.com/easy-thanksgiving-turkey-recipe-with-best-turkey-stuffing/
How long can it soak in the brine? I want to brine my turkey for several days, just wanted to see what the max time could possibly be. Thanks
Hi Paloma, it’s best to brine turkey for 12 to 24 hours.
Hi do you rinsed the turkey after the brine
Hi Cecil! I don’t rinse it, I pat it dry with paper towels. If you like, feel free to rinse it. Hope this helps!
This looks great and I’d love to try it next week for our Thanksgiving dinner. I do have two questions:
1) How many bay leaves?
2) A whole head of garlic sliced up or just one clove?
Hi Lisa! Cant wait for you to try this turkey brine. Its 5 bay leaves and one whole garlic. Hope this helps!
He more specific in your recipes . Is English not your first language?!
Hi Nunya! After having so many questions, I will be updating this recipe, and will add more details. Yes, English is not my first language.
Love these ingredients and can’t wait to try it!! Thank you for sharing
Thank you so much Lily! I like how this brine makes turkey super moist and delicious.