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:
Super Easy Turkey Brine Recipe
- 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.
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