How To: Brining A Turkey

Turkey is something that we only do on Thanksgiving, so we make sure we do it right. While turkey is tasty any time of the year, we like to mix it up for other holidays.

Typically we end up cooking two turkeys…roasting one and deep frying one, and this year was no different. This year though, I wanted to perfect my brining game.

If you aren’t aware of what brining is and what it does to meat…then keep reading.

Brining meat involves submerging it in a liquid-filled with salt that has been dissolved. Doing this not only adds flavor, but it changes the composition of the meat over time and breaks down the proteins enabling the meat to hold onto more liquid when it is being cooked. Thus brining a turkey will almost always ensure a moist, tasty turkey.

There isn’t really a wrong way to brine a turkey, you can add almost any flavor to the liquid. The only HUGE no-no is to place a completely frozen turkey in the brine. The turkey must be at least halfway unthawed before beginning the brining process. Then it can finish unthawing in the brine for a couple of days.

You will also need a large container to hold the brine and the turkey. I sucked it up and purchased this from Amazon, but you can whatever you have at your house. You can even use a large plastic bucket you typically find at Lowes or Home Depot. Whatever you end up using, make sure it is leakproof and will fit in your refrigerator.

Turkey Brine

Prep Time 30 minutes
Resting TIme: 2 days
Total Time 2 days 30 minutes


  • Large container that doesn't leak


  • 8-10 qt cold water
  • 2 cups kosher salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 4 large oranges
  • 3 large lemons
  • 5-7 fresh bay leaves
  • ½ cup whole peppercorns
  • Turkey no larger than 18lb


  • In the large container you are using for the brine, add in the water, brown sugar, and kosher salt. Stir until dissolved.
  • Prepare turkey by taking off all of the packaging and removing the innerds. Rinse off the turkey and then submerge into the water, sugar, salt mixture.
  • Sanitize every surface that was touched by the turkey or turkey juices befoer moving onto adding in the rest of the ingredients.
  • Cut the oranges, lemons, and onion into quarters and add to the water mixture. Add in the bay leaves and the peppercorns. Place foil or plastic wrap over the top of the container with the turkey. Place in the refrigerator for no less than 24 hours and no more than 3 days. The longer the turkey stays in the brine the more the proteins break down, any longer than 3 days and the meat will begin to dissolve while it cooks.
  • Once the turkey is in the finished brine and sitting in the refrigerator you don't have to do anything with it until you want to cook it. Let it just sit and flavor for a couple of days.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Remember, raw poultry contains possible foodborne illnesses, and there isn’t anything worse than finding yourself stuck to the bathroom during the holiday season. Don’t be afraid to handle the turkey and prepare it, but make sure to sanitize all areas the turkey came in contact with after you finish preparing the turkey. While a lot of the sanitizing wipes claim to clean areas that were contaminated by raw meat, the foolproof way to clean the area is with bleach. And whatever you do, don’t treat your turkey like Monica does…

Hope y’all have an amazing week. Stay safe, be kind, and hug your loved ones.

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