How To Brine A Turkey

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How to Brine a Turkey

Three Parts:

If you dread tough or dry turkey, take the time to brine it before roasting. Create a flavorful solution of vegetable stock, salt, and seasonings. Submerge a thawed turkey in the brine along with lots of ice water and leave it to chill for at least 8 to 16 hours. Remove the turkey from the brine and pat it dry. Then roast it until the turkey reaches 165 °F (74 °C) and enjoy!


  • 1 14 to 16 pound (6.4 to 7.3 kg) frozen young turkey
  • 1 cup (288 g) kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) light brown sugar
  • 1 gallon (3.8 l) vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon (9 g) black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (1.5 g) allspice berries
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (6 g) chopped candied ginger
  • 1 gallon (3.8 l) ice water

Makes a 14 to 16 pound (6.4 to 7.3 kg) turkey


Thawing the Turkey and Making the Brine

  1. Move the frozen turkey to the refrigerator 2 to 3 days before cooking.Take the 14 to 16 pound (6.4 to 7.3 kg) frozen young turkey from the freezer and place it in the refrigerator to thaw completely. This should take 2 to 3 days.
    • Your refrigerator should be 38 °F (3 °C) or cooler.
  2. Mix the salt, sugar, stock, pepper, allspice, and ginger.Place a large stockpot on the stove and pour 1 gallon (3.8 l) of vegetable stock into it. Stir in 1 cup (288 g) of kosher salt, 1/2 cup (100 g) of light brown sugar, 1 tablespoon (9 g) of black peppercorns, 1 1/2 teaspoons (1.5 g) of allspice berries, and 1 1/2 teaspoons (6 g) of chopped candied ginger.
  3. Bring the brine to a boil.Turn the burner to medium-high and stir the brine every once in a while as it heats. The brine should begin to boil as the sugar dissolves.
  4. Cool and refrigerate the brine.Turn off the burner and let the brine cool until it's at room temperature. Put the lid on the stockpot and transfer it to the refrigerate to chill while the turkey thaws.
    • If your stockpot won't fit in the refrigerator, pour the brine into a storage container with a lid. Put the container in the fridge.
    • You can make the brine a few days before you plan to roast the turkey.

Submerging the Turkey in Brine

  1. Mix the brine with 1 gallon (3.8 l) ice water in a large container.On the morning of the day you want to roast the turkey or the night before, remove the brine from the refrigerator. Pour it into a 5 gallons (19 l) food-safe bucket or cooler. Mix in the ice water.
    • Consider using a 5 gallons (19 l) drink cooler. These have good insulation and a drain spout for easy clean up.
  2. Submerge the thawed turkey into the brine.Take the turkey from the refrigerator and remove the innards. Discard the innards and the pop-up thermometer if your turkey has 1. Put the turkey breast-side down in the brine-filled container.
    • The turkey should be completely covered in brine. If it isn't, place a heavy plate or dish on the turkey to weigh it down.
  3. Chill the turkey in the brine for 8 to 16 hours.Cover the bucket and refrigerate the turkey while it brines. If you're using a cooler with a lid, screw the lid on and leave it in a cool place while the turkey brines.
    • The cooler with the turkey and brine should keep the turkey at 38 °F (3 °C) or below. If you think the cooler isn't keeping the turkey cold enough, refrigerate it.

Roasting the Brined Turkey

  1. Preheat the oven to 500 °F (260 °C) and adjust your oven racks.You may have to remove 1 of your oven's racks in order to fit the turkey. Adjust the remaining rack to the lowest part of the oven so you have space to fit the roaster.
  2. Lift the turkey out of the brine and rinse it with cold water.Set the container with the turkey and brine next to your sink. Remove the lid and lift the turkey out of the brine. Run cold water in the sink and rinse the brine off of the turkey.
    • Remember to rinse the inside cavity of the turkey as well.
    • Discard the brine once you've taken the turkey out of it. Never reuse brine.
  3. Put the turkey on a roasting pan and pat it dry.If you don't have a roasting pan, put a sturdy wire rack in a large baking dish and set the turkey on it. Use paper towels to completely dry the turkey.
    • Drying the turkey will help the skin crisp as it roasts.
  4. Season the turkey if you like and roast it for 30 minutes.If you'd like, put aromatics such as lemon, garlic, onion, or herbs in the center of the turkey. Put the turkey into the preheated oven and roast it at high heat for 30 minutes.
  5. Turn the oven to 350 °F (177 °C) and roast the turkey till it reaches 165 °F (74 °C).This should take 2 to 2 1/2 hours. To test if it's done, insert an instant-read meat thermometer into the thickest part of the turkey near the thigh and the wing.
  6. Remove the turkey and let it rest for 15 minutes before you carve it.Turn off the oven and take the turkey out of the oven. Cover it loosely with foil and leave it to rest so the juices redistribute within the meat. Then you can carve and serve your brined turkey.
    • Store leftover roasted turkey in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 4 days.

Community Q&A

  • Question
    How much water, salt, and brown sugar do I need if I am brining a 20 lb turkey?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    A turkey that size should take approximately 3 gallons of water to submerge. I like using 1 cup each of salt and sugar per gallon of water. I would put all 3 cups of salt and sugar in 1 gallon of water and heat to dissolve everything, then add the other 2 gallons of cold water to reduce the temp of the brine so you don't poach the turkey.
  • Question
    Do you brine the turkey even if you deep fry the turkey?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    No. Don’t brine it if you intend to deep fry. Extra water is a bad thing with the oil.
  • Question
    What does the sugar do? Can I omit the sugar?
    wikiHow Contributor
    Community Answer
    Sugar, along with salt, works to pull moisture into the meat. Sugar attracts water just like salt attracts water. You can leave out the sugar, but it is a bit better with it. The amount of sugar that will stay behind in the meat is so little that you cannot taste it. If you have a dietary restriction against sugar, feel free to omit. Don't bother with artificial sweeteners like stevia because they are not hydrophilic like sugar is. America's Test Kitchen has recommended brining for many years, and it has totally changed my turkey prep. People now love the turkey and tell me the meat is flavorful and not dry, even the breast.
Unanswered Questions
  • How much water, salt and sugar do I need to brine a 13.5-pound turkey?
  • If you have a 21 pound turkey, how much salt should you use?
  • What to do if the turkey rises fron 38 degrees to 44 degrees overnight?
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Quick Summary

To brine a turkey, first prepare the brining solution by boiling salt, sugar, pepper, stock, allspice, and ginger and then chilling the mixture in the fridge. When you're ready to brine the turkey, mix the brining solution with some ice water in a large container and then submerge the turkey in it. Put the container in the fridge and let the turkey soak in the brining solution for 8-16 hours. After the turkey is finished soaking, take it out of the brining solution and pat it dry before cooking.

Did this summary help you?
  • Avoid brining the turkey for more than 24 hours or the meat will toughen.
  • Do not use a self-basting or Kosher turkey because they already have salt added.


  • Always use good hygiene practices such as washing hands and sanitizing surfaces when handling raw poultry.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Large pot
  • Spoon
  • 5 gallons (19 l) food-safe cooler or bucket with lid
  • Roasting pan
  • Paper towels
  • Instant-read meat thermometer
  • Oven mitts
  • Aluminum foil

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Date: 05.12.2018, 11:32 / Views: 84445