Ultimate Turkey Brine Recipe

The Ultimate Brine Recipe for Turkey is a game-changer for poultry lovers. This recipe harnesses the power of brining to deliver a succulent, flavorful turkey. The unique blend of herbs, spices, and sweeteners permeate the turkey, resulting in a juicy, flavorful bird that's perfectly suited for any holiday or special occasion.

Ultimate Turkey Brine Recipe
Image 1
Image 2

Photos of Ultimate Turkey Brine Recipe

Image 1
Image 2

All the ingredients in this recipe are typically found in a well-stocked kitchen pantry. However, if not, they are readily available at your local supermarket. The crucial ingredients to note are kosher salt, dark brown sugar, and whole black peppercorns. Kosher salt is preferred over table salt due to its coarse texture which helps in the brining process, dark brown sugar adds a rich sweetness that complements the savory elements, and whole black peppercorns provide a kick of heat.

Ingredients for the Ultimate Brine Recipe for Turkey

Kosher salt: This coarse salt is ideal for brining as it dissolves well and permeates the meat more effectively than fine table salt.

Dark brown sugar: This provides a depth of sweetness and richness that accentuates the savory aspects of the turkey.

Cloves: These add a warm, sweet, and slightly bitter taste to the brine, giving the turkey a unique complexity.

Bay leaves: These leaves infuse the brine with a subtle herbal aroma and slightly bitter taste.

Black peppercorns: These add a mildly hot and pungent flavor to the brine.

Dried rosemary: This herb gives the brine a slightly minty, savory taste.

Dried thyme: This adds a subtle, dry aroma and slightly minty flavor to the brine.

One reader, Aurel Drake says:

star icon star icon star icon star icon star icon

This ultimate brine recipe for turkey is a game-changer! The flavors are perfectly balanced, and the turkey turns out incredibly juicy and flavorful. It's now a staple for all my holiday meals. I highly recommend it to anyone looking to elevate their turkey game!

Aurel Drake

Techniques Required for Brining a Turkey

How to brine a turkey: Brining a turkey involves submerging the bird in a saltwater solution to enhance its flavor and moisture. This process requires a large container to hold the turkey and the brine, and it's important to ensure the turkey is fully submerged.

How to dissolve salt and sugar: When adding salt and sugar to the boiling water, it's essential to stir until they are completely dissolved. This ensures that the brine is evenly seasoned and ready for the turkey.

How to cool the brine: After simmering the brine, it needs to be cooled completely before using it to brine the turkey. This can be achieved by refrigerating the brine until it reaches the desired temperature.

How To Make Ultimate Turkey Brine

Make your Thanksgiving turkey extra-tender and flavorful with our Ultimate Turkey Brine Recipe! Brine your turkey before roasting for a tasty dinner meal.

Preparation: 5 minutes
Cooking: 20 minutes
Additional Time: 2 hours
Total: 2 hours 25 minutes



  • 1galwater
  • 2cupsKosher salt
  • cupsdark brown sugar
  • 12cloves,whole
  • 3bay leaves
  • 1tbspwhole black peppercorns
  • tspdried rosemary
  • tspdried thyme


  1. Bring water to a boil in a large stockpot.

  2. Stir salt and sugar into the water until dissolved, then bring water again to a boil.

  3. Add cloves, bay leaves, peppercorns, rosemary, and thyme to the water, then reduce heat to medium-low.

  4. Cook mixture at a simmer for about 20 minutes.

  5. Refrigerate brine until completely cooled.

Recipe Notes


To use your Ultimate Turkey Brine: Pour cooled brine into a non-reactive container large enough to hold your turkey, like a large plastic bucket. Add the thawed turkey, then add enough cool water to cover the turkey with liquid. Refrigerate overnight for 12 hours. Remove from brine and let the turkey sit on the counter for about 2 hours before roasting. You can use this recipe for turkeys in the 15- to 20-pound range. Brining works best for fresh turkeys. Don’t brine turkeys that have been already injected with a solution.



  • Calories: 29.04kcal
  • Fat: 0.04g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.02g
  • Trans Fat: 0.00g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 0.01g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.01g
  • Carbohydrates: 7.46g
  • Fiber: 0.17g
  • Sugar: 7.04g
  • Protein: 0.05g
  • Sodium: 311.53mg
  • Calcium: 14.74mg
  • Potassium: 15.32mg
  • Iron: 0.24mg
  • Vitamin A: 0.57µg
  • Vitamin C: 0.13mg

Key Technique for Achieving the Perfect Brined Turkey

To ensure your turkey absorbs the flavors of the brine effectively, it's crucial to give it enough time to soak. Ideally, you should let your turkey sit in the brine for at least 12-24 hours. This allows the salt to penetrate the meat, resulting in a more flavorful and juicy turkey. Remember to turn the turkey occasionally so that all parts are evenly exposed to the brine.

Time-Saving Tips for Making the Ultimate Brine

Plan ahead: Prepare a detailed shopping list and gather all the necessary ingredients and equipment before starting the recipe.

Prep in advance: Chop, measure, and prepare ingredients ahead of time to streamline the cooking process.

Multi-task: Look for opportunities to combine steps, such as chopping vegetables while waiting for water to boil.

Use kitchen tools: Utilize kitchen gadgets like food processors, blenders, and stand mixers to speed up prep work.

Follow the recipe: Read the entire recipe before starting to ensure a clear understanding of the steps and avoid mistakes.

Clean as you go: Wash dishes, utensils, and countertops while cooking to minimize post-cooking cleanup time.

Time management: Use a timer and set specific time limits for each cooking stage to stay on track and avoid overcooking.

Organize workspace: Keep ingredients and tools within easy reach to minimize time spent searching and moving around the kitchen.

Substitute Ingredients For Ultimate Turkey Brine Recipe

  • water - Substitute with vegetable or chicken broth: Vegetable or chicken broth can add extra flavor to the brine and enhance the overall taste of the turkey.

  • kosher salt - Substitute with sea salt: Sea salt can be used as a substitute for kosher salt in brine recipes, as it provides a similar level of salinity and can dissolve easily in water.

  • dark brown sugar - Substitute with maple syrup: Maple syrup can add a rich, sweet flavor to the brine, similar to dark brown sugar, and can enhance the overall taste of the turkey.

  • cloves - Substitute with allspice: Allspice can be used as a substitute for cloves, as it provides a similar warm and slightly peppery flavor to the brine.

  • bay leaves - Substitute with dried basil: Dried basil can be used as a substitute for bay leaves, as it adds a similar earthy and slightly minty flavor to the brine.

  • whole black peppercorns - Substitute with cracked black pepper: Cracked black pepper can be used as a substitute for whole black peppercorns, as it provides a similar peppery flavor and aroma to the brine.

  • dried rosemary - Substitute with dried sage: Dried sage can be used as a substitute for dried rosemary, as it adds a similar earthy and slightly pine-like flavor to the brine.

  • dried thyme - Substitute with dried oregano: Dried oregano can be used as a substitute for dried thyme, as it provides a similar earthy and slightly floral flavor to the brine.

Presenting the Ultimate Turkey Brine

  1. Elevate the brine with fresh herbs: Garnish the brine with a generous handful of fresh herbs such as rosemary, thyme, and bay leaves to add a touch of elegance and fragrance.

  2. Present in a sophisticated vessel: Serve the brine in a beautiful, ornate glass or ceramic container to enhance the visual appeal and create a sense of luxury.

  3. Incorporate a touch of citrus: Add a hint of brightness by including slices of lemon or orange to the brine, providing a subtle citrus aroma and a visually stunning element.

  4. Garnish with whole spices: Sprinkle a few whole cloves and peppercorns on top of the brine to showcase the key ingredients and add a layer of complexity to the presentation.

  5. Serve with a rustic touch: Accompany the brine with a small bundle of fresh herbs tied with twine, evoking a charming, farmhouse-inspired aesthetic.

  6. Highlight the rich color: Display the brine in a clear glass container to showcase its rich, amber hue, creating a striking visual impact.

  7. Add a touch of warmth: Place a small cinnamon stick or a dash of nutmeg on top of the brine to infuse the presentation with a cozy, seasonal feel.

  8. Incorporate a personalized touch: Attach a handwritten label with the date and your signature, adding a personalized and professional flair to the presentation.

Essential Tools for Brining a Turkey

  • Large stockpot: This is used for boiling the brine and can hold a large volume of liquid.

  • Mixing spoon: A mixing spoon is essential for stirring the salt, sugar, and spices into the water to create the brine.

  • Refrigerator: After preparing the brine, it needs to be refrigerated to cool completely before using it to brine the turkey.

Storing and Freezing Brined Turkey

  • Once the brine has cooled completely, place your turkey in a large, food-safe container or brining bag. Pour the cooled brine over the turkey, ensuring that it is fully submerged. Cover the container or seal the bag and refrigerate for 12-24 hours, depending on the size of your turkey.

  • After brining, remove the turkey from the brine and rinse it thoroughly under cold running water. This step is crucial to remove excess salt from the surface of the bird. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels before proceeding with your preferred cooking method.

  • If you have leftover brine, you can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. However, it is essential to note that you should never reuse brine that has already been in contact with raw poultry, as this can lead to bacterial contamination.

  • While it is not recommended to freeze the brine itself, you can safely freeze a turkey that has been brined. After rinsing and patting the turkey dry, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil, then place it in a freezer-safe bag or container. Label the package with the date and freeze for up to 6 months.

  • When you're ready to cook the frozen brined turkey, thaw it in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours, depending on its size. Never thaw a turkey at room temperature, as this can promote bacterial growth and increase the risk of foodborne illness.

How To Reheat Leftover Brined Turkey

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Place the leftover turkey in a baking dish and add a splash of chicken broth or water to keep it moist. Cover the dish with foil and bake for about 20-30 minutes, or until the turkey is heated through. This method helps to retain the moisture and flavor of the turkey, while the brine keeps it tender and juicy.

  • For a quicker option, use the microwave. Place the leftover turkey in a microwave-safe dish and add a small amount of chicken broth or water. Cover the dish with a microwave-safe lid or plastic wrap, and microwave on high for 1-2 minutes per pound of turkey, or until it's heated through. Be sure to stir the turkey halfway through the reheating process to ensure even heating. The brine will help to keep the turkey moist and flavorful, even in the microwave.

  • If you have a lot of leftover turkey, consider making a delicious turkey soup. In a large pot, sauté some onions, carrots, and celery in a bit of olive oil until softened. Add the leftover turkey, along with some chicken broth, diced tomatoes, and your favorite herbs and spices. Simmer the soup for about 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and the flavors have melded together. The brine will infuse the soup with a rich, savory flavor that will make it even more delicious.

  • For a tasty twist on leftovers, try making a turkey pot pie. In a large skillet, sauté some onions, carrots, and celery in a bit of butter until softened. Add some flour to create a roux, then slowly stir in some chicken broth and milk to make a creamy sauce. Add the leftover turkey and any other desired vegetables, such as peas or potatoes. Pour the mixture into a pre-baked pie crust, top with another crust, and bake until golden brown. The brine will keep the turkey moist and flavorful, even in the pot pie.

Interesting Facts About Brining Turkey

The ultimate brine recipe for turkey is a great way to infuse flavor and moisture into the meat. Brining involves soaking the turkey in a saltwater solution before cooking, which helps to tenderize and season the meat. This process is particularly beneficial for lean meats like turkey, as it prevents them from drying out during cooking. The combination of salt, sugar, and aromatic spices in the brine creates a delicious flavor profile that will enhance the overall taste of the turkey. Brining is a simple yet effective technique that can take your turkey to the next level, resulting in a juicy and flavorful dish.

Is Brining a Turkey Cost-Effective for Home Cooking?

This ultimate brine recipe for turkey is highly cost-effective for a household. The ingredients are simple and affordable, making it an economical choice for preparing a delicious and flavorful turkey. The overall verdict for this recipe is a solid 9. The approximate cost for a household of 4 people is around $10, making it a budget-friendly option for a memorable and tasty turkey dish.

Is This Brine Recipe Healthy or Unhealthy?

The ultimate brine recipe for turkey is relatively high in sodium due to the large amount of salt used. While salt is essential for flavoring and tenderizing the meat, excessive sodium intake can lead to health issues such as high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart disease. The recipe also contains a significant amount of sugar, which can contribute to weight gain and other health problems when consumed in excess.

On the positive side, the recipe incorporates various herbs and spices, such as cloves, bay leaves, rosemary, and thyme, which offer potential health benefits. These ingredients contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds that may support overall health.

To make this recipe healthier, consider the following suggestions:

  • Reduce the amount of salt used in the brine. Experiment with lower quantities to find a balance between flavor and health.
  • Replace some or all of the dark brown sugar with natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup, which contain more beneficial nutrients compared to refined sugars.
  • Add more herbs and spices to the brine to enhance the flavor without relying heavily on salt and sugar. Try incorporating ingredients like garlic, onion, or citrus fruits for added depth and nutritional value.
  • After brining, be sure to rinse the turkey thoroughly to remove excess salt from the surface before cooking.
  • When serving the turkey, pair it with nutrient-dense side dishes like roasted vegetables, whole grains, or leafy green salads to create a balanced and nourishing meal.

Editor's Opinion on This Brine Recipe

This brine recipe is a well-balanced blend of flavors and aromatics that will infuse the turkey with a delicious depth of taste. The combination of kosher salt, dark brown sugar, and aromatic spices will ensure a juicy and flavorful turkey. The use of cloves, bay leaves, peppercorns, rosemary, and thyme adds a complex and aromatic profile to the brine. Overall, this ultimate brine recipe is sure to elevate the flavor of your turkey to a whole new level.

Enhance Your Ultimate Turkey Brine Recipe with These Unique Side Dishes:

Mashed Potatoes: Creamy garlic mashed potatoes with a hint of parmesan cheese, perfect for soaking up the flavorful turkey brine.
Roasted Vegetables: Colorful medley of roasted vegetables, drizzled with balsamic glaze and sprinkled with fresh herbs for a burst of flavor.
Cranberry Sauce: Homemade cranberry sauce infused with orange zest and a touch of cinnamon, adding a sweet and tangy contrast to the savory turkey brine.
Pumpkin Pie: Indulgent pumpkin pie with a buttery graham cracker crust, topped with a dollop of whipped cream for a delightful dessert after enjoying the succulent turkey.

Similar Brine Recipes to Try

Savory Beef Stew: This hearty beef stew is perfect for a cozy night in. The tender beef and flavorful vegetables will warm you up from the inside out.
Fresh Fruit Salad: This refreshing fruit salad is a perfect side dish for any meal. The combination of sweet and tangy fruits will tantalize your taste buds.
Creamy Chicken Alfredo: Indulge in this rich and creamy chicken alfredo pasta. The savory chicken and velvety sauce make for a decadent meal that everyone will love.

Appetizer and Dessert Pairings for Brined Turkey

Stuffed Mushrooms: Delight your guests with these savory stuffed mushrooms, filled with a delicious mixture of cream cheese, garlic, and herbs. The perfect bite-sized appetizer to kick off any meal.
Caprese Skewers: Impress your guests with these colorful and flavorful Caprese skewers, featuring juicy cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and fragrant basil, drizzled with balsamic glaze. A refreshing and elegant start to any gathering.
Chocolate Lava Cake: Indulge in a decadent, rich chocolate lava cake that oozes with molten chocolate when you cut into it. Pair it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for the perfect balance of warm and cold textures.
Apple Crisp: Savor the warm, comforting flavors of baked cinnamon apples topped with a crispy oat and brown sugar crumble. Serve it with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of caramel swirl ice cream for a delightful treat.

Why trust this Ultimate Turkey Brine Recipe:

This brine recipe is a tried and tested method for achieving a flavorful and juicy turkey. The combination of kosher salt, dark brown sugar, and aromatic spices like cloves, bay leaves, black peppercorns, rosemary, and thyme infuses the turkey with rich, savory flavors. The precise measurements and step-by-step instructions ensure that the brine effectively seasons the turkey, resulting in a delicious and moist bird. Trust in the expertise of this recipe to elevate your holiday feast and impress your guests with a perfectly brined turkey.

Share your thoughts on the Ultimate Turkey Brine Recipe in the Cooking Techniques forum.
How long should I brine the turkey?
I recommend brining the turkey for about 12-24 hours. This will ensure that the turkey absorbs the flavors and stays moist during cooking.
Can I use this brine for other meats?
Absolutely! This brine works well for other poultry, such as chicken, as well as pork. It adds great flavor and moisture to the meat.
Can I reduce the amount of salt in the brine?
Yes, you can adjust the salt to your preference. Just make sure to maintain the balance of flavors. You can also try using less salt and adding other herbs and spices to enhance the flavor.
Can I reuse the brine?
It's not recommended to reuse the brine as it may contain bacteria from the raw meat. It's best to discard the brine after use.
Can I brine a frozen turkey?
It's best to thaw the turkey completely before brining. Brining a frozen turkey may result in uneven brining and could affect the texture of the meat.

Was this page helpful?

Chat Bubble Icon Share your own special recipe
Submit Your Own Recipe

Have your own special recipe to share? Submit Your Recipe Today!