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Turkey Brine

What’s turkey brine? Simply said, it’s a salt water soak for your Thanksgiving entrée.

About three years ago I decided to use brine for out Thanksgiving turkey. I’d never done it before — in fact, I’d never heard of it — until I happened across a recipe with promises of super moist, juicy Thanksgiving Day turkey if I brined it. That’s what I was looking for.

We’ve been brining our turkeys ever since, because it makes them truly delicious.

Turkey Brine


  • 1 gallon vegetable broth
  • 1 C salt
  • 1 T crushed dried rosemary
  • 1 T dried sage
  • 1 T dried thyme
  • 1 T dried savory
  • 1/4 C Worchestershire sauce
  • 1 quart apple juice
  • 3 quarts ice water


  1. In a large pot, combine the spices with the broth. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Remove from heat, and let cool to room temperature.
  2. When the broth mixture is cool, pour it into a clean 5 gallon bucket. Stir in remaining liquids.
  3. Remove innards. Wash and dry turkey. Place the turkey, breast down, into the brine. Make sure that the cavity gets filled. Place the bucket in the refrigerator overnight.
  4. Remove the turkey carefully draining off the excess brine and pat dry. Discard excess brine.
  5. Cook the turkey as desired. Keep in mind that brined turkeys cook 20 to 30 minutes faster so watch the temperature gauge.

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Diane Jacob November 22, 2010, 12:38 am

    1 onion chopped
    1 stalk of celery diced
    1 medium carrot diced
    3 bay leaves
    1 Tablespoon black pepper corns
    3 sprigs each of fresh rosemary, thyme and sage
    6 springs of fresh parsley
    1/2 cup iodized salt
    3 gallons cold water

    One day before prepare brine place turkey in a bucket or very large pan and pour brine over to submerge bird….( I use a 5 gallon food storage bucket perfect size) Refrigerate for 12-24 hours. Remove Turkey from brine, dry off turkey with paper towels. Discard brine. (This is for a 16 lb bird so add more accordingly)

    In the bird
    2 carrots roughly chopped
    2 celery stalks roughly chopped
    1 apple sliced in wedges
    4 whole cloves garlic

    Under the bird
    1 chopped onion
    1 chopped carrot
    1 stalk celery
    3 springs of parsley. sage, rosemary, thyme ( something about a song come to mind)
    3 bay leaves

    On the Bird
    1/4 pound butter
    5 cups chicken stock

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. salt and pepper the brined turkey and cavity. Fill the cavity with carrots, celery, onion, garlic and herbs, bind legs with twine.
    In a large roasting pan spread onion, carrot, celery, garlic, herbs and bay leaves. Place the turkey on top of the bed of vegetables and herbs.

    Put butter on turkey, or between breast meat and skin. Place the turkey in the oven and roast for 45 minutes. Pour half the stock over the bird, roast 45 more minutes, Pour remaining stock over the bird and roast 45 more minutes. It will start turning brown. Baste with pan juices and cover loosely with foil and roast another 45 minutes. When the turkey has reached an internal temp of 165-175 degrees remove from oven and keep covered and let rest at least 10 minutes before carving.

    For Gravy
    From bottom of pan discard herbs and measure out 1 cup of vegetables and 3 cups of pan juices; puree in blender. To thicken add more vegetables to thin add more juices. Pour through a mesh strainer for a smooth gravy. Makes 4 cups

  • Diane Jacob November 22, 2010, 12:40 am

    I need to add a sliced orange to the part that goes ” in the bird”

  • Diane Jacob November 22, 2010, 12:51 am

    Cranberry, Apple and Walnut Relish
    1 cup sugar
    1/2 cup cranberry-apple juice
    1 pound of fresh cranberries
    4 cups peeled and diced apple Granny Smith (about a pound)
    2/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts ( I use pecans sometimes)
    Combine sugar, juice, berries in a large saucepan, bring to boil over medium-high heat, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes or until berries pop and mixture thickens.

    Remove from heat and add apple and nuts. spoon in a bowl, cool. Cover and chill at least 4 hours.
    This can be made up to 3 days ahead.

    from Cooking Light magazine Nov 2002

  • Alison Moore Smith November 22, 2010, 12:58 pm

    Diane, thanks for the great recipes! I appreciate the time you spent to include those. 🙂

    Jasmine, I’ve tried both breast-down and breast-up. Didn’t see much of a difference but never really did a head-to-head comparison. And it does seem that gravity would vote for breast down. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Jasmine November 22, 2010, 12:39 pm

    Brine is a great way to keep the turkey juicey throughout, often the breast will dry out if the turkey is breast up in the oven, so I like to use brine and place the turkey breast down in the roaster to keep the juce in that area! Thanks for the recipe.
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  • Alison Moore Smith November 24, 2010, 11:57 pm

    Diane, you are a certified genius! I just put the turkey in the brine — in a food grade 5-gallon bucket. We have a 22-pound turkey and it still fit beautifully. This has always been the trickiest part and it was simple this year.

    In case you’re looking, ours came from Home Depot, but I’m sure you can get them elsewhere.

  • lyn January 11, 2011, 5:47 am

    I will try that next Christmas, we don’t have Thanksgiving here.

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