Using this Thanksgiving Turkey Brine Recipe is what we call going the extra mile — and it’s SO worth it! This one extra step will bring your Thanksgiving feast to the next level.
What is a brine?
A brine is a salt solution that preserves and seasons while enhancing tenderness. It often includes additional flavors such as herbs, spices, sugar, caramel and vinegar.
What will brining your turkey do?
It’s pretty simple, really. Brining your Thanksgiving turkey will add moisture, flavor, and it will almost guarantee a very succulent, tender result.
It doesn’t matter what roasting method you use to cook the turkey; brining it first is the key to your success.
Every year I use this Thanksgiving Turkey Brine recipe, and then carry on with my favorite Thanksgiving turkey recipe: Smoky Paprika-Bacon Roasted Turkey. You can’t even imagine how amazing the results will be!
What’s in this Thanksgiving Turkey Brine?
- kosher salt
- bay leaves
- allspice berries
- black peppercorns
- cinnamon sticks
- whole cloves
- maple syrup
Think about all of that seeping into your turkey!
Is using Thanksgiving Turkey Brine worth the extra time?
Yes! If you make the mistake of overcooking your turkey (it happens) — brining it first will help keep it from drying out. And dry turkey is really a bummer. Why risk it, right?
It’s well worth the extra time it takes, and if you’re anything like me in the kitchen, you might even think it’s fun. Just saying.
Can you make this Thanksgiving Turkey Brine ahead?
I always make my turkey brine two nights before Thanksgiving, and then leave it on the stove to cool to room temperature. Then the next afternoon or evening I add the turkey to it. This timing works out really well. And remember, you don’t have to wait for Thanksgiving or any other holiday to enjoy this as part of an incredible feast. I’ve been known to serve this turkey using this brine during the rest of the year too.
Can you use turkey brine on a chicken?
Absolutely! This brine, of course also has great results with chicken. Whenever I roast a whole chicken I use it.
Like I said, this one extra step of using the brine is all the difference in the world. It’s takes a very good turkey, to the best turkey any of your guests have ever had. I don’t want to toot my own horn, but here I go . . .
I’ve been told my turkey, which always takes a bath in this Thanksgiving Turkey Brine Recipe, is the best by everyone who has ever tasted it. So there you go.
Have fun and enjoy cooking!
In addition to the listed ingredients, you will also need cheesecloth, butchers twine, a tub or pot large enough to comfortably hold the turkey and brine, without overflowing, and possibly a large cooler. (See instruction no. 4 in the recipe below. )
This brine recipe is for 1 (approximately 12 to 15-pound) turkey .
The turkey should be brined up to about 18 hours.
- 1/4 cup allspice berries
- 1/2 cup black peppercorns
- 1 dozen bay leaves
- 1 gallon water
- 1 pound kosher salt
- 2 cups honey
- 4 cups maple syrup
- approximately 1 dozen (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
- 1 tablespoon ground cloves
- approximately 1 small bag of ice
Cut a double layer of cheese cloth into an approximately 7 X 7-inch square. Place it on a clean, dry surface. Add the allspice berries, peppercorns and bay leaves to the center of the square. Bundle the cheesecloth around the spices, being sure there aren't any open areas, and then tie it with butchers twine. Set aside. (This is called a Bouquet Garni, which is French for bouquet garnish -- it's a small bundle of herbs and spices, that will impart their flavors to a liquid being cooked.)
In a very large stock pot, mix the water with the salt, and bring it to a boil. Then lower the heat to a simmer and stir in the honey, syrup, ground cloves, cinnamon sticks, and the bouquet garni. Continue to simmer for about ten minutes. Then turn off the heat and cool to room temperature. (With a large quantity of liquid like this, cooling could take a few hours — I usually do this the night before I want to add the turkey, and let it cool, covered, all night on the stove.)
Once it has cooled to room temperature, pour the brine into a large plastic tub, or, if the pot is large enough, leave the brine there. (Make sure whatever you're using is large enough to avoid overflowing.)
Rinse the turkey with cold water, inside and out. Add the ice to the brine and place the turkey in slowly, making sure it’s fully submerged in the liquid, filling up the entire cavity. (Only use as much of the ice as you can without letting it overflow.) Cover with a lid or plastic wrap, if the lid doesn't quite fit. Brine the turkey overnight in the refrigerator, up to about 18 hours -- the closer to 18, the better. (If the container the turkey is in doesn't fit in the refrigerator, you can place it in a large cooler, surrounded by ice.)
Remove the turkey, pat dry with paper towels, and prepare according to the turkey roasting instructions.
You can also brine the turkey in a large plastic bag if you don’t have the proper container. However, please be aware that if you do so, that the bag has not been treated with any chemicals. (Many regular plastic trash bags have been.)
There are many different brine recipes, and they can be done many different (though similar), ways. This recipe and this method have been very good to me -- and my Thanksgiving turkeys.