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A Simple Turkey Brine

A Simple Turkey Brine

for a turkey up to 16 pounds Servings

The simple turkey brine recipe will make your Thanksgiving turkey the star of the show.



  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 large onion, peeled, diced
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds

Recipe Preparation

  • Bring salt, sugar, and 4 cups water to a boil in a very large (16-qt.) pot, stirring until salt and sugar are dissolved.

  • Turn off heat. Add remaining ingredients to brine base. Refrigerate, uncovered, until cold.

  • Add 6 quarts cold water to pot. Add turkey. Place a plate on top of turkey to keep submerged. Cover; chill for up to 72 hours. (The turkey will be moister and more flavorful if allowed to brine the full 72 hours.)

Reviews Section

Best Turkey Brine Recipes

Brining a turkey is a process of adding moisture and flavor to the meat by soaking the bird in a salt-water mixture before cooking. But the brine doesn't have to be just salt and water. These recipes are among the best ways to infuse flavor into your bird.

Whether you're roasting, grilling, smoking, cooking rotisserie-style, or frying your next turkey, always start out with a good brine to guarantee a beautifully moist and tasty bird.

Watch Now: How to Brine a Turkey

How Long Do You Brine a Turkey?

Here’s my timeline for brining a turkey:

  • 1-2 days for the turkey to thaw in the refrigerator
  • 24 hours of wet brine time, plus 12-24 hours uncovered in the refrigerator to dry the skin
  • 24-48 hours of dry brine time

I plan on at least 4 days before cooking to start my turkey making process.

Best Turkey Brine Recipe

If you are looking for a way to give your turkey the best flavor with a tender and juicy outcome, this best turkey brine recipe is exactly what you are looking for. I have finally found a way to make my turkey come out perfect ever. single. time.

It’s all about the brine recipe and process. I’m not sure exactly how to explain the chemical process that happens to break down the meat proteins but I can tell you that the outcome is spectacular and you may never try to make your turkey another way. There is something that happens when you mix salt, sugar and spices that causes the turkey to soak up all the juices and trap them with in the meat causing a juicy, flavorful turkey! Trust me. It’s the best.

Update: If you need a sugar-free and Keto Friendly Turkey Brine Recipe, you have to try this one: Keto Pickle Juice Brine Turkey Recipe

Or you can use Allulose sweetener in place of real sugar in this recipe. Allulose sweetener is keto friendly and acts just like real sugar! It’s the perfect substitute if you are trying to do keto or using sugar free recipes.

You can double or triple this recipe if needed. The brine must cover the whole turkey. I always purchase a really big turkey so it requires me to use a cooler to let it soak overnight. You want to start this process at least 12 hours before you are ready to bake your turkey. I made this below recipe for a 12 pound turkey. This exact recipe would be great for 15 pounds or less. Double the recipe if you have a bigger turkey.

Tip #1 Use the Reynolds Oven bags (turkey size) when baking your turkey. It’s an easy way to trap all the juices in while baking and the clean up is easy too. You can find these bags at your local grocery store or online too. We use these to make pot roast also. Basically, it steams the meat and comes out perfect every time.

Tip #2 One of my favorite seasonings to use in this brine recipe is the McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Steak Seasoning !

Turkey Breast Brine

It’s so simple too! You can mix up your flavorings any way you prefer. I chose rosemary, garlic, onion, bay leaves, and peppercorns. Other options include citrus, fresh sage, thyme, etc.

Most recipes tell you to heat the brine to dissolve the salt and sugar, then let it cool. I don’t find this necessary at all. (another tip from my brother-in-law) And really, who has time for that?

I just stir the salt and sugar in the room temperature water until it dissolves, about 1 minute. Then add all your flavorings.

Dunk the bird in the brine and let her soak!

Remove the turkey from the brine, rinse and let dry for several hours in the refrigerator. Yes, you have to plan ahead for this process. But it’s so worth the effort that you will not regret it at all. Remember, I promised earlier?

When you are ready to roast the turkey. Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil. Place a roasting rack in the and put the turkey breast on the rack.

Roast at 350 degrees for 20 minutes per pound. Start checking the temperature with a reliable thermometer at about 1 hour of cooking.

My turkey breast was 7.5 lbs and took about an hour and 45 minutes. Let rest for 15 minutes, slice and devour.

Turkey Brine Recipes

There are a number of turkey brine recipes, I prefer a simple one that is a combination of apple juice and kosher salt.

If you are unfamiliar with brining, it is one of a number of ways to prepare poultry before roasting. It is something I personally do when cooking Thanksgiving turkey and I cover the use of this method along with other suggestions for How to Cook a Turkey.

A basic explanation is that brining is a form of reverse osmosis that opens up the protein fibers in the meat and expands and tenderizes them.

In order to brine a turkey you will need the ingredients for the brining liquid, a large brining bag (can be found at kitchen stores such as Williams & Sonoma or Bed Bath & Beyond), a large pan or tub to put the bagged turkey in (in case it springs a leak), and either space in your refrigerator or a large cooler with ice.

Basically a brine is a combination of sweetened water and salt that the turkey soaks in over night before roasting. Here are several recipes:

Apple Juice Brine (this is what I use)
for an 18-20# turkey combine 3 quarts of apple juice with 1.5 cups of kosher salt. Place the turkey in a brining bag. Combine the juice and the salt and pour over the turkey, seal the bag and refrigerate overnight.

Flavored Brine
for an 18-20# turkey combine 2 cups kosher salt,2 cups sugar, and 2 gallons of water in a large stock pot. Bring the liquid to a low simmer and add any of the following: 2 bay leaves,1/2 cup of your favorite dried herbs and spices such as sage, oregano, or thyme), 1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper and several lemon and orange slices. Cool this liquid and pour the liquid over the turkey that has been placed in the brining bag. Seal the bag and refrigerate overnight.

Two of the major difficulties with brining is finding brining bags with a zip type seal, and having sufficient space in your refrigerator to store the turkey, in the brine, overnight.

One of the most important steps of brining is to rinse the bird very thoroughly before roasting. Make sure you use a slow stream of cold water, to prevent splatters, and rinse the outside and inside of both cavities very well. If you rinse the bird very well, it will not taste salty.

This method has grown in popularity in recent years. While it may not be how your mother made her turkey, it is yet one of many options to choose from when deciding how you want to prepare a turkey.

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Turkey brine recipes:

Once you have mixed your perfect ratio of salt, sugar and water, then you have to decide what else to add to your brine recipe.

When we&rsquore preparing a brined turkey to share with others, we tend to use a very basic recipe like the one above.

Can&rsquot go wrong with simple spices.

When we brine for ourselves, we get more creative.

We&rsquove used lemons and herbs and anything that speaks to us from our spice pantry.

You can also add other liquids like white wine or hot sauces.

A Guide to Brining

Tired of your turkey turning out dry? It’s time to brine! Brining is a simple way to add flavor and moisture to turkey, chicken and even seafood. All it takes is a mixture of salt, water and spices. Morton can help you learn how to brine so your next dish can be tasty, tender and juicy.

What Can I Brine?

Turkey, chicken and pork are best for brining. That’s because they are lean and mild in flavor – so the brine can enhance flavors and juiciness. Many types of seafood, such as shrimp, are also excellent for brining. Beef and lamb aren’t recommended because they contain more fat, and don’t lose as much moisture as poultry or pork during cooking.

Morton Coarse Kosher Salt is perfect for brining because the flat, flaky crystals dissolve extremely well in water and create a crystal clear brine. Consider brining this grilling and holiday season.

Brining tips and tricks

Do not brine if you plan on deep frying as a cooking method.

Do not brine meat that has been “basted,” “enhanced,” “marinated” or is already classified as Kosher.

If you purchased a turkey or other poultry with a pop-up timer, leave it in place. If removed, the timer will leave a hole for juices to escape.

You can brine any size. The key is to ensure you have the right size container and enough brine to keep things fully submerged.

For larger items such as turkey, brine overnight. You may want to rearrange your refrigerator shelves ahead of time to make room.

If you don’t have room in your refrigerator, you can use a cooler lined with a roasting bag—but you will need to make sure the water temperature remains below 40 degrees throughout the process.

If you plan to brine your for 4 to 5 hours, use a brine proportion of 1 cup Morton Coarse Kosher Salt to 1 gallon water.

If you plan to brine your overnight or up to 14 hours, use a proportion of ½ cup Morton Coarse Kosher Salt to 1 gallon water.

Does the type of salt matter? Yes, we recommend Morton Coarse Kosher Salt because of the way it dissolves completely in water. Low or no Coarse Kosher Salt? Find a substitute salt for every grain size we make at our Salt Conversion Chart

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Brined & Roasted Whole Turkey

Combine Morton ® Kosher Salt and sugar in cool water in a large, clean stockpot until completely dissolved. Place the whole turkey in the brine until completely submerged. Cover and refrigerate overnight, up to 14 hours.

Remove the turkey from the brine, and rinse inside and out and under cool running water for several minutes to remove all traces of salt pat dry with a paper towel.

4-5 hour Brine: To brine your turkey in less time (4-5 hours), use 2 cups of Morton ® Coarse Kosher Salt and two cups of sugar. Cover and refrigerate for 4 to 5 hours.

To Roast: Mix the softened butter with the pepper. Place turkey on rack in roasting pan. Rub the seasoned butter under the skin. Brush the skin with the melted butter.

Pour the 1 cup liquid (wine, broth or water) over the pan bottom to prevent drippings from burning. Roast turkey at 450° F for 25 minutes, baste and then rotate the roasting pan.

Continue roasting until the skin turns golden brown, an additional 25 minutes baste again. Reduce oven temperature to 325° F continue to roast, basting and rotating the pan once about halfway through cooking, until the minimum internal temperature reaches 165° F.

Remove the turkey from the oven. Let stand 20 minutes before carving.

Tips for Success:

  • Internal temperature guidelines courtesy of USDA Food Safety Facts.
  • Do NOT brine turkey if it includes “basting” liquids that contain salt.
  • If you purchase a turkey with a pop-up timer, leave it in place and ignore it. If removed, the timer will leave a gaping hole for juices to escape.
  • Optional- add herbs and seasoning to your brine. Stuff the turkey cavity with lemon, garlic and more herbs.

Copyright © 1995-2021 Morton Salt, Inc. All rights reserved.

Site designed by Code and Theory

Test Your Water Hardness with a Free Test Strip

Did you know three out of four American households experience hard water? Morton will send you a water test strip to help you find out if you have hard water. Let’s begin!

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