What is brining? Similar to marinating, brining is the process of soaking the turkey for a period of time in brine, which is a simple mixture of salt and water. While marinade focuses on adding flavor to the meat, brine focuses making the meat tender and moist.
Since brining is just like marinating, it can be done in three easy steps.
Step 1: Prep the turkey
Completely thaw your bird either in the refrigerator for a few days or in a bath of cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes until the turkey is safely thawed. Remove the giblets and neck, rinse the turkey and pat dry.
Step 2: Make the brine
Brine is just salt and water, but you can add other ingredients to spice it up if you choose. When the meat sits in brine, it absorbs both the water and the salt, creating an extra moist, very flavorful turkey. Instead of water, you can use vegetable broth, chicken broth, or even apple cider! You can also add rosemary leaves, brown sugar, sage, thyme, garlic, or Worcestershire sauce to kick it up a notch. Have fun with the ingredients or follow a recipe, the choice is yours!
Note: For proportions, you’ll need half a cup of salt for every gallon of liquid.
Step 3: Soak the turkey in brine
Place the thawed turkey in a large glass container, a plastic bucket, or a stainless steel pot and add your brine (if your turkey is humungous and you can’t find a big enough container, some people use a cooler). Place it in the refrigerator and let it soak, preferably overnight. If you’re in a pinch, you can soak your turkey for a minimum of four hours prior to cooking.
Once fully soaked, remove it from the brine, rinse it, and pat dry. Let the turkey sit at room temperature for an hour, and cook your turkey as desired and enjoy some of the juiciest meat you’ll ever taste!
Tip: Make sure the skin of the turkey is completely dry before placing in the oven. This helps get the desired perfectly brown, crisp outer skin.
More turkey cooking tips
Now that your turkey is all brined and ready to go, here are some more how-to tips for cooking it!