How to Brine a Turkey for a Simply Delicious Dinner

When you're feeling the pressure to cook your fam's Thanksgiving meal perfectly, there's one little secret that'll make it a smashing success: you gotta brine that bird.

Brining is when you let your turkey soak in a salt-and-water solution for several hours before cooking. This allows the meat to absorb moisture and be extra flavorful. Sure, it's an extra step to cooking the turkey, but the result is totally worth it — especially when you add spices and flavorings.

Turkey Brine

Yield: ideal for a turkey up to 16 lbs


  • 1½ gallons water
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 2 large oranges
  • 1 lemon
  • 2-3 sprigs (about 3 tablespoons) fresh rosemary
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons whole peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon whole mustard seed
  • 3 bay leaves


1. In a large stock pot, combine water and cider. Place over high heat.

2. Slice the peel off of the lemons and oranges. Remove rosemary leaves from the sprigs. Smash garlic using the side of a knife and remove the peels.

3. Pour the salt and brown sugar in the stock pot and stir. Place the remaining ingredients — including the orange and lemon peels, rosemary and garlic — in the stock pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool completely.

4. When the brine cools to room temperature, clean the turkey, removing all innards and parts from the cavity. Rinse the turkey under cool running water.

5. If your stock pot is large enough, it's best to brine the turkey inside it. Place the turkey cavity side-up in the pot; this makes it easier to flip it after some time. Make sure a lid can be placed over the top without parts of the bird sticking out.

Pro Tip

If the turkey is too large for the stock pot, use a brining bag. (You can find them at most grocery stores.) Put the brining bag in a roasting pan, place the turkey in the bag and pour the liquid over the turkey, making sure the cavity is filled.

6. Place the in the refrigerator for 24 hours, flipping the bird over after 12 hours.

7. Remove the turkey and discard the brine. There will be a lot of salt on the surface of the turkey, so rinse it thoroughly under cool running water, then pat dry. Don't forget to rinse the cavity, too.

8. Cook the turkey as desired.

Find Your Next Recipe

Bring your Thanksgiving A-game with these mouthwatering sides.

Gravy is to turkey as frosting is to cake. As coffee is to donuts. As leggings and knit hats are to autumn days. Neither is really complete without the other. Get the picture? Although the turkey is often thought of as the Thanksgiving centerpiece, a good gravy is actually your secret weapon.
Green beans may seem like an overdone side dish, but braising them with a punchy vinaigrette gives the veggie a fresh lease on life. Make this recipe and see just how often you want to pair 'em with every meal.
Ashley Rodriguez
Take note: this isn't your typical "cook the mashed potatoes, then keep them warm in a slow cooker" method. Rather, it's the perfect one-bowl way to cook mashed potatoes from start to finish. Over the span of a few hours, cubes of seasoned potato are cooked until tender, mashed right in the same slow cooker bowl and mixed with creamy additives. It couldn't be more simple!
Jessie Oleson Moore

November 20, 2017
More to Explore
Now Reading
How to Brine a Turkey for a Simply Delicious Dinner