How To Brine a Turkey
This is a great recipe for a turkey brine. You can use this brine for any turkey or whole chickens as well.
Turkey Brine Recipe:
- 2 gallons water
- 1 cup salt
- 1 cup sugar
- ¼ cup additional seasoning of your choice*
- fresh herb bundle of sage, rosemary, thyme
- 2 lemons halved
- 2 bay leaves
- 4-5 garlic cloves smashed
- 1 Tsp whole black pepper corns
- 2 small onions quartered
*For the additional seasoning, this is where you can get creative and impart specific flavors into your brine. I’ve used BBQ Rub for a bbq style smoked turkey, I’ve used creole seasoning for a cajun style and a basic All Purpose Seasoning to keep the flavors simple.
Pour 1 gallon of the water (reserve the other gallon until you pour brine over turkey) into a pot on the stove and bring to a boil. Add the salt, sugar and additional seasoning and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat and add the herb bundle, lemons, bay leaves, garlic, black peppercorns, and onion. Allow the mixture to steep in the refrigerator and cool completely. It’s great to make this ahead of time to allow it to cool completely (overnight is great).
The best way I’ve found to brine a turkey is using a XL Ziplock Bag inside a cooler. This way everything is contained and if there is any leakage it will be contained in the cooler.
Place the turkey inside the XL Ziplock Bag and pour in the cooled brine – top the turkey off with an additional gallon of water and the entire bird should be covered.
Close the bag and lay a bag of ice on top (this will help keep the turkey submerged). Let the turkey soak for 24 hours replacing the ice as needed.
Turkey needs to brine at least 24 hours – but can go as long as 48 hours. When ready to cook, remove the turkey from the brine and rinse under cool water at least 2 hours before it’s time to cook. You want to give the Turkey plenty of time to drain any excess water. You also want to dry the turkey really well with paper towels because the dryer you get the skin, they crispier it will get in the smoker.