Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Brining 101: How to keep your Thanksgiving turkey juicy and flavorful

Traditionally, a brine is a simple salt water solution used to keep leaner meats from drying out and becoming tough during the cooking process. It is most commonly used for roasting turkeys and chickens, but it can be used for other items as well. Meats that are soaked in a brine absorb extra moisture from the solution. The salt works to help season the meat while breaking down proteins, thus making the meat more tender. 

The basic recipe for a brine is 1 cup of Kosher salt to every 4 quarts of water. If you are using table salt, use 3/4 cup for every 4 quarts. For those wishing to keep the process as simple as possible, this is a perfectly good brine to use. For those wishing to add additional flavor and flair to their meal, you can use a variety of additional ingredients to suit your individual tastes. Consider adding any of the following ingredients to your brine:

sugar, brown sugar or raw sugar

bay leaf


juniper or allspice berries

orange or lemon peel

To brine your bird, mix the salt and water in a large stock pot and stir until the salt dissolves. Add any additional ingredients you would like to the brine. Remove turkey from package and take out the giblets. Gently submerge the turkey in your brine. 

NOTE: Your pot must be deep enough for the turkey to be fully submerged. Cover and place in your refrigerator to brine for 12 hours. When you are ready to roast your turkey, remove from brine and pat dry. Place in your roasting pan and season or baste as desired before placing in the oven to cook. 


Birds that are brined tend to cook a little faster than normal. You will want to begin checking your turkey with a meat thermometer about an hour before the recommended cook time is up. The turkey is done when the thermometer, when inserted into the thickest part of the bird, reads 165 degrees F.

If you would like your turkey to have crispier skin, Remove from the brine and pat dry. Place in a roasting pan and loosely cover with plastic wrap and allow to dry, refrigerated, for an additional 12 hours prior to roasting.

Clean your sink well after disposing of the brine to avoid contaminating other food items. 

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