Turkey Brine

I am a huge advocate for brining a turkey before cooking it. Not only does the turkey come out nice and moist, but also the extra moisture means that the bird will be more forgiving to the variables of cooking. I am too embarrassed to admit some of the “variables” I have subjected my holiday birds too, but I will confide that brining saved me every time.

Here is my basic brine. For a large turkey you may have to double or even tripple this recipe to ensure that the turkey is fully covered while soaking in it’s briny bath.

Feel free to improvise by adding spices that suit your taste.


  • 1 gallon water
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 4 or 5 bay leaves
  • 1 cup salt
  • handful of peppercorns, cracked (aprox ¼ cup)


  • Large container with lid.
  • Large sauce pan
  • Time (allow a good twelve hours for turkey to soak)


  1. Add a few cups of water to sauce pan.*
  2. Add sugar and salt and simmer over a medium heat until both are completely dissolved.
  3. Crack pepper corns and add to mix.
  4. Add bay leaves.
  5. Remove from heat and let cool.*
  6. After brine has cooled add turkey to the container and then add brine. Be sure to completely cover the turkey with the brine.
  7. Store in a cool place for twelve hours, give or take a few.
  8. Remove turkey and discard brine. Cook turkey using your favorite method.

What you should know

You do not need to add all the water to the sauce pan in step 1. Simply add enough to allow salt and sugar to dissolve and then mix with the remaining water in the container.

It is important to let the brine cool before adding it to the turkey.

Often when it comes time to brine the fridge is full of other goodies. Provided it is not too cold (below freezing) or too warm (above 50°F) you can store the turkey in brine outside in spot safe from late night predators. Another option is to brine the turkey is a cooler with a handful of ice cubes to make sure it is not too warm.

Turkey Quick Links:

  1. Turkey (amount to buy)
  2. Turkey (thawing frozen)
  3. Cooking Times (Turkey)
  4. Turkey Gravy
Re: Turkey Brine

Brining a turkey is an absolute must. I have been saved on more than one occasion when an otherwise overcooked bird has come out nice and moist.

Re: Turkey Brine

Agreed. I always brine my turkeys. Also, I have never been shy about adding additional spices to the brine.

Re: Turkey Brine

Brine, baby brine!

Here are some pictures of my turkey brine which just managed to fit in the fridge with all the other turkey day fixings. In years past I have packed the turkey and brine in a giant trash bag and then put the bag over a bed of ice in an igloo cooler.

Re: Turkey Brine