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Brining A Turkey

brining turkey

Brining turkey is so easy, and makes the most tender and delicious turkey! This recipe works for a 18 – 25 lb turkey.  Time is 12 – 24 hours.

The best, most tender and flavourful turkey!

This is a recipe worth sharing over and over again! Have you ever brined a turkey?  Or eaten one that’s been prepared this way?  Roasted turkey that has been brined is SO moist, flavourful and delicious. They are truly amazing.  When it comes to turkey preparation, brining a turkey is a the top of the list for us.  So don’t be afraid, it isn’t as hard as you might think.

Tips for Brining a Turkey:

  • Size of Turkey:  This recipe is for a 18 – 25 lb turkey.  If you have a smaller bird, like half the size, just cut the recipe in half.
  • Make sure your turkey is thawed.  The turkey must be almost completely thawed before it goes into the salt mixture.  If it’s a little little bit frosty, that is fine.
  • Gravy:  If you make gravy from the pan juices of a turkey that has been brined, you will likely find that it is quite salty.  I just cut down the saltiness with water from the potatoes I boil for this dinner.  Just taste test as you go.
  • Make it Festive!  Tis the season right?!  To make an extra festive brine, add 1 cup of whole fresh cranberries to the mixture.  It just makes it look pretty.
  • What type of container to use? Place the turkey in a container large enough to hold it and all of the brine. You can use a stock pot, a cooler, a bucket – whatever, as long as it is clean. Just make sure to clean it (with bleach) after you are done!
  • How long to let the turkey soak in the brine? Let your turkey soak for about 12-24 hours, in the fridge. We prefer 24 hours.
  • Turn it!  You should turn the turkey once during the brining process.
  • Roasting Instructions:  For roasting instructions, I use this recipe here.


Brining Turkey

This recipe works for a 18-25 lb turkey.

  • Author: Jo-Anna Rooney
  • Total Time: 1440 minutes
  • Yield: 1 turkey 1x
  • Category: Turkey


  • 28 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups coarse salt
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp whole coriander seeds
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 1 large onion (thinly sliced)
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 bottle dry white wine (Riesling)


  1. Rinse your turkey and remove all the innards (neck, giblets…). Pat it dry
  2. In a large saucepan, mix 4 cups of the water with the salt, peppercorns, mustard seeds, bay leaves, and coriander.
  3. Bring to a boil, and stir until all the salt has dissolved. Cool.
  4. Place the turkey in a container large enough to hold it and all the brine. You can use a stock pot, a cooler, a bucket – whatever, as long as it is clean. Make sure to clean the container (with bleach) after you are done brining the turkey!
  5. Add the remaining water (24 cups), wine, garlic, onions, fresh thyme and cranberries.
  6. Let your turkey soak in the brine for about 12-24 hours, in the fridge. We did 24.
  7. You should turn the turkey once during the brining process.
  8. Once your turkey is done brining, remove it from the mixture and rinse.
  9. Now it’s time to roast your turkey.  Here is the recipe I use for the roasting instructions.

Keywords: turkey brine

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart.

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  • Reply
    Pretend Chef
    November 10, 2011 at 2:12 PM

    I’ve heard that brined turkeys are the best. I think I need to give this method a shot this Thanksgiving. Thanks for the tip.

  • Reply
    Ali Richardson
    November 10, 2011 at 6:59 PM

    I wonder how old I will be when I am actually the one cooking the turkey. I guess when my mom or mother in law get too old to do it. Yikes!

  • Reply
    November 11, 2011 at 3:25 PM

    Ok – now I am convinced. Thank you for making it so clear and easy to follow. I will be trying this!

  • Reply
    Chance @ Designed by Chance
    November 14, 2011 at 5:23 AM

    I was looking out for a post like this. Any suggestions for a small er bird? I’m getting at 10-14 lb one this year. Thanks for the tips.

  • Reply
    October 10, 2013 at 10:15 AM

    Hey Jo-Anna,
    Inspired by you, I have brined a chicken once and will now brine our turkey for this weekend, after your on-line reminder about your recipe. When I did the chicken, I cut the skin over the breasts and slipped in lemon wedges and lemon thyme, a tip I read in another recipe (it actually called for lemon wedges and sage but I adapted it to what I had growing out front). The chicken turned out moist and lemon-y, it was so delicious! I thought I would share this variation. Keep up the good work!

  • Reply
    April 19, 2014 at 12:26 PM

    I am unexpectedly out of town this Easter weekend after my father-in-law had a heart attack. He will be discharged from the hospital in time for Easter supper, which also happens to be my mother-in-law’s birthday. With all of my brother in-laws coming to see him, I am so happy to be able to access this recipe and do something special for them at this time!

  • Reply
    December 12, 2015 at 6:22 PM

    To brine the turkey it is completely thawed right? I have never made a turkey dinner before, this is my first year. I have the turkey in my deep freeze. Do I thaw the turkey in my fridge? Or just in a container in kitchen?

    • Reply
      December 14, 2015 at 2:18 PM

      Hi Katie! Yes, the turkey should be completely thawed. I usually take mine out about 4 or 5 days before I want to cook it, and I always unthaw it in my fridge. When you go to brine the turkey a day or 2 ahead, the turkey may still be a bit frozen but that’s ok, it will continue to unthaw in the brine! You can do it…it’s really easy to cook a turkey!

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