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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.

recipe and tips for Brining Turkey

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

Brining Turkey

This recipe works for a 18-25 lb turkey.
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Total Time: 1 day
Servings: 1 turkey
Author: Jo-Anna Rooney


  • 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


  • Rinse your turkey and remove all the innards (neck, giblets...). Pat it dry
  • In a large saucepan, mix 4 cups of the water with the salt, peppercorns, mustard seeds, bay leaves, and coriander.
  • Bring to a boil, and stir until all the salt has dissolved. Cool.
  • 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!
  • Add the remaining water (24 cups), wine, garlic, onions, fresh thyme and cranberries.
  • Let your turkey soak in the brine for about 12-24 hours, in the fridge. We did 24.
  • You should turn the turkey once during the brining process.
  • Once your turkey is done brining, remove it from the mixture and rinse.
  • Now it's time to roast your turkey.  Here is the recipe I use for the roasting instructions.
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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
      [email protected]
      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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