Turkey Brine Recipes
When it comes to adding flavourings to a Thanksgiving Turkey there’s nothing better than brining. Brining and soaking your turkey in a seasoned flavoured solution just helps you prepare an outstanding item. The brining not only helps keep your bird just that little bit moister, but in some cases it can even speed up the cooking process by about 20 minutes. Just monitor the cooking near the end.
You will need a container, but checkout the image idea of using the vegetable draw of your fridge. Pretty clever.
People often ask if you can cook the turkey after it’s just been brined or do you still need to add seasonings and spices? The short answer is Yes to both.. There really is no rules and you can just cook your brined turkey or you can add a few seasonings, stuffings or butter bastes to further enhance flavours if you like. Just remember…you don’t need any salt as it was already in the brine.
You are able to buy Ready Made Brine Kits, from Amazon that have a good selection, but below are a few recipes that you can easily make at home. You will need to have a good sized bucket on hand, as mentioned above, and space in your fridge for a few days to let the brining action take place.
1. Apple Cider and Three Colour Peppercorns Brine
- 1 12 lb/5.4 kg turkey defrosted
- 3 cups apple cider
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons tricolour peppercorns
- 5 whole bay leaves
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 sprigs rosemary, leaves stripped off
- Peel of three large oranges, removed in large strips
- Combine 2 gallons/7.6 Lt of cold water with the apple cider, brown sugar, salt, peppercorns, bay leaves, garlic, rosemary and orange peels in a large pot. Stir until the salt and sugar dissolve. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat and cover.
- Allow to cool completely, then place into the fridge to chill. Place uncooked turkey in the chilled brine solution, then refrigerate for 16 to 24 hours.
- When ready to roast the turkey, remove from the brine. Submerge the turkey in a pot or sink of fresh, cold water. Allow to sit in clean water for 15 minutes to remove excess salt from the outside.
- Discard the brine. Remove the turkey from the clean water, pat dry, and cook according to your normal roasting method or roast without additional salt following your favourite recipe.
2. Basic Brine Recipe
- 12-15 lb/5.4-6.8 kg turkey defrosted
- 2 gallons/7.6 Lt water (cold)
- 2 cups kosher salt
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 teaspoons garlic (crushed)
- 3 to 4 sprigs rosemary (or 1 tablespoon dried)
- 3 to 4 sprigs thyme (or 1 tablespoon dried)
- 3 to 4 sprigs sage (or 1 tablespoon dried)
- 1 teaspoon allspice berries (cracked)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Gather the ingredients.
- Dissolve the salt, sugar, and aromatics in the water.
- Submerge the turkey in the brine, top with a plate, and put a large can or a few cans on the plate to hold the turkey under the brine.
- Refrigerate the turkey in the brine for 12 to 24 hours.
- Discard the brine. Remove the turkey from the clean water, pat dry, and cook according to your normal roasting method or roast without additional salt following your favorite recipe.
3. Citrus and Sage Brine Recipe
- 1 12-20 lb/5.4-9 kg turkey, defrosted
- 3 oranges
- 3 lemons
- 1/2 cup fresh sage leaves
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
- 5 large garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 4 quarts water
- 1 cup kosher salt (or 3/4 cup table salt), plus more if needed
- Prepare the turkey for brining: Remove the turkey from its package and pat dry. Remove the giblets. Place the turkey in a large pot, brining bag, or other container large enough to keep the turkey submerged.
- Prepare the brine ingredients: Strip the peels from the oranges and lemons using a vegetable peeler. Try to remove just the peel, leaving behind as much of the bitter white pith as possible. Roughly chop the sage leaves. Make sure the bay leaves, peppercorns, and garlic cloves are measured out and ready to go. (Save the leftover oranges and lemons for stuffing the turkey during roasting!)
- Prepare the brine concentrate: Bring 1 quart (4 cups) of the water to a boil in a large saucepan or stock pot on the stove top. Once boiling, add the salt and stir until dissolved. Add the orange and lemon peels, chopped sage, bay leaves, peppercorns, and garlic. Let the water return to a boil, then remove from heat.
- Cool and then dilute the concentrate to make the turkey brine: Let the brine concentrate and flavouring ingredients cool until no longer steaming, then stir in the remaining 3 quarts (12 cups) of water. (If your pan is too small, you can do this in a pitcher or other large container.) Check the temperature of the brine; it should be room temperature or lukewarm.
- Pour the brine over the turkey: Make sure the turkey is submerged, though it’s OK if the bony tips of the legs stick out the top. If needed for larger turkeys, prepare additional brine solution (1/4 cup of salt dissolved in 4 cups of warm water) in order to cover the turkey. If the turkey is floating, weight it down with a plate or other heavy object.
- Brine for 12 to 24 hours: Cover the turkey and keep refrigerated during brining.
- Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse: When you’re ready to begin roasting your turkey, remove it from the brine and rinse it with cool water. It’s OK if the water is tinged pink. Pat dry.
- Roast the turkey as usual: There’s no need to salt the turkey before roasting, but otherwise, roast the turkey as usual following your favourite recipe. If desired, stuff the cavity of the turkey with leftover sage and the peeled lemons and oranges from preparing the brine. Roasting time may be shortened; begin checking the temperature of the turkey halfway through roasting.
4. Beer Brined Turkey
- 1 12-15 lb/5.4-6.8 kg turkey defrosted
- 3 12-oz/340 ml cans or bottles dark beer or apple cider
- 4 qt/16 cups cold water
- 1-1/2 cups Kosher or 3/4 cup table salt
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 3 smashed garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
- 1 onion peeled and cut in quarters
- 4 sprigs each fresh rosemary, thyme, parsley and sage
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 stalks celery sliced into 2 pieces
- 1 apple cut into wedges
- vegetable oil as required
- Remove the giblets, if any.
- For the brine, in a large 5-gallon/19 Lt bucket or container, combine the beer, water, salt, and brown sugar and stir with a long-handled wooden spoon until the salt and sugar crystals are dissolved.
- Add the garlic and peppercorns.
- Add the turkey. Keep it submerged with a heavy pot lid or resealable bags of ice. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours.
- Remove the bird from the brine.
- Dry the turkey thoroughly, inside and out, with paper towels. Discard the brine.
- Put the onion, herbs, bay leaves, celery, and apple in the main cavity and tie the legs together with butcher’s twine. Fold the wings behind the bird’s back. Oil the outside of the bird.
- Put the turkey on a rack in a sturdy roasting pan and cook required time.
5. Cajun Seasoned Turkey Brine
- 1 12 lb/5.4 kg turkey defrosted
- 1/2 cup Spanish paprika
- 1/4 cup New Mexican chilli powder
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
- 1 1/2 cups kosher salt
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 4 whole cloves garlic
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- 1 large Spanish onion, quartered
- 1/4 cup canola oil for cooking
- Two days before cooking: Combine the Spanish paprika, New Mexican chilli powder, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, thyme and cayenne in a small bowl. Remove 1/4 cup for another use.
- Dissolve the salt and sugar in 2 gallons/7.5 Lt cold water in a large (at least 16-quart) stockpot or a clean bucket. Whisk in half of the remaining spice rub, the garlic, bay leaves and onion.
- Add the turkey, cover and refrigerate or set in a very cold place for at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours.
- Rinse well under cold water and pat dry to remove the salt. Let air-dry in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
- Discard the brine. Pat dry, and cook according to your normal roasting method.
6. Bourbon Brined Turkey with Herb Rub
For the Brine:
- 1 15 lb/6.8 kg Turkey
- 14 cups water
- 4 cups apple juice, preferably unsweetened and unfiltered
- 1 cup bourbon
- 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
- 1 1/4 cups salt
- 4 bay leaves
- 12 whole black peppercorns
- 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
- 4 medium cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
- 4 strips lemon peel (little or no pith)
For the Rub:
- 2 tablespoons ground sage
- 2 tablespoons dried rosemary
- 2 tablespoons dried thyme
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
For the Bird:
- 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 large onion, cut into quarters
- 1 medium tart apple, such as Granny Smith, cored and cut into quarters
- 1 medium fennel bulb, cored and cut into quarters
For the Brine:
- Line a large mixing bowl or clean bucket with a 2-gallon/7.5 Lt resealable plastic food storage bag or a large brining bag; add the water, apple juice, bourbon, brown sugar, salt, bay leaves, peppercorns, onion, garlic and strips of lemon peel, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt.
- Place the turkey in the brine and seal, pressing out as much air as possible. Refrigerate for 12 to 20 hours, re-positioning the turkey halfway through as needed to make sure the bird is evenly brined.
- Rinse the turkey and pat it dry; discard the brine.
For the Rub:
- Combine the sage, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
For the Bird:
- Coat the cavity and skin of the turkey with butter.
- Coat the cavity with 2 tablespoons of the rub, then use the remainder of the rub to coat the buttered skin of the bird.
- Place the onion, apple and fennel pieces in the cavity.
- Cook according to your normal roasting method.
These are some interesting and tasty brines that will make your Thanksgiving Turkey dinner something special. Feel free to give them a try and let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
If you are pushed for time but still want to Brine, then pop over the Amazon and get a Brine Kit to speed the process up.
Follow the links for some Turkey Roasting Recipes and Turkey Stuffings Recipes and go to my article with info on Cooking Times, Defrosting Times and How to Carve Your Turkey, all to make your Thanksgiving easier.