Brining A Turkey

Pouring brine on my turkey

Brining your  turkey is mandatory if you want it to be succulent and delicious! Soaking it in a salt and sugar mixture makes it moist. Don’t forget to rinse the brine off and soak the turkey in fresh water for 4 hours before it is cooked. This prevents it from tasting too salty. I have forgotten to do this step and it was still good but salty. This is an incredible recipe.


6 quarts of water

2 cups sea salt(or regular)

3/4 cup maple syrup(if this is too expensive use 1 1/2 cups brown sugar)

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 turkey

To make the brine, pour water, salt, syrup and sugar into stock pot. Place on medium high heat and stir. Cook just until salt and sugars dissolve, then take off heat and let cool.

I make mine a day ahead.

Rinse turkey. Put turkey in brining bag. If you don’t have a bag use a very large bowl or pot to brine in. Pour brine over turkey. I usually don’t have enough liquid to cover the entire bird. I flip it every 8 hours. If it is a small bird you’ll cover it easy and won’t need to flip it. My turkey pictured is 21 1/2 pounds.

Brine for at least 24 hours. Mine will be brined for 36 hours and then soaked in fresh water for 4 hours or more.

Pat turkey dry. Put in roasting pan.

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

Ingredients to go with turkey:

1 stick of butter

1 large onion, sliced(I like sweet yellow onions)

3 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 cups of chicken broth(I use organic chicken baste and add water)

1/2 cup of white wine

Baste turkey with 2 tablespoons butter. Add carrots and onions around turkey. Add rest of butter, chicken broth and wine to small pot and cook till butter melts. Use this to baste turkey throughout the baking time.

Lower temperature to 325 degrees after the first 15 minutes.

The time you bake your turkey will depend on the size. I’m cooking this one for 5 hours. If it is done in 4 hours I’ll turn the heat down to 275 for the last hour.

Cooking brine

Salt and sugar not dissolved yet


Rinsing turkey

Don’t forget to take neck out of turkey. Cook it in water and use to make broth for your stuffing

Pour brine over turkey

I couldn’t fit all my brine into my stock pot so this is more of the water. The most important part of cooking the brine mixture is just dissolving the salt and sugar. So it doesn’t affect anything that the water is poured on top of the cooked brine. It will all mix together.

My turkey is too big for my bowl. I’ll flip it every 8 hours to get it soaked

  • Joy said:

    Well, I feel embarrassed to tell you that I purchase a Cook-From-Frozen, Pre-Stuffed turkey at the grocery store. I's shameful, but honestly, it is good. I just cooked a small one on Sunday and we enjoyed leftovers tonight. I know it's not as good as the 'real' thing, and one day I just may brine a turkey (I'd never heard the word "brine" before).

    Enjoy your Thanksgiving my friend,

    • Arlene Ogden said:

      Purchase a clean unused bucket with a lid to place your turkey brine in! Lowes have them for aroung $5.00) That is if you have enough room in a fridge, a second one is great to have! (you could place in bucket to thaw it out also!)

    • Joy! I wish I read your comment before making my "Turkey Bath" ... ohmygoodness! That, my dear, is not shameful...that is least in my world. Sigh...

  • Debi said:

    Sounds delish. I will try this for this year's Turkey. It is 25 lbs so it may be a challenge!

  • Kim said:

    Do you refrigerate while letting the turkey sit in the brine for 24 hours?

  • Anonymous said:

    While the turkey is soaking in the brine mixture does it stay in the refrigerator?

  • Lisa said:

    Do you have to keep the turkey in the 'fridge while it is soaking?

  • Susan said:

    We brine ours every year- the only way to do it! So much better.

  • Sharon, Thank you so very much for helping cook my Thanksgiving dinner. I have to say... That was the best turkey I have ever eaten. I am partly glad I went through the time and tediousness to accomplish this kitchen challenge.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

    • Aw that's wonderful Jaclyn! I had a turkey that was over 30 pounds this year and thought it may not be as tender because it would take so long to bake. However, it was perfect because of the brining.

      I'm thrilled that I was part of your Thanksgiving!! Blessings!! Sharon