Easy Savory Turkey Brine Recipe


Easy Turkey Brining Recipe

We made a turkey last night and had a few people over. A lot of people complimented our turkey, so I thought I’d share my brine recipe. I apologize for not taking pictures last night – you’re stuck with the terrible photo of our turkey from last year instead.

Brining a turkey isn’t difficult, but it does add time and a few extra steps to the process. However, the juicy, tender results are more than worth the extra effort. You’ll need a container large enough to hold two gallons of liquid plus the turkey. We use a food-grade 5-gallon bucket like this one. You can buy one online or at most major hardware store. Just make sure that your bucket is labelled food-grade to prevent any contaminates from entering your delicious meal. You can use a large stock pot, but keep in mind that a 15 pound bird will displace a lot of liquid, so make sure you have plenty of room for everything.

You will also need a cool location to store your bucket after you put your turkey in the brine. Ideally, you should store it in a cold fridge, however not everyone has the luxury of that much fridge space. If you cannot fit the bucket in your fridge and live in a relatively cool place, you can store it in a location such as your garage or basement, so long as the temperature stays below 40 degrees. Remember, this is raw poultry, so please keep safe food-handling in mind.

Many brines use sugars, which are supposed to help brown the skin. Keeping the bird savory was our priority, so we left out any sugar and just coated it in olive oil before putting it in the oven to crisp up the skin. Here are the ingredients we used.

  • 1 gallon vegetable stock
  • 1 cup finely ground salt
  • 2 tbsp dried rosemary
  • 2 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp dried sage
  • 1 tbsp dried savory
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 gallon ice water

Throw the vegetable stock and all of the spices in a stock pot and bring to a rolling boil. Once you have a good boil going, remove it from the heat and let it cool to about room temperature. Once it’s cool, put it in your bucket (or brining apparatus of choice) and add the ice water. Now, submerge the bird with the breast cavity down (drumsticks pointing up) and make sure the cavity gets filled. If the ends of your legs are above the liquid, that’s fine. However, if you have a very large bird, you may need to add more stock or salt water to cover the meat.

Put the bucket in your fridge or a comparably cool location for 18-24 hours. Remove your turkey from the brine. Don’t worry – it will look bloated and not terribly appetizing at this point, but it will cook beautifully. Some people recommend rinsing the turkey before cooking it, however we’ve found that it isn’t necessary and the remaining herbs and brine just add flavor.

Place your turkey on your roasting pan, season as desired, and cook with your preferred method. In seasoning the turkey, adding salt generally isn’t necessary with a brine. We simply coated ours in olive oil and gave it a few turns of our pepper mill.

A couple of notes – don’t stuff a brined turkey. Well, you can if you want, but expect a salty stuffing. There are other good reasons to cook your stuffing separately (at which point it technically is dressing), but if you’re dying for a stuffed turkey, wet brining might not be the way to go. Also, if you’re making gravy from your pan drippings, take into account the amount of salt already in the dripping from the brine. We failed to mention that to my wonderful aunt who made gravy at our get-together. The gravy was good, but a bit on the salty side.

Savory Turkey Brine

  • 1 gallon vegetable stock
  • 1 cup finely ground salt
  • 2 tbsp dried rosemary
  • 2 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp dried sage
  • 1 tbsp dried savory
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 gallon ice water

1. Pour your vegetable stock into a stock pot. Add all spices and bring to a boil.

2. After reaching a rolling boil, remove from heat. Let stock mixture cool to room temperature.

3. Once cool, combine stock mixture and ice water in food grade bucket.

4. Submerge turkey, breast cavity down, in bucket, ensuring that the brine fills the body cavity.

5. Place in refrigerator or comparably cool location for 18-24 hours.

6. Remove from brine. Season and cook as desired.

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One thought on “Easy Savory Turkey Brine Recipe

  1. Your turkey was incredibly moist, tender, and delicious!!!! Best turkey I’ve tasted!!! We will use your method for the next bird we prepare! Too bad you didn’t get a pic! It was perfect! Thanks for sharing!!!

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