Start Brining Your Turkey Today

published Nov 21, 2017
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(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

So, you’ve decided to brine your turkey this year. Great choice — you will not regret it one bit. This simple extra step means you are in for a juicy, succulent, full-flavored turkey. And now that we’re a couple days out from Thanksgiving, it is time to get started. Here is what you need to know.

It’s Tuesday! Start brining today.

The Tuesday evening before Thanksgiving is a great time to start brining your turkey. As a rule of thumb, we always recommend brining the turkey for one to two days. This is plenty of time for the saltwater brine bath to work its way into the bird, adding extra moisture and making the meat well-seasoned.

But first, make sure it’s not pre-brined.

Before you actually get started, take a minute to scan over the label on the turkey to make sure your bird isn’t pre-brined. Some turkeys — particularly kosher turkeys (which have been pre-salted) and self-basting or “enhanced” turkeys (which have been injected with a salt solution) — don’t need to be brined. These turkeys have already been enhanced with salt in some way and brining would result in an over-salted turkey.

(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

Get out your biggest stockpot and clear some fridge space.

The only downside of brining is that it does take up a decent amount space in the fridge. But I’m sure you’ve played enough Tetris over the years that you can put those skills to work, get creative, and rearrange everything to make it fit. Use a big stockpot, or even a bucket if you have a really huge turkey; use anything big enough to comfortably hold the turkey and keep it fully submerged. Alternatively, you can also brine the turkey in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer.

Use 1/4 cup salt per quart of water for the brine solution.

A basic brine is no more than water and salt (although aromatics, like bay leaves, peppercorns, juniper berries, and orange and lemon peels, are highly encouraged).

Plan to use 1/4 cup of kosher salt for evert quart of water. On average you will need 1 cup of kosher salt and 4 quarts of water, with more for large turkeys.

Have you started brining your turkey yet?