This turkey brine recipe yields the most moist, tender turkey each time. You’ll be sure to impress your family and friends this holiday season!
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Let’s be honest.
Thanksgiving is all about the turkey.
All the other stuff is good, and you know, giving thanks and all that….
We use this turkey brine recipe each year.
Everytime we make & brine our turkey with this, we get the a moist, delicious bird as a result.
What is brining?
Brining just means to soak meat in is a solution of liquid and salt.
You can brine more than just turkey and brine things like pork chops or chicken.
In fact, this turkey brine recipe could be used on chicken as is and would yield a very yummy roast chicken.
Why should I brine a turkey?
Brining a turkey is the perfect way to lock moisture into the meat so you don’t have to worry that your turkey will be dry.
Not only does brine add flavor to the meat from the inside out, but it changes the structure of the meat’s proteins so the cells can hold onto more moisture.
It also tenderizes meat by causing its muscle fibers to come apart and swell.
Ultimately the meat takes in so much liquid that the liquid can’t evaporate out of the meat while it cooks so you are guaranteed a moist, tender turkey.
And if you need more proof this works: Costco brines their rotisserie chickens before cooking them. It’s part of what makes them so yummy.
To make this you’ll need:
- Salt– I highly recommend using kosher salt for this.
- Apple cider vinegar– Don’t skip the vinegar. The acid in it helps break down the fibers of the meat.
- Seasoning– Bay leaves, fresh thyme leaves, fresh rosemary leaves
- Apple– Use a cored and chopped granny smith.
You’ll also need a turkey breast to brine.
How to Brine a Turkey
Making the brine is as easy as boiling water.
To do it, add 3 cups of the water, all the salt and vinegar to a medium pot.
Stir the mixture to combine it and bring it to a boil over high heat.
Once it boils, reduce the heat and stir the mixture occasionally, simmering until all of the salt’s dissolved.
Then, remove it from heat, and set the mixture aside to cool completely.
Once it has cooled completely, stir in the rest of the cold water.
When the liquid is ready, add the herbs and chopped apple to gallon sized ziplocking bag.
Then, add the rinsed and dried turkey breast to the ziplocking bag.
Pour the cooled brine into the bag over the turkey.
Seal the bag, removing any excess air as you do so.
Refrigerate the turkey bag in the brine for at least 12 hours, but up to 14 before cooking via your preferred method.
I recommend making the turkey breast in the Instant Pot and serving it with this turkey gravy.
Can I brine a whole turkey with this recipe?
While this recipe is written for a turkey breast, we use the same brine for a whole bird.
To do it, adjusting the ratios as needed for a much larger batch.
Since a big bird won’t fit in a ziplocking bag, we get a NEW 5 gallon bucket with food grade sealing lid from the local feed store and use that.
Of course, make sure to thoroughly wash and rinse the bucket prior to adding the turkey brine.
Since a large bucket won’t fit inside most refrigerators, I recommend sealing it tightly and turning it on its side in a large cooler packed with ice.
Then I let the turkey sit in the brine for at least 24 hours.
Tips and Tricks
- If possible use apple cider vinegar and don’t substitute it for another vinegar. It will give the best flavor.
- You can substitute dried herbs in a pinch.
- Want to add even more flavor? Add a head of garlic to the mixture.
Other Ways to Cook Turkey
This turkey brine recipe is my favorite way to prepare our turkey on Thanksgiving. Give it a try and prepared to be amazed!
Looking for other ways to cook turkey? Try these:
If you’ve tried this TURKEY BRINE RECIPE, or any other recipe on my site, let me know in the comment section how it turned out, we love hearing from our readers! You can also follow along with me on PINTEREST, FACEBOOK, and INSTAGRAM to see more amazing recipes and whatever else we’ve got going on!
Turkey Brine Recipe
- 1 3-4 lb boneless turkey breast
- scant 1/8 cup kosher salt
- 4 1/2 cups water divided
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 bay leaves
- pinch fresh thyme leaves
- pinch fresh rosemary leaves
- 1 granny smith apple cored & chopped
- To a medium pot add 3 cups water, salt, and vinegar. Stir to combine, and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat.
- Reduce the heat, stir the mixture occasionally, and continue cooking at a simmer until all of the salt's dissolved.
- Remove from heat, and set the mixture aside to cool completely. Once cooled completely, stir in another 1 1/2 cup of cold water.
- Open a large (gallon sized) ziplocking bag and add the herbs & chopped apple.
- Remove your turkey breast from it's packaging, give it a quick rinse, and then pat it dry using paper towels. Add the turkey to the ziplocking bag.
- Pour the cooled brine into the bag over the turkey. Seal the bag, removing any excess air as you do so.
- Refrigerate the turkey bag in the brine for at least 12 hours, but up to 14 before cooking via your preferred method.
This post may contain affiliate links. As an amazon associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. See my full Disclosure Policy for details. As always, all opinions are my own.
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