Basic Turkey Brine

turkey brine ingredients
Claire Cohen
  • 15 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins,
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Yield: 12 Servings
Ratings (124)

A dry turkey is a big disappointment, and most people agree that a simple brine helps make a juicier, tastier holiday turkey. Water, salt, sugar and herbs make up this basic, simple brine for turkey.

Use an extra large resealable plastic bag or a large plastic container, and use a plate and a large can to hold the turkey down and keep it from floating to the top of the brine. You'll need plenty of space in the refrigerator as well, so plan accordingly

What You'll Need

  • 2 gallons water (cold)
  • 2 cups ​salt (kosher)
  • 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

How to Make It

  1. This is enough for a 12- to 15-pound turkey, but if you have to increase the amount of water to cover the turkey, add proportionately more salt, sugar, and herbs.
  2. (For each gallon of water: 1 cup kosher salt, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and approximately 1 teaspoon crushed garlic, 1 to 2 twigs of the herbs, and about 1/2 teaspoon of cracked allspice berries and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.)
  3. 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.
  1. Before roasting, rinse the turkey well with cold water and pat dry. Roast without additional salt following your favorite recipe.
  2. Makes enough to brine a 12 to 15-pound turkey.

Tips and Variations

  • Brined meat might look a bit pink even when fully cooked. If in doubt, check the temperature of the turkey with an instant-read thermometer. The turkey should register at least 165 F in the thickest part of the thigh. If the turkey is stuffed, the center of the stuffing must be cooked to at least 165 F.
  • Some other popular brine additions include whole peppercorns, bay leaves, whole cloves and cinnamon sticks.