How to Brine a Turkey

In honor of Thanksgiving I am going to show you how to make the best Turkey you have ever had!! 

First off though I have to say this post is a little long with a lot of reading.  But it is packed full with useful information and worth the read.

Second, I have to apologize for my pictures.  My camera broke {the pics come out good for the top half but black on the  bottom.  Happens with both lenses.  Not sure why.  Anyone know about this?? }  so I had to take these pictures with my cell phone.  But the info is still useful.

turkey done_thumb[1]

I made this the other night for my family and my brother and his wife.  As they were sitting down to seconds I overheard him say, “this is the best dinner I have ever had.”  I promise the extra steps are so worth it here.

You need to start this the day before you want to cook your turkey.  First of all, get out your cooler {that’s right cooler}

turkey step 1_thumb[1]

You need a cooler that is big enough to fit your turkey.  Clean it well.  You are going to put food in this so make sure it is good and clean.

To make your brining liquid, you are going to mix water with equal parts kosher salt and sugar.

turkey step 2_thumb[1]

The recipe is :

10 quarts of water

5 cups of salt

5 cups sugar

This made enough solution for my 23 lb. turkey.

You can either use a quart jar and fill it up 10 times and dump it in the cooler.  Or I used my little handy dandy mug that I got from the hospital when I had my baby.

turkey step 3_thumb[1]

I LOVE these mugs.  Here you can see it has measurements up the side.  32 oz. is one quart.  So fill this one up 10 times and dump it in the cooler.  Then ad your sugar and salt.  Mix it up to dissolve the sugar and salt.

Take your THAWED turkey and remove all the gizzards and pieces from the cavities.

turkey step 4_thumb[1]

Then just put it down into the cooler.  Here comes the important part.

You are going to let the turkey soak in this brining liquid for between 9 and 24 hrs.  But you want to make sure and avoid the Temperature Danger Zone.  This is a temperature range that you don’t want to have food sitting in.  It is between 41 and 140 degrees.  So basically stored food needs to be colder than 41 degrees {refrigerator or freezer} or hotter than 140 degrees {cooking}.  So while you are letting your turkey soak it needs to be less than 41 degrees.  It may be cold enough outside to put it in your garage overnight.  But it depends on where you live and the temperatures there.  If it’s not and you don’t have enough room in your fridge {I know I don’t}.  You can put some ice in with the turkey.  You want to make sure your ice is contained so that it doesn’t melt and dilute the brining solution.  You can use bagged ice.  Just leave it in the bag and make sure it doesn’t leak.  I used these ice packs we have.

turkey step 5_thumb[1]

I threw a bunch of them in.  Whatever you use, just make sure you are careful to avoid that temperature danger zone.  If you have any questions feel free to Contact Me or look it up or ask someone.  This is a very important step and one you don’t want to guess on.  I don’t want anyone getting sick.

Ok so after you have brined your turkey you can cook it like normal.  I have a little tip I learned from Alton Brown on the Food Network.

Since we love moist dark meat and we love moist white meat, but we need to cook the dark meat to a higher temp. than the white, and we don’t want to dry out the white meat or under cook the dark meat, we have a problem.  {did you follow that LONG run on sentence?}

Enter the turkey triangle.

turkey step 6_thumb[1]

Take your foil and fold the top corners down into a triangle.  Then you need to form fit it to the turkey breast.  You want to do this before you put it in the oven [so it’s not hot when you go to fit it}

turkey step 7_thumb[1]

Just set it aside for later.  According to Alton, the way to cook the turkey is on the bottom rack of the oven.  Set to 500 degrees for a half hour{ I say between 400 and 500 depending on how hot your oven gets}.  Then put on the foil triangle and turn it down to 350 for the duration of cooking.

And here is your finished product:

turkey done_thumb[3]

If you have never brined a bird before, you MUST try this!!  It will be the best turkey you have ever had.  And you will get so many compliments and yummy noises.  If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me.



  1. they also have brining bags if you don’t want to have food actually touching your cooler. You can put the turkey and brining liquid in the brining bag in your cooler. Then your cooler won’t have turkey funk in it.

  2. Thanks so much for this great tutorial! We brine our turkey every year, the flavor is great!

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  1. […] am gonna let you guys in on the secret to the perfect Thanksgiving turkey…Brine your Turkey!  Seriously guys, it’s not hard to Brine your Turkey and it makes it so moist and flavorful. […]

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