Brined Thanksgiving Turkey

Brined Thanksgiving Turkey – O-M-G! Best turkey ever! This turkey was so tender, juicy, and flavorful! I could not get enough of this delicious turkey! The brine only takes a few minutes to make the brine and the results are the best turkey you will ever eat. Vegetable broth, kosher salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, juniper berries, and water. Let the turkey hang out overnight and cook with your preferred method. You’ll never make turkey another way again. #brine #turkey #thanksgiving #christmas

turkey & dressing in baking dish

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Best Brined Turkey for Thanksgiving

Do you brine your turkey? We did for the first time at Christmas last year and we will be doing it every time we make a turkey now! I have never been a turkey fan because I think it lacks flavor and is dry. I was reading an article about brining, and I decided to give it a try. O-M-G! Best turkey ever! Everyone agreed! This turkey was so tender, juicy, and flavorful! I could not get enough of this turkey! I was shocked.

ingredients for a turkey brine

What is a Brine?

Brining is simply soaking food in a saltwater mixture. It seasons the food while enhancing the tenderness. For extra flavor, you might add other ingredients, like sugar, herbs, or spices. But all you really need for a brine is salt and water.

All meat loses liquid during cooking, but since brined meats start out with more liquid, they end up with more, too. So, brining makes the meat extra tender and juicy.

turkey in brine in a stockpot

How to Make a Brined Turkey

The brining was so simple. It only takes a few minutes to make the brine and then the turkey just hangs out in the fridge until you are ready to start roasting. To make the brine, combine vegetable broth, kosher salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, and juniper berries. Heat the mixture just until the salt and sugar dissolves. Add ice-cold water and the turkey. Let the turkey hang out in the refrigerator until ready to bake.

  • You can use a giant stockpot, plastic bucket, or jumbo ziplock bag for the turkey.
  • We let the turkey brine for about 16 hours.
  • Rinse the turkey and pat it dry before cooking. This will help keep the turkey from being too salty.
  • I buy the juniper berries at World Market. You can also buy them at Amazon with my affiliate link: https://amzn.to/2F4iq1g
  • Is Brined Turkey gluten-free? Yes! All of the ingredients in the brine are gluten-free.
  • The cooking time will depend on how big your turkey is. A good rule of thumb is about 15 minutes per pound at 350ºF.  
  • The best way to tell if the turkey is done is to use a meat thermometer. Cook the turkey until it reaches an internal temperature of 165ºF.
  • You can cook the turkey in the oven, in the Air Fryer, Slow Cooker, Instant Pot, or smoke it on your Traeger Grill.
plate of turkey & dressing

What to Serve with Holiday Turkey

I hope you will take the plunge and give this brined turkey a try this year! It has been a game-changer for our holiday meals. Once you try it, I promise you will never go back. We always serve our turkey with my Mom’s Dressing and all the fixings. Here are a few of our favorite recipes from the blog that go great with this yummy turkey:

Make Ahead Pocketbook Rolls

Make-Ahead Pocketbook Rolls – the dough will keep for 2 weeks in the refrigerator!! Great make-ahead side for your holiday…

turkey & dressing in baking dish

Brined Thanksgiving Turkey

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs
Total Time 2 hrs 10 mins
Brined Thanksgiving Turkey – O-M-G! Best turkey ever! This turkey was so tender, juicy, and flavorful! I could not get enough of this delicious turkey! The brine only takes a few minutes to make the brine and the results are the best turkey you will ever eat. Vegetable broth, kosher salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, juniper berries, and water. Let the turkey hang out overnight and cook with your preferred method. You'll never make turkey another way again. #brine #turkey #thanksgiving #christmas

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 gallon vegetable stock
  • 1 Tbsp black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp juniper berries
  • 1 gallon iced water

Instructions:

  • In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, combine vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, and juniper berries. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and cool. Add iced water to brine and stir.
  • Pour brine over thawed turkey, breast side down. (We used a gigantic ziplock bag.) Make sure turkey is covered and refrigerate 10-16 hours.
  • Remove the turkey from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.
  • Place the turkey in roasting pan. Coat the skin liberally with vegetable oil.
  • Roast the turkey at 350ºF until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. This is about 15 minutes per pound. Allow turkey to rest 10-15 minutes before carving.

Notes:

  • You can use a giant stockpot, plastic bucket, or jumbo ziplock bag for the turkey.
  • We let the turkey brine for about 16 hours.
  • Rinse the turkey and pat it dry before cooking. This will help keep the turkey from being too salty.
  • I buy the juniper berries at World Market. You can also buy them at Amazon with my affiliate link: https://amzn.to/2F4iq1g
  • Is Brined Turkey gluten-free? Yes! All of the ingredients in the brine are gluten-free.
  • The cooking time will depend on how big your turkey is. A good rule of thumb is about 15 minutes per pound at 350ºF.  
  • The best way to tell if the turkey is done is to use a meat thermometer. Cook the turkey until it reaches an internal temperature of 165ºF.
  • You can cook the turkey in the oven, in the Air Fryer, Slow Cooker, Instant Pot, or smoke it on your Traeger Grill.

Steph

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plate of turkey & dressing
turkey in brine in a stockpot

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Comments

  1. Sounds like a good brine recipe Steph – Sometimes one of the hard things for me is finding a turkey that is not already injected with brine.

  2. I have been considering this for a while. My only problem is that I am allergic to juniper berries – I can't drink gin because my tongue & throat swells up. Are the juniper berries necessary for the taste or is there a substitute? I just substitute vodka for gin in drinks, but I don't think I want a drunken turkey…lol.

    1. Basic brine 2 cups kosher salt 1 cup sugar 1-2 gal. Water. Heat and stir. Cool pour over Turkey in bag and let sit overnite. I add apple juice or honey. You van add Rosemary .. add whatever spices you like. My brine this year. Orange Peel apple juice kosher salt sugar oranges. Yum!!!

    2. Basic brine 2 cups kosher salt 1 cup sugar 1-2 gal. Water. Heat and stir. Cool pour over Turkey in bag and let sit overnite. I add apple juice or honey. You van add Rosemary .. add whatever spices you like. My brine this year. Orange Peel apple juice kosher salt sugar oranges. Yum!!!

  3. How big was the breast of turkey since you said it fit into a really large bag. I presume it was a jumbo plastic bag. What kind of bag would you put a whole turkey in? Thank you.

    1. I double bag the turkey roasting bags for the brine. Basically, I line a large stockpot with them, place the turkey and brine inside, and tie them up. They're not heavy duty enough to hold the weight of the turkey all by themselves though, so the large stockpot is key.

  4. My husband always cooks the turkey for Thanksgiving and Christmas for my family, he has been using the brined method for years, just love it!! My Mom asked a should she make the turkey this Thanksgiving and I was like mmmm…. no that's okay, it's kinda Dave's thing! Brining really is the best way!

  5. Ok, I'm finally going to try brining this year. I gave a question on the stuffing in the picture. I found your recipe for mom's turkey and stuffing and see it wad made with a turkey breast. I make 2 whole turkeys, can you still do this the same way? Also, on a whole bird, it's not stuffed inside? That's how I usually do it! Thanks

    1. We do it the same way with a whole turkey or bone-in turkey breast as you see above. We do stuff some dressing inside, but most of it is outside in the pan.

    2. Thanks! One other question, I'm guessing there are no pan drippings, as it would get soaked in the stuffing, that's how I make gravy. Do you have a good gravy recipe? I didn't see one on your blog! (And by the way, LOVE your blog!

  6. I'm trying to decipher your picture. Did you brine only a turkey breast? I'd thought about doing just a breast. We've brined before, and you're exactly right on how good it is. I wouldn't mind brining and roasting just a couple of breasts and was wondering how it turned out for you…if indeed that's what the picture is. Is that dressing? Looks fantastic!

    1. We did cook only a bone-in turkey breast. It turned out delicious! The first turkey I actually enjoyed! We cook the turkey with the dressing. Here is the recipe Dressing

  7. I've been brining my turkey for years. Started spatchcocking the bird (taking out the back bone and making the turkey "flat") then roasting it at 450 a couple years ago. Quick, moist and beautiful –

  8. Beautiful pics. Makes me hungry! This is the way we prepare the turkey too. I agree it is more flavorful and very moist. I'm ready for turkey and all the sides.

    Wishes for,tasty dishes,
    Linda

  9. Ooh, Stephanie, I'm convinced I have to try a brined turkey now! Holy cow, I wish I could reach in a taste it!

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