Juicy Plain Old Turkey Brine Recipe for Thanksgiving Feast

If you’re looking for a way to make your turkey the juiciest and most flavorful bird ever, then you’re in the right place. You can do it easily with my Plain Old Turkey Brine Recipe, which I’ll show you step-by-step instructions afterwards.

Brining your turkey is a simple but effective technique that involves soaking the turkey in a saltwater solution for a period of time before cooking. This not only adds flavor but also helps to keep the meat moist and tender during the cooking process.

But why should you bother with brining your turkey? Well, for starters, it’s the best way to ensure that your turkey is not only flavorful but also juicy and tender. When you cook a turkey without brining it first, the meat can often turn out dry and tough. But with a brine, you’ll end up with a turkey that’s perfectly seasoned and moist from the inside out.

Plus, brining your turkey is easy to do and doesn’t require any special equipment or fancy ingredients. All you need is some salt, water, and a few other basic ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen.

So if you’re ready to take your turkey to the next level, then let’s get started on this plain old turkey brine recipe!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

 Get ready to brine your turkey!
Get ready to brine your turkey!

If you’re looking for the perfect brine recipe for your turkey, then look no further. This Plain Old Turkey Brine Recipe is sure to become your go-to recipe for all your turkey needs.

Firstly, this brine recipe is incredibly easy to follow. You won’t need a lot of fancy ingredients or complicated steps to create the perfect brine solution. All you need are some basic ingredients such as salt, sugar, water, and herbs.

Secondly, this recipe yields great results. The turkey comes out moist, flavorful, and perfectly seasoned. The brine solution infuses the turkey with flavor, and the turkey itself is juicy and tender. You’ll be amazed at how much of a difference brining makes to your turkey.

Thirdly, this recipe is versatile. You can use it for all kinds of turkey dishes, such as roasted turkey, smoked turkey, or even citrus turkey. You can also experiment with different herbs and spices to create your own unique flavor profile.

Finally, this recipe is perfect for both novice and experienced cooks. Whether you’re new to cooking or a seasoned pro, this recipe is easy to follow and will yield great results every time.

In conclusion, there are so many reasons to love this Plain Old Turkey Brine Recipe. It’s easy to follow, yields great results, is versatile, and perfect for all skill levels. Give it a try and you won’t be disappointed!

Ingredient List

 The secret to juicy turkey? Brine it!
The secret to juicy turkey? Brine it!

Let’s dive into the ingredients you’ll need to make this plain old turkey brine recipe. This recipe calls for 2 gallons of water divided into two parts, 1 gallon and 1 gallon.

You’ll also need 2 cups of kosher salt, 1 cup of brown sugar, and 1 tablespoon of sea salt.

For the herbs, you’ll need 2 bay leaves, 5 cloves of garlic, 1 tablespoon of dried thyme, and 2 tablespoons of whole black peppercorns.

To add extra flavor to your brine, you can also include 2 cups of apple cider or vegetable broth.

For the aromatics, you will need 1 1/2 roughly chopped sweet onion cut into wedges. Lastly, you could also add citrus fruits like oranges or lemons to enhance the tanginess of the brine.

The Recipe How-To

Now that we have gathered all the ingredients, it’s time to start with the turkey brine. This recipe is for a wet brine, which is the most common and simple way of brining a turkey. In a large container, mix together 2 gallons of water divided into 2 cups of kosher salt, 2 cups of dark brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of dried herbs, 5 cloves of garlic, and 2 tablespoons of whole black peppercorns. Stir until all the ingredients dissolve.

Preparing the Turkey

Before placing the turkey into the brine solution, make sure to remove the giblets and neck from inside the turkey cavity. Rinse the turkey under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.

Brining the Turkey

Once the brine mixture is ready, place the turkey in the container and pour the brine solution over it. If the turkey is not completely submerged in the brine, add more water until it is. Cover the container with a lid or plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator. Let the turkey brine for at least 24 hours.

Rinse and Dry the Turkey

After brining, remove the turkey from the container and rinse it thoroughly under cold running water. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels and let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before roasting.

Roasting the Turkey

Now you’re ready to roast the turkey! Follow your favorite roasted turkey recipe, or try something new. Don’t forget to baste the turkey with melted butter or oil every 30 minutes to keep it moist and flavorful.

Best Pairing and Serving

A brined turkey goes well with classic holiday sides such as mashed potatoes, stuffing, and green bean casserole. It pairs perfectly with a glass of red wine or sparkling cider.


If you’re lucky enough to have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days. You can also freeze the turkey for up to three months. To reheat, place the turkey in a baking dish and cover it with foil. Bake at 325°F for about 20-30 minutes or until heated through.

Now you know how to make the best turkey brine recipe. Give it a try and impress your family and friends with a juicy and flavorful roasted turkey!

Substitutions and Variations

 Brining your turkey is easier than you think!
Brining your turkey is easier than you think!

While this turkey brine recipe is delicious as it is, there are a few ways to switch things up and make it your own. Here are some substitutions and variations to consider:

– Herbs: Experiment with different herbs to add a unique flavor to your brine. You can try adding rosemary, thyme, sage, or even a mix of herbs.

– Sugar: Brown sugar is used in this recipe, but you can also use white sugar, honey, or maple syrup for a different sweetness level.

– Salt: If you don’t have kosher salt, you can use sea salt or table salt in its place. Just be sure to adjust the amount accordingly.

– Apple cider: While apple cider is used in this recipe, you can also use orange juice or even beer for a different flavor profile.

– Dry brine: If you prefer a dry brine over a wet brine, you can skip the water and simply rub the salt and sugar mixture directly onto the turkey. This method is great for those who like crispy skin.

– Smoked turkey: If you have a smoker, you can add some wood chips to the mix and smoke your turkey after brining for a smoky flavor.

– Citrus turkey: Add some lemon or lime juice to the brine for a tangy twist.

– Roast turkey: Once your turkey is brined, you can roast it with your favorite herbs and spices for a delicious, flavorful main dish.

No matter what substitutions or variations you choose, this turkey brine recipe is sure to be a hit at your next holiday gathering.

Serving and Pairing

 A simple brine can make all the difference in your Thanksgiving meal.
A simple brine can make all the difference in your Thanksgiving meal.

Once you’ve successfully brined your turkey, it’s time to serve it up! A perfectly brined turkey is juicy, flavorful, and pairs well with a variety of sides and sauces.

Some classic Thanksgiving sides that go well with brined turkey include mashed potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole, and cranberry sauce. If you’re feeling adventurous, try pairing your turkey with some non-traditional sides like roasted root vegetables, sautéed Brussels sprouts, or sweet potato gratin.

For sauces, gravy is a classic choice and goes well with the savory flavors of the turkey. You can also try making a tangy cranberry sauce or a sweet and spicy glaze.

When it comes to wine pairings, a dry white wine like Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay pairs well with turkey. If you prefer red wine, a light-bodied Pinot Noir or Beaujolais will complement the flavors of the turkey without overpowering them.

If you’re looking for a non-alcoholic beverage to pair with your turkey, try serving it with apple cider or sparkling water with a splash of cranberry juice.

No matter what sides, sauces, or drinks you choose, a perfectly brined turkey is sure to be the star of your Thanksgiving feast.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 Brine your turkey to perfection with this easy recipe.
Brine your turkey to perfection with this easy recipe.

Once you’ve brined your turkey to perfection, you may be wondering how to store and reheat it. The good news is that you can make your turkey ahead of time and store it until you’re ready to serve.

To store your turkey, remove it from the brine and pat it dry with paper towels. Then, place it on a baking sheet and let it air dry in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. This will help the skin to crisp up during roasting. Once the turkey is dry, you can wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and store it in the refrigerator for up to two days.

When you’re ready to reheat your turkey, preheat your oven to 325°F. Remove the turkey from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature for about an hour. Then, place it on a roasting rack in a roasting pan and cover the breast with foil to prevent it from drying out. Roast the turkey for about 15 minutes per pound, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.

For a juicier turkey, you can also reheat it in a slow cooker. Simply place the turkey in the slow cooker and add a cup of chicken or turkey broth. Cook on low for 2-3 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.

Leftover turkey can also be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days or in the freezer for up to three months. To reheat leftover turkey, place it on a baking sheet and cover it with foil. Reheat in a 325°F oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until heated through.

Remember to always handle turkey and any leftover turkey safely to prevent foodborne illness.

Tips for Perfect Results

 This turkey brine will take your Thanksgiving dinner to the next level.
This turkey brine will take your Thanksgiving dinner to the next level.

As a chef, I have plenty of tips and tricks up my sleeve when it comes to making the perfect turkey. Here are some essential tips that will help you achieve the best results with this plain old turkey brine recipe.

1. Make sure to use a large container to brine the turkey. The container should be large enough to hold the turkey and brine solution, with extra space for the liquid to move around. A food-grade plastic bucket or a large stockpot should do the trick, but avoid using metal containers as they can react with the salt and other ingredients.

2. Be sure to brine the turkey for at least 24 hours, but no longer than 48 hours. Anything longer than that can result in an overly salty or mushy turkey. If you’re short on time, you can opt for a dry brine instead, which takes less time but is equally effective.

3. When it comes to roasting the turkey, be sure to remove it from the brine at least an hour before cooking. This allows the skin to dry out slightly, which results in a crispier skin once roasted. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels before placing it in the oven.

4. Don’t forget to season the turkey with herbs and spices before roasting. The brine solution will add plenty of flavor, but additional herbs like rosemary, thyme, and sage can take it to the next level. You can also stuff the turkey with citrus fruits and herbs for added flavor.

5. Be sure to use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. The internal temperature of the thickest part of the turkey should reach 165°F (74°C) for safe consumption. Avoid overcooking the turkey, as it can result in dry meat.

Lastly, let the turkey rest for at least 15-20 minutes after roasting before carving. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a more tender and flavorful turkey.

By following these tips, you’ll be sure to have the best turkey brine recipe that will impress your guests every time.


Before we wrap up, let’s address some frequently asked questions about this Plain Old Turkey Brine Recipe. I understand that cooking a turkey can be intimidating, but with this brine recipe, you are on your way to serving the best turkey ever. Here are some common questions that may come up while making this recipe.

Can I brine a turkey with just salt?

When it comes to preparing a delicious turkey, there’s a simple yet effective method that I recommend. It involves rubbing the bird with salt, refrigerating it for a few days, and voila! You’ll end up with a turkey that’s incredibly flavorful and moist. This technique is much easier than a wet brine and guarantees that your guests will savor every bite of their turkey.

What seasonings do you use for brining turkey?

For this recipe, we’ll need a generous gallon of warm water, with the option to add more if needed. We’ll also need some brown sugar and sea salt (or kosher salt if you prefer). To add some extra flavor, we’ll use roughly chopped shallots (or sweet onion), smashed garlic cloves, whole peppercorns, and dried juniper berries (or allspice berries if you don’t have juniper). Finally, some roughly chopped fresh rosemary will give our dish a fragrant and savory touch.

What is too long to brine a turkey?

When it comes to brining a turkey, the duration of the process will vary depending on the type of brine used. It’s important to keep in mind that the turkey should never be brined for more than two days, and both the turkey and brine should always be kept in the refrigerator at a temperature of 40°F or less. Once the recommended brining time has passed, remove the turkey from the brine.

Whats the longest you can dry brine a turkey?

For optimal results, I recommend brining the turkey skin for at least 2 days, but ideally for a full 72 hours. Dry brining may seem like a quick fix, but giving your turkey ample time to absorb the brine will result in the best-tasting bird. If you’re working with a larger turkey weighing over 20 pounds, you may need to extend the brining time up to 4 days. This extra time will be worth it when you take that first juicy, flavorful bite.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, this Plain Old Turkey Brine Recipe is the perfect way to take your turkey to the next level. With simple ingredients like salt, sugar, and water, you can create a flavorful and juicy bird that will be the star of your holiday table. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a novice cook, this recipe is easy to follow and produces consistently delicious results. So why settle for a dry and bland turkey when you can brine it to perfection? Give this recipe a try and taste the difference for yourself. Your family and friends will thank you for it. Happy cooking!

Plain Old Turkey Brine Recipe

Many turkey brines have ingredients that I don’t like. This one is very simple and ingredients (like apples, spices, etc) can be added based on your personal tastes. From Eve Felder, associate dean of culinary arts at The Culinary Institute of America as published in "The Providence Journal" on Wednesday, November 14, 2007.

  • 2 gallons water, divided
  • 1/2 lb sugar
  • 1/2 lb salt
  • herbs, and
  • spices (such as thyme, bay leaves, black peppercorns, cloves, etc)
  • 1/2 gallon ice
  1. In a large pot, bring 1 gallon water to a boil. Add the sugar, salt and spices, then stir until the salt and sugar dissolve.
  2. Add 1 gallon of cold water and the ice. Transfer the brine to a container large enough to contain it and the turkey (I do this with a turkey breast and put it in a small cooler — Many grocers sell special brining bags for this purpose).
  3. Add the turkey to the brine, breast side submerged, close the container and refrigerate overnight.
  4. Once brined, remove the turkey from the liquid and drain. Pat the bird dry with paper towels and proceed with roasting as directed by your recipe. Check the internal temperature early, as brined turkeys cook faster than those not brine.
  5. Makes enough brine for a 10-pound turkey.
Main Course
Healthy, Low Cholesterol, Low Protein, Very Low Carbs
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