Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Simple Turkey Brine

I swear by brining my thanksgiving turkey.  You can get fancy by adding a bunch of spices and herbs, but I just keep it simple with salt, sugar and water.  Alton Brown has a great Good Eat’s episode that got me started on brining my first turkey.  I have been impressed year after year with how tender, moist and flavorful it is.  If you get a more natural bird, it will not be saline injected, and therefore tends to have less flavor when not brined. 

Jenny at Nourished Kitchen is offering some incredibly useful online cooking classes for holiday cooking.  If you are like me, you are online trying to search for doable recipes that are made with quality and nourishing ingredients.  It is an overwhelming task to work your way through the mountains of holiday recipes to find just the right kind.  Take a look at what she is offering, and be sure to take advantage of the free thanksgiving mini lesson that is available now just for signing up for her newsletter.

1 1/2 cup kosher salt
1 cup sucanat
1.5 gallons pure water

Boil salt and sugar in 2 quarts water until dissolved, ice down, put clean thawed turkey (well rinsed and giblet bag removed) in clean cooler (or pot or bucket if you have one that it will fit in.  Pour the brine and enough water to cover the turkey.  Find some plates and weight it down with cans so that it is completely submerged.  You can put it in the fridge if there is room, or keep it on ice.  I usually put the cooler outside and make sure there is plenty of ice.  Keep in the brine around 12 hours... at least 4, but not more than 24, it's flexible.

When ready to bake, remove and dry with paper towels.  Rub skin with butter or coconut oil.  For delicious gravy, stuff cavity with aromatics, but never stuffing.  If you have a roasting pan with a rack, that works good, otherwise you will have to get your oven rack dirty by placing the turkey directly on it with a sheet pan under it to catch the drippings.  Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, turn 180 degrees and bake another 15 minutes.  Lower temperature to 325 to finish.  Do not rely on the probes that come in the turkey, those are set to pop at 180.  Cook to 160, remove from oven, tent with foil and rest for 30 minutes before slicing.

links; Tuesday Twister, Real Food Wednesday


  1. I have never brined a turkey myself but I have read so many articles about how well it works I am very tempted to try it! Thank you for sharing your experience. Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. can you tell me ABOUT how long it will take the turkey to cook? we got an organic, free range turkey, 12-14lbs....we are brining it tonight...thanks

  3. My average turkey takes 2 1/2 hours on convection. Plan on three otherwise.

  4. This brine was wonderful! It was my first time cooking a turkey and I was pretty nervous about it. It turned out delicious and all of our family couldn't believe how moist and tender it was. My father-in-law said the only time he'd ever seen such a beautiful turkey was on an advertisement! Thank you for the wonderful directions and advice on cooking my first turkey. It was a hit!

  5. I know Thanksgiving is past but I have several turkeys and want to cook them up to have extra in the freezer. I've also heard of the wonders of brining and want to try it. My question is this: Do you ever have a problem with the thighs taking longer to cook than the breast? I have removed my turkey from the oven at a certain temp only to find that either one was overdone or the other was underdone. How do you deal with this issue

  6. The breast is the thickest piece of meat, so as long as you get the probe in the right place, the thigh, being smaller will be done too.

    I stick the probe in about 2 inches from the front of the bird. I drive it all the way to the bone, then pull it back a half inch. The bone conducts heat, so you don't want to probe to be touching the bone.

    Another tip is to leave the probe in place while the bird is resting after being removed from the oven. If you take it out right when it is done, tons of juices flow out of the hole.


It's rude to eat and run. Humor me with conversation please!

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