How to Brine a Turkey for Juicy, Flavorful Result

There’s some culinary debate around the importance of brining—the process of soaking meat in a salt-water solution. Some people believe it’s completely necessary, while others don’t really see the point.

I’m in the first camp; because brining your Thanksgiving Day turkey will dial up its moisture level and flavor profile.

Feeling a little skeptical?

Here’s Why It Works:

When you soak your turkey in brine, the salt penetrates the meat. Through the process of osmosis, the brine moves into the cells. This increases the moisture content and protects the turkey from drying out.

The salt also relaxes the proteins, so the cooked turkey is both juicy and tender. You can even infuse your brine with seasonings like black peppercorns, lemon rinds, garlic, and fresh herbs for an extra delicious payoff.

Are you in? Let me show you how to brine a turkey like a pro…

How to Brine a Turkey

Bring a gallon of water to a boil in a large stock pot. Add 1-2 cups of salt and any other seasonings you like, such as cumin seeds, lemon rinds, peppercorns, smashed garlic, and rosemary sprigs. Or replace some of the water with broth to add depth and richness.

Stir until the salt is dissolved. Turn off the heat and cool completely.

Remove the neck and gizzards from the turkey (save these for another recipe). Rinse and submerge the turkey in the cooled brine. Weigh down the turkey with a plate if it floats above the brine.

Transfer the whole pot to the fridge (do not leave it on the counter!) and brine for one hour per pound of meat. For example, if you’re cooking a 10-pound turkey, brine for 10 hours.

Remove the turkey from the fridge a few hours before you’re ready to cook it. Rinse, pat with a tea towel, and let sit in the fridge, uncovered, to dry up the skin.

Bring the turkey to room temperature and cook as desired.

Favorite Roast Turkey Recipe

Now that you know how to brine a turkey, it’s time to get cooking. Click here for Thomas Keller’s favorite roast turkey recipe. For a healthy swap, replace the canola oil with refined coconut oil.

I HAVE to Know: Are you brining your turkey this Thanksgiving? Tell me in the comments below. And let me know if there are other topics I can cover to help you Eat with a Purpose!


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