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How to Brine a Thanksgiving Turkey

The day is upon us when it is time to pick up that farm-raised turkey or stop by the local grocery market and grab that bird for dinner on Thursday Thanksgiving Celebration.  In this post, I share tips on how to brine a Thanksgiving Turkey.

Let’s Talk Turkey Brine

It really is simple to put together for that special bird. The brine will make your poultry juicy with a little day before preparation. Some people add more herbs to their mix but I like to do that when I roast the poultry after the brining process.  Below is a simple brine recipe you can print and use in your kitchen cookbook.

This brine makes enough for a 18 to 20 pound turkey.


  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 2 cups of kosher salt
  • 10 bay leaves
  • 4 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
  • 3 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
  • 7 quarts (28 cups) water


  1. At least 24 hours but no more than 36 hours before cooking turkey, bring 1 quart water, the salt, bay leaves, and spices to a simmer, stirring until salt has dissolved. Let cool for 5 minutes.
  2. Line a 5-gallon container with large oven roasting bag.
  3. Place turkey in the bag that is in the prepared container.
  4. Add salt mixture, remaining 6 quarts (24 cups) water, and the other ingredients.
  5. Tie bag; if turkey is not submerged, weight it with a plate.
  6. Refrigerate for 24 hours.
  7. Remove turkey from brine one hour before you’re ready to roast or smoke. Be sure to pat dry.


If there isn’t room in your refrigerator, place the bagged bird inside a cooler, and surround it with ice, replenishing as necessary to keep it at 40 degrees.

Be sure to check out my roasting turkey recipe.

Turkey Brine Notes

Below are photos of the clean 20-pound turkey being submerged in the brine recipe featured on this post.  When picking the right container for this process before to look for a food-grade approved bucket.  This should have FDA approval like on a 5-gallon bucket in these photos.  My brother purchased this bucket at Lowes for $5.  I also found approved buckets on Amazon.

Brine Bucket
Carefully add the turkey to brine mix

If you use the food grade bucket I still recommend using the turkey brine bag mentioned in the recipe above.  I like the bag because it is an easy cleanup.  I ordered a brine bag and spice kit on amazon so I could put the turkey in my refrigerator.  After ordering I saw the same bag and spices at the local grocery store.  The bag was super easy to use even for a 22-pound turkey.  The task was finding refrigerator space for 24 hours.

Brine Kit


Let’s Connect


I can’t wait to get my turkey going – how about you?  Are you going to try brine method for your turkey this year? I’d love to hear from you so be sure to comment on this post.  Your feedback means the world to me so be sure to click over to my contact page and tell me how you really feel.

Happy Turkey Day,

2 Responses

  1. I have to try this one. Excellent. Love turkey. Too bad they are not available all year.

    1. well… you could also throw a small turkey in the freezer to cook any time of the year. My brother has done that in the past because he loves smoking his bird.

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