Easy Turkey Brine

Looking for a way to make your Thanksgiving turkey extra tasty and juicy? You’ve come to the right place! We’ve got a simple turkey brine recipe that will add flavor and moisture to your holiday centerpiece. With both dry and wet brine options available, you can choose the method that suits your schedule best, ensuring that your Thanksgiving turkey is a scrumptious delight.

Don’t worry, these brining methods are hassle-free and guaranteed to impress your guests. Whether you opt for a dry or wet brine, your turkey will be infused with delicious flavors, making for an unforgettable Thanksgiving feast. Give it a try and savor the juicy, mouth-watering turkey that’ll have everyone coming back for seconds.

Festive celebration roasted turkey with gravy for Thanksgiving or Christmas

1. Brining a Turkey: Is It Worth It?

Brining a turkey can be a game-changer, resulting in a moist and delicious centerpiece for your Thanksgiving feast. Since turkeys are mostly lean meat, they can dry out during cooking, and brining can prevent that from happening.

2. Creating a Wet Turkey Brine

To make a wet turkey brine, immerse the turkey in a mixture of salt, water, and additional flavorful ingredients, such as herbs or spices. Make sure to use a large container that can accommodate the turkey and the brining solution. This method helps lock in moisture and evenly season the meat.

3. Preparing a Dry Turkey Brine

A dry brine consists of a mix of salt and spices, applied directly to the turkey’s surface. This method is ideal for those with limited fridge space for a large container. After letting the dry brine sit on the turkey for about 24 hours, pat it dry and continue with your preferred cooking method.

4. Understanding Turkey Brine and Its Effects

A turkey brine is essentially a salt solution, which can also include other flavorful ingredients, such as brown sugar, red pepper flakes, sage, or garlic. Brining enhances the overall flavor and juiciness of the turkey, and can even improve the turkey drippings for making gravy.

5. Choosing the Right Turkey for Brining

When selecting a turkey for brining, opt for an unprocessed bird without any “enhanced” or “self-basting” labels, as these might indicate that the turkey has already been treated. Brining your own turkey allows full control over ingredients and flavors.

6. Determining the Ideal Brining Duration

Allow your turkey to brine for approximately 24 to 72 hours to achieve the desired flavor and texture.

7. Brining Frozen Turkeys: Can You Overdo It?

It’s perfectly fine to brine a frozen turkey, and doing so may even help thaw it out before cooking.

8. Avoiding Over-Brining a Turkey

To prevent your turkey from becoming too salty, avoid brining it for more than 72 hours.

9. Post-Brining Steps for Your Turkey

After brining, treat your turkey as you would any other, removing any excess dry brine or spices. Then, pat it dry, season it accordingly, and roast it to perfection.

10. Selecting the Right Container for Brining

For a wet brine, use a large container that can hold the turkey and liquid comfortably. For a dry brine, a wire cooling rack placed on a baking sheet is sufficient.

11. Rinsing a Brined Turkey: Is It Necessary?

There’s no need to rinse a brined turkey before cooking. In fact, washing any raw meat or poultry can spread bacteria throughout your kitchen, so it’s best to avoid this practice.

Now that you know about wet and dry turkey brines, it’s time to choose your preferred method and prepare to serve a moist and flavorful turkey this Thanksgiving. Remember to give yourself ample time for the brine to penetrate the meat, and always allow your roasted turkey to rest before carving to ensure the juiciest results.

Festive celebration roasted turkey with gravy for Thanksgiving or Christmas

Easy Turkey Brine (Wet Brine or Dry Brine Directions)

Easy brining instructions for any turkey
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 8 hours
Total Time 8 hours 14 minutes
Course Seasoning
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 712 kcal


For the Wet Brine

  • 16 cups water divided
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon dried sage
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • 2 heads garlic sliced in half
  • 14 to 18- pound turkey cleaned, innards removed

For the Dry Brine

  • 8 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 4-8 tablespoons freshly cracked black peppercorns
  • 4 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 4 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons dried basil
  • 2 tablespoons dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons paprika


For the Wet Brine

  • In a large pot, mix 8 cups of water, salt, dark brown sugar, red pepper flakes, sage, thyme, and garlic. Heat on medium-high until boiling, then lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Ensure everything is combined well and sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let it cool. Stir in the remaining water and cool completely.
  • Pour the cooled brine into a container that can fit the turkey. Add the turkey and make sure it is completely covered in brine. Rotate the turkey a few times and leave it breast-side down. Chill for at least 8 hours, up to 72 hours. Take the turkey out of the brine, discard the brine, and roast as desired.

For the Dry Brine

  • Combine all seasonings in a bowl. Place a wire cooling rack on a baking sheet and put the turkey on the rack. Apply 1/2 cup of the dry brine on the turkey's back, 1/2 cup on the legs, and 1 cup on the breast. Transfer the turkey (uncovered) to the fridge for at least 24 hours, up to 72 hours.
  • After the brining period, pat the turkey dry and follow your preferred herb-roasted turkey recipe. Remove any surplus dry brine in the roasting pan.


The nutrition information is for a 14-pound turkey only. Brine will add some salt, but the turkey will not absorb all that was added.


Calories: 712kcalProtein: 145gFat: 12g
Keyword dry brine, easy turkey brine, wet brine
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Frequently Asked Questions

Ideal Brine Ratio for Turkeys

A perfect brine ratio for turkey is 1 cup of salt to 1 gallon of water; adjust the salt and water quantities based on your turkey’s size.

Duration of Turkey Brining

Ideally, you should brine your turkey for 12-24 hours; however, avoid going beyond 24 hours as it may lead to a saltier taste.

Best Brining Solution for Smoking Turkey

The optimal brine for smoking a turkey includes:

Easy Turkey Breast Brine Recipe

Here’s a simple formula for a turkey breast brine:

  • 2 quarts of water
  • 1/2 cup of kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme

Mix the ingredients, submerge the turkey breast, and let it sit for 4-6 hours.

Sugar-Free Turkey Brine

To brine a turkey without sugar, use this recipe:

  • 1 gallon of water
  • 1 cup of salt
  • A mix of your favorite herbs and spices

Combine the ingredients, ensuring the salt dissolves, then brine the turkey as usual.

Tasty Dry Turkey Brine Recipe

For a delicious dry brine, combine:

  • 1/4 cup of kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon of black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of thyme or rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon of sage

Apply this mixture to the turkey’s surface and refrigerate for 12-24 hours, allowing the salt to penetrate the meat.

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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
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