turkey on farm at sunset

How to Brine a Turkey and Should You Brine Your Turkey

Before we look at how to brine a turkey let's consider if we should bother to brine a turkey.

You only need to worry about how to brine a turkey if you are absolutely certain that you want to brine your turkey. If you are positive that you want information for how to brine a turkey click here for: wet brine, click here for: dry brine - but understand that ALL TURKEY SHOULD NOT BE BRINED. If you want more information about whether or not you should brine your turkey please continue to read.

Turkey into brine

Should You Brine a Turkey? Do You Want to Brine your Turkey?

People are starting to realize that the brining process can make a big difference in the flavor, texture, and juiciness of turkeys.

Many chefs and a large part of the turkey industry have known about and used this technique or a variation of it for years. This is one of the reasons that it may not be a good idea to brine your turkey - it may have already been brined when you purchased it.

So, the first step in brining a turkey is selecting a bird which has not been brined.

Turkeys labeled "enhanced" "basted" or "self-basting" have already been "brined." The ubiquitous Butterball Enhanced turkey often does well in taste tests partly because it is brined. Much more expensive un-brined birds have a hard time competing with it in some taste tests.

A kosher turkey is another product that might not need brining. As part of the kosher processing it is treated with salty water and it too is essentially already brined.

The Kind of Turkey to Select if you want to Brine a Turkey

If you are going to brine your own turkey you need a turkey labeled "natural" or "minimally processed" or "no additives" bird.

Why Brine a Turkey?

Why should you worry about how to brine a turkey especially since you can purchase turkeys that have already been brined?

The process is not difficult, but it can take up space and time. The primary reason to brine is to infuse flavor into the meat. Turkey skin is waterproof and it doesn't let much flavor pass through into the meat. This is the reason that basting a turkey may flavor the skin but it does little to flavor the actual turkey meat.

There is a chemical process (osmosis) that will allow salt, moisture, and associated flavors to move through the skin and into the meat. It will also tenderize the meat as it opens spaces between muscle fibers and promotes juiciness. Brining creates the atmosphere that allows this process to take place. And, when you do your own brining, you decide what flavors are introduced into the meat.

When wet brining a turkey, water is absorbed into the flesh and it does change the texture. This is one of the reasons that some people do not favor wet brined turkeys. This added water, however, has the advantage of making it less likely that you will overcook the turkey.

How to Brine a Turkey

Do you have the time and space the enthusiasm and a container and a turkey that is "natural?" If your answer is yes then there is good reason to brine it yourself. You take control of the time, technique, ingredients and flavor introduced into the bird. Brining a turkey is a big step toward perfection and when you brine your turkey yourself you will know exactly what has been added to your bird.

If you are ready, your next step is to choose between two brining techniques Wet Brining and Dry Brining.


How to Brine a Turkey

Wet Brining

To many people the only type of brining is wet brining. It is submerging a turkey into salt water and other flavor ingredients for a period of time. This must be done at a refrigerator temperature, in a food grade container.

The process introduces salt and water into the bird, which can help to flavor the bird. It also has the advantage of making the turkey less likely to dry out even if it is cooked a little too long.

If you have decided to brine (wet brine) your turkey you can find information about it here: Click Here for wet brining information.


Wet Brined Turkey

How to Brine a Turkey

Dry Brining

Some people think that dry brining is an oxymoron - because a brine is wet. They insist that "dry brining" is just pre-seasoning.

Well, it is - but it creates the process that allows flavors to be drawn into the meat through a brine (a salty liquid,) but the liquid in this case comes from and returns to the meat.

This method is a little less messy, takes a little less room, and also works wonderfully.

If you would like to try the Dry Brine Method Click Here



Dry Brined Turkey


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