How to Brine a Turkey: A Simple & Quick Thanksgiving Recipe

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When meat is cooking, it typically loses 20 percent of its moisture, so brining is a way to bring the juiciness back into your turkey. The process allows your bird to absorb more moisture as it cooks. It will also leave your turkey a little saltier and enhance its flavor. Follow these steps for an even tastier turkey at your Thanksgiving table.

Before you start:

It is important to note, that for optimal results, a turkey can be left brining overnight, so it’s best to get started on this process the day before.

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This recipe uses 1 gallon of water, which is enough to submerge a turkey up to 12 pounds. For birds that are up to 20 pounds, please double the recipe.

Prepare these ingredients first:

1 cup table salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar or brown sugar
Small handfuls of aromatic spices such as onion, garlic cloves, celery, thyme sprigs, whole peppercorns, bay leaves or lemon

*For a smoky brine, you can replace the salt with smoked coarse sea salt
*For an apple-flavored brine, you can use apple cider instead of water, the zest of 1 orange and 1 cinnamon stick

Make the brine with these 5 steps:

1. Combine salt, sugar, herbs and 1/2 gallon (8 cups) of water in a large pot and place it over medium heat
2. Stir the mixture until the sugar and salt are dissolved
3. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for a total of 5 minutes
4. Remove from heat and let it sit and cool
5. Stir in the remaining 1/2 gallon of water and cool completely

Brine with these 4 steps:

Note: If your turkey is frozen, be sure it is properly thawed out beforehand. Remove the neck, giblets, and liver from the cavity. Rinse it both in the inside and on the outside under cold running water.
1. Put the brine inside a container large enough to hold the turkey
2. Add the turkey and if needed, more water to fully submerge it
3. Turn the turkey over a few times and finally leave it breast-side down
4. Soak the turkey in the brine for 5-6 hours, covered and refrigerated. You can let it brine for up to 24 hours.

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