How to Brine a Whole Turkey
Learn how to made you juiciest bird ever with this simple method that can be used with any roast turkey recipe.
Wet Brine vs. Dry Brine: Which is right for you?
Now that you’ve learned about both methods, how do you know which is best for you?
Dry brining tends to take twice as long as wet brining, so if you’re short on time, this could be a con. However, a dry brine isn’t any more difficult—just more time consuming. Dry brining also produces a crispier skin and robust flavor, so if those are desirable to you, you may want to give it a try.
Wet brining takes about half as long as a dry brine. While it may not produce as crispy skin as dry brining, many people claim that wet brining produces a juicier bird that’s a bit more succulent. Like dry brining, wet brining isn’t all that difficult—it just requires some patience and extra fridge room.
Brining a Turkey FAQs
Here are our answers to some of your common, last-minute brining questions.
Cooking your Turkey
- Should I brine a bird that’s pre-salted, kosher, or self-basting?
Ideally, no. Brining any of these turkey varieties will result in an overly-salty bird.
- Do I have to brine a whole bird?
You can brine a whole bird or smaller pieces—the steps will be the same.
- What cooking method is brining best for?
We’ve found that when we want flavorful, succulent roast turkey, brining is the best way to bring much needed moisture to this cooking method.
- Can I brine a turkey if I plan on cooking it in a roasting bag?
Yes—brining and cooking in a bag will make your bird super moist and tender. Just remember to rinse off the salt and pat dry after brining.
- Can I brine other meats?
Yes! Be sure to read our Tips for Brining to learn more about brining chicken, pork, and shrimp.
After you’ve brined your bird, you may be wondering what to do next before cooking it. Don’t worry! You just need a few minutes of rinsing to ensure your turkey isn’t overly salty:
Rinsing and soaking your bird after brining will ensure that excess salt is removed and your bird maintains a balanced flavor. If you used a wet brine, it’s also imperative that you discard that brining liquid for food safety reasons.
- Remove turkey from brining bag, stockpot, or baking sheet.
- Safely discard brine (if you used a wet brine).
- Let turkey sit in a pot or sink of cold water for 10 minutes to remove excess salt.
- Pat turkey dry with paper towels—cook according to your preferred cooking method.
When you’re ready to cook your perfectly-brined bird, be sure to learn How to Cook a Turkey so it’s a flavorful, crowd-pleasing success.