Brining a turkey before roasting is like buying an insurance policy for your Thanksgiving feast. The brine bath helps prevent the turkey from drying out while roasting, and it imparts a subtle flavor. Brining is easy to do and only takes a few minutes of preparation. I have developed an easy and foolproof method for brining a turkey, and I will never roast a turkey without doing this first.
You’ll need a nonreactive bucket or pot large enough to hold a whole turkey submerged in brine. I like to use a five-gallon plastic bucket. These buckets are inexpensive and are easy to find at the big home improvement box stores or Walmart. I have used an orange Home Depot bucket every year but without fail, the buckets are used for a DIY project during the year and I end up having to buy a new one. But this year I found a white bucket at Walmart for under $4. Since it doesn’t say Home Depot on it, I’m hoping it isn’t lost to a home project during the year!
The white bucket I found says that it is made of food grade plastic. I don’t like taking a chance on the plastic bucket imparting an unpleasant flavor on the turkey, so I line the bucket with a plastic roasting bag. Once the bag is filled with the turkey and brine, the end can be closed tightly with a twist tie which helps ensure the turkey is completely submerged in brine.
You’ll also need a pot large enough to hold two gallons of liquid for mixing the brine.
I use an easy Emeril Lagasse brine recipe that I found years ago.
1 cup kosher salt
1 cup brown sugar
2 oranges, quartered
2 lemons, quartered
6 sprigs fresh thyme
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
Step by Step Guide for Brining a Turkey
- Dissolve the salt and brown sugar in two gallons of water in a stockpot.
- Line the bucket with the roasting bag.
- Place the turkey in the bag inside the bucket.
- Pour the brine over the turkey in the bucket.
- Add the oranges, lemons, thyme and rosemary.
- Close the end of the roasting bag with a twist tie, rubber band, binder clip or tie the bag closed.
- Place the bucket in the refrigerator for four to twenty-four hours. I always brine my turkey a full twenty-four hours.
That’s it! You’ll want to rinse off the turkey in the sink when you take it out of the brine. Pat it dry with paper towels. Now you’re ready to roast the turkey as you normally would.