Want to cook the perfect turkey for Thanksgiving this year? Yes, then you need to learn how to brine a turkey! I’m sharing tried and true tricks, the recipe, and what you need to know to brine a turkey for Thanksgiving.
Y’all this maple brown sugar brined turkey will melt in your mouth and wow your guests! Guaranteed!
What is a brine?
A brine is a solution of salt and water as well as additional spices or flavors. Brining helps reduce moisture loss as the meat cooks.
Benefits of the brine:
- Golden, crispy skin
- Moist, tender meat
- Delicious flavor
- Easy carving
Ok, you’ve convinced me – how do I brine a turkey?
- A 5 gallon food safe bucket or other food safe container
- A cold space to store the bird if refrigerator space is minimal. One idea: you could place the container with the brining turkey in an ice chest.
- Food safe string to tie drumsticks together
- Meat thermometer
- Paper towels
- Open shallow roasting pan
Ingredients for Maple Brown Sugar Brine:
- 1 1/2 gallons of Water
- 1 1/2 cups pure maple syrup
- 1 cup coarse salt – like Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1, 10 – 12 pound turkey
Tried & True Tricks
- Don’t swap out table salt for the coarse kosher salt – ratio to water won’t be the same. If you must use table salt, reduce the amount by half.
- Thaw out your turkey before putting it in the brine. The general rule of thumb is 1 day for every 4 lbs.
- Plan ahead for the turkey to soak in the brine for 12 – 24 hours. The longer it soaks the more maple-y and salty it will become. I recommend just 12 hours, so that you can use the turkey drippings for your gravy.
- Rinse the turkey in cold water for about 10 minutes once you remove it from the brine to rinse off excess salt.
- You do not want to brine a kosher, self-basting, or pre-salted turkey, so just buy a regular turkey.
Steps to Brine a Turkey
- Mix your coarse salt, maple syrup, sugar and water together, stirring to dissolve.
- Rinse turkey inside and out, removing any excess fat or giblets from cavity.
- Place in brine with legs up. Store in refrigerator for 12 – 24 hours.
- Remove turkey from brine. Discard brine and sanitize container. Then rinse turkey in cold water to remove excess salt. Be sure to sanitize sink after rinsing.
- Pat dry with paper towels and secure drumsticks together.
- Brush with oil and insert meat thermometer inside thigh.
- Cover turkey loosely with foil and roast in a 325 degree F oven for 2 to 3 hours until thermometer registers 180 degrees F.
- At about 2 1/4 hours remove foil.
- Remove turkey from oven and let stand at room temperature for about 20 minutes before carving.
Maybe you have heard this before, but seriously once you brine a turkey you will never want to cook a turkey any other way!