How to Brine a Turkey?

There are many methods when it comes to cooking a turkey. You can roast it in the oven, fry it, or you can brine it. For those of you that do not know, brining is a process where two reactions take place. The first one, osmosis, means that the salt contained from the piece of meat that you are brining sucks in water and salt that it is submerged in. Now to make it tender, the second process takes place which is the breaking down of proteins of the meat. This accomplishes two things as well. It will allow more of your brine to enter the turkey and it will make a more tender piece of meat.

And it is not just for turkeys, but you can brine any piece of meat. And you can prepare it however you wish as well be it grilling, smoking, baking, roasting, or frying it. The end result, or the goal, should be a much flavorful, tender piece of meat. Provided below is 2 recipe’s for brine. There is not much of a difference between the two other than size. One is for a whole bird and the other is for legs, breast, or parts. You are more than welcome to branch off of this and in fact it is encouraged. Add fresh herbs if you have it or you can even add juice, honey, or soy sauce. The possibilities are endless. Although one important thing to keep in mind is that you want a happy balance in flavors. Meaning, if you add soy sauce then it would be wise to subtract a little salt from the overall recipe as soy sauce is full of it. You would do the same thing for honey, subtract a little bit of sugar from the recipe so it is not to overly sweet. As you can tell from the recipe below, you have an equal balance to start out with between sugar and salt. Just play with flavors a bit and you are sure to find something that works for you.

Brine Turkey Recipes


We have provided two recipes and cooking time suggestions for your convenience, enjoy!

Big Brine Recipe

This recipe

  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Cup Kosher Salt ( not table salt )
  • 1 Gallon Cold Water
  • 8 pounds of ice


You will need to find something to fit the turkey and brine in. A 5 gallon bucket would work well. You will also need to refrigerate it if possible and try to keep it below 40 degrees.

Small Brine Recipe

  • 2 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Salt
  • 4 Cups Water

Same as above, you will want to find a bowl that will fit the meat and brine mixture. Be sure to dissolve the dry ingredients well.

Brine Time Suggestions

These are some brine time suggestions that will vary in length based on whether the turkey or chicken is brined whole or in pieces.

  • Whole Chicken (4-5lbs) 8-12hrs
  • Chicken Parts 1 ½ hrs
  • Chicken Breasts 1hr
  • Whole Turkey 24-48hrs
  • Turkey Breast 5-10hrs
  • Cornish Game Hens 2hrs
  • Shrimps 30mins
  • Pork Chops 12-12hrs
  • Pork Tenderloin 12-24hrs