Turkey Brining Made Easy
with Suzanne Klein
Chief Yummy Officer
As the holidays approach, you may hear that you should brine your bird to make it more tender and juicy. It’s true, you should.
As the holidays approach, you may hear that you should brine your bird to make it more tender and juicy. It’s true, you should. Your holiday feast guests will thank you for it. While brining—soaking a turkey in a solution of liquid, salt, sugar, and seasoning—may sound like a daunting task, it’s actually easier than you might expect. This holiday season, Savory Spice is debuting a new Turkey Brining Mix designed to make brining easier than ever. How? Keep reading for step-by-step instructions for using the new mix to make the juiciest holiday turkey.
Savory Spice founder Mike Johnston wrote a helpful Brining 101 article earlier this summer where he talks about the benefits of brining. Check out the article for the science behind brining; in a nutshell, here are Mike’s takeaways about why you should brine:
- Brining makes your protein juicy and tender: When your bird spends time in a liquid solution with salt, sugar, and seasoning, the turkey is then infused with both moisture and flavor while it cooks.
- Brining takes less time than you think: You only need to brine for 1 hour per pound of protein. For a turkey, that’s an easy overnight process.
- Brining makes you look good: Seriously, when your turkey comes out juicy your dinner guests will notice and they will compliment you for it.
Next...How to Brine?
To create a brining solution for turkey, you’d typically measure out the amount of liquid it takes to completely submerge your bird. Then you’d measure out just the right ratio of salt, sugar, and seasoning to dissolve in that liquid. If you want to go that route, we commend your DIY attitude and you can find those brining instructions here. In fact, we even have several DIY Brining Spices recipes for creating your own flavor unique profiles for brining.
However, if you’re new to brining or don’t want to bother with recipe calculations, Savory’s new Turkey Brining Mix has got you covered with one easy-to-use bag of salt, sugar, and seasoning. Our 16 oz. mix was designed for brining a 12-15 lb. turkey in about 2 gallons of liquid. A 12-15 lb. turkey is the typical size of grocery store holiday turkeys. And 2 gallons is about how much liquid you’ll need to submerge that size turkey. Easy!
Here’s how easy it is to use our 16 oz. Turkey Brining Mix for brining a 12-15 lb. turkey.
1) Find a container: Find a large, food-safe container with enough room to hold a 12-15 lb. turkey. The turkey should be able to be completely submerged in liquid in that container. Usually a very large stockpot will work. Line the container with a brining bag if using. Tip: A brining bag will keep the brining liquid contained and make for an easy clean-up. We carry 18"x24" brining and roasting bags, large enough for up to a 15 lb. turkey.
2) Dissolve brining mix: In a medium saucepan, bring 1 quart of water and the 16 oz. bag of Turkey Brining Mix to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Once dissolved, remove the brine liquid from the heat and let it cool to room temperature. Tip: Set the brining liquid over a bowl of ice or add a handful of ice cubes to speed up the cooling process.
3) Submerge turkey in brine: Place your fresh or thawed 12-15 lb. turkey in the brining bag (if using) in the container. Pour the cooled brine liquid over the turkey then top it with enough water to completely submerge the turkey. This will be about 1½ to 2 gallons depending on the size of the turkey and the container. Tip: You can substitute part of the water for other liquids that will help flavor the turkey, like beer, wine, citrus juice, or broth. Add the flavoring liquid first then finish with enough water to cover the turkey.
4) Refrigerate turkey: If you’ve used a brining bag, secure it closed with the black tie included with the bag. If you’re not using a brining bag, simply cover the container with a lid or plastic wrap. Make space in the refrigerator for your large container and refrigerate the turkey in the brine for about 1 hour per lb. of turkey.
5) Remove turkey from brine: After the brining time is up, remove the turkey from the brining liquid and discard the liquid and the brining bag if using. Rinse the turkey and pat it dry. Tip: For extra crispy skin, place the turkey on a roasting pan and set it back in the refrigerator, uncovered, for at least an hour before cooking to let the skin dry out a bit more.
6) Rub the turkey: This is my favorite part! Generously rub the turkey with your favorite seasoning just before you’re ready to roast, fry, grill, or smoke the bird. We usually recommend using about 1 tsp. of seasoning per 1 lb. of turkey. Tip: Try roasting your seasoned turkey in a roasting bag so the turkey bastes itself and cooks faster. We carry 18"x24" brining and roasting bags that are oven safe and large enough for up to a 15 lb. turkey.
Top Picks for Turkey
By the way, some of our favorite rubs for turkey are:
- Tiny Town Turkey Rub
- Nantucket Rosemary & Citrus Poultry Rub
- Gold Coast Tropical Poultry Rub
- Bohemian Forest European Style Seasoning
- Team Sweet Mama’s BBQ Chicken Rub
- Peruvian Chile Lime Seasoning Blend
For any rub, we suggest using about 1 tsp. seasoning per pound of poultry, or more to taste. Generously rub the seasoning on the outside of the poultry skin and/or underneath the skin before cooking. Use rub with olive oil or melted butter, if desired, to help the seasoning stick.
Here are some of the questions our testers asked when trying the new Turkey Brining Mix. We hope you find the answers helpful. If you have other questions you don’t see answered here, leave them in the comments below and we’ll update this post with answers.
What if I have a turkey that’s smaller or larger than 12 lb., can I still use the mix?
Yes, you can!
- For a turkey that’s smaller than 12 lb. (or if you spatchcock the turkey or cut it into pieces before brining) you’ll need less liquid to submerge the turkey so you’ll need less brining mix as well. Use 8 oz. of the mix for each 1 gallon of brining liquid you need.
- For a turkey larger than 15 lb., you may need more liquid to submerge the turkey so you may need more brining mix. You can purchase a 16 oz. package of mix plus another 8 oz. package and use them together to make up to 3 gallons of brining liquid for a larger bird.
Can I use the mix to brine other protein?
Even though we call it a turkey brining mix, you can absolutely use it to brine other types of protein you may be cooking up this holiday season—roast chicken, pork roast, pork chops, tofu perhaps? Simply determine how much liquid will be needed to submerge the protein and measure out how much mix you’ll need from there. Here are some simple guidelines:
- Use 16 oz. mix (about 3 heaping cups) for 2 gallons liquid…best for a whole turkey or other large whole bird.
- Use 8 oz. mix (about 1½ heaping cups) for 1 gallon liquid…best for smaller poultry like a whole chicken.
- Use 4 oz. mix (about 3/4 heaping cup) for ½ gallon (2 quarts) liquid…best for smaller poultry pieces, pork roast, pork chops.
Brining is not just for turkeys! Brine anything from chicken pieces to pork chops for juicy and tender protein.
For more information about brining any type of protein, read through Mike’s Brining 101 article. He offers tips, tricks, and basic ratios of liquid, salt, sugar, and seasoning to create your own brine.