February 9

Turkey Brine Made Easy … Step by Step Turkey


A good turkey brine is critical in obtaining the best turkey smoking results. Great smoker chefs know that taking the time to prepare a good brine is an important step.

Remember, only a properly prepared brine will create the chemical reaction so important in keeping your bird moist during the smoking process. 

The best part is that the brine is easy and inexpensive to prepare. The brining process is as simple as following a basic recipe and will go a long way in helping you create the perfect smoked turkey.

Brining Basics

I like to prepare my turkey brine the night before it’s used. This gives the flavors time to marry. It also allows enough time for the ingredients to completely breakdown and dissolve.

First you need to find a suitable brining container. I prefer a five gallon food service bucket that will fit into a refrigerator. Large round insulated coolers are becoming all the rage for turkey brining. They hold a turkey perfectly and keep everything nice and cool.

I take the shelves out the basement fridge and the bucket fits just fine.

Second, buy only the best the ingredients. You spent a lot of money on a fresh turkey, so don’t skimp now.   

What you Need

  • Two stock pots

  • A non-metal and non-reactive container, the brining bucket.

  • A few gallons of water

  • Salt (We use canning salt)

  • Sugar

  • Spices and Herbs (determined by recipe)

Making the Turkey Brine 

  1. Pour one gallon of water into each stock pot. 
  2. In one of the pots add sugar and salt according to the recipe. Bring to a boil and let boil for five minutes. Remove it from the heat, cover and  cool.
  3. In your other pot add the herbs, spices, and vegetables. Bring the pot to a light boil. Simmer for five minutes then remove from heat. Cover and  cool.
  4. When both pots are cool pour them into your five gallon bucket and put in the refrigerator.
  5. Let sit overnight and your brine is ready for the turkey.

Important Tips …

-The brine needs to be 35 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. If it gets over 40 it is too warm, under 35 the chemical reaction slows way down.

– Your turkey must be completely submerged during the entire brining process.

– Remember that the bigger the container, the more brine you’ll have to make, so try to match the size of the container to the turkey.

To figure out how much turkey brine to make put the turkey in the container and cover with cool water. Take out the turkey and measure the water, this is how much brine you will need. I find that for a 10-12 pound turkey  2-3 gallons of brine is more than enough.

Ready to use your brine? See our Online Turkey Smoking Course page.

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