Benefits of Brining


The holidays are a wonderful time to gather as a family and enjoy your favorite dishes. Turkey is a Thanksgiving staple, but there are different ways to cook a turkey.

One delicious idea is brining.

Turkeys are a lean meat, which means it is easier for turkey to become dry and a little tough. Brining helps the turkey retain moisture and combats dryness. Brining can be a long process — estimates of 6 to 24 hours — but the benefits include a juicier bird and the opportunity to season the turkey more so than if just applying salt.

Essentially, brining is just soaking the bird in water and salt. Some ideas include herbs and garlic, but the basics of water and salt do the trick best. When brining, the turkey absorbs extra moisture, which in turn helps it stay juicy and the salt breaks down some of the turkey’s proteins, making it more tender, said.

Brining has its disadvantages; it can leave the cooking juices a bit too salty. Make sure your turkey is not pre-salted.

And it requires some decent space in the fridge. You’ll need a large pot where the turkey can sit for many hours. There are few containers made specifically for brining. The best are plastic, glass, or stainless steel containers, those that are “nonreactive” containers that the salt won’t react with.

You can also put the turkey and brine in a turkey-sized oven bag and then place the “tightly sealed” bag in a cooler or large Styrofoam box with ice, said.

Some guidelines for brining turkey, according to

  • 1 turkey (12 to 17 pounds): 6 to 12 hours (2 gallons cold water, 1 cup table salt)
  • 1 turkey (18 to 24 pounds): 6 to 12 hours (3 gallons cold water, 1 1/2 cups table salt)
  • 1 bone-in turkey breast (6 to 8 pounds): 3 to 6 hours, 1 gallon cold water, 1/2 cup table salt


A Thanksgiving recipe for a juicy and tender turkey.

SERVES 10-12


  • 2-2 ½ gallons of water
  • 2-2 ¼ cups kosher salt
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3 large bay leaves
  • 2 ½ teaspoons dried rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 1 12- to 14-pound turkey


  • In a pot or non-reactive container large enough to hold the turkey, combine ingredients with water.
  • Stir well until salt and sugar dissolve. Put turkey in brine and refrigerate for 15-20 hours. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Roast 25-30 min. Reduce to 350 degrees and roast for 2.5-3 hours until thermometer reads 165 degrees.