Our Best Brines to Give Your Turkey Flavor from the Inside Out
Brining a turkey is one of the easiest ways to infuse your bird with loads of flavor while making it more tender and flaky. Whether you go with a wet or dry brine, our Turkey Brining 101 Guide will help you do it correctly. You can take the sweet and salty route, heap on the herbs, or even invest time in doing a two-step process for more complex flavors. Any way you choose you'll end up with a Thanksgiving main dish that will leave guests raving. We've rounded up our top turkey brine recipes, all of which have five stars, to ensure that your holiday dinner goes off without a hitch.
Citrus Turkey Brine
Infuse your turkey with the bright and tangy notes of citrus from slices of lemon and orange. The sweet notes of the fruit are balanced out with the addition of onions, garlic, and herbs. Reviewers for MPRADO's recipe gave helpful suggestions like subbing citrus juices for the whole fruits, using the brine on chicken, and adding a few tablespoons of liquid smoke if you don't want to bother with a smoker.
Dry Brine Turkey
Dry brining removes the annoying aspect of having to brine your turkey in a bucket. By packing on the salt a few days in advance, you'll infuse the bird with flavor throughout. The salt doubles as a moisture lock, keeping the juices inside for a better roast. This recipe by hello angie makes things simple with a very short ingredients list: salt, pepper, onions, and celery.
Out of This World Turkey Brine
This brine recipe was specifically created for turkeys that will be smoked afterward. The simple ingredients list only includes five items (plus water) to allow for the turkey's natural flavor to really shine. Reviewers suggested adding a sliced onion or a few dashes of liquid smoke if you're not smoking the turkey afterward.
Apple Cider Turkey Brine
Combine two holiday favorites, apple cider and turkey, in this delicious recipe by AngelinaLaRue. The sweet cider is paired with black peppercorns and herbs like sage, rosemary, and thyme. If you're wanting to go extra apple crazy, you can stuff your bird with a batch of Cranberry, Sausage, and Apple Stuffing.
Thanksgiving Turkey Brine
Pack a punch of herby flavor into your turkey this holiday. Henry K's recipe relies upon a blend of eight dried herbs, which offer more intense flavor than fresh varieties when added to a marinade. Reviewers have also had success scaling back this recipe and using the brine for turkey breasts and whole chickens.
Salty and Sweet Cranberry Citrus Brine
Maple Turkey Brine
Who says that a maple glaze needs to be reserved for just ham? Try this brine by US92 to add sweet and savory notes to your turkey. The recipe's main ingredients are maple syrup, soy sauce, brown sugar, and whiskey. Because of this brine's high sugar content, but sure to cover your turkey with foil until the last few minutes of baking to get a caramelized skin instead of a burnt one.
Orange Turkey Brine
Your turkey will get a quadruple hit of citrus flavor thanks to this tangy brine from TIMP132. The combination of orange juice, fresh lemon, sliced lime, and a whole orange will make for an incredibly tender and tasty turkey. Roll the fresh citrus fruits before you slice them to release their natural oils into the marinade.
Juicy Two-Stage Thanksgiving Turkey Marinade
"Two-stage" brining might sound overwhelming, but it's worth the extra effort for Turkey Day. In this recipe from jaclynfarr, it's broken out into two mini recipes: Brine for Tuesday Morning and Marinade for Wednesday Morning. The turkey is wet brined for an entire day, then rinsed before being put into an intensely flavored marinade for a whole day. The result is a juicy turkey that is sure to impress your Thanksgiving guests.
Joe's Turkey Brine
A straight-up classic turkey brine, this recipe by SNOH8R relies on the notes of sweet, salty, and savory ingredients. The natural sugars from the apple cider and juice in the brine will give the bird a beautiful caramelized skin, just be sure to cover it until the last few minutes of baking. Some reviewers have reported success when using this marinade for turkey breasts.