Recipe: Brined Turkey

In all our communications with customers, we frequently mention that brining the turkey makes for an unforgettable experience (AND it helps defrost the turkey, so win-win).  Some people have followed up and ask if we have a preferred brine recipe.  David is definitely the one who does it, but I asked him to share!


We have a food grade plastic bucket that we wash before using.  We got it free from the bakery department at our grocery store.  You can always call to see if they will give you one for free or discounted as well. 

You will also need:
  • 1.5 cups of kosher salt
  • 1 tbs black peppercorns
  • Oranges (a few) sliced/cut
  • Apples (a few) sliced/cut
  • 6 cups apple juice
  • 2 sprigs fresh sage

Pour in a pot on the stove, adding all the ingredients (except the turkey, of course) and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 5 - 10 minutes. Let cool enough to not cook the turkey



Add brine mix to the food grade bucket, including the apples, oranges, etc.  Add the turkey to the bucket.  Then add water until the turkey is fully submerged.  You do not want to add water until after you add the turkey or else you will overfill the bucket when the turkey is put in there - ask me how I know.  

If you have cats, cover the top with a grocery bag.  Let sit somewhere cold (we do our uninsulated front porch) for a few days until Thanksgiving.  Follow defrost time for brining turkeys that follows. 

Defrost/Brine Time:

  • 2 – 4 hours for a 4 – 7 pound turkey
  • 4 - 6 hours for 8 - 12 pound turkey
  • 6 - 8 hours for 12 - 16 pound turkey
  • 8 - 10 hours for 16 - 20 pound turkey
  • 10 - 12 hours for 20 - 24 pound turkey

If you can keep the brine and turkey the same temperature as a refrigerator you then have more days to allow it to keep brining.  Some swear that minimum brine time should be 24 hours.  Do what you feel comfortable with.