Perhaps you’re planning on bringing your turkey for Christmas this year and are feeling a little bit apprehensive about doing so?
We don’t blame you, being in charge of the turkey over Christmas is a pretty big deal, especially if you have extended family coming over.
Brining a turkey is an amazing method for adding moisture and flavor to your bird, but it can also feel a bit intimidating for those who haven’t done it before.
Don’t worry though, it’s really not that complicated, and we’ve got some delicious and foolproof recipes that you can try.
Simply keep reading below, as we take a look at 13 amazing turkey brine recipes that you can try this holiday season.
One of the best and most delicious methods of brining your turkey this Christmas, is to infuse it with tangy citrusy notes from slices of orange.
It’s an incredibly popular method of brining turkey, and we think we’ve found the perfect recipe.
The tanginess of the citrus fruits is balanced out beautifully with notes of garlic and herbs. This recipe will show you how to make this tasty citrusy turkey.
This recipe is tantalizingly sweet to taste, with lots of delicious, plump red apples added to the mix to give it its signature flavor.
The apples make for an incredibly juicy turkey that will leave the whole family’s mouths watering. This one is definitely worth the wait.
If you’re feeling like bathing your turkey in some more savory flavors this year, then this is the perfect recipe for you.
This recipe uses a combination of sugar, salt and herbs to give it its simplistic yet delicious flavor. Make sure that you use kosher salt as the recipe instructs, to avoid having any iodine taste in your meat.
Turkey brine that has a smoky flavor is another popular choice in many households, and this recipe shows you how to achieve that signature smoky flavor yourself.
It has lots of bay leaves and tarragon, which give it the perfect flavor before it enters the smoker.
This one is really simple to make, all you need to do is add water, sugar, and salt to finish off your brine.
Want to try bringing your turkey this year but can’t be bothered going through all the hassle of using a bucket?
This recipe is the perfect one for you as it shows you how to add the salt intermittently over a number of days so that it doesn’t need to soak. Super easy right?
All you need for this easy recipe is pepper, salt, celery, and onions.
Maybe you and your family are lovers of all things sweet, including your meats. If this is the case, then you simply have to try this maple sage brined turkey recipe.
It’s probably the sweetest on our entire list, and is truly delicious.
The maple sage brine causes the bird to brown beautifully, leaving you with an incredibly delicious and crisp outside, along with a tender inside.
This incredibly herby turkey brine recipe is absolutely to die for. It’s brimming with flavor, and makes the perfect turkey sandwiches to eat the day after too.
Although, we can’t guarantee that there will be any leftovers with this herb based recipie!
Nothing screams Christmas time as much as warming apple cider. This recipe incorporates the beautifully tangy flavors into the brine to flavor your bird accordingly.
Sage, rosemary, and thyme along with black peppercorns make the perfect contrast to the sweetness of the cider in the meat.
It even shows you how to stuff the bird with a special apple flavored stuffing for extra flavor.
This one shows you how to brine your turkey with a delicious honey based flavor that is tantalizing to taste.
It’s both savory, sweet, and perfectly moist so that your leftovers will still be as succulent for the days following.
This brine is not only delicious, but also beautiful to look at, infused with lots of pink cranberries.
It combines both orange and cranberry juice to give it its signature flavor, along with a list of tasty herbs, and red onions.
This turkey goes perfectly with both gravy and the classic cranberry sauce.
Some of you reading this list might find the name of this one a little intimidating at first, but let us assure you that this one is worth all of the extra effort.
It brines the turkey over the course of one day, and then marinades it the next to ensure that you get maximum flavor. The marinade is intense and is sure to “wow” everyone who tastes it.
You’re guaranteed to impress the whole family with this elaborate turkey brine recipe.
This turkey brine has lots of interesting and complex flavors that just work beautifully together. It has an incredibly candied flavor that is counteracted with the spices and herbs that are included.
Because the spices are cooked in vegetable stock, it really brings out the flavors and gives it a delicious salty taste.
Make sure to bring all of this to a boil before adding your turkey, so that the flavors are perfectly combined and ready for your meat. Absolutely delicious!
The fruitiest turkey brine on our list yet, all of the juices that are added to this one really ensure that the meat is as tender as can be.
For this brine, you will need to gather soy sauce, pineapple juice, maple syrup, dried herbs, sugar, and garlic to replicate this delicious bird.
It is an incredibly lively and tangy recipe that will have the whole family praising your excellent culinary skills.
A little tip is to add some real pineapple chunks stuffed inside the bird to give it a bit of extra flavor. Thank us later!
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is Brining?
First of all, let’s answer this question for anybody out there reading who isn’t sure what it means to brine a turkey.
Essentially, brining is the process of bathing your meat in a bucket of water that has been infused with salt.
The meat then undergoes something called osmosis, which means that the proteins in the bird have absorbed the moisture of the water, making it far more tender as a result.
The tougher muscle fibers in the bird are broken down, so that you won’t experience any unpleasant dense portions in your turkey meat.
The water will stay in the meat as you cook, and tenderize it in the process.
The process makes sure that you get the most out of your turkey meat, and it’s also a great way to add some extra flavors too through fruit juices and herbs.
It’s really a win win situation.
How Long Should You Brine Turkey?
Now moving on to the second most asked question by those who are looking to brine their turkey this holiday season.
How long exactly should you brine your turkey for to ensure that it has absorbed the salt water properly?
The answer to this question is at least 8 hours. If you can afford to leave it for longer, however, we recommend that you do so.
The longer you leave it, the juicer and more tender it will be when you serve it up on the plate later on.
It is recommended that you leave your bird to soak for approximately 18 hours if possible. This will give it plenty of time to moisten and soak up the flavors of the brine that you’ve created.
Be sure not to leave it to brine any longer than 18 hours either though, as this can cause the bird to become overly salty, and make the flesh too spongy.
What Should I Brine My Turkey In?
If you want to make sure that you’re adding the correct amount of salt to your water, then the general rule of thumb is to add around 1 cup of salt for every gallon of water that you have.
Like we mentioned briefly above, make sure that you use kosher salt or sea salt that has a larger grain size.
If you use coarse, fine, salt, then this may cause you to over salt the water, leaving you will a horrible tasting bird.
Is Brining A Turkey Worth It?
It is not absolutely necessary to brine a turkey before cooking it, roasting works really nicely too and is great for when you don’t have very much time to prepare.
We do recommend, however, that if you do have the time to spare, that you brine your turkey. It is the best method for creating juicy and succulent turkey meat, as well as adding some extra flavors to the mix.
Do I Rinse The Turkey After Brining?
This is a commonly asked question by those who are just starting out on their brining journey, and the simple answer is, yes, you should always rinse your turkey after it is finished brining.
This is to get rid of any of the excess salt resting on the skin that you won’t need, as everything that needs to be absorbed into the meat will already have done so.
Simply take your meat out of the bucket or bag that you’ve been using, then get rid of the brine and set your turkey in a clean sink before proceeding to rinse it thoroughly.
Do You Have To Refrigerate It When Bringing A Turkey?
Yes, you should always refrigerate your turkey meat when undergoing the process of brining. Place it within the container, then leave it to brine for as long as the recipe recommends that you do so.
Depending on the kind of brine you are using, and whether or not it is infused with certain flavors like some of the recipes we’ve listed above, the time it takes to brine will alter, so be sure to always follow the recipe properly.
As we mentioned above, two days is too long to leave a turkey to brine, and in addition, make sure to keep it at a temperature of 40 degrees fahrenheit or less.
Which Is Better For Turkey Wet Brine Or Dry Brine?
You may be wondering if it’s better to brine your turkey in water, or simply by rubbing the salt mixture into the skin.
Both of these methods have their merits, and dry brine will give your meat more flavor because it is more closely absorbed through the skin.
Despite this, brining it in a wet mixture will make your meat more tender to eat, so it’s really up to you which method you’d prefer to use.
Although brining a turkey can seem intimidating at first, it’s really not that difficult. Simply take a look at our list and choose your favorite to try out this holiday season.
Whether you feel like making a savory or a sweet based brine, we’ve got you covered.