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Easy Turkey Brine Recipe

This basic turkey brine recipe will teach you how to brine a turkey – the easy way! Takes just 3 simple ingredients and is failproof. This is the best recipe for beginners and makes a great Thanksgiving dinner!

I’m all about easy recipes that help to make preparing for the holidays a breeze. We make a roasted turkey every year for our Thanksgiving menu and this simple brine makes seasoning the turkey so simple. You won’t believe how much flavor it adds!

roasted turkey on white platter

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Can you believe Thanksgiving is only a few days away? Crazy! We got together with some friends a few weeks ago for a little Thanksgiving feast and I decided to try out a new turkey brine recipe. It was so good! If this is your first year making a turkey, I have the perfect NO FAIL brine for you. It came out so juicy, moist and delicious!

You’re not going to believe that it’s made with only 3 ingredients! You basically just pour 2 bottles of dressing and 1 can of chicken broth over the turkey (after it’s cleaned out of course) and let it sit in the refrigerator over night. Doesn’t get any easier than that and it turns out perfect every time!

raw brined turkey on roasting pan

3 simple ingredients

Only 3 ingredients needed and you literally can’t mess it up! Right before baking the turkey, I like to add fresh rosemary, a sprinkle of Italian seasoning and some lemon slices to give it a little extra touch. This is optional though and totally up to you!

  • Italian dressing: Two bottles of your favorite brand (we used Wish-Bone).
  • Chicken broth: One can of chicken broth. You can use low sodium to cut back on salt if preferred.

How to brine a turkey

  1. First, thaw the turkey until no longer frozen.
  2. Remove neck and giblets and discard.
  3. Place in a bag or container (breast side down) and pour dressing and broth over. Close bag or cover pan. Marinate in fridge (at least 12 hours or overnight).
  4. Next, remove turkey from bag or pan and discard brine.
  5. Then place in roasting pan and add fresh rosemary and lemon (optional). Pour 1 1/2 cups of water into the bottom of the pan.
  6. Cook for 2 1/2 to 3 hours (until meat thermometer inserted in thickest part of thigh reaches 180°). Be sure to cover loosely with foil after first 30 minutes to prevent browning.
  7. Let stand 15 minutes before carving the turkey. Enjoy!

raw turkey covered with brine, rosemary and lemon slices

How long should you brine before cooking?

I like to brine mine overnight, but it’s important that you let it brine for at least 12 hours before cooking. The longer it brines, the more time the flavors have to marinate together to create a flavorful and juicy turkey. You can let it brine for up to 3 days.

Does a brined turkey cook faster?

A turkey that’s been marinating in a brine does actually cook faster. Because it contains more moisture, it cooks faster than if it had not been brined. I typically cook mine for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours, however this time could fluctuate a little depending on your oven. To ensure your turkey is cooked to perfection, check the temperature ever so often with a meat thermometer (insert it in the thickest part of the thigh). It will be cooked through when the temperature reaches 180°F.

Can you stuff a brined turkey?

Sure, just make sure to cook it a little longer. Turkeys that are stuffed take about 30 minutes longer to cook through than ones that aren’t. The stuffing soaks in some of the heat and moisture, which causes a difference in how the heat circulates throughout the turkey. I would just tack on an additional 30 minutes to the cooking time, so about 3 to 3 1/2 hours.

roasted turkey on white plate

Favorite dishes to serve alongside:

how to brine a turkey

Easy Turkey Brine

5 from 7 votes
This basic turkey brine recipe will teach you how to brine a turkey - the easy way! Takes just 3 simple ingredients and is failproof. This is the best recipe for beginners and makes a great Thanksgiving dinner!
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 2 hrs 30 mins
Total Time: 2 hrs 40 mins
Servings: 16

Equipment

  • large food-safe plastic bag or deep non-metallic container

Ingredients 

  • 12 pounds turkey (can use 12 to 16 lbs)
  • 32 ounces Italian dressing (2 bottles)
  • 14.5 ounces chicken broth (1 can)

Optional: Lemon slices and fresh herbs for topping

    Instructions

    • Thaw turkey (will take about 4 days in a refrigerator or 8 hours in cold water).
    • Remove neck and giblets from body and neck cavities, discard.
    • Place turkey breast side down in a bag or container. Pour dressing and broth over turkey. Close bag and cover pan. Marinate in refrigerator 12 hours or overnight.
    • Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove turkey from bag or pan and discard brine.
    • Place turkey in roasting pan. Add fresh herbs and lemon if you’d like. Add 1 1/2 cups of water to the bottom of the pan. Cook for 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until meat thermometer inserted in thickest part of thigh reaches 180°F. Cover loosely with foil after the first 30 minutes to prevent from browning.
    • Let stand 15 minutes before carving.

    Calories: 477kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 52g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 173mg | Sodium: 927mg | Potassium: 609mg | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 155IU | Vitamin C: 2.1mg | Calcium: 35mg | Iron: 2.3mg
    Course: Main Course
    Cuisine: American
    Author: Jamielyn Nye
    How to brine a turkey

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