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 turkey brine for beginners and makes a great Thanksgiving dinner!
I’m all about easy recipes that help to make preparing for the holidays a breeze. This simple turkey brine is definitely one of those recipes, as well as crockpot spiral ham and one-hour roasted chicken.
Best turkey brine
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 easy turkey brine for you. The turkey came out so juicy, moist and delicious!
You’re not going to believe that this simple turkey brine is 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!
Ingredients for simple turkey brine
It honestly doesn’t get any easier than this basic turkey brine recipe. Only 3 ingredients and you literally can’t mess it up! Right before baking the turkey, I like to add fresh rosemary and lemon slices to give it a little extra touch. This is optional though and totally up to you!
- Italian Dressing
- Chicken Broth
How to brine a turkey
Scroll down for the printable turkey brine recipe.
- Thaw turkey. Remove neck and giblets and discard.
- Place turkey in a bag or container (breast side down) and pour dressing and broth over turkey. Close bag or cover pan. Marinate in fridge (at least 12 hours or overnight).
- Next, remove turkey from bag or pan and discard brine.
- Then place turkey in roasting pan and add fresh rosemary and lemon (optional). Pour 1 1/2 cups of water into the bottom of the pan.
- Cook for 2 1/2 to 3 hours (until meat thermometer inserted in thickest part of thigh reaches 180°). Be sure to cover turkey loosely with foil after first 30 minutes to prevent browning.
- Let turkey stand 15 minutes before carving. Enjoy!
TIP: To thaw turkey in the refrigerator, it will take about 4 days. You can also thaw in cold water for about 8 hours.
How long should you brine a turkey before cooking?
I like to brine my turkey 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 your turkey brine for up to 3 days.
Do you have to refrigerate while brining a turkey?
Yes, you should refrigerate the turkey while letting it brine. Just stick the turkey (breast side down) in a bag or container and pour the brine over. Close the bag or cover the pan and let the turkey marinate in the fridge overnight (or at least 12 hours).
Does a brined turkey cook faster?
A turkey that’s been marinating in a simple turkey brine does actually cook faster. Because it contains more moisture, it cooks faster than if it had not been brined. I typically cook my brined turkey 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 of your turkey ever so often with a meat thermometer (insert it in the thickest part of the thigh). The turkey will be cooked through when the temperature reaches 180°.
Can you stuff a brined turkey?
Sure! If stuffing your turkey when using this turkey brine recipe, just make sure to cook your turkey a little longer. Turkeys that are stuffed take about 30 minutes longer to cook through than turkeys 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.
Easy Turkey Brine
- 12 pounds turkey (can use 12 to 16 lbs)
- 32 ounces Italian dressing (2 bottles)
- 14.5 ounces chicken broth (1 can)
- large food-safe plastic bag or deep non-metallic container
Optional: Lemon slices and fresh herbs for topping the turkey
- 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°. 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°. Cover turkey loosely with foil after the first 30 minutes to prevent turkey from browning.
- Let turkey stand 15 minutes before carving.
So there you have it. A simple and delicious turkey brine recipe for a juicy and tender turkey!