Basic Brined Turkey

For juicier and tastier meat, try brining. It’s easy, and the results are worth the wait.


  • 1 cup (250 mL) kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup (50 mL) sugar
  • 4 quarts very cold water (3.8 L)
  • 1   fresh or thawed, frozen natural turkey, 12-18 lbs (6-8 kg)


  1. In Stainless (6-qt.) Mixing Bowl, combine salt, sugar and water; stir until dissolved. Double up two oven cooking bags and roll down edges of bags. Place upright into Roasting Pan. Place turkey into bag breast side down. Carefully pour brine over turkey. Secure both the inner and outer bags with twist ties, making sure to gather the inner bag tightly to force brine over top of turkey.

  2. Refrigerate turkey in brine 12-18 hours (do not leave turkey in brine longer than 18 hours). Remove turkey from brine; discard bags and brine. Rinse turkey inside and out; pat dry with paper towels. At this point, turkey can be refrigerated until ready to cook (up to 24 hours). 

Cook's Tips:

Make sure to prepare a space in the refrigerator large enough to accommodate the Roasting Pan with the turkey in it. For food safety reasons, the turkey must be stored in the refrigerator throughout the brining time.

Brining is a process of marinating in a salt and water solution that enhances the flavor and juiciness of meats and is especially effective for turkey.

When choosing a turkey for brining, look for “all-natural,” “no additives,” and “minimally processed” on the label. Turkeys that have already been treated with a salt solution will read “basted,” “self-basting,” “enhanced,” or “injected” on the label. Pre-brined and kosher turkeys are not recommended because they have been treated with salt during processing.

There are three types of salt that are commonly available and can be used in the brining solution: table salt, kosher salt and crystal kosher salt. Note that all salts do not substitute equally by volume. Our Basic Brined Turkey recipe calls for 1 cup kosher salt. If using table salt, use 3/4 cup. If substituting crystal kosher salt, use1 1/2 cups.

Oven cooking bags are made of strong oven-safe, food-grade plastic and are perfect to use for brining. Oven bags can be found in the paper goods section of most grocery stores and come in a box of two with plastic ties. Do not substitute garbage bags or other nonfood-grade plastic bags.

To prevent the turkey from becoming too salty, remove from the brine after 18 hours and rinse thoroughly, inside and out. At this point, the turkey can be refrigerated up to 24 hours. For a crisper skin, leave the turkey uncovered in the refrigerator.

Try customizing the flavor of the brine by adding other flavorings such as crushed garlic, cracked peppercorns, citrus zest and fresh herbs such as thyme, rosemary or bay leaves. 

Because the pan drippings will be saltier from a turkey that has been brined, be sure to use unsalted or low-sodium broth when preparing Home-Style Pan Gravy, and season carefully.

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