The Pioneer Woman Tasty Kitchen
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PW’s Homemade Turkey Brine

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Level: Easy

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Description

Whether it’s a store-bought mix or your own, the key to a succulent and delicious turkey is brining.

Ingredients

  • 2 gallons Water
  • 2 cups Apple Juice
  • 2 cups Kosher Salt (can Decrease To 1 1/2 Cups If You're Concerned About Salt)
  • 2 cups Brown Sugar
  • 2 cloves Garlic, Crushed
  • 5 pieces Bay Leaves
  • 3 Tablespoons Black Peppercorns
  • 1 Tablespoon Dried Rosemary
  • 2 whole Peel Of Oranges (Sliced Off The Fruit, Avoiding As Much Of The White Pith As Possible, Then Roughly Chopped)

Preparation

(This is enough for a 20-lb fresh turkey. You can decrease the quantity for a smaller bird.)

Combine all ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil. Turn off heat immediately, cover, and allow mixture to come to room temperature. Cool mixture in the fridge until you’re ready.

To brine the turkey, remove turkey from wrapper, remove gross bags, and rinse thoroughly under cool water.

Place the turkey into a plastic brining bag (available at many kitchen shops, maybe even stores like Target) or a very large pot.

Pour cool brine mixture over the top, adding extra cold water if you need more to cover. Seal bag or cover pot and allow turkey to brine in refrigerator for 8 to 18 hours before roasting.

Before roasting, remove turkey from brine and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Pat dry. Discard brine.

Notes:

When you brine your turkey, the drippings are quite salty. For this reason, it is VERY important that you use a no-sodium (or low-sodium) chicken broth when you make the turkey gravy. Also, I often will cut the drippings with the giblet water to decrease the saltiness.

Many frozen turkeys are injected with a sodium solution—it’s best NOT to brine these turkeys! Brining fresh turkeys is the way to go.

5 Comments

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novakgirls on 11.17.2010

Yep, no disrespect to Ree but I have brined frozen turkeys for the last 8 years with no problem. The recipe I use is very similar, it just has half the salt of this one. I don’t normally use orange peel though, gonna try that this year. I think it will wake up the brine a bit.

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Tiffany on 4.28.2010

I used this recipe last Thanksgiving. We had a 30-lb turkey so I had to tweak it a little bit.

I must say that Turkey was the best I have EVER had! Absolutely delicious =)

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flourgirl on 1.18.2010

I challenged conventional wisdom & used this on a frozen turkey. I cut the salt in half & it was fine! I also added Juniper Berries since I was low on peppercorns. I also increased the amount of apple juice (doubled).

Also…don’t go the “easy” route and grate/zest the orange rind instead of slicing it off the orange & chopping it. The little zest pieces tend to stick to any exposed turkey flesh. I didn’t notice a difference in flavor but it’s best to be safe rather than sorry!

I poured in some reserved chicken broth (that I cooked my potatoes in) and added that to the pan about 1/2 way through cooking. Made it MUCH easier to get the pan drippings into the gravy.

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Lori on 1.13.2010

I loved how easy this was. This was the first time I had brined anything & our whole family LOVED the turkey! I did cut the salt to 1 cup so that I could use the “crusties” for the gravy. It was so good & so simple, it made ALL the difference!

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lovetocook on 11.26.2009

Thanks, PW. I used this for my Thanksgiving turkey and got lots of compliments on how moist and yummy it was.

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