It is that time of the year.  The time when many people freak out trying to cook a turkey for a large group of people.  When done right, turkey is the most amazing food around.  However, turkey easily dries out and needs to be monitored when cooked.  The easiest way to add flavor and keep your turkey moist is to brine the turkey.  Soak the turkey in a salt water solution and through osmosis it will season the meat and also help retain moisture when cooked.  The second tip is to use a probe thermometer.  No matter how you cook the turkey (except microwave – you know better), you can always keep an eye on the turkey with a probe thermometer.  The third tip is to use 10-14 pound turkeys.  The smaller turkeys will cook more evenly.  If you need a 20 pound turkey, use two 10-12 turkeys.  Simple as that.

Turkey Brine

  • 3/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 gallon water
  • 8 cups ice
  • 1 tbs black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp allspice berries
  • 2 tsp rosemary
  • 2 tsp sage
  • 2 tsp thyme

In a large pot combine 1/2 gallon of water, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, rosemary, sage and thyme. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Stir until the sugar and salt dissolve.  Remove them from the heat and add the ice.  Refrigerate until cold.

The Brine Chillin

I picked up a large plastic turkey baking bag and then used it to line a large stock pot.  You could use a 5-gallon bucket or a large cooler too.  The big box hardware stores sell brand new 5-gallon buckets for less than $5.  If you use a brand new bucket there is no need to use a plastic liner.

Time to Brine

Place the thawed turkey in the plastic bag or bucket and then pour the brine and water over the turkey.  You may need to add more water to completely cover the turkey.  If you use a bucket the turkey might float so use a heavy plate to push and keep the turkey down.

Place the brining turkey into a refrigerator or a cooler for at least 24 hours and up to two days.  Keep the refrigerator or cooler under 38 degrees for the whole time.

Wrap up and brine for at least 24 hours

If you are limited on time, increase the salt in the brine above.  Remember, if you use more salt, do not brine for more than 12 hours.  Your turkey will be way too salty.

To use the turkey remove it from the brine and rinse the inside and outside with cold water.  Pat dry and then cook using your favorite method.

Check later this week to see an awesome method for smoking your Thanksgiving turkey.

Also brine and use one of these methods:

Rex is an avid griller, barbecuer and bacon enthusiast. He is the Pitmaster for the Rex BBQ competition team. Rex was also featured on the TV show American Grilled. If you have any questions or wish to have Rex decode your favorite dish, click on the ASK REX link in the menu above.


  1. Yea man… it's a little extra work, but I've brined my turkey the last two years (and doing it again this year) and it's some of the best meat around.

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