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How to Brine Your Thanksgiving Turkey

Use water to transform your Thanksgiving dinner
Water plays a big part in any Thanksgiving dinner, from the drinking goblets on the table to the dirty dishes waiting to be washed. This year, give water an even more important role in the prep work by brining your turkey. It’s the best way to ensure a juicy, flavorful, oven-roasted turkey that will make even Grandma jealous of your cooking skills.  

Why brine your bird?
As a lean bird without a lot of fat to keep the meat moist, turkey can easily become tough and dry. By soaking it in a brine (a mix of water and salt), you can help the turkey absorb some moisture and season it from the inside out. The process takes an extra day or two, but the flavor reward is undeniable.
Here’s what to you’ll need:
  • A turkey-sized pot with a lid
  • Enough space in your fridge for that pot
  • A turkey that has not been pretreated in any way (not labeled “kosher,” “enhanced” or “self-basting”)
  • 4 quarts water
  • 1 cup coarse kosher salt (or ¾ cup table salt)
  • Spices such as bay leaf, peppercorns, citrus peels or cloves
Here’s the process:
  1. Make sure that your pot fits in the fridge before it’s weighed down with the ingredients.
  2. Unwrap the turkey and remove the giblets, then place the turkey in the pot.
  3. Add any spices you’d like to use.
  4. Mix the brine solution by warming 1 quart of water in the microwave and melting the salt in it. Stir until the salt has dissolved.
  5. Pour the brine solution over the turkey, and then add the remaining 3 quarts of water to the pot to help cool the solution.
  6. Add additional brine solution and spices until the turkey is completely submerged. You can mix ¼ cup of salt per quart of water until this is achieved.
  7. Cover the pot and refrigerate it for 12-24 hours.
  8. When brining is complete, rinse the turkey with cool water and pat it dry with paper towels.
  9. If you prefer crispy skin, allow the turkey to air-dry in the fridge for another day. You can place it on a roasting pan and cover it loosely with plastic bags.
  10. Pat the turkey with any spices you like, but skip the salt because there will already be plenty absorbed into the turkey.
  11. Roast, grill or smoke your turkey as you normally would, but keep in mind that brined turkey tends to cook faster, so you’ll need to start checking on it an hour earlier than usual.
Note: The turkey can be partially thawed as you start the brining process. It will continue to thaw while it soaks up the brine.
Be sure to clean your sink thoroughly after you rinse the turkey to avoid cross-contamination. If you’ve got a Delta faucet with Touch2O Technology, you can activate the water with the your forearm instead of having to grab the handle. Keeping your faucet clean means you’ll have one less chore to do before dinner.
Brining a turkey takes extra time, ingredients and cleanup. But it will all be worth it when you deliver a perfectly moist and flavorful bird to the family table this Thanksgiving.