How To Make Turkey Brine

turkey brining container

For the best turkey smoking results, a good turkey brine does the trick. There are methods of putting the brine together that improve its quality. Just dumping everything into a bucket and stirring doesn't make the best brine. Follow a good recipe and an established method, and your brined turkey will be a smoked masterpiece.




Turkey brine should ideally be made a day ahead of time. This allows the flavor additions a chance to infuse the brine, and it also insures that the salt and sugar are completely dissolved.

For a container, a food grade 5 gallon bucket works fine. You'll need to have plenty of space in your refrigerator, because that's where it will need to be for couple of days.


Learn More About Brining Containers

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Wet or Dry Turkey Rub

Super Smoked Turkey Legs

Better still is an insulated water cooler, the kind you see on road-crew trucks in the summer. The shape and size of these coolers is perfect for brining a whole turkey, and being insulated, the turkey and brine can be kept cold with bags of ice.

A standard turkey brine contains the right kind of salt , sugar and seasonings. Normally, between three quarters of a cup and one full cup of salt is used per gallon of water. Varying amounts and types of sweeteners and flavorings give the turkey that flavor to savor.

Making Brine...Step By Step

  • Add one gallon of water to each of two stock pots or large, lidded pans.


  • To one of the pots, add the salt and sugar. Bring this to a boil, and boil it for five minutes. Remove it from the heat, cover, and let it cool.


  • To the other pot, add the spice, herbs and vegetables. Slowly, bring this pot up to a light boil, simmer for five minutes, remove from heat, cover, and allow to cool.


  • When both pots are cooled to room temperature, add them to your five gallon bucket and refrigerate.


  • After twelve hours, or overnight, the brine is ready for the turkey.
The brine must be between 35 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit to brine your turkey. Over 40 is dangerous, and under 35 slows the brining reactions.

For a 10-14 pound turkey, two gallons of brine is what you need if you use an upright brining container, like a bucket or a water cooler. If you use a normal box-shaped cooler, you'll need more than two gallons. Whatever you brine your turkey in, it must be completely submerged the entire time.

To learn how to put this brine to good use, go to Making Smoked Turkey, where you'll learn about turkey smoking from start to finish.



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Making Turkey Brine

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