Basic Turkey Brine

turkey brine ingredients

The Spruce / Claire Cohen

  • Total: 15 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Servings: 12 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
69 Calories
0g Fat
18g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 69
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 18863mg 820%
Total Carbohydrate 18g 6%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Protein 0g
Calcium 30mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

A dry turkey is a big disappointment, and most people agree that a simple brine helps make a juicier, tastier holiday turkey. Water, salt, sugar, and herbs make up this basic, simple brine for a 12 to 15-pound turkey.

Use an extra-large resealable plastic bag or a large plastic container, and place a plate and a large can to hold the turkey down and keep it from floating to the top of the brine. You'll need plenty of space in the refrigerator as well, so plan accordingly


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  • 2 gallons water (cold)
  • 2 cups kosher ​salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 teaspoons garlic (crushed)
  • 3 to 4 sprigs rosemary (or 1 tablespoon dried)
  • 3 to 4 sprigs thyme (or 1 tablespoon dried)
  • 3 to 4 sprigs sage (or 1 tablespoon dried)
  • 1 teaspoon allspice berries (cracked)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for basic turkey brine
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  2. Dissolve the salt, sugar, and aromatics in the water.

    Dissolve seasonings
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  3. Submerge the turkey in the brine, top with a plate, and put a large can or a few cans on the plate to hold the turkey under the brine.

    Turkey in pot
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  4. Refrigerate the turkey in the brine for 12 to 24 hours.

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  5. Before roasting, pat the turkey dry with paper towels.

    Pat dry
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  6. Roast without additional salt following your favorite recipe.

    Roast turkey
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck
  7. Serve and enjoy!

    Turkey brine
    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck


  • This recipe is enough for a 12- to 15-pound turkey, but if you have to increase the amount of water to cover the turkey, add proportionately more salt, sugar, and herbs. (For each gallon of water: 1 cup kosher salt, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and approximately 1 teaspoon crushed garlic, 1 to 2 twigs of the herbs, and about 1/2 teaspoon of cracked allspice berries and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.)
  • Brined meat might look a bit pink even when fully cooked. If in doubt, check the temperature of the turkey with an instant-read thermometer. The turkey should register at least 165 F in the thickest part of the thigh. If the turkey is stuffed, the center of the stuffing must be cooked to at least 165 F.
  • Some other popular brine additions include whole peppercorns, bay leaves, whole cloves and cinnamon sticks.