Hawaiian-Style Turkey Brine

Hawaiian style turkey brine recipe

The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 10 mins
Serving: 1 serving

A brine—whether wet or dry—is a great way to add flavor and moisture to a whole turkey. The simplest version is a combination of water and salt, but this Hawaiian turkey brine uses pineapple juice as the liquid and offers another layer of salt (along with umami) from soy sauce; maple syrup contributes sweetness while garlic and crushed red pepper bring a little kick. This recipe is truly one of the most flavorful brines you'll try, offering a teriyaki taste to the bird.

Once the ingredients are mixed together, the brine is ready for the turkey. You will need a container that is large enough to hold the bird with the liquid surrounding it, and enough time to brine the turkey for 1 hour for every pound. This amount of brine works best with a 14- to 16-pound bird.

Ingredients

  • 4 quarts canned pineapple juice
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 1/3 cups soy sauce
  • 1 cup light (or golden) maple syrup
  • 1 cup salt (or 1 1/2 cups kosher salt)
  • 6 cloves garlic (cut into halves)
  • 4 to 6 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Hawaiian style turkey brine
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack 
  2. Combine everything in a large bowl.

    Add spices to bowl
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  3. Place the turkey in a large container and pour the brine over; the bird should be completely submerged. Cover and allow to sit in the refrigerator, calculating 1 hour for every pound. Because of the acid from the pineapple juice in this brine, you do not want to leave your turkey in the brine for too long, or else it will make the meat mushy.

    Pour brine over turkey
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  4. Thoroughly rinse the turkey with water to remove all the brine before cooking. Otherwise, the turkey will be too salty. 

    Thoroughly rinse brine from turkey
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  5. Cook the turkey, serve, and enjoy.

    Cook the turkey
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Tips

  • Make sure not to brine the turkey for too long. Any time exceeding 18 hours can result in a spongy texture and extremely salty taste.
  • Use a non-reactive container when brining, which means one that is plastic, glass, or stainless steel. If you don't have something big enough, you can use a brining bag, but you may want to sit it in something in the refrigerator in case it leaks.
  • If the turkey is not completely covered with the brine, make sure to rotate it every few hours.
  • The turkey can be roasted or deep-fried after using this brine.
  • A whole chicken will work in this brine as well, as will a turkey breast.