Savory Turkey Brine

Savory turkey brine ingredients
Claire Cohen
Ratings (60)
  • Total: 30 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Yield: 1 gallon (serves 14-16)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
28 Calories
0g Fat
7g Carbs
0g Protein
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

You will get a rich flavor with this poultry brine, as it contains the perfect combination of herbs that go so well with turkey. You can use this brine whether roasting, smoking, or deep-frying the turkey. The recipe calls for simple ingredients you are likely already to have on hand. The herbs should pair well with any rub you use to season the turkey before cooking.

This savory turkey brine gets some of its salt from vegetable stock, which is important to remember if you are doing a standard brine calculation of 1 cup of table salt to 1 gallon of water. Do not use iodized salt as the iodine in it will spoil the flavor.

If you use a frozen turkey, it will need to be fully defrosted before brining. You will need to plan for one hour per pound of turkey, so the turkey will start brining 12 hours before cooking if you have a 12-pound turkey, and 20 hours before cooking if you have a 20-pound turkey.


  • 2 quarts vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup salt (or 3/4 cup kosher or coarse salt)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon dried sage
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 2 quarts water (cold)

Steps to Make It

  1. In a large pot, combine the vegetable stock, salt, sugar, and rosemary, sage, and thyme over medium heat. Simmer for about 15 minutes until the salt is completely dissolved. Remove the pot from the from heat and allow the mixture to cool to cool for 30 minutes or more. Add the cold water.

  2. Place the turkey in a large plastic container. Pour the cold brine over the top. Cover the container and refrigerate. Brine the turkey for 1 hour per pound.

  3. Thoroughly rinse all the brine from the turkey before cooking. Otherwise, there will be a salty flavor to the turkey.

  4. Discard any remaining brine and thoroughly clean the container.

  5. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels (make sure to get inside the cavity).

  6. Apply your preferred turkey rub and cook as directed.

Your turkey rub should not contain salt as the bird will already be perfectly salted. You can omit salt from any stuffing you put inside the turkey. The turkey juices produced during cooking will season the stuffing well.

You will need enough refrigerator space when brining a turkey as it must be kept under 40 F for food safety. If space is tight, you can brine the turkey in a brining bag in an ice cooler, covered with ice water.

Your turkey needs to be submerged in the brine, so you may need to make more brine depending on the container size and size of the turkey. By using a brining bag, you can get brine around more of the turkey without having to make additional brine.