Learn how to wet brine a turkey for Thanksgiving using spices, seasonings and salt to maximize flavor and help your turkey come out juicy and moist.
Are you thinking about wet brining your Thanksgiving turkey this year? Whether you are planning on roasting, smoking or frying your turkey, this recipe is all around delicious and great for any method! Here Find helpful information about wet brining your Thanksgiving turkey.
WET BRINE VS DRY BRINE:
There are a few differences between wet and dry brining. The biggest is… a wet brine is, you guessed it, WET. A dry brine has no liquid added to it.
When we smoke turkey, fish or chicken, we like to wet brine before smoking. This adds flavor and moisture to deeper parts of the meat. This helps the turkey come out super flavorful and moist.
Wet brining is pretty straight forward. You have salt, seasonings and liquid. For our turkey, we love using the following spices and ingredients. These items offer added flavor to the salt brine and the turkey:
- pepper and/or whole peppercorns
- bay leaves
- citrus fruit like oranges or lemons
- garlic (fresh or granulated)
- onion (fresh or powdered)
WHAT KIND OF SALT SHOULD I USE IN A WET BRINE?
It is very important to use a salt that is all nature with no additives and non-iodized. This leaves fine sea salt and canning salt as your best options. I typically use fine sea salt because it’s easier for me to get my hands on.
Other salts such as table salt or iodized salt will cause the brine to be too salty thus making your smoked turkey too salty. No one wants that so stick to canning salt or fine sea salt.
HOW TO MAKE A WET BRINE FOR SMOKED TURKEY:
Use a clean food grade 5 gallon bucket or brining bag.
Add seasonings and spices.
Give the brine a good mix to help dissolve the salt and incorporate the spices and seasonings. It’s ready to go.
HOW LONG SHOULD I WET BRINE A TURKEY?
To take full advantage of a wet brine you will want to plan on leaving the turkey in the brine for at least 48 to 72 hours. This will allow the brine to penetrate the turkey, boost flavor and add moisture before smoking. Make sure the turkey and brine stays cold during the brining process. Place the brining bird in the fridge or a cooler with ice.
SHOULD I RINSE MY TURKEY AFTER WET BRINING?
I rinse my turkey after wet brining to remove any excess salt on the outside. This step seems to be somewhat of a controversy but I’d rather my bird not come out overly salty because there was too much excess salt on the outside. That said, I’ve shared my experience and you can do what you please.
DO I DRY THE TURKEY AFTER WET BRINING?
Yes, you always want to pad the turkey dry. To get a golden beautiful crust on the turkey if smoking let the turkey rest in the fridge for 12 to 24 hours before smoking. This will dry the skin and help achieve that golden skin.
LOOKING OF ADDITIONAL THANKSGIVING RECIPES? YOU MAY ALSO LIKE THESE:
- Cutie Turkey Oreo Cookies
- Easy Thanksgiving Turkey Casserole – great for leftover turkey
- Turkey Soup
- Reese’s Turkey Cookies
- Grandma B’s Dinner Rolls – A Thanksgiving MUST TRY!!!
Are you ready to get wet brining? Great!
HERE’S THE FULL PRINTABLE RECIPE FOR OUR FAVORITE WET BRINE. ENJOY!
- 2 gallons water, cold
- 1 1/2 cups canning or fine sea salt (do not use table or iodized salt)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 2 Tbs dried minced garlic (or 3 Tbs fresh)
- 1 tsp ground garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 Tbs cracked fresh black pepper
- 3-4 bay leaves (fresh or dried)
- 2 4-6 inch sprigs rosemary (or 1 Tbs dried rosemary)
- In a clean food safe 5 gallon bucket or brining bag, add seasonings, spices and salt. Add water.
- Stir or shake for a few minutes to help salt dissolve.
- Add thawed turkey (make sure to remove neck and giblets for turkey cavity).
- Soak turkey in brine for 48-72 hours.
- Remove turkey from brine, discard brining liquid. Rinse turkey and dry thoroughly before cooking. If smoking, consider letting turkey dry in the fridge for 12-24 hours before smoking.
This recipe will be adequate for turkey weighing up to 20 or so lbs.
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