How Long to Brine a Turkey to Keep it Extra Tender?

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Written By Alivia Stone

Christmas Eve will be more warm with how to make delicious and nutritious roasted turkey below: brining. The attractive dish will help you and your loved ones have time to enjoy the food fully and meaningfully.

Why Must Brine a Turkey?

Why must brine a turkey?

Soaking the chicken in salt water does not make the chicken salty, but the salt water will penetrate the chicken, changing the protein structure of the chicken, making the chicken more succulent and delicious. Soaking the chicken in ice or storing it in the freezer will help the chicken become firmer and will not be broken.

How Long to Brine a Turkey?

Marinating meat is an effective method to increase the moisture and softness of meat before baking. This step is especially important when preparing turkey, which usually dries out when baked in the oven. The process of soaking the turkey in salt water will help the brine soak into the meat through the osmosis phenomenon and the chicken will become more humid when grilled. You can also marinate the turkey with dry spices or herbs to increase the crispness on the skin and keep the natural moisture in the chicken.

Today we will share with you how to brine a turkey in the most accurate way.

1. Prepare Water to Marinate the Turkey

  • Prepare clean water: Use up to about 3.8 liters of water in a large bowl. The bowl used for marinating should be large and deep enough to cover the chicken. Moreover, it should also fit in the refrigerator. Fill the bowl with water to completely cover the chicken. It is better to use warm water as you will dissolve some solids in the solution.
  • Add salt: Add 3/4 cup of salt for every 3.8 liters of water. Salt is a must-have in the brine to push the salt to penetrate the turkey cells. The amount of salt used can vary widely. However, you should start with 3/4 cup of table salt for every 3.8 liters of water. It is equivalent to 46 ml of salt per liter of water. After that, you should stir the salt to completely dissolve.
  • Add sugar to the brine: Although not required as salt, sugar can also be a useful ingredient in giving turkey skin brown after grilled. The sugar in the brine helps to form caramel (the braised sugar turns brown) when cooking, no matter what cooking method you use. Try marinating the same amount of sugar as salt. You can use any type of sugar, including white sugar, brown sugar, turbinado (large grain brown sugar), even molasses or honey. All need to be stirred till all melted.
How long to brine a turkey?
How long to brine a turkey?
  • Add any spice of your choice to the marinade: You can also add other ingredients to the chicken brine. Pepper, fresh herbs and fruit juices can all be used to add to the marinade. Some great ingredients to combine include: 2-4 cloves of garlic (crushed with a knife), bay leaves, a handful of thyme, sage or a couple of rosemary sprigs, 2-3 tablespoons of whole grains pepper, parsley, juice 1-2 large lemons or oranges, 1-2 tablespoons of mustard, cumin or parsley seeds.
  • Boil chicken brine before adding chicken: It is important to boil the marinade if you have seasoned it. Otherwise, the seasoning will not seep into the chicken. Put all the ingredients (salt, sugar, water, spices, etc.) in a pot and boil for about 1 minute. Let it be cool totally before proceeding to the next step.
  • Add the chicken to the marinade: In this step, you should assure that the turkey is completely submerged in the brine mixture. You can marinate whole chicken or chopped chicken; the implementation process is the same.
  • Place the bowl of marinated chicken in the refrigerator and allow the chicken to spice up: How long is it to brine a turkey? Cover the chicken bowl with food wrap and refrigerate. Wait many hours for the chicken to soak. For chopped chicken, 1-2 hours is enough. On the other hand, whole chicks are best marinated for 8-12 hours. If you don’t have a lot of time, the brine will absorb some of the flavor and increase the tenderness in the chicken, even if it is only for a short time (at least 2 hours). Chicken should never be marinated at room temperature as bacteria can multiply.
  • Remove the chicken from the marinade: Remove the chicken from the brine and pat it dry before baking. Pour the marinade down the sink.

2. Prepare a Dry Marinade Seasoning

The method of marinating the chicken with dry spices will help the chicken retain its flavor and increase the crispness of the skin. While marinating chicken in water is the traditional method of preparing roast chicken, many chefs are starting to experiment with dry marinating for a firmer texture. Salt will draw moisture out and dissolve into natural brine, then seep back into the chicken.

  • Use sea salt or table salt when marinating the chicken dry if possible: Fine-grained salt like refined salt will stick too much into the chicken, melt too quickly and make the baked turkey dish salty.
  • Pat the chicken dry: Use a paper towel to blot the outside of the chicken as dry as possible. You don’t need to rub or squeeze the water out, just blot out the water.
  • Mix the seasoning in the bowl before marinating it into the chicken: Dry chicken seasonings only need to be rubbed into the chicken and consist mostly of salt. However, you can also mix in other spices. Start with about 1 teaspoon of table salt for every 0.45 kg of chicken (1.8 kg of chicken marinated with 4 teaspoons of salt). You can add the following spices if you like:
    • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
    • 1 teaspoon paprika, chili powder or cayenne
    • 1 teaspoon of rosemary or thyme
    • 1-2 teaspoons of garlic powder
  • Rub salt evenly over all surfaces of turkey: Rub seasoning on top, under, inside and out of the chicken. Rub a little more salt into thicker parts like thighs and breasts. You need to rub a layer of salt evenly over the surface of the chicken. The whole chicken should not be covered in salt, but the salt particles should be spread evenly across the entire surface of the chicken.
  • Cover the chicken and keep in the refrigerator for 2 to 24 hours: The longer the turkey is marinated in brine, the more delicious it is. However, if you don’t have a lot of time you can still see results after two hours. Try to marinate the chicken overnight at least. 2 hours is fine, but the results will not be very ideal. Besides, you should not leave it for more than 24 hours.
  • Remove the chicken and pat dry: The surface of the chicken should not be too wet and the salt is dissolved. However, you should still blot wet areas with a paper towel.. When it’s done, you can put the chicken in the oven and add other spices.
  • Try stuffing a few slices of lemons, garlic cloves, and herbs inside the chicken or between the thighs and wings will bring an amazing flavor.
The baked turkey will taste better and moist when soaked in salt water
The baked turkey will taste better and moist when soaked in salt water

Frequently Asked Questions

1. The health benefits of turkey meat

  • Strengthen the immune system

Eating turkey thighs and breasts will provide you with a host of nutrients and an energy boost. It is composed of potassium, protein and selenium. When consumed regularly, the nutrients begin to work resulting in a boosted immune system. Selenium found in turkey allows your immunity to stay away from harmful viruses and infection

  • Increase metabolism

Nutritionists recommend consuming foods that boost your metabolism. It is necessary to keep your body full of power. Moreover, studies have shown that people with enhanced metabolism experience less weight gain. Therefore, you can incorporate turkey meat into your daily diet to do this. Compounds like potassium, niacin, zinc and thiamin in turkey are known to speed up your metabolism.

  • High quality protein source

Thanks to its abundance with high protein content, turkey can be your only natural and safe source for treating various skin, hair and nail problems. These body parts are made of protein and require a regular amount of protein.

  • Good for teeth and bones

In addition to calcium, vitamin D and vitamin K, your body also needs phosphorus. Minerals are essential as it helps to strengthen your bones and teeth. In addition, phosphorus facilitates your body’s production of protein. You can find phosphorus in roasted or boiled turkey. One serving of its meat contains up to 196 milligrams of phosphorus, which can keep your bones and teeth healthy long term.

  • Turkey is good for diabetics

People with diabetes do not have a lot of food choices due to the amount of calories and sugar in almost all kinds of food. Studies have revealed that consuming turkey servings in moderation can be helpful for curbing diabetes symptoms. That could be mainly because it contains the minimum amount of calories, fat and cholesterol. So people with diabetes should not worry as they can consume turkey at least three times a week and can satisfy their cravings for meat.

  • Treatment of anemia

People diagnosed with anemia are advised to eat more nutrient-rich foods like iron. These properties promote red blood cells in your body to help prevent anemia. Turkey consumption can help solve this problem as it is a good food source.

Turkey brings us so many health benefits
Turkey brings us so many health benefits

2. Can eating turkey cause obesity?

Not only do nutritionists recommend incorporating turkey into the diet of obese and overweight people, but they also encourage it if you want to maintain your body weight. That’s because its meat is a good source of nutrients like riboflavin, thiamin, vitamins B and C, phosphorus, protein, potassium, etc. Additionally, turkey meat has no fat content.

On the other hand, one serving of roasted turkey breast contains only 23 calories. It’s really interesting for people who want to lose weight but can’t imagine a meat-free meal.


In addition to the Christmas tree, Santa Claus and the reindeer, what impresses people on Christmas Eve is the golden oven-roasted turkey placed in the middle of the banquet table. The above article has guided you how long to brine a turkey in detail. Hopefully with the above sharing, you will have a peaceful Christmas with your loved ones on a cozy banquet table.

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About the author

Alivia Stone

Alivia Stone became a professional writer in 2010, and her work is published all over the web. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Finance from the University of MD, a certification in Communications, and oddly enough, a mixology certification. After several years of writing columns about the home and saving money, she keeps her finger on the pulse of the latest technology and she has tested and written about cookware and kitchen appliances.

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