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Brining a Turkey

This recipe has brining options for starting with a frozen or fresh turkey.

  • 1 gallon of water
  • ¼ cup Sauce Goddess Big Tom's Turkey rub
  • ½ cup kosher salt
  • TOOLS-
  • Cooler (taller is best with just enough to fit the turkey tightly and have some room for ice)
  • Thermometer (refrigerator thermometer)
  • “lid” items- a Cookie sheet, plastic cutting board or plastic storage container that fits inside the cooler flat
  • Anything water-proof and heavy to weight down the turkey
  • Combine all ingredients in cooler big enough to fit the turkey tightly and a good amount of ice, but don’t add the ice yet. If it’s too big you need more water and the brine solution will be diluted. If it’s too small you won’t have room for ice as needed to keep the bird safely at 41 degrees.

  1. Frozen Turkey-5 DAY brine
  2. Day One
  3. Remove the outer packaging from your frozen turkey. We are going to brine this while it thaws, It’s the perfect answer for the space a big turkey takes up in your fridge while it’s thawing.
  4. Place your frozen turkey unwrapped into your cooler with the brine bath.
  5. • Yes, the packages of giblets and goodies are still inside we remove those in a couple of days.
  6. If there is not enough water, add only enough to cover the turkey. It all depends on the size of your cooler
  7. Place the “lid” item on top of the turkey.
  8. Place your heavy object on top of the lid.
  9. The turkey should be completely submerged in ice cold brine water from its own frozen state.
  10. Place thermometer in on top of everything. Close the cooler.
  11. Day Two
  12. Check the cooler. Everything should still be under the brine and completely frozen. If it is not covered, adjust the weight to make sure the turkey stays down below the liquid. Temperature should be 41.
  13. Day Three
  14. We will check the cooler twice from here on out.
  15. AM-Check the cooler. If the cooler isn’t 41 degrees, you will need to add ice. Remove your “lid”. By this time the turkey should be feeling just a barely soft on the outside but still frozen for the most part. Add ice if needed. Replace the lid and weight.
  16. PM- Remove lid and weight. Now carefully flip the turkey over. See how loose the legs are and if you can get the bag of goodies and the neck out of the cavity. Check temp and add ice.
  17. Day Four
  18. AM-open cooler and check temp. If you didn’t remove the items from the cavity yesterday it should be ready today. Remove everything from inside the body and neck area. Add lots of ice.
  19. PM- add more ice and turn the turkey over. Everything should be thawed by now and really nicely brined.
  20. Day Five
  21. If you have a really big bird, then you’ll need an extra day to finish the thaw. Otherwise if your turkey is completely thawed at this point you can remove it and place it in your fridge or add more ice to keep it 41 degrees until you’re ready to cook.
  22. FRESH TURKEY- 3-day brine
  23. Food safety is critical since the only thing keeping your turkey cold is ice. The fridge is easier for a fresh turkey but there still may be an issue with space.
  24. Day one
  25. Mix the brine as listed. Place turkey in cooler with brine.
  26. Place 5 lbs. of ice into a zip top baggie. This allows us to chill the brine and turkey without diluting the brine itself.
  27. Place ice bag in the cooler.
  28. Cover etc. as listed above.
  29. Day two
  30. AM
  31. Remove old baggie of ice and add new one.
  32. PM
  33. Remove old baggie of ice and add new one.
  34. Day Three
  35. Repeat. Make sure that temperature doesn’t creep above 41. Just keep adding ice in a baggie as needed.
  36. Day Four
  37. Remove from the brine and you’re ready to roast, smoke or deep fry that turkey.
  38. Pat the turkey completely dry inside and out.
  39. Rub seasoning on the outside, in the cavity and under the skin on the breast.
  40. I like to cook my turkey upside down. It’s not as pretty on the platter but the breast meat cannot get dried out unless it’s is very very overcooked.

Frozen turkey will be up to 5 days, no more. With a fresh turkey you can brine as little as one day. Don't go for longer than 3 days.

Read carefully before starting.