Why brine? This process infuses turkey with moisture and results in a tender and juicy cooked turkey. There are two styles of brining: wet and dry.
Wet Brine for Turkey
Brine is a salt-water solution that may include woody herbs like rosemary and thyme, crushed raw garlic and onions. During the brining process, the solution penetrates the meat to a maximum depth of ¼ inch. The more salt in the solution, the less time turkey takes to brine.
- 5% salt to water brine: The choice for an overnight or two-night brine
- 8% salt to water brine: The choice for a quick, 4- to 8-hour brine.
To brine a small bird, place it in a large zipper storage bag or food storage container, pour brine solution over to cover and store in the refrigerator.
To brine a large bird, place it in a large food storage container, pour brine solution over to cover and store in the refrigerator.
When time is up, remove turkey from brining solution and pat dry.
How to Dry Brine a Turkey
Heavily season the exterior of the bird with salt. Place turkey on a platter or pan with a lip and refrigerate, uncovered, overnight (or 8 to 12 hours). When time is up, place turkey in a large container with cold water and drain three to four times until salt coating disappears; pat turkey dry.
Word of caution: Although the process of patting the turkey dry after brining will remove some surface salt, the meat below the skin’s surface is optimally salted. Use only a small amount of salt in any dry rub or additional seasoning you place on the turkey skin before cooking to avoid oversalting.
Best Dry Rub for Turkey
To season skin before placing turkey in the oven, consider a dry rub of salt, pepper, woody herbs and granulated garlic. Avoid green herbs like fresh basil and cilantro, as they will not withstand the cooking process, and avoid the urge to overspice as too much seasoning may overpower the flavor of the meat. The cavity may be stuffed with apple or citrus slices to perfume meat. For added moisture, rub butter underneath the skin.
How to Inject a Turkey
A quick and easy alternative to brining, injecting is the only way to flavor meat from skin to bone. To make a marinade, follow brine solution directions, cutting salt back to 1 or 2%. Add marinade to injector and focus shots in the breast area of the turkey. Let turkey sit for a few minutes. Pat skin dry. Add topical seasonings, as directed above.