Brined Turkey Breast

This Brined Turkey Breast makes the juiciest turkey meat you can imagine with hints of sweet, savory and citrus flavors. Bake it for weeknight dinners, use leftovers for sandwiches and serve it for Thanksgiving.

easy brined turkey breast sliced on white platter with lemon wedges and fresh herbs

A few years ago, I decided to change up my Thanksgiving dinner a bit. I was watching Let’s Talk Turkey on the Food Network, which happens to be my absolute favorite week of the year, and saw someone (I believe it was Alton Brown) brine a turkey before they roasted it.

My life was changed forever. That is all I can say about it. Life changing.

This turkey was the juiciest turkey that I have ever eaten. It was so good that this year it was the star of my Thanksgiving table.

brined turkey breast for Thanksgiving on white platter with lemon wedges and fresh herbs

What is Brine?

A brine is a solution of salt and water that adds moisture and flavor to meats.

To brine or not to brine is a common question, especially when it comes to turkey day.

What is Brining?

Brining is an act of pickling or preserving food.

I like to use a combination of salt and sugar with fresh herbs and citrus but there are endless possibilities to flavor and tenderize whatever you are brining.

best brined turkey sliced on white platter with lemon wedges and fresh herbs

Why Should I Brine My Turkey?

Brining meat increases the amount of moisture in meat cells, producing juicy and tender pieces of meat every time.

Brining accomplishes two tasks – increases the juiciness of the turkey and imparts additional flavor within the turkey meat (rather than it just sitting on the surface).

How Long Do You Brine a Turkey?

So how much time are we talking about? The general rule is 1 hour per pound. But I like to brine overnight when I can.

Most of the time, I stick it in the brine first thing in the morning, then roast it off late in the afternoon.

Ingredients //

All it takes is a fresh turkey breast and a few additional ingredients including salt, brown sugar, orange, lemons, whole peppercorns, rosemary and water.

skin-on turkey breast, butter, salt, pepper, fresh herbs, peppercones, salt, sugar, oranges, lemon

Turkey. Look for bone-in turkey breasts with the skin-on. These are easy to find around the Thanksgiving holiday season. They will usually be placed next to the chicken in the grocery store.

Salt. Use kosher or coarse salt for best results (table salt’s granules are too small). I know it may sound like a lot of salt, but most of the salt will get poured down the drain with the rest of the brine.

Tip: The general rule is 1 cup of kosher/coarse salt per 1 gallon of water. You will know that you have enough salt if a raw egg floats in the water.

How to Make // The Steps

For the most part, I make a turkey breast at least once a week. I am not a fan of deli meats. I would much rather make a turkey myself and use the sliced turkey breast for sandwiches

Even though brining is an extra step in the process, I promise you that it is worth the time. Simply:

  • In a large pot or Ziploc bag, whisk the salt and sugar in a gallon of water until they have dissolved.
  • Add the fruits, herbs and peppercorns.
fresh lemon and orange slices in pot with brine solution and wooden spoon
  • Add the turkey to the brine. Cover the pot. If you use a Ziploc bag, put it in another bowl in case there is some leakage.
  • Put the pot in the fridge. Let the turkey sit in the brine for 4-24 hours.
  • Take the turkey out of the brine. Rinse the turkey off and pat dry.
  • Rub butter over the top.
  • Season well with salt and pepper and some fresh rosemary.
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 30-45 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer registers 165 degrees.
seasoned brined turkey breast in baking dish

What Makes This Brined Turkey Breast So Good?

I cannot tell you how happy I am that I started brining my turkey. I love this technique so much because:

  • Brined turkey means juicier, more tender meat.
  • It;s simple enough for weeknights, yet elegant enough for the holidays.
  • Leftovers keep for days and it’s great for meal prepped protein, too.
sliced turkey breast on white platter with lemon wedges, fresh herbs and fork

How to Store Leftovers

I love to have this turkey around to use in sandwiches, casseroles or whatever I feel like eating during the week.

Leftover turkey will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Rewarm in 30-second increments in the microwave or over medium heat on the stovetop.

To freeze, slice the turkey and freeze it for an hour on a parchment-lined baking sheet covered with plastic wrap. Transfer to a Ziplock bag, seal tight, label, date and freeze for up to 3 months.

Double or Triple for Thanksgiving

As mentioned, the brined turkey breast was a hit at our Thanksgiving table, too.

Four 1-pound turkey breasts will feed 4 people comfortably, while accounting for leftover Thanksgiving turkey sandwiches, too.

Simply double or triple the recipe based on how many guests you are feeding.

More Turkey Recipes //

Originally published in May 2010, updated October 2020 with updated images and updated recipe card.

If you make this recipe, I’d love to know how it goes! Be sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, too!

easy brined turkey breast sliced on white platter with lemon wedges and fresh herbs

Brined Turkey Breast

Yield: 8
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Additional Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 55 minutes

This Brined Turkey Breast makes the juiciest turkey meat you can imagine with hints of savory and citrus flavors for dinner or Thanksgiving.

Ingredients

Brine //

  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 2 lemons, sliced
  • a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 10-15 peppercorns
  • 4 (1-lb each) fresh, bone-in, skin-on turkey breasts

Roast Turkey Breast //

  • 1 stick butter
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh rosemary

Instructions

    In a large pot or Ziploc bag, whisk the salt and sugar in a gallon of water until they have dissolved.

    Add the fruits, herbs and peppercorns.

    Add the turkey to the brine. Cover the pot. If you use a Ziploc bag, put it in another bowl in case there is some leakage.

    Put the pot in the fridge. Let the turkey sit in the brine for 4-24 hours.

    Take the turkey out of the brine. Rinse the turkey off and pat dry.

    Rub butter over the top.

    Season well with salt and pepper and some fresh rosemary.

    Bake at 400 degrees for 30-45 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer registers 165 degrees.

Notes

Leftover turkey will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Rewarm in 30-second increments in the microwave or over medium heat on the stovetop.

To freeze, slice the turkey and freeze it for an hour on a parchment-lined baking sheet covered with plastic wrap. Transfer to a Ziplock bag, seal tight, label, date and freeze for up to 3 months.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 380Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 121mgSodium: 1500mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 2gSugar: 24gProtein: 35g

All information and tools presented and written within this site are intended for informational purposes only.

Oh hey there!

Well, hello there! I’m Bree Hester, the Boston-based blogger and food photographer here at Baked Bree. Here you can get lots of weeknight meal inspiration, eat more plant-based meals, and still indulge in a decadent sweet treat. Baked Bree is a place where you will find great recipes and inspiration for your next family adventure.

raspberry orange pistachio ricotta cake slices on a wire rack

Don’t Miss a Thing!

The newsletter you can’t wait to read. Best enjoyed with a beverage and a snack. 

Enter your email address below to join my list and receive my weekly Friday newsletter and new blog posts.

White Chocolate Banana Bread

This Post Has 40 Comments

  1. Lynn

    I’m convinced! Turkey breasts are less costly and easy to get (they are on sale at Whole Foods Market as we speak). I’ll take the extra step to brine and move turkey up on my list of items to make. Fessing up here, I usually find them a little boring so this will be great.

  2. Rosie

    I’m definitely not a fan of dried up white turkey meat! I always brine my turkey breasts. I just use Alton Brown’s brine recipe, which includes vegetable stock, brown sugar, salt, peppercorns, candied ginger, and other stuff which I can’t remember.

    1. bakedbree

      that sounds good… I love how easy it is to change the flavors in the brine and make something new every time.

  3. jessica g

    We started brining our turkey a few years ago, too. It makes all the difference in the world! I never thought about doing it with just the breasts. On my to-do for this week.

  4. Chloe B

    Hi Bree! I just came across your blog through a friend who “liked it” on Facebook. I’m really enjoying reading your recipes! Ironically, last night I made turkey legs for my fiance (with stuffing–we can’t wait for Thanksgiving!) and I brined the turkey for the first time. I used water, brown sugar, sea salt, celery seeds, thyme, sage, and peppercorns. I let the legs soak overnight and baked them at 325 for 1.5 hours. I have to say, those were the best turkey legs I’ve ever had! I’ll definitely have to try to make the brine with citrus juice like you did to try a new flavor.

    1. bakedbree

      Brining is the way to go. It makes such a huge difference. Glad that you like it!

  5. Tina

    I’ve been researching brines and which one I wanted to use…this one is it! Looks delicious!! I stalk you regularly and can’t wait to make your biscuits in the jars as well!! YUM!

    1. bakedbree

      Great! Don’t just stalk! Say hi.

  6. Amber

    Hi Bree! I am brining turkey for the first time and I’m excited to try your recipe! I have (2) 5-lb turkey breasts. Is the recipe above enough to brine both turkey breasts or should I double it? This is my first time hosting thanksgiving and I’m a little nervous about the turkey! Thanks for your help!

    1. bakedbree

      As long as there is enough liquid to cover, you should be fine.

  7. Coby

    One of the greatest brines I’ve done is with a mixture of water and beer. It’s best to use a lager, since they’re malty and add a touch of sweetness. Then add your usual spices to the liquid (salt, pepper, garlic, onion, poultry seasoning, whatever). Most amazing turkey ever!

    1. bakedbree

      that sounds delicious. I will have to try it.

  8. Lindsey

    Hi Bree-
    I really want to brine my turkey for thanksgiving this year–my first time making the turkey–and I really love the recipe you used on your turkey breast above. If I’m making say a 14 lb. bird how much of the brine solution + water do I need?

    1. bakedbree

      I would probably double it, you need enough to cover the turkey.

  9. ChristineBlaylock

    Ok mil does not like rosemary any other herbs I could try that would go well with the citrus? My father in law suggested I use a bag of some sort to cook the turkey in this year but I know brining is the way to go.

    1. bakedbree

      thyme and bay would be great.

  10. Becky

    WhEn baking do I need to slice the turkey breast in half or can I bake whole?

    1. bakedbree

      Bake whole.

  11. Mchayes

    Is it okay to brine the turkey breast if it has been frozen?

    1. bakedbree

      Yes, just make sure that it has been thawed.

  12. Melissa

    Gonna try it! I’m only using one half breast (2.25 lbs), can I use the same recipe and leave it overnight, or will it be too salty? I was wondering if I should half the recipe.

    1. bakedbree

      Yes, I would just make enough to cover it.

  13. Hannah Mayo

    Bree- it’s Thanksgiving night, and I still had this post up on my screen from referencing it while prepping my turkey earlier, so I had to leave a comment :). I put it the brining solution last night before bed (doubled the recipe here for a whole 18-pounder). This turkey was a huge hit with my family. Even my picky, almost vegetarian 3-year-old ate a serving! I’ll never make a turkey any other way from now on. Thank you! 😉

    1. bakedbree

      You are so welcome Hannah! It makes all the difference! happy Belated Thanksgiving!

  14. Beth

    Would you publish a print version of this? Pretty please? Thanks so much.

    1. bakedbree

      Yes! Thanks for catching that it was not on there.

  15. John

    I don’t know where I got the recipe for my brine, but the flavors are fantastic! I leave the turkey breast in the brine for about a full day, give or take depending on your schedule. I use a boneless turkey breast tied into a roast shape. Tying is more a preference thing, but I like it because everything cooks very evenly, just like a roast. Also, remember that resting the meat is important. I usually take the bird out when a thermometer inserted into the center of the meat reaches 161°. Rest for about 10 minutes before carving to allow carryover cooking to boost the temperature to a minimum of 165°. Do these took things & you’ll never go wrong!

    Brine:
    1gal Water
    1c Kosher Salt
    3/4c Brown Sugar (light or dark okay)
    2tbsp Whole Allspice, cracked
    1tbsp Peppercorns, cracked
    2-4 Bay Leaves, crumpled

    If you like citrus, by all means, add it. If you like ginger or cinnamon, add some. Don’t be afraid to try other flavors. I like to try variations based on experimenting with flavors that go well with allspice, the main flavor component in this brine (& one that really comes through in the meat after cooking). You can also try other ingredients. The really important thing is to have 1c salt per gallon of water. Anything else you add is up to you depending on what flavor your are looking for. I like allspice, nutmeg, & cinnamon as central flavor components because they are usually associated with fall. Beyond that, the brine is up to the chef. Happy brining!

  16. Brianna

    First time trying this… Looking forward to some awesome turkey breast tomorrow!

    1. bakedbree

      Now I want a club sandwich. 🙂

  17. Stubster

    2 tbsp kosher salt,1 tbsp celery salt,1 tbsp garlic powder,2 tbsp brown sugar,a pinch of thyme and a dash of ground cloves dissolved in 1 cp hot water. Add 6 cp ginger ale and 1 cp apple juice.

  18. Vicki Steele

    Brining for the 1st time. Can’t wait to try your recipe. It sounds wonderful! Thx!

    1. bakedbree

      It’s worth the extra step.

  19. Tracy

    I put my turkey in my brine water frozen over night take it out inject it with the brine put alight rub on it soak my meat sock in butter and liquid smoke put my turkey in hang it in my smoker turns out very tasty

    1. bakedbree

      Is that safe? I didn’t think that you could thaw a turkey in brine?

  20. Neyla Rodriguez

    Hi, I’m about to cook 3 turkey breast that were brined, total of pounds is 18.41 adding each turkey breast that’s total of pounds.
    How long do I cook them for??and is it OK to cover them with aluminum foil while in oven…?

    1. bakedbree

      I can’t really answer that without knowing more. And I only cover with foil if the skin starts to get too brown.

  21. Andrina Mathew

    Waoo, very nice and good. so yummy recipe

    1. bakedbree

      I’m so glad that you liked it!

  22. Gina

    Hello
    Cooking it at 400, does it dry the turkey too much?
    Other receipes say a lower temp.
    My whole turkey breast is boneless and I’m brining it right now.
    Can I just cut it in half and cook it?
    Thanks
    GG

    1. bakedbree

      It isn’t a long roast, so no.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.