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Brined Turkey Breast

brined turkey recipeA 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 cannot remember who for the life of me) brine a turkey before they roasted it.  My life was changed forever. That is all I can say about it.  Life changing.  I don’t know about how things are at your house, but at mine, turkey usually is on the back burner.  The sides are what people ooh and ahh over.  On this particular year, I was carving the turkey in the kitchen and getting everything ready and everyone was standing at the island picking at the turkey.  Before I knew it, most of the turkey was gone before I even got it on the table.  This turkey was the moistest, juiciest turkey that I have ever eaten.  It was so good that this year the star of my Thanksgiving table was the turkey.

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.  A brine is a solution of salt and water that adds moisture and flavor to meats.  I like to use a salt and sugar combination with fresh herbs and citrus but there are endless possibilities to flavor and tenderize whatever you are brining.  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.  But a lot of the time I stick it in the brine first thing in the morning then roast it off late in the afternoon.   The other rule is 1 cup of salt per 1 gallon of water.  You will know that you have enough salt if a raw egg floats in the water.

brined turkey recipe1 cup salt
1 cup brown sugar
1 orange, sliced
2 lemons, sliced
10-15 peppercorns
a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 gallon water

how to bring a turkeyIn a large pot or Ziploc bag, dissolve the salt and sugar in a gallon of water.  Add the fruits, herbs, and peppercorns.

how to brine a turkeyWhisk the salt and sugar until it is dissolved.

how to brine a turkeyAdd 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.

how to brine a turkeyPut the pot in the fridge.  Let the turkey sit in the brine for 4-24 hours.

how to brine a turkeyTake the turkey out of the brine.  Rinse the turkey off and pat dry.

how to brine a turkeyPour some olive oil over the top.  Rub it in.

how to brine a turkeySeason well with salt and pepper and some fresh rosemary.

how to brine a turkeyBake at 400 degrees for 30-45 minutes.  Or until a thermometer reads 165 degrees.  I love to have this turkey or chicken around to use in sandwiches, casseroles, or whatever I feel like eating during the week.

Do you brine?  I would love to hear what you use to make your brine solution.  Share with the class in the comments sections.

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 2 lemons, sliced
  • 10-15 peppercorns
  • a few sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 1 gallon water

Instructions

  1. In a large pot or Ziploc bag, dissolve the salt and sugar in a gallon of water. Add the fruits, herbs, and peppercorns. Whisk the salt and sugar until it is dissolved. 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.
  2. Take the turkey out of the brine. Rinse the turkey off and pat dry. Pour some olive oil over the top. Rub it in. Season well with salt and pepper and some fresh rosemary.
  3. Bake at 400 degrees for 30-45 minutes. Or until a thermometer reads 165 degrees. I love to have this turkey or chicken around to use in sandwiches, casseroles, or whatever I feel like eating during the week.

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  1. Lynn

    May 31st, 2010 at 11:26 am

    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

    May 31st, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    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.

  3. bakedbree

    June 3rd, 2010 at 10:00 pm

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

  4. jessica g

    June 1st, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    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.

  5. Chloe B

    October 25th, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    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.

  6. bakedbree

    October 27th, 2010 at 8:10 pm

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

  7. Tina

    November 18th, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    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!

  8. bakedbree

    November 18th, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    Great! Don’t just stalk! Say hi.

  9. Amber

    November 20th, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    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!

  10. bakedbree

    November 21st, 2010 at 9:21 am

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

  11. Coby

    November 25th, 2010 at 12:20 am

    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!

  12. bakedbree

    November 25th, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    that sounds delicious. I will have to try it.

  13. Lindsey

    October 25th, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    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?

  14. bakedbree

    October 29th, 2011 at 10:24 pm

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

  15. ChristineBlaylock

    November 7th, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    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.

  16. bakedbree

    November 8th, 2011 at 9:57 am

    thyme and bay would be great.

  17. Becky

    November 23rd, 2011 at 4:52 pm

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

  18. bakedbree

    November 24th, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    Bake whole.

  19. Mchayes

    November 17th, 2012 at 8:33 pm

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

  20. bakedbree

    November 18th, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    Yes, just make sure that it has been thawed.

  21. Melissa

    November 21st, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    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.

  22. bakedbree

    November 28th, 2012 at 12:12 am

    Yes, I would just make enough to cover it.

  23. Hannah Mayo

    November 22nd, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    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! 😉

  24. bakedbree

    November 28th, 2012 at 12:07 am

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

  25. Beth

    June 3rd, 2013 at 8:08 pm

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

  26. bakedbree

    June 4th, 2013 at 9:47 pm

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

  27. John

    December 24th, 2015 at 3:11 am

    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!

  28. Brianna

    January 7th, 2016 at 10:54 pm

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

  29. bakedbree

    January 10th, 2016 at 2:36 pm

    Now I want a club sandwich. 🙂

  30. Stubster

    April 24th, 2016 at 5:26 pm

    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.

  31. Vicki Steele

    November 22nd, 2016 at 8:33 am

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

  32. bakedbree

    November 27th, 2016 at 10:24 am

    It’s worth the extra step.

  33. Tracy

    November 23rd, 2016 at 3:03 pm

    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

  34. bakedbree

    November 27th, 2016 at 10:23 am

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

  35. Neyla Rodriguez

    November 24th, 2016 at 10:07 am

    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…?

  36. bakedbree

    November 27th, 2016 at 10:21 am

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

  37. Andrina Mathew

    September 10th, 2018 at 10:58 pm

    Waoo, very nice and good. so yummy recipe

  38. bakedbree

    September 19th, 2018 at 11:37 am

    I’m so glad that you liked it!

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