Turkey Brine

The inaugural Grandma’s Kitchen recipe has to be the secret to a perfectly moist and beyond flavorful Thanksgiving turkey. I’ve included the recipe and all of the tips and tricks that you can only get from Grandma’s Kitchen. Plan ahead to allow for a good 24-hour soak to infuse all of this goodness into the bird and make the centerpiece of the traditional dinner a snap.

Why brine?

Brining is a preservation method that involves soaking meat in a solution of salt and seasonings that tenderizes the meat and infuses the flavors and moisture into the tissues. It is an age-old method of preservation that was used before refrigeration but has largely been replaced by refrigeration. Thanksgiving is the perfect time to give this method a go because a large turkey can be overwhelming to prepare and is notorious for being DRY requiring lots of mashed potatoes and gravy to choke the bird down.

Not so with this recipe! Even when I overcooked the bird (yes, it happens) the white meat was still delicious and moist. Oh yes, and there is the added benefit of the gravy. The drippings from this bird will make the most delicious gravy you have ever eaten with nothing added but the thickener (I’ll throw that recipe in too!)

Once you’ve tried brining you will realize how easy (and forgiving) it is and you may find yourself tweaking it a bit for smaller birds or less extensive meals like a regular roasted chicken or Sunday dinner.

How to brine?

You will need a large stockpot to prepare the brine and a large container to soak the bird in the brine. I accidentally discovered using a cooler to soak the turkey when we were traveling across the state for Thanksgiving and I was bringing the turkey. It worked perfectly and I’ve been brining the Thanksgiving turkey in the cooler for many years now.

You will also need to plan ahead. If you are new to preparing whole turkeys you need to plan ahead (the reason I’m not posting this blog the week of Thanksgiving). Frozen turkeys you buy at the store need to thaw before you cook them. The bigger they are the longer they take to thaw. Clear out a shelf in the refrigerator and leave that frozen bird in there all week to thaw. Make sure you have it on a cookie sheet or something large with some depth so you don’t have turkey juice running in your fridge, ewwww!

Really that’s all I can think of that is unique to brining turkey specifically because of their size but you probably already know that Thanksgiving dinner isn’t a throw-it-together last-minute meal. That’s another reason that this is the perfect time to set it and forget it.

Make it!


Don’t waste the delicious drippings from that juicy turkey! Don’t even think about using jarred gravy for your amazing meal. Carefully remove the turkey from the roasting pan and pour the drippings into a saucepan to make the best gravy ever. It is possible to make the gravy in the roaster but I find it easier to get even heat and smoother gravy by transferring it into a saucepan and whisking in the cornstarch slurry. There is so much flavor from the drippings of this brined turkey that you do not need to add any additional seasonings to get a delicious gravy every single time.

Now, remember to take pictures of your beautiful meal and the people you are sharing this meal and blessings with. Share the recipes and techniques with those you love so that they can continue the traditions and not have holiday meals reduced to boxes and cans.

Remember to breathe, relax and enjoy the process to fill your heart and soul as well as your belly. Grandma would be proud!