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Brine for Turkey.jpg

Brine for Turkey

This brine combines white wine with herbs and spices to add delicious flavor to your Thanksgiving turkey. Plan to brine your turkey overnight, for about 12-18 hours total.

Updated November 2016: Adjusted brining time, added clarification re: table salt vs. coarse salt.


Turkey in brine in the Adventure Kitchen.

7 quarts water

1 1/4 cups coarse salt (if you are using table salt, you will need much less - about 3/4 cup)

6 bay leaves

2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds

1 tablespoon dried juniper berries

2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns

1 tablespoon fennel seeds

1 teaspoon black or brown mustard seeds

2 medium onions

6 garlic cloves, crushed with skins removed

1 bunch fresh thyme

1 bottle dry Reisling or 1 quart dry French vermouth

1 turkey (any size up to about 20 pounds), giblets removed, rinsed



1. Combine 2 quarts of water with the salt in a large pot, and set on the stove over medium-high heat with the lid askew. Stir occasionally while it comes to a boil, but do not allow it to boil over! When hot, turn the heat to medium and stir as the salt dissolves. 

2. Add the bay leaves, coriander seeds, juniper berries, peppercorns, fennel seeds and mustard seeds to the pot and stir to combine.  Check carefully to ensure all the salt has completely dissolved.

3. When you are sure the salt has dissolved completely, turn off the heat and add the onions, garlic and thyme.  Pour the wine and one more quart of water into the brining mixture and stir to combine. Allow to cool to room temperature.

4. Use 2 brining bags, one inside the other, for double-thickness (in case of leaks). Line a large kettle or pot, or food-safe plastic container, with the bags, and put the turkey in the bags. 

5. Carefully pour the brining mixture over the turkey, along with the remaining 4 quarts of water, cold.  Carefully close the bag, pressing to eliminate as much air as possible so that the turkey is completely surrounded by liquid.

6. Put the turkey in the kettle in your refrigerator, or in a large cooler.  If using a cooler, put bags of ice over the turkey to keep it cold.

7. Brine the turkey for about 12-18 hours, being careful to keep it cold (33-39 degrees Farenheit) throughout the duration. If parts of the turkey are elevated above the surface of the liquid, turn it occasionally so that all portions are evenly exposed to the liquid.

8. When finished brining, discard the liquid and rinse and pat the turkey dry. Your turkey is now ready for roasting!