One of the best ways to make a better turkey is with a good brine. Brining a turkey is a process of adding moisture and flavor to the meat by soaking the bird in a salt-water mixture before cooking. But the brine doesn’t have to be just salt and water—there are many ways to make a great brine and these recipes are among the best. Whether you’re roasting, grilling, smoking, cooking rotisserie-style, or frying your next turkey, start out with a good brine.
Basic Turkey Brine: This is a good recipe if this is your first time using a brine and want to start simple. Water and kosher salt are combined with garlic, herbs, and allspice berries to make a juicier turkey with the familiar tastes of the holiday bird.
Savory Turkey Brine: This turkey brine combines the vegetable stock with kosher salt, sugar, and herbs to create a rich flavor. The mixture is simmered on the stove until the salt is dissolved and then plenty of cold water is added.
Apple Spice Brine: Since a brine is typically water and salt with a little sweet to give it flavor, using fruit juices in place of the water is a great idea. Plus, the acidity in the juices helps tenderize the meat. Your kitchen will smell like the holidays as you simmer the apple and orange juices with cloves, brown sugar, and nutmeg from this recipe.
Smoked Turkey: This simple brine adds a nice herb flavor to the bird as it includes fresh tarragon and whole bay leaves. The recipe couldn’t be easier, as the ingredients are just mixed together—no cooking on the stove required.
Cranberry Turkey Brine: It only seems right to brine a turkey with seasonal cranberry! The combination of cranberry juice along with apple and orange juices, plus salt, garlic, and fresh herbs will have your kitchen smelling like Thanksgiving in no time.
Holiday Poultry Brine: The candied ginger and allspice give this brine a unique flavor that is perfect for your holiday turkey. By cooking the salt, sugar, and spices in vegetable stock you get extra flavor with a mild saltiness that makes for a perfect brine.
Poultry Brine: This brine works with the added power of pickling spices, which increases the moisture in poultry. Combined with vinegar and brown sugar, and some great seasonings such as tarragon, allspice, and garlic powder, this brine brings a lot of flavor to your turkey.
Maple and Brown Sugar Brine: This brine with its sweet maple flavor can be used on any kind of poultry but works especially nicely on turkey. All of the ingredients, which include soy sauce, maple syrup, and brown sugar, are boiled together making for a quick and easy brine recipe.
Apple Turkey Brine: The apple juice in this turkey brine gives the slightest hint of tartness that fills out the flavors of this recipe. Add to this the brown sugar, cloves, cinnamon, and orange zest and you have a brine that just screams “the holidays!”
Citrus Turkey Brine: The citrus fruit in this brine not only add a great tangy flavor but also act to tenderize the meat of the poultry. The mild acid of the lemon will help to carry flavors deep into the meat, and the onion and garlic add a nice savory touch. Don’t worry that you will be stuck squeezing juice from fruit—the whole fruits are cut up and simply added to the brine.
Hawaiian-Style Turkey Brine: This brine is a bit different since it uses a few sweet ingredients (pineapple juice, sugar, and maple syrup). The pineapple juice works well to tenderize the turkey meat, and the soy sauce adds an additional layer of salt.