The Best Turkey Brine

This is our go-to brine for turkey. It's simple, flavorful and most importantly leaves you with a succulent, juicy, perfectly-seasoned bird. It's also perfect for chicken, pork chops, Cornish game hens – you name it. While we like the combination of thyme and sage, you can also use other hearty herbs such as rosemary, oregano or marjoram.
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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 10 min (plus cooling and brining time)
  • Active: 10 min
  • Yield: 12 to 14 servings
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Kosher salt

1/4 cup sugar 

One 12- to 14-pound turkey 

3 tablespoons whole black peppercorns 

5 thyme branches 

3 sage sprigs 

1 lemon, zest peeled into strips with a vegetable peeler 


  1. Combine 1/2 cup salt, the sugar and 1 quart water in a medium pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir until the salt and sugar are fully dissolved, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and add the peppercorns, thyme, sage and lemon strips. Let steep and cool to room temperature.
  2. Pour the brine into a large stockpot or bucket and add 3 quarts cold water. Remove the neck and giblets (reserve for gravy) from the turkey and put it into the brine, pushing it down to cover. Refrigerate for 24 hours.  
  3. Remove the turkey from the brine; rinse and pat dry. Cook according to your favorite method.