How to Brine a Turkey, Two Ways
To dry brine or to wet brine? Master both techniques just in time for Thanksgiving with this easy step-by-step guide.
To Brine or Not to Brine?
That was once the question, but now it’s time to take it to the next level: to dry or wet brine? Both methods will result in moist, tender meat. A dry brine, which is rubbed on the surface of the bird, is left on longer. It penetrates the meat more slowly—which means you have less risk of it becoming mealy—and results in a very crisp skin and moist meat. A wet brine, in which the bird is submerged, also delivers moist, succulent meat, but the skin tends to be less crisp. It does its magic more quickly than a dry brine—in just 12 – 24 hours—but requires a lot of dedicated refrigerator space. Whichever method you choose, the extra step will surely result in a more delicious bird at Thanksgiving and beyond.
Photography by Vittles & Verbs
Dry Brining: Step 1
Dry Brining: Step 2
Make your seasoning blend, which should include 1/2 – 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon baking powder per pound of turkey (the baking powder helps crisp the skin).
Dry Brining: Step 3
Season the entire bird, including the cavity. Be sure to pat seasoning on the bottom, underneath the wings and under the drumsticks. Tuck in the wings and truss the bird, if desired.
Dry Brining: Step 4
Dry Brining: Step 5
Dry Brining: Step 6
Wet Brining: Step 1
Combine the brining mixture, which should include 1 tablespoon of kosher salt per quart of liquid, in a pot or container large enough to hold the liquid and the turkey. Make sure the salt (and sugar, if using) are fully dissolved.