The Best Turkey Brine

5 from 2 reviews

This is the best turkey brine recipe that will give you the juiciest and most flavorful turkey that will wow all your guests. Not only is the turkey golden and crisp on the outside, it’s moist and tender on the inside too.


  • 1 (12-20) lbs turkey


  • 1 gallon vegetable broth
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 3 dry bay leaves
  • 1 gallon heavily iced water
  • 1 head garlic, cloves slightly smashed

Aromatic Stuffing:

  • 1 onion, cut in half or quarters
  • 1/2 head garlic
  • 1/21  orange, cut in half or quarters
  • 1 lemon, cut in half or quarters
  • thyme, parsley (small handful)

For the roasting pan: 

  • 3 onions, coarsely chopped
  • 3 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 1 garlic head, cloves separated but not peeled
  • a handful of fresh herbs (parsley, thyme, rosemary, etc.)
  • 1 1/22 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 1 lemon, cut in quarters, optional


Prepare the Turkey Brine: 

  1. Combine 4 cups of the vegetable broth, salt, sugar, bay leaves and peppercorns in a large pot. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring until the salt and sugar dissolves. 
  2. Pour the hot brine mixture into a large container that you will use to brine the turkey. Add the rest of the cold vegetable broth, the garlic cloves and the iced water. (Heating up only part of the broth, then adding cold vegetable broth and ice water will cool it off really quickly so you can brine the turkey right away.)
  3. Submerge the turkey in the brine. Fill a gallon ziplock bag with ice, close and place on top of the turkey. I put my container inside a large cooler and place all around it and brine it overnight. You want the turkey to brine for at least 8 hours, and up to 16 hours. When the ice in the ziplock bag melts, discard and add more ice in the ziplock bag. 

Roast the Brined Turkey:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350-400 degrees. (See note about the oven temperature.)
  2. Prep the turkey. Remove the turkey from the brine. (Discard the brine.) Pat it dry on all sides with a paper towel. Tuck the wings behind the back of the turkey. Tie the drumsticks together with kitchen twine. 
  3. Fill a large roasting pan with the vegetables and herbs, then pour in the broth. Place a v-rack inside the roasting pan. Place the turkey on the rack, breast side up. Fill up the cavity of the turkey with the Aromatic Stuffing (onion, garlic, lemon, orange, herbs). 
  4. Roast the turkey in the preheated oven until the turkey reaches 160-165 degrees Fahrenheit in the breast meat and 170-175 degrees Fahrenheit in the thigh meat. The time will vary significantly based on the oven temperature and the size of the turkey. A small turkey (12 lbs or so), can take as little as 1 1/2 hours to cook through, while a larger turkey (20 + pounds), roasting at 350 degrees can take 3 – 3 1/2 hours to roast. 
  5. Remove the turkey from the oven and let it rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before carving it. It will still be hot up to an hour after you take it out of the oven. (Save the drippings and broth to make turkey gravy.)


Oven Temperature

  • If you roast the turkey at 400-450 degrees, the turkey will roast quicker and will give you a crisp golden color faster. However, you have to be more vigilant about watching the turkey. You will most likely need to cover the breast meat up sooner with foil to protect it from burning.
  • Roasting the turkey at 350 degrees Fahrenheit will cook it more consistently and more slowly. Since it’s such a big bird, it will still get a lovely color, it will just take a little bit longer, but you don’t have to watch it as closely.

More Tips

  • Let the turkey come to room temperature before putting it into the oven. Since it is submerged in really cold brine, it needs about 20-30 minutes to warm up a bit. Preheating the oven, then prepping the turkey and all the vegetables should give you some time to warm it through. 
  • If the turkey starts to get too brown on the outside but isn’t cooked through on the inside, cover the breast with aluminum foil to prevent the turkey from browning too much. (This can sometimes happen because turkey is so big and needs a long time to cook through.) Spray the foil that’s going to be touching the turkey skin with oil spray or use a pastry brush to spread the oil on the foil.

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