How To: Brine a Turkey

Happy Thanksgiving week Little Red Farm Friends! It is always so fun to see you at our annual Chicken & Turkey pick up during Friends & Family Night!  We started the weekend out with 90 chickens and 34 Turkeys and ended it with our 2 turkeys and 12 chickens for our family.

Fresh, just processed poultry needs to rest for a minimum amount of time due to the natural changes that take place after death. Immediately after butchering rigor mortis sets in and as the meat chills it will stiffen. If you freeze or cook the bird then, it will be tough, because the muscle tissue is still stiff. After 24 hours enzymes begin to break down the meat causing a wonderful tenderness. We recommend these chill times before freezing:

Chickens 24-72 Hours
Turkeys 3-5 Days

After a few days of chilling we transfer our turkey to a brine bath. A brine is a salt, sugar and water based seasoning that you soak poultry in to amp up the moisture and flavor. Choose the one that sounds best, with flavors you like in your cooking. A lot of them include citrus, but I don’t like citrus with poultry so I typically choose others. Here is one with citrus (just for you!) and two without, (for me and the other crazy non-citrus peeps).

You can never go wrong with a recipe from Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman. This Best Turkey Brine recipe does have citrus, but I have made it (just skipped the orange peels) and it is a nice traditional turkey flavor.

Kyle does a great job with smoker, so he usually smokes one of our turkeys and this Out of This World Turkey Brine works wonderfully for that.

Here’s a great post sharing about dry brines (makes your turkey have nice crispy golden skin on the out side) and what looks like a great recipe for a wet brine. I’m a huge sucker for garlic and am going to try this Easy Turkey Brine recipe this year.

Once you’ve picked your brine recipe here's a few other tips and tricks:

  1. Unbag your turkey and make sure to remove the bag with the giblets out of the inner cavity (those don’t need to brine), save for gravy or dressing later.
  2. Make sure you cool your brine a bit so you don’t accidentally pre cook spots on  your turkey, that will make you sad.
  3. Use a cooler: add your turkey, brine and add ice to finish filling the cooler.
  4. Put the cooler in the garage and flip the turkey once per day make sure it soaks evenly, is cool enough, and add more ice as needed.
  5. I know most brines say about a day, but we like to do this the Monday or Tuesday before Thanksgiving. The ice will melt weakening the brine a bit and the longer soak time will just make it that much more delicious!


Once Thanksgiving day arrives, cook your turkey as desired: roast, smoke, or deep fry! (Just don’t burn down the house. There may have been room for Jesus in the barn, but the chickens and pigs aren’t good at sharing ours!) Hoping you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with those you love most. We are so thankful for this Little Red Farm community and look forward to seeing the people and adventures God has waiting for us in the future!

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