HOW TO Brine a Bird

a MUST DO this holiday season

When it comes to cooking a juicy, tender and succulent Thanksgiving turkey there’s only one way to do it.  Michael Symon and I have been having fun battling it out for years and I have to say that i’m still not convinced there’s any other way to achieve a juicy bird without brining. The reason we brine is because the salt seasons the meat up on the inside and also makes it more  succulent. Enough said.  But hey – I’m willing to let you do the test this holiday season. Let me know how it turns out, but first watch this video!



4 cups water

1 cup kosher salt

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns

1 teaspoon juniper berries

4 cloves crushed garlic

1 hefty bunch fresh thyme

6 to 8 springs of fresh rosemary

1 gallon water, plus more as needed

2 pounds ice

1 12-15lb turkey (heritage breed, if possible)


Combine the water, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns and juniper berries in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. While making the brine, place the ice in a 5-gallon bucket.  Remove the brine from the heat and pour over ice to cool.  Add garlic, thyme and rosemary and stir to incorporate.


Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. Top off with water and, if necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed.  Cover and refrigerate.  After at about 12 hours, remove the bird from brine and pour remaining liquid out of cavity.  Now your turkey is all ready for the oven!


tip! This recipe can be used for any poultry, not just Turkey.  Reduce the ingredients accordingly, based on the weight of your bird.


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