Brining Chicken Turkey And Other Poultry

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This brine recipe works great for brining chicken and brining turkey as well as any other poultry like game hens. The quantities in the recipe below are scaled to brine a 3 to 4 pound chicken. If you want to use it for a turkey just double or triple it. The great thing about brines is that there are no scaling nightmares to contend with. If you have a 12,500 gallon pool you could literally multiply the recipe by 10,000. You could brine an elephant.

When I brine proteins I usually brine them for 24 hours. After brining I rinse the protein under fresh running water, blot it dry with paper towels, and allow it to completely air dry in the refrigerator, usually overnight.

This does a couple of things. First, it allows the salt in the protein to reach a point of equilibrium within the protein. Second, by thoroughly air drying, the skin or outside of the meat, will develop a better maillard reaction, it caramelizes better.

This is why brining takes planning, I can't just decide at 3:30 in the afternoon that I am going to make brined roasted game hens, for dinner that same night.

However, the benefits more than outweigh the inconvenience because the meat always comes out moist, tender and juicy which is the whole point of brining in the first place.

Whole chicken in brine.

Brining poultry in a saltwater mixture before you cook adds moisture and flavor to the meat while tenderizing it.

When you add your poultry to the brine solution, the brine should be below 40° F / 4° C. In other words, below the minimum temperature for the danger zone, 40° - 140° F / 4° - 60° C.

An Easy Recipe For Brining Chicken Or Any Poultry

  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Brining time: up to 24 hours


  • 20 cups / 4.5 liters water, divided
  • 8 ounces / 227 grams / 1-1/4 cups Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons / 1 ounces / 28 grams brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons / 1 ounce / 28 grams sugar
  • 1 tablespoon /.25 ounces / 7 grams whole black peppercorns
  • 1 lemon, washed and halved
  • 1 teaspoon / 2 grams dried ground sage
  • 1 tablespoon / 2grams dried thyme


  1. Prepare an ice bath in your sink, see notes.
  2. Add half of the water to a 12 quart stock pot. Bring to a full boil and add the salt and sugar, stir to dissolve, and return to a boil.
  3. Remove from heat and place in the ice bath. Add the rest of the water with the remaining ingredients. Stir occasionally to dissipate the heat. Add more ice to the bath as needed to bring the temperature to 40° F / 4° C.
  4. Immerse the bird in the brine. Weight it down with a plate if necessary.
  5. Transfer to your refrigerator for, at least, eight hours if you're brining a whole chicken and up to 24 hours. If you're brining a whole turkey it can brine for 48 hours.
  6. When you're ready to roast the bird, remove it from the brine and rinse it thoroughly under cold running water.
  7. Blot the bird thoroughly with paper towels until dry. Place it on a cooling rack and allow to air dry on the counter for 45 minutes to an hour, for a chicken, and up to 2-hours, for a turkey.


  • Fill your sink about a quarter of the way with cold tap water. Place your pot in the water and add ice around the pot, to the level of the brine inside the pot.

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