The Unglamorous but Highly Rewarding Task of Brining a Turkey

The Unglamorous but Highly Rewarding Task of Brining a Turkey

Knock knock knock. Gentleman Caller here.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year. In Manhattan I had a Thanksgiving “family” – a wonderful group of close friends with whom I always celebrated that holiday. There was always too much food. Too much champagne. And a New York City public park swing set.

There are schools of thought about turkeys and the methods a cook should should use to achieve a perfect bird. I am of the school of BRINING. I have done it so many times and the results are always raved about. Mostly because the white meat is always incredibly succulent.

Also brining is sort of gross, but dealing with poultry is always sort of gross. Also, I always use a sanitized plastic bucket from a home improvement store. These are usually food grade buckets and you shouldn’t be afraid. They work perfectly.


An assembly of the necessary ingredients.
A clean bucket is the way to go!

The Gentleman Caller’s Turkey Brine

Prep Time 1 d
Course Main Course
Cuisine American


  • bucket
  • lid


  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 cup Kosher salt
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • ¼ cup pickling spice mix
  • 2 tbsp allspice berries
  • 2 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 1 apple cut into eighths
  • 1 orange cut into eighths
  • 1 lemon cut into eighths
  • ½ cup molasses
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 12 cloves garlic smashed
  • thyme stems
  • sprigs of rosemary
  • ends of onions
  • ends of celery stalks
  • sage stems
  • parsley stems


  • This is very easy to assemble. First of all, then I say "ends and stems" I mean the stuff you would typically throw away. You can throw all the stems, butts, and pieces of vegetables into this to impart flavor. It saves money and the result is exactly the same.
  • Wash and disinfect your clean home improvement bucket. Put your turkey in the bucket. You can use this time as part of your defrosting time.
  • Assemble all of the ingredients in a pot with the exception of the vegetables and fruits. Heat to dissolve the salt and sugar. There is not need to boil it. Just dissolve the salt and sugar.
  • Add the fruits and vegetables and pour the entire contents over the bird.
  • Add ice to maintain a temperature of about 34 degrees for 24 hours. This temperature will allow your bird to continue to thaw while permeating the meat. Cover with the lid.
  • If you live in a cold climate you may just put the covered bucket outdoors on a patio or somewhere where it will remain cool. Monitor the temperature and ice to make sure it doesn't get unsafely warm.
  • When it's time to cook the bird, remove from the brine and rinse. Throw the brine away and thoroughly clean the bucket before using again.
Keyword brine, christmas, holiday, thanksgiving, turkey

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