Brined Turkey

I am so excited to share my turkey recipe with y’all this year. I’m a big fan of brining a turkey because it locks in the moisture of the bird, prevents it from drying out and enhances the flavor. My little twist that I’m going to add to the turkey, is adding cheesecloth on top that is dipped in white wine. Trust me, it will make your turkey much more moister, even after brining it.

First of all, a brined turkey is extremely versatile and can be  grilled, smoked, fried, or roasted. To brine the bird, you need to have the turkey submerged in the brine for 10-12 hours (or an hour per pound). I like to do my brining the afternoon before it’s cooked to allow it plenty of time to lock in its juices.

Need help figuring out how big a turkey to get? In general, plan for:

12-15 lb turkey for 10-12 people
15-18 lb turkey for 14-16 people
18-22 lb turkey for 20-22 people

What You Need:

  • Turkey 10-12 lbs. (the turkey should not be a self-basting or Kosher turkey – if brined, it will make your turkey too salty.)
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Seasonings
  • 1 gallon water
  • Large container (stock pot, 5-gallon bucket, cooler
  • Cheese cloth
  • 1 bottle of dry white wine
  • Chicken stock

Preparing the Turkey for Brining:

First things first, ensure that your turkey has had time to defrost ( a mistake I have made in the past) and that the cavity is completely cleaned out (a mistake my husband had made in the past). In the large container that the turkey will be brining in, mix 1 gallon of water with the following spices:

  • 1 c. kosher salt
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 2 tbls. onion powder
  • 1 tbls. garlic powder
  • 1 tbls. paprika
  • 1 tbls. ground pepper
  • 1 tsp. rubbed sage
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • Rinds from one orange
  • Meat thermometer

Trick: One way of telling if you have enough salt in your brine is that a raw egg will float in it. Make sure that the salt is completely dissolved before adding the seasonings.

Depending on the size of the turkey, you may need more water will need more than 1 gallon of water. You will want 1-2 inches of water to cover the submerged turkey.

Set Up:

Place the turkey in the container with the brine and completely cover the turkey with an inch or two to spare. If possible, place the whole thing in the refrigerator. If it doesn’t fit in the refrigerator, add the brine solution to a cooler full of ice and allow it to sit for up to 12 hours.


When you are ready to begin cooking the turkey, remove it from the brine and rinse it off thoroughly in the sink with cold water until all traces of salt are off the surface inside and out. This is the single, most important step. If you don’t get the brine rinsed of thoroughly, you will get a very salty bird. Safely discard the brine and cook the turkey as normal.

Cooking the Turkey:

Although I prefer a smoked turkey, this year we are baking it, so here’s the instructions for that cooking method:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. For a 15 lb. turkey, start the cooking at 400 F for the first 1/2 hour. Then reduce the heat to 350 F for the next 2 hours. Then reduce the heat further to 225 F for the next hour to hour and a half.

2. Make a rub for the turkey and spread it over the turkey using with the following ingredients:

  • 3 tbls. onion powder
  • 2 tbls. paprika
  • 1 tbls. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. sage
  • 3 tbls. vegetable oil or light olive oil

3. Place turkey breast-side up on a flat wire rack in a shallow roasting pan 2 to 2 1/2 inches deep. Note: If your going to stuff your turkey with dressing, fruit, herbs, etc., now is the time to do so.

4. Soak cheesecloth in white wine  and place over cavity of the turkey.

5.Add 2 cups chicken broth and 2 cups white wine to the bottom of roasting pan along with any garlic or vegetables you want to add.

6. Baste the wine/stock mixture in the bottom of the pan every 30 minutes or so to keep cheesecloth moist. Keep the cheese cloth on top of the turkey until the last 30 minutes the turkey is cooking. Then remove from turkey, baste once and allow the turkey skin to crisp.

7. Remove from oven and allow meat to cool for 20 minutes before carving.

The Prepper's Blueprint

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published November 20th, 2012
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  • Danny Watkins

    Did the turkey for Christmas dinner.  I roasted it instead of smoking it.  Came out EXCELLENT. Can’t wait to smoke one.  Going to try the brine on chicken also. 

  • Danny Watkins

    It works well with chicken also, but cut the brine time down to 30 minutes per pound.

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