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Brine turkey: The scoop on brining your Thanksgiving bird

Laura Willard is a law school grad who has successfully avoided using her education for eight years and counting. She's a wife and an adoptive mom to two kids. Motherhood is the best job she never knew she wanted so much until she had it...

Is brining turkey a good idea?

If you're trying to decide whether you should brine your turkey -- or wondering what it even means to brine a turkey -- keep reading! We're breaking down the ins and outs of brining your Thanksgiving bird.

Brined turkey

One way to prepare the center of your Thanksgiving meal is to brine the turkey. Seasoned kitchen masters know all about the brining process, but for those of us who aren't so knowledgeable, we've gathered up some info to help you decide whether a brined turkey is the way to go on Thanksgiving.

What is brine turkey?

Brining is one way to prepare meat for cooking. The brining process involves marinating meat for several hours in a solution that contains a rather large amount of salt. Brine turkey is simply a turkey prepared in this manner.

Turkey brine mix

Brine can be prepared in many ways. A simple way to make turkey brine is to use one cup each of salt and brown sugar for each gallon of water. However, if you want to get a little fancier, Fabulous Foods has three great turkey brine recipes, including the following American brine mix recipe:

  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 3 tablespoons powdered thyme
  • 3 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons sage
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons paprika

Traditional vs. Modern Thanksgiving

Pros and cons of making brine turkey

Everyone has their own preferences. While some swear by brining turkey, others prefer not to do it. The New York Times ran an opinion piece, offering both sides of the turkey, er, coin.

Pros of brining a turkey

  • You'll avoid overcooking your turkey if you brine it
  • Brining prevents dry meat
  • A good brine mix adds great flavor to the turkey

Cons of brining a turkey

  • Brining makes it more difficult to get a crisp skin because the skin also holds moisture
  • The juice is often too salty to use in gravy
  • The texture of the turkey breast meat is more similar to that of deli meat than a real Thanksgiving bird

Learn how to brine turkey from start to finish >>

So, there you have it! If you have any good tips for brine turkey, share them in the comments section below.

Helpful info on brine turkey

Fabulous Foods: How to brine a turkey
Chef Mom: How to brine a turkey
3 Killer turkey brines

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