This Simple Turkey and Chicken Brine is so easy and will make your bird ridiculously moist and flavorful.
Why brine you might ask?
The process of soaking a turkey or chicken, or many other kinds of meat, in a salt water and herb solution causes the meat to become infused with seasoned, flavorful moisture that will be retained along with it’s own natural juices through-out the cooking process. The leaner cuts, like the breast will always be more moist and juicy and have more flavor then if they were not brined.
And leftovers? If everyone hasn’t fought for the last juicy morsel, think thick-cut chicken club sandwiches or wraps for lunch the next day that are possibly even better then the first go around.
This brine can be put together in 5-10 minutes. It’s easy to make up either the night before or the morning of the day you plan to cook your chicken.
I particularly love this brine with several favorite dishes:
- Herb Butter Spatchcock Chicken and Roasted Vegetables.
- Roasted Turkey Breast with the Best Easy Gravy
- Roasted Spatchcock Chicken with Sage Brown Butter
What type of salt should I use? Are there differences?
The short answer is yes. I always use course kosher salt like Mortons. There are many types of salt. Iodized table, kosher, sea, pickling, and while they all taste salty, some types of salt have additives that affect the taste and different crystal sizes will alter the result, possibly producing an overly salty bird.
It’s important to note that a brined bird will take a little less time to cook then if it had not been brined. So, if the recipe you are following does not call for a brined chicken, start to check for doneness with a meat thermometer prior to the expected end time.
If you are brining the day that you plan to cook your chicken, brine for 4-5 hours and use 1 cup of salt per gallon of water as the recipe below calls for. If brining overnight or longer then 8 hours, use 1/2 cup of salt per gallon of water and reduce the other brine ingredients in half.
If one gallon of brine is not sufficient to cover your chicken due to the size of the vessel that you are using to brine in, increasing the amount of water to 1.5 or 2 gallons is fine as long as you are also proportionately increasing the brine ingredients.
Sometimes, life happens and dinner plans change. If you no longer plan to cook your chicken when originally desired, simply remove from the brine and thoroughly rinse the chicken to stop the brining process. Wrap or ziplock the chicken until the next day when it can be cooked. I don’t recommend leaving the chicken in the brine for over 24 hours or it tends to become too salty even with the over 8 hours lesser salt recommendation.
How did your chicken turn out? I’d love to hear from you! Leave me a comment below…
Simple Turkey and Chicken Brine
- 16 cups water - divided 16 cups = 1 gallon
- 1 cup coarse kosher salt such as Mortons
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary chopped or 1 tablespoon dried
- 1/4 cup fresh thyme or 1 tablespoon dried
- 6 cloves minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon peppercorns
- 1 4-6lb whole chicken (or turkey breast) see recipe notes for a large turkey
- Boil 2 cups of water either on the stovetop in a small saucepan.
- Add the sugar and salt to the boiling water and stir until dissolved.
- Remove from heat and add the rosemary, thyme, garlic, and peppercorns. Let spices and herbs sit in hot water for 1 minute.
- Using a tall stockpot, add the boiled water and the remaining 14 cups cool water and stir to combine.
- Add a 4-6lb chicken (or turkey breast) and place in the refrigerator for 4-5 hours.
- Remove the chicken or turkey from the brine and rinse thoroughly.