How to Brine a Turkey Breast

A basic brine is extremely easy to make, and makes meat more flavorful, as well as adding moisture. Turkey breast is definitely one of those pieces of meat that has a sketchy rap when it comes to drying out, either when it it cooked as part of a whole bird, or roasted or cooked in another way on its own. But brining, brining is the answer to moist delicious turkey breast every time.

All you need is a large container and enough space in your refrigerator for that container to fit. You can use a sealable plastic cooking bag to brine your turkey breast, but you will still want to rest the bag in a container large enough to hold the turkey in case the bag rips.

How to Brine a Turkey Breast

How to Brine A Turkey Breast

Add 1 cup salt to 2 cups of water in a medium saucepan.

Add ½ cup sugar (I used brown) and bring to a simmer over high heat, stirring occasionally until the salt and sugar dissolve.

How to Brine a Turkey Breast

Remove from the heat and add 2 cups of ice cubes to the solution, to cool the liquid to room temperature.

Transfer to a container large enough to have the turkey breast be completely submerged in the total amount of liquid. Add a gallon of cold water to the container.

How to Brine a Turkey Breast

Add any aromatics you like, such as peppercorns, citrus zest, cloves, and bay leaves.

How to Brine a Turkey Breast

Submerge the turkey breast in the brine, making sure it’s covered with liquid. If the turkey floats up, you can place a small heavy plate over it to keep it submerged.

How to Brine a Turkey Breast

Cover the container or seal the bag, and place in the refrigerator.

Brine the turkey breast for 12 to 24 hours, but no longer than 24 hours or the brine will make the meat start to turn mushy when cooked.

How to Brine a Turkey Breast

When ready to cook, or if the 24 hours elapses, rinse the turkey in fresh cold water and pat dry with paper towels or a clean dishtowel. If you have the extra time, allow the turkey breast to sit on a wire rack in a tray in the fridge uncovered for another 12 to 24 hours which will dry out the skin a bit and make it brown and crisp up better when you roast it.

Brining a Turkey Breast in a Cooler

If you don’t have enough room in your fridge, you may brine the turkey breast in a container in a cooler filled with ice or ice water. You will need to make sure that the temperature in the cooler doesn’t go below 40°F maximum, which is the safe temperature to store uncooked turkey, brine or no brine.

Cooking Time for Brined Turkey Breast

Brining often slightly shortens the cooking time, so you will want to start checking it about 45 minutes before your calculated cooking time is up.

Sliceable for dinner with gravy, or for sandwiches. Ready to be diced and added to salads or casseroles or pastas or what have you.

Instant Pot Turkey Breast

How to Brine a Turkey Breast: Everything you need to know about brining for a moist, tender, delicious turkey breast.

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How to Brine A Turkey Breast

Everything you need to know about brining for a moist, tender, delicious turkey breast.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Brining Time 12 hours
Total Time 12 hours 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 (5 to 7 pound) turkey breast
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 gallon (16 cups) very cold water
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • ½ cup light or dark brown sugar

Optional Add-Ins:

  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
  • 4 to 8 sprigs fresh rosemary or sage
  • Strips of lemon or orange peel
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon allspice berries

Directions

  • Get a pot, container or sealable plastic or cooking bag large enough to hold the turkey breast, and be sealed or covered. If you use a sealable bag to brine your turkey breast, you will still want to rest the bag in a container large enough to hold the turkey in case the bag tears. Clear out enough space in your fridge to hold the container with the breast in it. If you want to use a cooler, see the recipe intro for instructions
  • Heat the 2 cups water with the salt and sugar in a medium saucepan over high heat until the salt and sugar dissolve into the water, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and add 2 cups of ice cubes to the solution, to cool the liquid to room temperature. Pour the brine solution into the container or bag, and add the gallon of ice water. Add any of the optional add-ins that you like.
  • Submerge the turkey breast in the brine, making sure it’s covered with liquid. If the turkey floats up, you can place a small heavy plate over it to keep it submerged. Cover the container or seal the bag, and place in the refrigerator.
  • Brine the turkey breast for 12 to 24 hours, but no longer than 24 hours or the brine will make the meat start to turn mushy when cooked.
  • When ready to cook, or if the 24 hours elapses, rinse the turkey in fresh cold water and pat dry with paper towels or a clean dishtowel. If you have the extra time, allow the turkey breast to sit on a wire rack in a tray in the fridge uncovered for another 12 to 24 hours which will dry out the skin a bit and make it brown and crisp up better when you roast it.

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