Turkey Breast Brine
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
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.
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.
Add any aromatics you like, such as peppercorns, citrus zest, cloves, and bay leaves.
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, remove the turkey 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.
And after the main meal is over, hopefully you will have terrific sliceable turkey for sandwiches, or to dice and add to salads or casseroles or pastas or what have you.
Do I Rinse the Turkey After Brining?
Nope. It’s better not to, as you risk contamination, and the amount of salt in the brine will have penetrated into the turkey meat, and not be sitting on the outside anyway, so it’s kind of irrelevant, and possibly dangerous.
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 above 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.
How to Brine a Turkey Breast: Everything you need to know about brining for a moist, tender, delicious turkey breast.Tweet This
What to Serve with Turkey Breast:
- Perfect Mashed Potatoes
- Parmesan Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- Simple Butter Roasted Sweet Potatoes
- Cornbread and Mushroom Stuffing
Other Turkey Breast Recipes:
- Instant Pot Turkey Breast
- Lemon-Garlic Roasted Turkey Breast
- Turkey Reuben Sandwiches
- Grilled Split Turkey Breast
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How to Brine A Turkey Breast
- 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
- 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
- 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, remove the turkey from the brine 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.
The nutrition values are provided as an estimate. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.
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can I brine a frozen turkey breast?
I never have and my research isn’t fully conclusive – I would think yes, BUT as the turkey breast defrosts, the outside will defrost faster than the inside, resulting in slightly uneven brining, so maybe the outer meat will be saltier. Having said that, the inside of the bird takes longer to cook, and stays juicier. I’d give it a try (and I will as well!), but not sure !
I have a rolled turkey breast joint. Would you unroll it before adding in the brine or keep it rolled? Thanks
keep it rolled!
I could not get the kosher salt to dissolve after stirring it for almost 40 minutes, All kosher salts are coarse. So I strained the liquid and used it discarding what salt was left in the strainer. I then followed the rest of your instructions and cooked the breast after 12 hours. It was the most tender breast I and my company have ever had. Simply delicious!
Best turkey I’ve ever cooked. Moist and tasty.
I’m having a problem with the salt/sugar dissolving – I used coarse salt. Is that the issue?
yes, that takes longer than kosher but if you add a bit more water it should be fine! make sure the water is boiling when you add the salt!
Does the sugar lend a sweet taste to the turkey?
not really, not anything notable! it helps a bit with the browning of the skin when it bakes.
Do I season the turkey after brined to roast
no need to salt it after bringing! other seasonings are fine.
Hi, I’ve had the brine boiling for about 10 mins and the salt still won’t dissolve. Does it have to be fully dissolved or will that not happen no matter how long I leave it simmering because of the ratio of salt to water?
So odd! I would leave it simmer til it dissolves – did you use very coarse salt??
We are having the same problem it’s has not dissolved and we had it simmering for at least ten minutes
yes, coarse salt takes longer than kosher but if you add a bit more water and keep it simmering for a bit more it should be fine! make sure the water is boiling when you add the salt!
Same happened to me. Just added another cup of water and it finished up just fine.
I have never cooked a turkey breast. How long and what temp do I use to cook this?
Lisa, try any of these methods!! https://themom100.com/how-to-cook-turkey-breast/
Tried this for our New Year’s Eve dinner. Absolutely perfect, fully cooked, moist and flavourful turkey breast! We finished one of two 3-pound breasts and I’ll wake up early tomorrow to be the first at the leftovers!
After brining the turkey and preparing it for cooking, do you put any other spices on it or is the brine enough before puting it in the oven?
It’s up to you! If you want to season it further, you can look at this recipe for inspiration! https://themom100.com/recipe/simple-lemon-garlic-roasted-turkey-breast/
I made 3 turkey Breasts for Thanksgiving ( big family) I followed the directions for this Brine and I will ALWAYS use this recipe !!! Every single person, including me, couldn’t believe how tasty and moist the turkey was. White meat is known to be dry on a turkey, well, believe me, it won’t be if you follow these directions. I’ll never make a Turkey any other way.
love hearing this!
Did you make all 3 breasts at the same time