How To Brine a Turkey or Chicken | stephgaudreau.com

How To Brine a Turkey or Chicken

How to brine a turkey or chicken? I’m covering this simple method in today’s post and giving you my favorite go-to brine ingredients for succulent poultry every time.

How to brine a turkey or chicken? I'm covering this simple method in today's post and giving you my favorite go-to brine ingredients for succulent poultry every time. | StupidEasyPaleo.com

I first started brining my chicken back when I got my hands on Mel Joulwan’s ahhhhmazing book Well Fed. Since then, I’ve created lots of different brines, mostly for lean chicken (think white meat) and pork.

Letting the meat soak in brine, a salted water sometimes infused with herbs and spices, is sort of like a marinade.

How to brine a turkey or chicken? I'm covering this simple method in today's post and giving you my favorite go-to brine ingredients for succulent poultry every time. | StupidEasyPaleo.com

How Does Brine Work?

Instead of just imparting flavor though, the brine keeps the meat moist and juicy which is always a challenge with leaner cuts. How does it work? Basically the salt causes the muscle protein to soften and get less tough when cooked. More moisture is retained during the cooking process.

How Long You Should Brine For

If a little brining time is good, more must be better…right? Actually no. Oversoaking the meat will eventually cause moisture to be drawn out of the meat. The following method works for any lean meat—chicken, turkey, and shellfish like shrimp are great—and you can scale up or down depending on the quantity of protein you’re dealing with.

How To Brine a Turkey or Chicken

  1. Prepare a container to hold the poultry. A stock pot will hold a smaller turkey while a very large bird will have to go in a clean, new bucket or other container lined with food-safe plastic.
  2. Remove any giblets and pat the bird dry with paper towel.
  3. Add the salt and spices to the container, then the appropriate amount of water. Stir well to dissolve the salt. (Recipe is below.)
  4. Carefully add the turkey or chicken to the brine. Place the container in the refrigerator for the correct amount of time. You can’t leave this on the counter.
  5. When the brining process is complete, remove the poultry and rinse off the excess salt and spices. Discard the brine. Pat the poultry dry with paper towels, then proceed with your preferred cooking method.
How To Brine a Turkey or Chicken | stephgaudreau.com

How To Brine a Turkey or Chicken

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Chicken, Gluten-Free, Paleo, Turkey, Whole30
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 1
Calories: 100 kcal
Author: Steph Gaudreau

How to brine a turkey or chicken? I'm covering this simple method in today's post and giving you my favorite go-to brine ingredients for succulent poultry every time. 



  • 2/3 cup coarse sea salt or kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp dried orange peel
  • 2 tbsp dried rosemary
  • 2 tbsp whole peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp dried sage
  • 2 tbsp dried thyme
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 14 cups water


  1. Follow the directions above, allowing the turkey to brine for about 10 to 12 hours. Tip: Mix your brine ingredients (except the water) in a Mason jar ahead of time and store for when you’re busy. Mark on the lid how much you’ve made…enough for a 5-pound or 10-pound bird, for example.
  2. *For a 5-pound whole chicken, halve the quantities. Brine for 5 hours.
  3. **For a 20-pound turkey, double the quantities. Brine for about 24 hours.

Recipe Notes

My recipes are all in a meal planner. Check it out!

Nutrition Facts
How To Brine a Turkey or Chicken
Amount Per Serving
Calories 100 Calories from Fat 18
% Daily Value*
Fat 2g3%
Saturated Fat 1g5%
Sodium 75634mg3151%
Potassium 415mg12%
Carbohydrates 23g8%
Fiber 11g44%
Protein 3g6%
Vitamin A 755IU15%
Vitamin C 8mg10%
Calcium 493mg49%
Iron 12.3mg68%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Have a question? Leave it in the comments below, and I’ll get back to you!

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37 Responses

  1. I think I will have a bird between 12-15 kilos so roughly between 25-35 pounds and I will only have 12-15 hours before I cook it. Would it make sense to brine it or is it too little time? Thanks Emily

    1. I have brined my turkey for a few years and i love the results. I put my turkey in a clean 40lb cat litter tub that has a snap on lid, and store it inthe garage overnight where it is cold but not freezzing. Who has enough room in the fridg for a bucket of turkey. Good luck

  2. I read recently that Kosher turkeys are pre-salted in the blood-removal process (or something like that). Do you know anything about this? I’m cooking a Kosher, pastured turkey for the first time this year, so my main question is if there is anything I should modify when I brine/cook the turkey? Thank you!

    1. Hi Amber…hmmmm, I admit to knowing pretty much zero about the Kosher preparation of meat. If the meat has already been brined, you won’t want to do it again. But, if the outside only has been salted, you can probably give it a good rinse, then brine away. Hope that helps! Maybe one of my readers will know!

  3. Is there any problem keeping the turkey in the refrigerator for another day after the brining process is complete?

    1. Hi Christine…if you dry it off and properly cover it, it should be okay as long as the turkey hasn’t been thawed for too long before that.

  4. I’m using a brine for the first time this year and I can’t wait to see how it turns out! Thank you for some clear guidelines to follow. Have a beautiful holiday!

    1. Hi Susan! I would maybe cut the quantities in half (except for the salt). Ground spices are a bit more intense than their whole counterparts 🙂

  5. EEE brining a chicken for the first time! My mom gave me a soup blend from nuts.com (not paleo…but at least organic and she’s trying haha) and called for a whole chicken. I decided to brine it first, cook it, and then shred it before adding it to the soup 🙂 So I am hoping this turns out well. I also modified the salt, I used Himalayan pink salt so we’ll see how this turns out!

  6. Hi ! I want to brin a pork loin but wonder if this recipe could apply to it or what to do differently ? Your recipe is my go to for roasted brined chicken 🙂
    Thank you

      1. Thanks a lot Steph !
        Do you have an idea of the brining time for a loin and if the volume of brine is the same than for the chops recipe ? Sorry for bothering you, I think once I will have it figured out, it will be easier 😉 thanks

        1. Hi Nolwenn,

          You’d go a bit longer for the loin since it’s thicker…I usually try to do 2-3 hours. It depends on the total weight of the meat but you’ll need enough brine to cover it.

  7. Hi Steph. This sounds like a perfect recipe for my Christmas turkey. Question: can I use pink Himalayan salt?? Look forward to your response and thank you!

  8. I have been roasting my chickens in a crock pot and they are coming out so very dry. I am planning to try this brining recipe to see if it will help them be moist and flavorful. Has anyone used a crockpot on low for 6-8 hrs with a brined bird?

  9. Would brining for more than 24 hours be bad? Just might be easiest with my schedule to get that together Friday night, for it to go in oven Sunday morning. I guess I could always take it out of the brine Saturday night. imjust have a lot to Saturday night and this is my first time being in charge of Christmas dinner!

  10. When I brine a turkey I use a large stock pot…large enough to accommodate the turkey and enough brine to cover. I place it in a large cooler and surround it with ice. I do this the night before and it has always turned out awesome!

  11. Hi Steph! Sorry I’ve been MIA in the FB group. I love the new website.
    So here’s my question: How much brine do you suggest for Turkey legs (I have 4 of them), and how long should I brine them for?

    I hope you and Z have an awesome Thanksgiving!!

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Hi, I'm Steph Gaudreau, bs, ma, cissn!

Nutrition and fitness coach for women, Lord of the Rings nerd, and depending on who you ask, crazy cat lady. My mission is to help you fuel for more, not less: bigger muscles, strength, energy, and possibilities. We’ll do it with my signature blend of science, strategy…and a little bit of sass.


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