Alton Brown Turkey Brine Recipe

We decided to try things a little different this Thanksgiving. My wife found this interesting brine recipe for turkey and it looked good enough to give a try. It’s good for a bird 14-16 pounds, although I’m sure it could be adjusted for other sizes as needed. You’ll need your turkey thawed at least a day or two before roasting to give it time to marinate in the brine.

Brine Ingredients:

  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 gallon vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 gallon heavily iced water

Aromatic Ingredients:

  • 1 red apple, sliced
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 6 leaves sage
  • Canola oil


  1. Combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, black pepper, allspice, and ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat.
  2. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil.
  3. Remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.
  4. Combine the brine, water and ice in a 5-gallon pot. Place the thawed turkey with innards removed breast side down in brine.
  5. Cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.
  6. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
  7. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water, discarding the brine.
  8. Place the bird on roasting rack and pat dry with paper towels.
  9. Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes.
  10. Add steeped aromatics to the turkeys cavity along with the rosemary and sage.
  11. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.
  12. Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes.
  13. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F for approximately 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting until the internal temperature reaches 161 degrees F.
  14. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving.

via Good Eats Roast Turkey Recipe : Alton Brown : Recipes : Food Network.

We made a few changes to the original recipe due to some ingredients we couldn’t find. We used black pepper instead of black peppercorns, ground allspice instead of allspice berries, and ground ginger instead of chopped candied ginger. We also allowed it to marinate for 24 hours or so before cooking.

The brine had a really nice smell while it was cooking on the stove top. That gave me a lot of hope that the turkey would come out tasty. We used a big lobster pot so we could cook, cool, and marinate in the same pot.

After we let it boil, we set it aside for a few hours to cool. We let it sit in the fridge overnight. The next morning we added the ice water to it.

The recipe calls for getting the whole turkey submerged, but that just wasn’t possible. We just made sure to flip the turkey in the brine so it all was covered at some point.

When we were ready to cook the turkey, we removed it from the brine and patted it dry. Then we coated it with canola oil. This was a big change for us. Usually my wife slices just under the skin and puts butter underneath. To our surprise, the turkey gets very golden brown using the canola oil.

This was by far the best looking turkey we have cooked. We were all commenting on how it was so golden brown that it looked fake – like some picture you’d see in a food magazine. After letting it sit while we finished up some side dished, I started slicing the turkey. I think we left it in a little bit long. It wasn’t as juicy as I would have liked.

Overall, I’d call this recipe a success. The skin wasn’t salty or over seasoned.  The flavor really seemed to get cooked thru the whole bird. This certainly isn’t a last minute recipe, but if you’ve got the time for it, the results are well worth it.


2 Responses to “Alton Brown Turkey Brine Recipe”

  1. A Fussy Feast – Thanksgiving with a Fussy Eater « Feed Your Fussy Eater Says:

    […] Alton Brown Turkey Brine Recipe […]

  2. My Belated Christmas Post « Feed Your Fussy Eater Says:

    […] Alton Brown Turkey Brine Recipe […]

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