How to Brine a Butterball Turkey

by Max Whitmore

Though basting a turkey is common, brining it gives the turkey a much different flavor.

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Brining your Butterball turkey seasons the meat turkey from the inside out by soaking the bird in a salt solution. Brining also helps the skin and flesh absorb moisture, which keeps your Butterball turkey moist and succulent as you roast it. The spices that you add to your brining solution are a matter of personal taste, but the salt part of the solution is the same regardless of which spices you use.

Thaw the turkey completely or use a fresh turkey for brining. Do not attempt to brine a frozen turkey because the meat will not absorb the brining solution.

Clean the turkey the night before you brine. Remove the neck and giblets and rinse the interior and exterior with cold water.

Use a container large enough to accommodate the turkey and the brining solution such as a brining bag. For very large turkeys, consider a 5-gallon bucket with lid.

Use 1 cup of kosher salt for every gallon of water in your brining solution. Mix the water and salt together before you add the turkey. Two gallons of water will brine turkeys up to 24 lbs.

Add spices to the brining solution before you immerse the turkey. The spices you use are a matter of personal taste but could include 2 tbsp. each of dried parsley, sage, thyme and celery seed.

Immerse the turkey in the brining solution. Seal and refrigerate the container. The length of the brine depends on the size of the turkey. Turkeys less than 12 lbs. can brine for six to eight hours. Twelve to 14-lb. turkeys should brine up to 12 hours and turkeys over 20 lbs. should brine for up to 24 hours.

Remove the turkey from the brining solution. Pat the interior and exterior dry with paper towels and cook as usual.


  • Keep the turkey at a 40 F or lower. In the interest of food safety, do not brine the turkey outdoors, even in cold weather, because the temperature may fluctuate.


  • Butterball: How to Brine
  • “On Cooking: A Textbook of Culinary Fundamentals (5th Edition)”; Sarah R. Labensky, et al.; 2010

Photo Credits

  • Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

About the Author

Max Whitmore is a personal trainer with more than three years experience in individual and group fitness. Whitmore has a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Cincinnati, fitness certifications and dietetics training from Cincinnati State Technical and Community College. Whitmore has written for several online publishers.