Discover the secret to succulent and flavorful turkey with this easy-to-follow brine for turkey breast recipe, elevating your holiday feast to new heights.
As the holiday season approaches, the quest for the perfect turkey recipe intensifies. One often overlooked yet transformative technique is brining. If you’ve never brined your turkey breast before, you’re in for a treat. Brining not only enhances the natural flavors of the meat but also ensures a moist and tender result.
Years ago, I shared both my buttermilk turkey brine recipe and my smoked turkey brine recipe. Both of these brine recipes I’ve shared contain buttermilk. I was dairy free during my daughters first year of life which prompted me to work on a dairy free turkey brine recipe. This brine for turkey breast has just a few ingredients and is easy to put together even for the most beginner of cooks!
Why this Recipe Works
Enhanced Flavor Profile: The combination of kosher salt, black peppercorns, fresh thyme, and garlic in this brine infuses your turkey breast with a symphony of savory and aromatic notes.
Moisture Retention: Brining is a foolproof way to keep your turkey breast juicy and succulent, preventing the common pitfall of dry and overcooked meat. If you are new to cooking a turkey you definitely want to take the extra step and brine your turkey!
Stress-Free Preparation: With straightforward instructions and minimal ingredients, this recipe offers a hassle-free approach to elevating your holiday turkey without the need for complex cooking techniques.
- Kosher salt: Known for its larger, flakier crystals, kosher salt adheres well to the meat surface, aiding in the brining process.
- Black peppercorns: These little flavor powerhouses not only add a spicy kick but also contribute antioxidants, making your turkey both tasty and healthful.
- Fresh thyme: Packed with aromatic oils, fresh thyme imparts a delightful fragrance to the brine and ultimately to your turkey. It’s mild in flavor and not overwhelming which is why I like to use it in my brines.
- Garlic: Apart from its robust flavor, garlic contains allicin, a compound known for its potential health benefits.
- Water: Ample water ensures that the brine fully envelops the turkey, ensuring an even infusion of flavors. It’s important that the turkey is fully covered.
- Turkey Breast: I typically brine a turkey breast anywhere from 5 to 9 pounds. Just make sure that you have a container or brining bag that can hold the turkey breast.
How to Brine a Turkey Breast
In a brining bag or a 10-quart stockpot (like the one pictured above), combine kosher salt, black peppercorns, fresh thyme, and garlic.
Pour in 1.5 gallons of water and mix until the salt is dissolved.
Carefully place the thawed turkey breast in the mixture, adding more water if needed for complete coverage.
Seal the bag or cover the stockpot, refrigerating for 12-18 hours.
When ready to cook, rinse the turkey under cold water and pat dry with a paper towel.
It’s essential to thaw the turkey before brining to ensure the brine fully penetrates the meat for optimal flavor.
While 12-18 hours is ideal, avoid exceeding 18 hours, as prolonged brining may result in overly salty meat.
While you can substitute table salt, be cautious with the quantity, as table salt is more concentrated. Use about half the amount of kosher salt called for in the recipe.
Yes, rinsing helps remove excess salt from the surface. However, ensure you pat the turkey completely dry before roasting to achieve that coveted crispy skin. Also note that you have a higher risk of spreading salmonella poisioning if you rinse the turkey. So make sure you clean your kitchen very well after you drain and rinse it.
It’s not recommended to reuse the brine as it may contain harmful bacteria from the raw turkey. For the best results, prepare a fresh batch for each turkey you brine.
If you don’t have a large enough pot you can use a brining bag. This makes cleanup a breeze and typically fits larger turkeys.
Yes, you can use this turkey breast brine recipe for a traditional turkey. The only thing that might change is the size of the turkey and you may need to double the seasoning and water amount.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
Here are a few of my favorite tips and tricks I use when making a brine for turkey breast.
- Submerged – Ensure the turkey is fully submerged in the brine to guarantee an even flavor distribution.
- Citrus – Experiment with adding citrus slices or fresh herbs to the brine for personalized flavor profiles.
- Brining Bag – Use a brining bag for easy storage and cleanup, or repurpose an extra large, sealable plastic bag.
- Cold – Monitor the brine temperature: Keep the brine cold (below 40°F/4°C) during the entire process to prevent bacterial growth.
What to Serve with Turkey Breast
Wondering what to serve with the turkey breast? Here are a few of my favorite and most popular side dishes on Katie’s Cucina.
Turkey Breast Recipes
Looking for ways to cook the brined turkey breast? Here are a few of my favorite recipes.
With this foolproof turkey breast brine recipe, you’re well on your way to creating a memorable holiday centerpiece that will have your guests coming back for seconds.
If you make this turkey breast brine recipe, I would be honored and love for you to take the time to leave a ⭐ star rating and comment! I spend hours developing and testing these recipes, and always love to hear feedback and user experience!
Brine for Turkey Breast
- 1 Stock Pot
- 1 Silicone Spatula
- Measuring Cups
- ½ cup kosher salt
- ¼ cup black peppercorns
- 1 bunch fresh thyme
- 12 cloves garlic
- 2 gallons water
- 5-8 pound turkey breast
- Using a brining bag or a 10 quart stockpot add the kosher salt, black peppercorns, fresh thyme, and garlic cloves. Pour in the water (I typically start with a gallon and a half). Using a wooden spoon, mix well until the salt is dissolved.
- Carefully place the thawed turkey breast inside the stockpot. Add additional water if needed to ensure the entire bird is covered in brine. Seal bag or place lid on stockpot and set in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours (overnight) and no more then 18 hours.
- Before your ready to cook the turkey. Rinse the turkey with cold water and pat dry with a paper towel.
- Dried Spices – If you don’t happen to have fresh thyme on hand you can use 1 tablespoon of dried thyme leaves. I also like to add 2 tablespoons of dried chives and 2 tablespoons of dehydrated garlic if I don’t have the fresh on hand.
- Recipe Testing – This recipe has been tested on 5-8 pound turkey breast. More liquid may be needed if you have a larger turkey breast.