Smoked Turkey Brine Recipe

Using this smoked turkey brine recipe is guaranteed to result in a succulent, tasty turkey.

A good brine will guarantee your turkey stays moist, with the added bonus of sophisticated flavors.

smoked turkey brine recipe

Brining your turkey is what takes it to the next level. This is a step most people ignore or skip.

However, I believe brining to be very essential if you intend to cook a tasty and savory turkey.

Why You Should Brine Your Turkey

I’m quite sure you’ve cooked and eaten dried meat before. This is something that can happen with turkey and even every protein.

However, that is why there is gravy. So, in this guide for the best-smoked turkey brine recipe, I will teach you how to achieve a properly cooked, savory bite.

Cooking your meat to the proper temperature is one way of preventing it from drying out.

Although that does not mean that sometimes you won’t get carried away and overshoot the goal temp.

So, this is why there’s a brine to help save the day. Let’s briefly talk about brining. It is the process whereby you soak your protein in a saltwater solution before cooking it.

The salt helps dissolve proteins, which in turn softens the meat and also helps hold moisture during cooking.

Smoking Turkey Brine (4 Different Brine Recipes)

This easy Smoked Turkey Brine imbues spices, citrus flavors, and herbs into the turkey meat to make sure that it remains moist and soft while cooking.

These 4 simple Smoked Turkey Brine recipes include the basic brine, citrus brine, apple cider brine, and the Cajun brine.

As previously mentioned, these savory brines use a combination of fresh herbs, spices, and other ingredients to boost the flavor of the turkey meat and increase the amount of moisture in the bird.

  • Course: Homemade Spices
  • Cuisine: American
  • Servings: 1 turkey
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 2 hours

Ingredients

Basic Brine

  • 2 gallons of water
  • 8 cloves of garlic (smashed)
  • 3 tablespoons of black peppercorns
  • 1 cup of Kosher salt
  • 1 cup of brown sugar (packed)
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 10 fresh sage leaves

Citrus Brine

  • 2 gallons of water
  • 3 tablespoons of black peppercorns
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 3 dried bay leaves
  • 10 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 cup of Kosher salt
  • 1 cup of brown sugar (packed)
  • 2 large oranges (sliced)
  • 2 large lemons (sliced)
  • 8 cloves of garlic (smashed)
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Apple Cider Brine

  • 2 gallons of unfiltered apple cider (Note 3)
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons of whole allspice
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 cup of Kosher salt
  • 1 cup of maple syrup or brown sugar (packed)
  • 2 tablespoons of black peppercorns
  • 8 cloves of garlic (smashed)

Cajun Brine

  • 2 gallons of water
  • 1 tablespoon of black peppercorns
  • 1 cup of Kosher salt
  • 4 cloves of garlic (smashed)
  • 1 tablespoon of red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup of brown sugar (packed)
  • ½ cup of Cajun seasoning, your favorite brand (Note 2)

Laid-Out Instructions

  • You are to start this by getting a large stock pot and adding all the ingredients of the brine of your choice into it.
  • Then, proceed to heat on high. Continue to stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved. After that, you are to remove the large pot from the heat and allow the brine to cool. (Note 4)
  • With that being done, you are to place the turkey in the stock pot or probably in a brining bag and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. (Note 5)
  • After that, you are to remove the turkey from the brine, then get cold water to use to fully rinse the turkey, as this is to help remove the excess salt.
  • This step is extremely important, so do not skip it. With that being done, you can now pat the turkey dry using paper towels.

Notes

Note 1

The above ratios are for a whole turkey. So, you can proceed by cutting it in half if you want to cook a turkey breast or legs.

Note 2

I strongly suggest you use your favorite Cajun seasoning, or you can just go for a homemade batch.

Note 3

Be clear that it is apple cider juice, not apple cider vinegar.

Note 4

To avoid bacteria growth, I strongly advise against adding the turkey to a warm or hot brine.

I allow the brine to cool for an hour before I proceed to transfer it to the refrigerator, where it will cool for an extra hour before I use it.

Note 5

Avoid brining longer than the estimated time. This will lead to the meat becoming mushy and over-salted.

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The Best Turkey for Brining

I will suggest you stay away from labels indicating that it has already been injected with brine. This is when you are choosing a turkey.

I can assure you that if you go for turkey like this and brine them, they will become over-salted. However, you can smoke them.

Time and effort are required to successfully brine a turkey. For the best result, I will strongly recommend you go for a natural and fresh free-range turkey that has not already been brined.

Before brining, you don’t need to completely defrost your turkey if you are using a frozen one.

This means that you can go straight to brining your turkey if it is partially thawed.

However, give the turkey an extra day in the brine if it is mostly frozen, as this is to make sure that the meat is fully defrosted to take on the brine solution.

Do You Need To Rinse Brined Turkey Before Cooking?

You are to remove the turkey from the brine liquid when you are ready to cook it.

Then, proceed to pat it dry using a few paper towels. So, this means that washing the meat before cooking is not necessary.

Final Thoughts: Smoked Turkey Brine Recipe

Before wrapping up this guide, let me give you a few tips for smoking a turkey.

Your best bet will be using a meat thermometer probe, which you are to insert into the thickest part of the breast.

Also into the thigh’s thickest part. This will help give you the perfect temperature readings, so you will know when the turkey is at its right internal temp.

I will strongly suggest you use hickory if you are smoking on a charcoal smoker. You will also get a very good result using maple.

And, lastly, you need to pay close attention to the temp of the heritage or wild turkey, especially at the end of the smoke, if you want to smoke one.

This is so because these types of turkey cook way faster compared to the commercial broad-breasted turkey you purchase in the store.

With all that being said, I can now wrap up this guide, as you now have the best-smoked turkey brine recipe.

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smoked turkey brine recipe

Smoked Turkey Brine Recipe

Yield: 1 turkey
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes

Using this smoked turkey brine recipe is guaranteed to result in a succulent, tasty turkey.

Ingredients

  • (Basic Brine)
  • *
  • 2 gallons of water
  • 8 cloves of garlic (smashed)
  • 3 tablespoons of black peppercorns
  • 1 cup of Kosher salt
  • 1 cup of brown sugar (packed)
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 10 fresh sage leaves
  • *
  • (Citrus Brine)
  • *
  • 2 gallons of water
  • 3 tablespoons of black peppercorns
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 3 dried bay leaves
  • 10 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 cup of Kosher salt
  • 1 cup of brown sugar (packed)
  • 2 large oranges (sliced)
  • 2 large lemons (sliced)
  • 8 cloves of garlic (smashed)
  • *
  • (Apple Cider Brine)
  • *
  • 2 gallons of unfiltered apple cider (Note 3)
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons of whole allspice
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 cup of Kosher salt
  • 1 cup of maple syrup or brown sugar (packed)
  • 2 tablespoons of black peppercorns
  • 8 cloves of garlic (smashed)
  • *
  • (Cajun Brine)
  • *
  • 2 gallons of water
  • 1 tablespoon of black peppercorns
  • 1 cup of Kosher salt
  • 4 cloves of garlic (smashed)
  • 1 tablespoon of red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup of brown sugar (packed)
  • ½ cup of Cajun seasoning, your favorite brand (Note 2)

Instructions

  • You are to start this by getting a large stock pot and adding all the ingredients of the brine of your choice into it.
  • Then, proceed to heat on high. Continue to stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved. After that, you are to remove the large pot from the heat and allow the brine to cool. (Note 4)
  • With that being done, you are to place the turkey in the stock pot or probably in a brining bag and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. (Note 5)
  • After that, you are to remove the turkey from the brine, then get cold water to use to fully rinse the turkey, as this is to help remove the excess salt.
  • This step is extremely important, so do not skip it. With that being done, you can now pat the turkey dry using paper towels.

Notes

Note 1

The above ratios are for a whole turkey. So, you can proceed by cutting it in half if you want to cook a turkey breast or legs.

Note 2

I strongly suggest you use your favorite Cajun seasoning, or you can just go for a homemade batch.

Note 3

Be clear that it is apple cider juice, not apple cider vinegar.

Note 4

To avoid bacteria growth, I strongly advise against adding the turkey to a warm or hot brine.

I allow the brine to cool for an hour before I proceed to transfer it to the refrigerator, where it will cool for an extra hour before I use it.

Note 5

Avoid brining longer than the estimated time. This will lead to the meat becoming mushy and over-salted.

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