You might be wondering if you need to brine your Thanksgiving turkey. I’m here to tell you that, yes, yes you do. You absolutely need to brine your turkey before you put that bird in the oven. You do not want a dry, bland tasting turkey after you worked so hard to make it taste great. Rather, you want people to ooh and ahh over how moist and full of flavor the meat is. Here is my tried and true easy Cider & Citrus Turkey Brine Recipe that is Keto Friendly. Yep, this Keto Turkey Brine doesn’t use any sugar, just Apple Cider Vinegar and lemons and oranges!
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First Published: 11/23/2014 Updated 10/23/2018
What exactly is brining you may ask?
The process of brining means soaking meat in a solution of water and salt before cooking. Yes – it really is that simple. As it soaks, the meat absorbs the brine, then retains it during cooking. Follow this easy turkey brining recipe for a moist, delicious turkey this Thanksgiving! You might also like My Famous Drunken Turkey Recipe where both you and the turkey get to drink a bit of wine while cooking. 😉
I’m often asked if you should defrost your turkey first or if you can defrost it in the brine. Unless you bring home a fresh turkey from a local farm or farmer’s market, more than likely, it will be frozen. You can and should defrost your turkey in the brine. If you do, add 12-24 hours to the brining time. You can leave the turkey in the brine for 24-72 hours, the magic number I’ve found is 36 hours.
|Turkey 12-17 lbs||2 gallons||1 cups table salt or
1.5 cups Kosher salt
|Turkey 18-24 lbs||3 gallons||1.5 cups table salt or
2.25 cups Kosher salt
*Important to remember, cup for cup, table salt is stronger than Kosher salt. If you use Kosher salt (which is recommended over table salt) in a brine, multiply the amount of salt called for by 1.5 times. The best tasting salt for a brine in my opinion, is Pink Himalayan Salt.
Why It’s Keto Friendly
Most brining recipes call for sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup, or other sweeteners. This recipe uses citrus and Apple Cider Vinegar instead. The citrus is added to this brine as it not only adds a layer of flavor, but it also tenderizes the meat. The mild acid of the lemon carries the citrus flavors deep into the meat and the Apple Cider Vinegar sets a really great base for the drunken turkey recipe I share down below.
This Cider & Citrus Brine + My Drunken Turkey Recipe = Most Amazing Turkey EVER
1 Tbsp black peppercorns
2 Bay leaves
2 cups organic chicken stock, optional
1 onion, quartered
4 garlic gloves
2 Rosemary twigs, slightly crushed to release the oils from the rosemary
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp cloves
1 lemon, quartered
1 orange, quartered
1.5 cups Pink Himalayan Salt
4 cups Apple Cider Vinegar
Heat one gallon of water, pour in all of the ingredients including the salt, and stir thoroughly until the ingredients are completely dissolved. Refrigerate or leave outside for 20 minutes if you live in a cold climate or Alaska like me, until the brine has cooled down. In the largest stock pot that you have or a clean ice chest, add your turkey directly in or you can put your turkey in a large plastic bag and then place it into the pot or cooler.
Then add in the brine mixture. Ensure that the entire turkey is submerged for the full brining period. Refrigerate the bird for a minimum of 8-12 hours and no longer than 72. The sweet spot is around 24-36 hours. Last year, I left it in there for 48 hours and it was superb. I also typically thaw out the turkey in the brine – brilliant idea as I have a small kitchen and this saves on space!
Once the turkey has brined overnight, remove it from the brine solution, rinse it off, and pat it dry. You are now ready to prep your turkey for the oven. Luckily, I have My Famous Drunken Turkey Recipe for you. It is simply the best turkey recipe out there. I might be biased, but the amount of people that ask me to make this every year is quite high!
Want an Easy-to-Print Recipe Card for this Easy Turkey Brining Recipe? Here you go!
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Pin it for Later – There’s a few pins to choose from.
You can now buy Organic Turkey on Amazon. Who knew?
I also use Thrive Marketplace when I’m cooking in the Lower 48 as my Go To Place for organic, sustainable food that won’t break the bank! Unfortunately, the do not ship to Alaska. Sad really.