A simple, easy way to flavor your turkey overnight. Orange sage turkey brine takes easy to find ingredients and infused their flavors into the meat while you rest up to cook the big meal!
For all of you bravely donning the chef hat this Thanksgiving, this turkey brine is here to make your prep a breeze. Soaking your bird in this salty brine is going to do so much good, tenderizing the meat and adding herbaceous flavor with subtle sweet citrus.
Are you the lucky one hosting the fam this holiday? Is it your first time? Or maybe you're looking to cook your bird for a pre-thanksgiving Friendsgiving. Be it your first or your thirtieth, lemme let you in on my little secret - brine yo' bird!
What is a turkey brine?
Brining is basically soaking turkey - or any other lean meat like chicken or pork chops - in a salty water/liquid bath. This usually takes place overnight and up to about 24 hours, but a quick brine for smaller cuts can be as short as a few hours.
If you haven't watched the Netflix series Salt Fat Acid Heat, go add it to your watch list right now. No really, I'll wait....
Besides being interesting to watch and beautifully shot, there's some serious, easy to understand food knowledge. Especially about the importance of salt.
Salt is going to do all the work in getting you a juicy bird by breaking down the tough parts of the meat and allowing it to soak up the flavors of whatever else you put your brine - in this case:
- awesome earthy sage
- sweet citrus orange
- hints of spice
Another thing I love about brining a turkey is you can do two things at once. (If that could be my middle name, it probably would be.)
Cooking a frozen turkey is not going to give you great results and thawing takes a lot of time. Here comes brining to the rescue....again.
Thaw your turkey in the refrigerator 2 to 3 days before you plan to brine it. Unwrap it from the packaging before brining. If the inside is still frozen DON'T SWEAT IT, it will have a chance to thaw in the brine. Win win.
What do you need to brine a turkey?
The tools needed to brine are pretty simple. The hardest part is playing refrigerator Jenga and finding space for the brining bag or bucket along with your other Thanksgiving Day ingredients.
Conversely you could use a cooler, but you'll also need freezer packs to make sure the temperature doesn't rise above 40°F. I'm all about the season of giving, except giving food poisoning - nobody wants that gift.
Long story short, I always go for the brining bag. They're cheap and only take up the right bottom shelf of my fridge, about the same size as the roasting pan. Store the full brining bag in a roasting pan without the insert.
From start to finish here's the tools you need in your brining tool kit:
- Extra Large Brining Bags or
- 5 Gallon Food Grade Bucket with Lid
- Roasting Pan with Roasting Rack
- Cheesecloth for a no-baste, easy baked turkey
- Coarse Kosher Salt
Are you ready to be the master of Thanksgiving? Love the idea of brining? Check out this Apple Cider Turkey Brine or peruse the side dish selection for what to serve alongside your perfect bird!
Orange Sage Turkey Brine
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flake
- ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- 10 large sage leaves
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 1 ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ gallon orange juice
- 1 quart warm water
- 6 quarts cold water
- 3 large oranges
- 12 to 18 pound turkey
- brining bag or 5 gallon bucket
- Toast the spices. In a large saucepan, add the fennel seeds and mustard seeds, heat over medium heat about 2 minutes or until fragrant. Add pepper flakes and peppercorns, bay leaves and sage and toast for 30 to 60 seconds. (Sage will crackle).
- Dissolve. Add the salt and sugar to the pan, followed by the 1 quart of warm water. Bring to high heat and stir until salt and sugar are completely dissolved. Remove from heat and add the orange juice.
- Prepare the brining vessel. If using a 5 gallon bucket, clean it well before adding your turkey. If using the brining bag, place the turkey in breast side down. Add the brining liquid with the spices and herbs and the cold water. Slice up 3 large oranges and add to the brining container.
- Let rest. Allow the turkey to brine overnight up to 24 hours. Remove from the brine and pat dry. Let sit at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours before baking.
- Pickling spice is a cost friendly substitution for buying individual spices (i.e. mustard seeds, fennel seeds, etc.) . If using pickling spice, use 1 tablespoon and omit the first 5 ingredients.
- If using a brining bag place the bag wi9th the turkey inside a roasting pan before filling with liquid. Otherwise, once the bag gets full it will be hard to keep it contained and close up by yourself.
It is Vancouver 7:45 pm
I really love this recipe . I just brined my turkey , I will write my review after Christmas even-though I am sure it is the best recipe
Nicole Nared-Washington says
I literally have been looking around for a brine to soak my turkey in for this holiday season. Thank you for sharing this brine song with your beautiful looking pictures!
I'm not the one making the turkey this year, but I would love to try this method when it's my turn again. The combination of orange and sage to flavor this brine sounds perfect. Heaven knows I need all of the help I can get when it comes to making a turkey, too. It makes me so nervous when I have to make the turkey. Looking forward to trying this!
Georgie \ says
what a beautiful way to brine a turkey! i only realised brining was a thing when I moved to America, it's such a great way to keep your turkey juicy! I love your flavour combinations of orange and sage too, gorgeous holiday flavours!
Jessica (Swanky Recipes) says
I won't be making the turkey this year and I'm so sad! But, that just means I won't have a time constraint and I can make one in December for the family. This recipe makes it look like a breeze, and so juicy!
Ahhh that brine sounds awesome! I can only image how delicious your turkey must have been...it looks absolutely beautiful! Happy Thanksgiving 🙂
Sri Mallya says
Lovely pics and flavorful recipe. Such a lovely combo. Thanks for sharing!
Nicoletta Sugarlovespices says
I remember seeing this on Instagram and how I loved the picture. Orange and sage make for a wonderful brine and that turkey looks awesome!
Cathleen @ A Taste of Madness says
Canadian Thanksgiving is already over, but maybe I'll try this for Christmas! And I totally know what you are talking about. My fridge isn't set out for the jenga required for a turkey :p
haha! I feel like if fridge jenga was a sport I could be an Olympian.
I've never done a brine for my turkey before, but really love how you explained it; I just might go for it! And, I'll have to check out that Netflix show too! The flavors in this brine are Ah-mazing! 🙂
Orange and sage is such a great flavour combination. This is such a great post, great tips on brining! Your photos are gorgeous too. I've added Salt Fat Acid Heat to my watch list, I've heard so many great things about it I can't wait to watch it.
Now this is the way to do turkey! Wow, besides your gorgeous photography, I love that you explain all the details of brining. This is an excellent recipe, I can't wait to give it a try! Thanks for sharing 🙂
Oh Lauren - this is just a gorgeous bird! I 100% agree that brining is a terrific method to use with holiday turkey - such a big pump in flavor and moistness! This recipe is lovely - I adore sage, and the orange is such a refreshing burst of flavor! Great little pointers here, too. And for real - thanks for the tip about Salt Fat Acid Heat - I literally did click over to my Netflix to check it out! I've been totally hooked on The Great British Baking Show lately (so much to learn, and they're all so darn kind to each other - really refreshing in a reality program!) ... but I'm almost done with the season, and I need a new foodie show to watch. Thanks for the great new turkey recipe - and the foodie binge-watching tip!! Happy, happy Thanksgiving to you!
Thank you for your kind words Shelley! Hope you love the show, its a quick watch!
Shelley! Thank you for your kind words. I hope you love SFAH as much as I did! I tried making the buttermilk chicken she makes in the last episode....OMG....it's life changing. I've seen a few of GBBS and need to watch more, it's definitely addicting. Have a great holiday!