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Orange Sage Turkey Brine

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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!

Overhead photo of roasted thanksgiving turkey

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!

overhead photo of turkey in a brining bag

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

orange sage turkey brine ingredients

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.

orang sage turkey brine

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.

Overhead photo of roasted orange sage turkey brine

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:

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!

Overhead photo of roasted orange sage turkey brine

Orange Sage Turkey Brine

Orange Sage Turkey Brine is the easiest way to get juicy turkey this Thanksgiving. Sweet orange flavor with herbaceous sage will tenderize your bird overnight in a salty brine.
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Course: Marinade
Cuisine: American
Keyword: citrus and herb turkey, easy brining recipe for beginners, orange and sage, thanksgiving turkey, turkey brine
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Brining Time: 1 day
Total Time: 1 day 20 minutes
Servings: 1 brined turkey
Calories: 6509kcal
Author: Lauren

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

  • 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.

Nutrition

Calories: 6509kcal | Carbohydrates: 256g | Protein: 848g | Fat: 222g | Saturated Fat: 57g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 2783mg | Sodium: 117892mg | Potassium: 11536mg | Fiber: 13g | Sugar: 226g | Vitamin A: 5266IU | Vitamin C: 683mg | Calcium: 1093mg | Iron: 38mg

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Nicole Nared-Washington

Sunday 18th of November 2018

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!

Michele

Sunday 18th of November 2018

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 \

Sunday 18th of November 2018

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)

Sunday 18th of November 2018

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!

Tammy

Sunday 18th of November 2018

Ahhh that brine sounds awesome! I can only image how delicious your turkey must have been...it looks absolutely beautiful! Happy Thanksgiving :)