Fresh Herb and Citrus Turkey Brine [Holiday Recipe Exchange]

This Fresh Herb and Citrus Turkey Brine combines lots of fresh herbs with a subtle hint of citrus.

Brining your turkey will tenderize the meat and infuse it with a TON of flavor for Turkey Day!

Picture this.

I am a bride to be and I’m meeting my in-laws for the first time.

It’s a rainy Thanksgiving evening in Washington and my soon to be Mother-in-Law has just prepared the BEST.TURKEY.EVER.

The turkey has amazing, juicy flavor and the breast meat isn’t dry at all.

I think to myself, “where has this turkey been all my life?”

herbed turkey brine

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The answer: Brining.

I had no idea what brining was, but I was eager to learn.

I knew that I’d soon have the experience of being in charge of roasting my own turkey and I wanted it to taste just like my Mother-in-Law’s did.

Nine years later, I can tell you that for as long as I’ve been making my own turkey, I’ve been using a turkey brine before roasting my turkey.

I think it’s the best way to ensure a delicious, moist turkey.

This fresh herb and citrus turkey brine infuses roasted turkey with so much flavor and helps keep the meat moist.

It’s a must have for me when I’m hosting Thanksgiving.

I happen to really enjoy the combination of sage, rosemary, thyme, and parsley in my turkey brine.

You can play around with the herbs for your brine, if you like, for different flavors.

Just be sure to use fresh herbs.

I think that makes all the difference.

Brine for the appropriate length of time.

How long you will brine your turkey in this Fresh Herb and Citrus Turkey Brine largely depends on how big the piece of meat is.

A simple boneless, skinless chicken breast or a couple of pork chops don’t need more than an hour.

In contrast, a large 18+ pound turkey will need several hours or up to a full day to soak in the brine.

Here is a quick run down recommended brining times according to my experience.

Brining Time Guide

  • Whole Turkey: 12-24 hours
  • Turkey Breast: 3-6 hours
  • Large Whole Chicken: 2-4 hours
  • Chicken Breasts: 1 hour

What do you do if due to your schedule you need to brine the turkey earlier than 24 hours before roasting?

I suggest brining it for the 12-24 hours you need.

Then, remove it from the Fresh Herb and Citrus Turkey Brine and rinse it inside and out.

Pat it dry with a paper towel.

Then store it in the fridge for up to an additional 24 hours until you are ready to roast.

After that, you can proceed to roast as you normally would.

herb citrus turkey brine

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More Thanksgiving Turkey Brine Recipes and Tips

If you’re looking for additional turkey brining inspiration for your Thanksgiving Menu this year, here are a few other favorite recipes.

Be sure to check out the whole Thanksgiving Recipes Archive right here if you need help building the rest of your menu.

Brining your turkey with this Apple Cider Sage Brined Turkey before roasting will not only infuses the meat with the delicious flavors of fresh apple cider and sage, but it will help keep the meat moist and tender.

This recipe for Garlic Herb Peppercorn Dry Brine is really simple and produces juicy, seasoned turkey meat.

If you prefer to smoke your turkey, come check out my tried and true method along with my 8 pro tips for the best smoked turkey!

HOW TO COOK A TURKEY: MY TURKEY ROASTING METHOD

REQUIRED EQUIPMENT

Before you begin preparing your Fresh Herb and Citrus Turkey on Thanksgiving, you’ll need to make sure you have some of the required equipment.

If  have roasted a turkey before, none of this should be new to you.

In order to roast a turkey, you need a few things:

I typically choose a turkey around 16-18 lbs. It allows for some leftovers but not so much that we all get tired of it.

If using a larger turkey, simply extend the roasting time and tent the breast with foil to avoid over browning.

COOK BY TEMPERATURE NOT TIME

There are a few things to know about roasting your turkey, and an important keys to success is cooking by temperature.

Turkey roasting times vary depending on a variety of things, such as:

  • the size of the bird
  • internal temperature the bird when you begin
  • your oven – ever oven runs slightly different (some hot, some cold, some exactly right)

So, it is better to have general time guidelines and specific temperature milestones to meet rather than cooking for x number of hours.

You avoid overcooked dry meat and undercooked unsafe meat when you use a digital probe meat thermometer.

Place the probe in the thickest part of the breast before you begin cooking this Fresh Herb and Citrus Turkey.

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Pat the turkey dry, then let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

2. Slather the outside of the fresh herb and citrus brined turkey in butter 

I love a mixture of finely chopped rosemary, sage, and thyme added to the softened butter.

Make sure to get the butter inside the cavity of the turkey, on top of the breast meat underneath the skin, and all over the outside.

3. Place herbs under the skin covering the breast, if desired.

Stuff the cavity with additional herbs, if desired, and an onion cut into sixths. Cover the wing tips with foil.

I don’t recommend stuffing a turkey.

Here’s why you shouldn’t stuff a turkey:

  • The stuffing may not reach a high enough temperature to kill bacteria.
  • Your turkey will cook faster without a stuffed cavity.

How to Safely Stuff a Turkey

If you really love stuffing inside your turkey, there is a way to safely stuff a turkey:

First, prepare and cook the stuffing separately while the turkey roasts. Then, place the stuffing into the turkey once it is done roasting.

4. Use a V-Rack roaster for your turkey.

Place 3 cups of water in the bottom of the pan.

Add chopped onion and carrots at the bottom of the roasting pan.

Place the turkey on the rack, starting with it facing breast side down.

Roast for 45 minutes.

5. Remove the turkey from the oven, flip it breast side up, and baste the turkey with pan drippings. Cover the breast with foil.

6. Add an 2 more cups of water to the pan.

Roast the turkey for an additional 1 1/2 hours to 2 1/2 hours, until the meat thermometer inserted in the breast registers 160 degrees F and the leg/thigh registers at about 170 degrees F.

7. When the turkey has reached the correct temperature, remove it from the oven.

Tent the turkey with foil and let it rest for 30-45 minutes on a large cutting board before carving.

What is your secret to a flavorful, moist turkey?

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Fresh Herb and Citrus Turkey Brine

Yield: brine for 1 turkey
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Brine Cook Time: 45 minutes
Brining Time: 1 days
Total Time: 1 days 1 hour
This Fresh Herb and Citrus Turkey Brine combines lots of fresh herbs with a subtle hint of citrus. Brining your turkey will tenderize the meat and infuse it with a TON of flavor for Turkey Day! This brine amount works for one 16 - 20 lb turkey.

Ingredients

  • 2 2/3 cups Morton's kosher salt
  • 1 cups brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon whole allspice berries
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 5 stems fresh thyme
  • 3 stems fresh sage
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed parsley (stems ok)
  • 4 cloves garlic garlic, smashed
  • peel of 3 tangerines or oranges
  • 1 gallon boiling water
  • 8 pounds ice cubes

Instructions

  1. Combine the salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, bay leaves, thyme, sage, rosemary, parsley, garlic, and tangerine peel together in a large stock pot.
  2. Add 1 gallon of water.
  3. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil, remove from heat.
  4. After removing from heat, steep the mixture for 45 minutes.
  5. Then, add in enough ice to bring the brine amount up to 2 gallons (2 gallons = 32 cups).
  6. This is very important otherwise you will have an incredibly salty turkey.
  7. For smaller stock pots, you may have to allow the brine to cool and add the additional amount when pouring the brine into the bag in the following step.
  8. Rinse your turkey inside and out and remove the giblets.
  9. Place the turkey in a large zip-top bag. I recommend the Ziploc Big Bags (size large). Put the bagged turkey in a clean cooler.
  10. Pour the brine over the turkey, in the bag, making sure the breasts are fully submerged. Zip the bag closed.
  11. Place the cooler in a cool place, such as your garage or, and allow the turkey to soak in the cold brine for 12-24 hours.
  12. Use gel ice packs or bagged ice around the zipped bag inside the cooler, if necessary, to keep the brine below 40°F. (Adding more ice directly to the brine would only dilute it.)
  13. Alternatively, if you have room in your refrigerator, you may place the bagged turkey in a large foil tray rather than a cooler and store it on the fridge shelf.
  14. After the brining process, transfer the turkey to a roasting pan and discard the brine. Roast according to your preferred method.

Notes

Depending on the brand of kosher salt you use, you'll need different amounts of salt because the different brands available on the market have different densities. I use Morton's kosher salt in this recipe, however here are the conversions:

  • Diamond Crystal 2 cups salt per gallon of liquid.
  • Morton's kosher 1 1/3 cups salt per gallon of liquid.

Brining Time Guide

For a smaller turkey you may make less brine; however, be careful to do so with the original proportions of ingredient still intact.

Too much salt will leave you with an incredibly salty turkey.

Also, birds less than 10 pounds will likely not need to soak for the full 24 hours to achieve the desired results.

  • Whole Turkey: 12-24 hours
  • Turkey Breast: 3-6 hours
  • Large Whole Chicken: 2-4 hours

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This post for Fresh Herb and Citrus Turkey Brine was originally part of a holiday recipe theme week with giveaways.

The giveaway has been removed as it is now expired, however the original comments remain.

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