Basic Brine Recipe

for Turkey or Chicken

Why brine?

Brining chicken or turkey helps to lock in juices, break down muscle fibers so it’s more tender, and imparts a great deal of flavor. The results are an overall juicier, more tender and flavorful piece of poultry.  The following basic brine recipe will help you brine simple chicken breasts or a special holiday turkey.

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Cold water

Kosher salt (Diamond is a great brand)

Optional lemon or orange slices

Whole peppercorns

Spring of rosemary


Basic Brine Ingredients 

The basic brine ratio is 2.5 cups of water plus 2 tablespoons of kosher salt. This will brine about 2 lbs of meat, or 4 chicken breasts or 2 turkey breasts

Brine ratios

To brine a smaller turkey weighing about 12 lbs, use 1/2 gallon of water and 1/2 cup of salt.

To brine a larger turkey weighing about 18 lbs, use 1 gallon of water and 1 cup of salt.

Creating your brine couldn't be easier. Simply heat cold water in a sauce pan or stock pot if making a large batch, and add in salt, peppercorns and rosemary. Heat until the salt is dissolved, then allow to cool.

Make the brine

When the brine is cool, simply add it to the chicken or turkey. For smaller cuts of poultry, use a resealable bag, and for larger birds, use a stock pot or bucket. Several stores also carry very large resealable bags specifically designed for brining turkeys. 

Brine chicken or smaller turkey breasts overnight, or for at least 6 hours. For full size birds, brine for up to 18 hours, but do not leave in the brine for longer than that. Remove poultry from brine, rinse, pat dry and prepare to cook.

Helpful brining tips

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– Brine concentration is critical, so use a kitchen scale to measure out your salt, or use the same measuring instruments each time you make a batch of brine.

– Your brine should taste like an over-salted soup, or like sea water. It should not feel acrid on the tongue.

- If you forget about your poultry and leave it in the brine for too long, remove it from the brine, and place it in a cool water bath. Soaking the bird in a plain water bath for a few hours will slowly remove the salt from the chicken and return it to the water.


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