Remove giblets from cavity. If turkey is frozen, thaw beforehand. (How to thaw a turkey)
1 1/2 cups kosher salt or sea salt
1/2 cup cane sugar
2+ gallons water
Optional aromatics: 6 bay leaves, 1 teaspoon mustard seeds, 2 sliced onions, 2 tablespoons whole peppercorns, 6 cloves crushed garlic
1 food-grade plastic 5 gallon bucket (or) 1 large plastic cooler (or) plastic brining bag
- Combine salt, sugar, and 1 gallon of water in a pot and place over high heat. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar and salt are dissolved. Remove from heat and cool. Add this to the remaining gallon water and cool completely.
- Brine should be completely chilled before adding poultry. Place your poultry in the water (along with aromatics if using) and place in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Or cover and place outside or in a garage if it's cold enough. (It should never go above 40 degrees) Turkey should be completely submerged. Weigh it down if necessary with a plate. You can also add more water.
- Remove turkey from brine 1 hour before you're ready to roast it. Rinse turkey well after removing it from the brine solution and pat it dry; discard the brine. If you are not ready to cook the turkey right away, remove from brine, rinse and refrigerate until ready to use.
You can use additional flavoring agents such as apple cider, white wine, brown sugar, maple syrup, etc. If you add liquid, cut back on the water.