If you are looking to add a unique flavor to your smoked turkey, and for your turkey to be really moist, brining is the way to go. Brining basically means adding your turkey to a salt water solution. This solution in many cases will have different spice. The end result is a whole turkey or turkey breast that is more moist and flavorful.
I’m going to cover several different smoked turkey brine recipes, and it will be up to you to decide which one you think is best. Also feel free to experiment and come up with your own brine recipes. If you are wondering how to brine your turkey with any of these recipes, be sure to check out my post on How to Brine a Turkey.
Basic Saltwater Brine1 cup of salt or1 ½ cups kosher or sea salt per gallon of water Enough water to completely submerge the turkey
Brine for approximately 1 hour per pound of turkey. This is a basic turkey brine in which other spices can be added. Turkey brine is only good for one use, so throw it out once you have finished brining your whole turkey or turkey breast.
Alton Brown’s Smoked Turkey Brine
This is what I consider to be the best smoked turkey brine recipe. It is my go to recipe for brining a turkey, whether I smoke it or just grill it. It is simple but flavorful.1 cup kosher salt 1/2 cup light brown sugar 1 gallon vegetable stock 1 tablespoon black peppercorns 1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger
1 gallon heavily iced water
Combine all the ingredients in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.
Early on the day or the night before you’d like to eat:
Combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining. Read more at FoodNetwork.com
Simple Turkey Brine1 gallon vegetable broth 1 cup sea salt 1 tbsp dried rosemary, crushed 1 tbsp dried sage 1 tbsp dried thyme 1 tbsp dried savory 1 gallon ice water
Combine all ingredients except ice water into a large stockpot. Bring to a boil and stir frequently until salt is dissolved. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
Pour into a 5 gallon bucket and add in ice water. Add the turkey to the bucket and place in the refrigerator overnight. The next day remove the turkey and pat dry.
Brown Sugar Worcestershire Brine2 gallons water 1 ½ cups canning salt 3 tbsp garlic, minced 1 tbsp ground black pepper ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce 1/3 cup brown sugar
Combine all ingredients in a 5 gallon bucket and mix thoroughly. Add the turkey and place in the refrigerator overnight. Remove the turkey and pat dry.
This is just the tip of the iceberg for smoked turkey brine recipes. There are so many more you can try and also so many different spices to experiment with. All these work great for smoked turkey breast brine as well. After you’ve brined your turkey, you now need to smoke it. To learn how to smoke your turkey, check out my post How to Smoke a Turkey.
If you don’t want to make your own brine, there are pre-made brine kits that are really good. This turkey brine kit is really good, plus there is no need to buy a bunch of different spices because they are all in the kit.