Citrus Turkey Brine | EASY & Flavorful Turkey Brine Recipe! (2024)

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Looking for an easy way to add some serious flavor to your Thanksgiving turkey? This citrus turkey brine recipe is the answer! Made with fresh herbs, orange slices and orange juice, this citrus brine for turkey will make your Thanksgiving turkey the star of the show!

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Are you in charge of making the Thanksgiving turkey this year? Wanna make this Thanksgiving turkey super flavorful and juicy? You’ve come to the right place.

This recipe for citrus turkey brine is an amazing way to infuse flavor the the meat of the turkey. The brine recipe is simple and can be done a day or two in advance of the big dinner.

In this post I’ll show you how to make a turkey brine, what you’ll need to make a brine, and how to brine a turkey.

What do I need to make a turkey brine?

For this citrus turkey brine you’ll need the following ingredients. Note that I’ve linked these ingredients to Target (affiliate), should you need to do a quick, same-day ingredient pick-up. Target has same day pick-up, drive-up and even delivery, where they do the shopping for you.

  • Orange juice – any bottled orange juice from the refrigerated section of the grocery store will work.
  • Kosher salt – I recommend using kosher salt for any turkey brine. Table salt can sometimes result in a metallic flavor, which can definitely ruin the flavor of a turkey.
  • Brown sugar – Brown sugar will give the brine a nice richness, but will not make the turkey overly sweet. Feel free to use either light or dark brown sugar.
  • Peppercorns – whole peppercorns will add a great flavor dimension to the brine.
  • Fresh rosemary sprigs – fresh rosemary is wonderfully aromatic, and will provide a great herby flavor to the brine. Buy extra for garnishing the roasted turkey – it will smell amazing!
  • Ground sage – ground sage will also provide a nice herby flavor. It’s an ideal herb for any poultry recipe.
  • Whole cloves – whole cloves will add a wonderful flavor to the brine. Be careful – just a few cloves will go a long way. No need to add extra.
  • Star anise – star anise is another spice that will go a long way with flavor. You’ll need just a few of these beauties to add a great flavor dimension to the brine.
  • Whole cinnamon sticks – cinnamon sticks will add a mild spiciness to the brine without overpowering the flavor.
  • Garlic cloves – fresh garlic cloves will bring a great complimentary flavor alongside the cinnamon, cloves and anise.
  • Oranges – fresh oranges will be slices and simmered in the brine. The orange slices will add a great citrus flavor to compliment the brine.

Materials & Supplies Needed to Brine a Turkey

  • Brining bag – make sure you’re not buying a roasting bag. A roasting bag is made of much thinner plastic and won’t hold up to the weight of the liquid and the turkey. It will likely spring a leak! Make sure to get a brining bag which is made of thicker plastic and build to withhold the weight of the turkey and gallons of liquid.
  • Stock pot – any stock pot or Dutch oven will do. You’ll need this to bring your brine to a simmer on the stovetop.
  • A roasting pan – I actually prefer a disposable turkey roasting pan, especially when I’m making Thanksgiving dinner. It’s makes the clean-up much easier, as I dispose of the turkey carcass and any unwanted remains all in the pan.

For exact ingredient amounts and full recipe instructions be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the post for the recipe. Thanks!

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How do I make a turkey brine recipe?

To make a turkey brine, start by bringing out a large Dutch oven or stock pot. Add the salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, rosemary, sage, cloves, star anise, cinnamon sticks, garlic, orange slices, orange juice and water to the pot.

Stir the ingredients and heat over medium heat. Stir often to help the salt and sugar dissolve into the liquid. Bring the ingredients to a low boil, then remove the brine from the heat. Let the brine sit and come to room temperature.

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Once the brine has cooled completely and is at room temperature, it is then safe to add to a raw, thawed turkey.

Note: we do NOT recommend adding a hot brine to a turkey. We also don’t recommend adding a hot brine to a frozen turkey to help it thaw.

Ingredient Substitutions and Recommendations:

  • Substitute apple cider for the orange juice – check out my super popular recipe for Apple Cider Turkey Brine. It’s a Thanksgiving classic and thousands of people have raved about this recipe.
  • Fresh sage in place of dry sage – often available in most supermarkets during the holidays, fresh sage is a great option in place of dried. Be conservative – just a few sprigs will go a long way.
  • Swerve brown sugar substitute – if you’re like me and want to eliminate refined sugar, Swerve brown sugar substitute is a great alternative.

For exact ingredient amounts and full recipe instructions be sure to scroll down to the recipe at the bottom of the post. Thanks!

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How do I brine a turkey?

Brining a turkey is surprisingly simple. Begin by placing your thawed turkey into a large brining bag. If you’re using a frozen turkey, make sure it is thawed and that you’ve removed the giblet bag and neck from the inner portion of the turkey.

Place the turkey breast-side down in the brining bag. This will help ensure the breast and thigh meat will be thoroughly submerged in the citrus turkey brine. The brine will help tenderize the meat, making it extra juicy while cooking.

Once your brine has simmered and cooled to room temperature pour the brine over the turkey and into the brining bag. If you have an extra large turkey, feel free to add more water to cover the turkey in the bag.

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Wrap up the turkey and brine securely in the brining bag. Chip clips work well in securing the bag. (See photo above.) I like to sit the turkey in a roasting pan when placing it back in the refrigerator to chill. Should the bag spring a leak, the liquid will be contained in the pan.

Place the brined turkey in the refrigerator for 18 to 24 hours before roasting the turkey.

Frequently asked questions about making a turkey brine recipe:

How long do I brine a turkey?

A turkey can be brined anytime between 6-24 hours. The ideal time is 18-24 hours. I don’t recommend brining any longer than 36 hours, as the protein in the turkey will begin to breakdown and become grainy.

What size of turkey is best for this turkey brine recipe?

The brine amount is appropriate for almost all turkey sizes. The brine liquid will be a good amount for anything from a 10-20 lb turkey. Any larger and you may want to add some extra water.

Can I brine a turkey breast?

Yes, a turkey breast can be brined before roasting. Simply place the turkey breast into the brine and refrigerate for 18-24 hours. Rinse thoroughly before roasting.

Can I use a roasting bag instead of a brining bag?

No, a brining bag and roasting bag are two very different products. A roasting bag is built to go into the oven and is a much thinner plastic. It is not meant to hold a large amount of liquid and will likely spring a leak. Instead, be sure to purchase a brining bag. This is specifically built for large amounts of liquid and able to withstand the weight of a turkey. It is much thicker plastic and is much more durable.

What can I use instead of brining bag?

If you’re unable to find a brining bag, you can also use a cooler large enough to fit your turkey. If you are using a cooler, it is really important to keep your turkey cold while brining. Add ice to your brine along with the turkey. Keeping the turkey cold is essential in preventing growth of bacteria which causes food poisoning.

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Tips and FAQ’s about cooking a turkey:

How long do I cook a turkey?

Cook a turkey 10-12 minutes per pound. For example, if your turkey is 15 lbs, then you’ll need 180 minutes, or approximately 3 hours. To test for doneness, make sure to use an instant read digital meat thermometer. The temperature of the breast meat should be 165 degrees and the thigh meat should be at 175 degrees.

What temperature do you cook a turkey?

A turkey is best when cooked at 325 degrees.

How do I know when turkey is done cooking?

The turkey is done cooking when the internal temperature of the breast is 165 degrees and the thigh is 175 degrees. For best results, use an instant-read digital meat thermometer.

Can I make gravy from the drippings of the cooked, brined turkey? Will it be too salty?

The drippings shouldn’t be overly salty. Because you have thoroughly rinsed your turkey prior to cooking, any excess salt was removed. However, if you would like to exercise caution, use half drippings, half water or chicken stock for your gravy.

Need some amazing side-dish ideas to go with your turkey? Here are some of our most viral side dish recipes:

  • Ruth’s Chris Sweet Potato Casserole
  • Everything Thanksgiving Stuffing
  • Parmesan Mashed Potatoes
  • Hasselback Sweet Potatoes
  • Roasted Butternut Squash Medley
  • Healthy Green Bean Casserole
  • Roasted Rainbow Carrots
  • Cranberry Fluff Salad
  • Cranberry Citrus Salad with Pecans

If you loved this turkey brine recipe, check out some of these other similar posts:

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Citrus Turkey Brine

Erin Indahl-Fink

Looking for an easy, flavorful turkey brine recipe? This citrus turkey brine made with fresh oranges, rosemary, cinnamon and spices is a home run! An amazing way to add some serious flavor and juiciness to your Thanksgiving turkey.

Print Recipe Pin Recipe

Prep Time 10 minutes mins

Cook Time 10 minutes mins

Total Time 20 minutes mins

Course Holiday Food

Cuisine American

Calories 44 kcal




  • To a large stock pot or Dutch oven, add all of the ingredients; orange juice, salt, sugar, peppercorns, sage, rosemary, cloves, cinnamon sticks, star anise pods, garlic, orange slices and water.

  • Heat over medium heat, stirring well to help the salt and sugar dissolve well into the liquid.

  • Bring the brine to a boil, then promptly remove from heat. Let the brine cool completely to room temperature.

  • Place thawed turkey (breast side down) into a brining bag, removing any giblets and neck from inner cavity. Pour the cooled brine over the top of the turkey, including all ingredients that were cooked in the brine (herbs, orange slices, cinnamon sticks, ect.)

  • Seal the brining bag and secure with clips if necessary. Refrigerate the brined turkey for 18-24 hours.

  • Once the brining is complete, remove the turkey from the brine and bag. Discard the brine and bag – do NOT reuse.

  • Place several dish towels in your sing and place the brined turkey on top of the towels. Thoroughly rinse the turkey with water both in the inner cavity and on the outer skin. Lightly pat dry with clean towel and prep for roasting.


Once you’ve removed the turkey from the brine be sure to DISCARD any leftover brine. The leftover brine is NOT safe to consume.

Roasting time for a turkey: Cook a turkey 10-12 minutes per pound. For example, if your turkey is 15 lbs, then you’ll need 180 minutes, or approximately 3 hours.

Turkey is done when the internal temperature of the breast meat reaches 165 degrees, and the internal temperature of the thigh meat reaches 175 degrees.

Remove turkey from oven to rest after cooking. Cover with foil, and let rest for 30 minutes before carving. This will allow the juices to settle into the meat.


Serving: 1gCalories: 44kcalCarbohydrates: 11gSodium: 2451mgFiber: 1gSugar: 9g

Keyword citrus turkey brine, citrus brine for turkey, turkey brine recipe

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Citrus Turkey Brine | EASY & Flavorful Turkey Brine Recipe! (13)

You Might Also Like These Recipes

  • Apple Cider Turkey Brine
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  • Roasted Butternut Squash Medley
  • Thanksgiving Turkey Casserole
  • How to Cook A Moist Turkey
Citrus Turkey Brine | EASY & Flavorful Turkey Brine Recipe! (2024)


What is the formula for brine? ›

Basic Brine

Place that volume of water in a container large enough to hold the brine and the meat. Add 1 tablespoon of salt for every cup of water you used and mix until the salt is completely dissolved. For example, if you are using 1 gallon (16 cups) of water, add 16 tablespoons (1 cup) of salt.

How long should you soak a turkey in brine? ›

As a general rule of thumb, you'll want to let the turkey brine for at least 1 hour per pound of turkey. Here's a breakdown of how long to brine a turkey based on size:
  1. 12–14-lb. turkey: 16–18 hours.
  2. 14–16-lb. turkey: 18–20 hours.
  3. 16–18-lb. turkey: 20–22 hours.
  4. 18–20-lb. turkey: 22–24 hours.
Oct 23, 2023

Should you add herbs to brine? ›

Brines can be simply salt and water however, the addition of herbs and spices can give your brine added flavor.

Does a brined turkey need to be seasoned? ›

If you have a favorite spice blend, you can feel free to rub it on or mix it with butter. Just avoid adding more salt, she notes, since you already salted the bird during the brining process.

What is the best brine method? ›

Dry-brining is our preferred method for seasoning both large and small pieces of meat, poultry, and sometimes even seafood. Along with producing juicy, flavorful results, dry-brining also helps us get better Maillard browning and crispy skin.

What are the three types of brine? ›

Classes of brines include chloride brines (calcium and sodium), bromides, and formates. A general term that refers to various salts and salt mixtures dissolved in an aqueous solution. Brine can be used more strictly, however, to refer to solutions of sodium chloride.

Can you leave turkey in brine too long? ›

The amount of time will depend on the type of brine you use; however, do not brine any longer than two days and always keep the turkey and brine refrigerated (at 40°F or less). Remove turkey from brine after the recommended time.

Do I rinse turkey after brining? ›

You should always rinse the turkey after wet or dry brining. Once rinsed, you can let the turkey air dry, uncovered, in the refrigerator for several hours, or pat it dry with a paper towel.

Do you fully submerge a turkey when brining? ›

This dilutes the salt solution to the best ratio for brining and also helps further cool the solution. Make sure the turkey is completely submerged. If needed, prepare more brine solution at a ratio of 1/4 cup salt per quart of water to completely submerge the turkey. Cover and refrigerate.

How to flavor a brine? ›

Flavoring a Brine

Any and all spices and seasonings are in play, whole spices (like seeds, peppercorns, etc.) tend to work best. Our Brining Mix features aromatic garlic and bay leaves, the citrus flavors of coriander, lemon, orange, and lemon verbena, as well as sweet allspice and sharp peppercorns.

Should I put sugar in my brine? ›

Along with salt, sugar (either brown or white granulated) is a dry-brine must-have, essential both for its browning capabilities and flavor-enhancing properties.

Why do you put vinegar in brine? ›

Their action lowers the pH of the brine to a point that no pathogens can survive. This is the same microbial activity found in a healthy human gut. They perform the very same tasks in the small intestine as in the pickling jar; they create a pH so low that no pathogens can proliferate.

Do you butter a turkey after brining? ›

To ensure an exceptionally juicy and flavorful turkey, this recipe calls for brining the bird and also rubbing it with a compound butter.

Are butterball turkeys already brined? ›

Butterball whole turkeys are individually pre-brined for convenience and taste, but if you want even more flavor and juiciness, you can brine, marinate, or inject your turkey following our step-by-step instructions.

Do you have to refrigerate while brining a turkey? ›

Once the brine solution is cooled, pour it over the turkey. Now you'll just need to seal up the bag and refrigerate it for at least sixteen hours. Twenty-four hours is better, though, especially for a large turkey.

What is the chemical composition of brine? ›

Salt brine is a solution of salt (typically sodium chloride) and water. It has a freezing point lower than pure water and, as such, is a useful tool in reducing the adhesion of snow and ice to road surfaces.

What is the balanced chemical equation for brine? ›

When electricity is passed through a concentrated solution of , which is called Brine, it decomposes and results in the formation of Sodium Hydroxide ( ), Chlorine gas ( ), and Hydrogen gas ( ). 2 NaCl ( aq ) + 2 H 2 O ( l ) → 2 NaOH ( aq ) + Cl 2 ( g ) + H 2 ( g )

What is the mixture of brine? ›

A brine is essentially just salted water, but for such a simple solution it can do many things. Brines are used to salt cheeses such as feta and halloumi, not only for flavour, but to inhibit the growth of a variety of moulds, to preserve it and in some cases to draw out moisture, helping it to develop a rind.

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