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Brining Turkey Beasts


Joined Aug 19, 2013
I just got a 5.5# frozen bone-in turkey breast. According to the label it has been injected to "enhance juiciness" with salt, turkey broth, salt, sodium phosphate, sugar and flavoring.

If I brine the breasts will that make it too salty?

Any suggestions are appreciated.


Smoking Guru
OTBS Member
Joined Aug 27, 2008
Here's the best way I can explain my take: check the label for sodium per serving (note the serving size...it's usually a very small serving). If sodium is a concern for you due to health reasons, you definitely should not introduce more of it. If salty taste is a concern, you don't want more sodium, either. It's already injected, so should be treated as compromised muscle (40/140*/4hr guideline). That said, if your reason for wanting to brine is to further enhance the flavor, as I'm sure it is, you could inject your own spice solution or dedicated marinade, with reduced/no-salt added.

The only way brine can do any good is if the salt content in the brine is higher than the salt content of the meat. The brine will absorb into the meat through the process of osmosis, and this is accomplished with salt. Given enough time, the salt content of the meat will equalize with the brine, and then, osmosis stops. By injecting, you save time and fridge space, and omit the salt in your injection solution if you wish, which then doesn't add to you sodium intake.

There is a myth about birds getting dry because they're not injected or brined...not true. Cook to internal temp of at least 165* as measure by a thermometer and they will be safe to eat. Keep the finished internal temp under the 175-180* range and they will not only be safe, but they will also be juicy. Over 180* is pushing it way too far...dry and tough will be the norm. I shoot for 170-172* in the breast and 172-175* in the dark meat...due to the pink/red color around the bones at lower temps...those areas cook a bit slower.

As of late, my birds don't get any brine or injection. I cook to temp and have never had any complaints. Use your seasoning of choice or your own blends, inside and out, and cook to temp.


chef jimmyj

Epic Pitmaster
Staff member
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
Group Lead
Joined May 12, 2011
Brines don't add salt unless you have a salty brine. Make your brine to the level of salt you like and the bird will equalize out at that level, regardless of what the factory did. The benefit, your flavors are now in the bird. I have been brining every piece of poultry enhanced or not, for 25 years and never had a salty bird. Eric's suggestion to Inject will get the job done faster and takes up less space. Either way works...JJ
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Joined Aug 19, 2013
I'm just concerned with being too salty to the taste. I am going to use Jeff's recent e-mail suggestion for smoking a turkey as a guideline since neither of my smokers are large enough for a whole turkey.

The learning never ends. Thanks for the suggestions.



Fire Starter
Joined May 27, 2013
I brine for 8-12 hours to introduce sweetness, citrus and herbal notes.  The acid in the citrus also helps the skin crisp because it begins to break down the fat layer underneath.  I've never found saltiness to be a problem.

My poultry brine is:

2 gallons water

1 cup kosher salt

1 cup brown sugar

2 lemons, quartered and squeezed

2 oranges, quartered and squeezed

(put the squeezed pieces in the brine)

6 long sprigs fresh rosemary

1 large bunch fresh sage

(rub thye herbs between your palms to release the essence)

I throw the frozen bird or breasts in a cooler with the brine, put the top on tight and leave it alone.  It will stay cold enough to be safe and the meat will be completely thawed after 8 hours.

Be sure to rinse the breasts well after brining.

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