Do you have to brine a turkey?

  • Some of the links on this forum allow SMF, at no cost to you, to earn a small commission when you click through and make a purchase. Let me know if you have any questions about this.
SMF is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.


Original poster
Sep 13, 2010
I want to smoke my first turkey. Do I have to brine overnight?
What if I just smoke it?
I don't, I just rub a mixture of Butter and Cavendars seasoning under the skin and on the skin and smoke at between 275º and 300º... With a turkey you won't have to worry about getting through the danger zone in 4 hrs if you smoke it that high...
Hello folks another newbie (to the forum) here. I started Brining my turkey two years ago and swore I would never go back to non-brining. The results are great.  The brine recipe I use is on from “Alton Brown”. Using a cleanthermal 5 Gallon Drink cooler/dispenser works great too. I leave the ice in the bag and the weight keeps the turkey submerged.

Turkey Brine:
  • 1 (14-16) lb Turkey
  • 1 Cup Kosher Salt
  • ½ Cup Light Brown Sugar
  • 1 Gallon Vegetable Stock
  • 1 Tablespoon Black Peppercorns
  • ½ Tablespoon Allspice Berries
  • ½ Tablespoon Candied Ginger
  • 1 Gallon Cold Water
  • 8 lb bag of Ice
Combine all ingredients, except cold water, in a stockpot, and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve solids,then remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Early on the day of cooking, (or the night before) combine the brine and cold water in a cleanthermal 5 Gallon Drink cooler/dispenser. Place thawed turkey, breast side down in the brine; add 6-8lbs. of ice and cover. Allow to sit in cool area for at least 6 hours. Remove turkey and dry with paper towels before cooking.


I have brine turkeys and I have not brined the birds too. I enjoy the brined alittle better but..........The un-brined birds are really good too. So either way you will come out with a good tasting and moist bird anyway.
A tip for all you folks - Ziploc makes 3 gallon, 5 gallon, and 20 gallon storage bags that work awesome for brining. I use 3 & 5 primarily, but have used a 20 gallon for doing two 15 lb. turkeys at the same time! I put the turkeys and the brine in the ziploc, then put the bag in a big 48 gallon ice chest, and top it off with a 20 lb. bag of ice. It can sit in the garage for 24 hrs. no problem, the ice doesn't dilute the brine, I don't have to try and find room in the fridge for a big bucket, and when I take it out the cooler is still clean since all the turkey juice and brine was sealed in the bag.

And these are super heavy duty bags, probably about 3-4 times thicker than a reg ziploc, with two sealing strips.
You hit it right on the head cliff,  it seems harder everyday to find really any meat that hasn't been brined.  I go strait to the slaughter house for the majority of my meat anymore.  I'm beginning to think producers will do anything to extend shelf life anymore. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

Hot Threads