There are varying opinions on the subject of turkey brine. But on average, you’ll find that most culinarians are in favor of this technique—and that includes The Austin Artisans. From moistening the bird to adding diverse, deep flavor, it serves a multitude of purposes, making it a Thanksgiving must!

If you haven’t hosted a holiday dinner before, you might not know what exactly brine is or how it works. If you have, you might be ready to take this year’s meal to the next level. No matter where you are on the cooking continuum, our chef secrets will answer all of your pressing questions to help you create a 5-star turkey feast.

What is turkey brine?

Brine is a solution made with salt, water and sugar. The salt water keeps the bird moist and juicy. Plus, it’s common for people to overcook turkey, especially the breast. Brining is like insurance, protecting the bird from drying out. If you add a little sugar, it caramelizes the skin as it roasts, lending that perfect golden-brown color.

How do I make basic brine?

Add 1 cup of kosher salt and about ¼ cup of sugar to every gallon of water. Or, use a combination of water and stock to elevate the flavor profile. If your stock is already salted, decrease the amount that you add.

Then, bring all the ingredients to a gentle simmer to dissolve the water and salt. Let it cool completely.

Where do I store it?

Fully submerge the turkey in brine in a cooler with ice. Leave the cooler outside if it’s cold enough. Or, place the turkey and brine in a large pot and store it in the refrigerator. Do not leave it on the counter!

How can I kick it up?

Us chefs like to push boundaries, and Thanksgiving is no exception. I typically add whatever seasonings I have on hand and call it my “kitchen sink brine”. However, a few of my favorite seasonings include: star anise, cumin seeds, caraway seeds and dried citrus. Roast or toast the seeds first to draw out their oils and flavors. Then, add them to the brine before or after you simmer the liquid.

Cyber Monday Special

The Austin Artisans are offering an exclusive one-day only Cyber Monday Special on November 28. Visit our blog or Facebook page on 11/28 for the big reveal!

Hint: Our Personal Chef Services make the best (most practical) gift for your loved one—or yourself—this holiday season and into the New Year.