Want to brine your turkey but it's still frozen? Not enough time to thaw it before Thanksgiving? Don't worry, you can thaw and brine at the same time.
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So, you want to brine your turkey.
You have seen countless Instagram posts sharing the beauty of brining and you want to get in on the action. The problem is, your turkey is still frozen and you're not going to have time to brine. Or are you?
🦃 Can You Thaw and Brine Turkey at Same Time?
Yes you can. Breathe a sigh of relief now and read on.
One of the ways I like to quickly thaw my turkey is by placing it in water. I take a frozen bird, place it in a bucket of water, weigh it down, and it sits there until ready. I add ice sometimes depending on how cold the temperature of the water stays. It needs to be at 40 or below at all times.
So instead of just soaking the turkey in flavorless water, you could soak the turkey in a brine. Two birds are killed with one stone (although most likely if your turkey was frozen it was already killed).
🧂 What Do You Need
Start with a 5 gallon bucket. Your standard issue bucket. Make sure that is really clean before hand.
You will also need seasonings for the brine. Every brine of course starts with salt. Kosher salt is my go to for this purpose. While you can brine with just salt, there are many other options that can be used to add even more flavor. Here is a list of them:
- Whole/Cracked Black Peppercorn
- Dried Thyme
- Dried Rosemary
- Dried Oregano
- Dried Sage
- Whole/Cracked Allspice
- Garlic Powder
- Brown sugar
- Vegetable stock
- Chicken stock
- Turkey stock
- Candied ginger
- Ground ginger
Any of these would be things you could add to the brine.
✂️ Remove Packaging
I don't usually remove the packaging the turkey comes in until fully thawed, but in this case you need your brine to get into the bird while it thaws. So go ahead and remove all the packaging and you just have a frozen bird.
You may want to take your turkey out of the freezer for a bit to make the packaging easier to remove. Set it out for no more than 1 hour. Place it on a sheet pan to help catch any liquid that may run out. Make sure to wash and clean that area (and your hands) when done.
For your other Thanksgiving questions, check out our Thanksgiving Troubleshooting page.
Here is our method for thawing and brining at the same time.
- Get out a large stockpot. Combine 1 gallon of water or stock with 1 cup of kosher salt. Add in any of the other seasonings you wish to use. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir to dissolve the salt.
- Remove the brine and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Pour your brine into a 5 gallon bucket. Add 5 pounds of ice. Stir to combine.
- Add in your raw turkey (with the breast side down) that has been removed from the packaging. If the turkey floats, weight it down with something heavy to make sure it stays full immersed.
- Keep in the bucket based on the times below.
- Cook the turkey with your desired method.
💡 Tip - Use a probe thermometer to monitor the temperature of the iced brine. You want to make sure that it does not go over 40 degrees at any time. If it does, you need to add more ice. It's not a bad idea to have extra on hand. Don't have a probe thermometer? You can use an instant read or meat thermometer as well. The probe is nice because on most models you can enter in a temperature and an alarm goes off if you reach it.
⏲️ Thaw & Brine Times
Here is how long you should brine and thaw your turkey. You can go up to 16 hours total. This is the minimum time I believe that your turkey will be thawed out completely and had enough time to soak in the brine.
|12 pounds||8 hours|
|13 pounds||8 ½ hours|
|14 pounds||9 hours|
|15 pounds||9 ½ hours|
|16 pounds||10 hours|
|17 pounds||10 ½ hours|
|18 pounds||11 hours|
|19 pounds||11 ½ hours|
|20 pounds||12 hours|
|22 pounds||13 hours|
Let me know if you decide to employ the thaw brine. Leave a comment below.