Main Dish | November 12, 2018

Brined Turkey with Garlic Herb Butter

Ditch that dry bird and trade it in for a tender moist highlight of the meal like it should be with our easy turkey brine recipe. This citrus turkey brine will be make the tastiest thanksgiving turkey you’ve ever had.

This post is sponsored by ThermoWorks.  All opinions are my own.

Citrus turkey brine in a turquoise stock pot.

What Is Brining?

How do you get your turkey tender and moist?  Brining of course!

  • Brining is soaking your meat in a salt solution – adding moisture and flavor to your bird before it is cooked.
  • Muscle fibers absorb liquid during the brining.  Some of this liquid gets lost during cooking, but since the meat is more moist at the start of cooking, it ends up juicier.
  • Often times ingredients in brines work to break down fats resulting in a more tender meat.

Pro Tip: Do not brine a pre-basted or kosher turkey. These varieties of turkey already have a salt treatment. Brining them will result in a very salty bird.

Citrus turkey brine in a turquoise stock pot.

What Do I Need To Make A Citrus Turkey Brine?

  • Water
  • Salt
  • Maple Syrup
  • Apple Juice
  • Lemons
  • Oranges
  • Sage
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme

Citrus turkey brine ingredients.

How Do I Make A Turkey Brine?

  1. In a large stock pot combine 1 quart of water.
  2. Add 1 1/2 cups of kosher salt.
  3. Toss in your aromatics (citrus, and herbs).
  4. Add maple syrup and bring to a boil and make sure all of the salt is dissolved.
  5. Remove from heat and add 3 quarts of apple juice.  Set aside and let cool completely.
  6. While brine is cooling you can prep your bird. Remove the neck and giblets (yuck) and rinse and dry the outside and cavity.  Add bird to brine.
  7. If the liquid does not cover your turkey, add water until it does.  Now let it sit for 8-24 hours.

Pro Tip #1: Depending on the size of your bird you may be able to brine in your stock pot like I did here – or you may have to use a brining bag or a 5-10 gallon bucket.  Regardless of where you brine – the bird needs to be kept at 40 degrees.  So choose your container of choice and insert your bird.  I like to start breast up and flip it half way through the brining time.  If your bird floats, weight it down with a bowl or plate.

Pro Tip #2: Do not brine for longer that 24 hours.  Over-brining is possible – the bird will become to salty and the tissue will become spongy.

Citrus turkey brine process shots.

Garlic Herb Compound Butter

To take your brined bird to the next level, I recommend rubbing it with a compound butter before baking.  Compound butter is easy to make.  You’ll need:

  • butter
  • sage
  • thyme
  • rosemary
  • garlic
  • lemon

Citrus turkey brined turkey with garlic herb butter ingredients.

How To I Make Garlic Herb Butter?

  1. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl.
  2. Stir until well combined.

Citrus turkey brined turkey with garlic herb butter process shots.

Amping Up The Flavor

  1. After your turkey has brined, remove from liquid and discard remaining brine.  Rinse and pat your bird dry.  Place in a roasting pan and generously seasoning the outside and cavity with salt and pepper.
  2. Place compound butter under the skin of the bird and rub the entire outside with the butter.
  3. Stuff cavity with herbs, onion, and lemon.
  4. Insert probe of your ThermoWorks chef alarm thermometer and bake.

Citrus turkey brined turkey with garlic herb butter rub on raw turkey.


When it comes to cooking thermometers – ThermoWorks is simply the best.  I’ve thrown out so many cheap thermometers that are unreliable and low quality – that when I discovered ThermoWorks I vowed I’d never go back.  They have a wide range of thermometers for every budget.  I own the Thermopop, the Thermapen, and the Chef Alarm.  All will work great for your turkey, but the Chef Alarm takes out all of the guess work.

Citrus turkey brined turkey thermometers.

How Long Do I Bake My Turkey?

I suggest preheating your over to 450 degrees.  Right before you put the bird in, reduce the heat to 325.  From there you are going to bake 15 minutes per pound. The internal temperature of the bird needs to reach 165 degrees for safe consumption.

To ensure you reach that temp and don’t overbake – use the Chef Alarm.  You simply set your max temp and an alarm will sound with your turkey has reached that temperature.  ThermoWorks really makes your Thanksgiving Turkey come out perfect.

I promise you’ll be left with a moist flavorful turkey at your Thanksgiving table.


Please let me know if you make this brined turkey?  I love to hear from those who make my recipes.  If you want to keep up with our newest recipes, make sure you follow is on Facebook and Instagram, and make sure to subscribe to our newsletter.

5 from 2 votes
Turkey Brine
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Brine Time
8 hrs
Total Time
30 mins

You'll be extra grateful at Thanksgiving while eating this prepped turkey!

Course: dinner
Cuisine: American
Keyword: how to brine a turkey tutorial, thanksgiving dinner, turkey brine
Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 692 kcal
Author: Kadee
Citrus Brine
  • 1 quart water
  • 1 1/2 cups kosher salt
  • 2 lemons quartered
  • 2 oranges quartered
  • 2 fresh springs rosemary needles removed and stem discarded
  • 10 fresh bay leaves
  • 10 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp whole peppercorns
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 3 quarts apple juice
  • Water to cover the bird
  • 12 lb turkey giblets removed
Garlic Herb Compound Butter
  • 1 cup salted butter softened
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh sage minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme minced
  • 5 cloves garlic mined
  • 1 lemon zested
Other ingredients
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 lemons quartered
  • 5 fresh sage leaves
  • 5 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 5 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 onion quartered
  1. In a large stock pot combine 1 qt water, salt, lemons, oranges, rosemary, bay, sage, thyme, peppercorns, and syrup
  2. Bring to a boil.
  3. Remove from heat and add apple juice.
  4. Let cool completely.
  5. Place cleaned turkey in a large container (stock pot, brining bag, 10 gallon bucket, or unscented garbage bag)
  6. Pour brine over the bird. If bird is not submerged add water until it is. If bird floats, weigh it down with a bowl or plate.
  7. Keep bird in brine at 40 degrees F for 8-24 hours, turning the bird once.
  8. Once brining time is complete rinse and dry turkey and prep for cooking.
Garlic Herb Compound Butter
  1. In a medium bowl combine all ingredients. 

  2. Stir until well combined.

Bird Prep
  1. Preheat over to 450 degrees.

  2. Once brining is complete, rinse and dry bird.

  3. Place bird in a roasting pan.

  4. Place compound butter under the skin of the bird and rub the entire outside of the bird.

  5. Stuff cavity of bird with herbs, lemon, and onion.

  6. Reduce oven heat to 325 degrees.  Place bird inside oven and bake until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.  About 15 minutes per pound.

  7. Let bird rest 15 minutes before carving.

Recipe Video

Nutrition Facts
Turkey Brine
Amount Per Serving (1 pound)
Calories 692 Calories from Fat 297
% Daily Value*
Fat 33g51%
Saturated Fat 14g88%
Cholesterol 272mg91%
Sodium 14650mg637%
Potassium 907mg26%
Carbohydrates 26g9%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 19g21%
Protein 70g140%
Vitamin A 780IU16%
Vitamin C 37.5mg45%
Calcium 115mg12%
Iron 3.7mg21%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


6 thoughts on “Brined Turkey with Garlic Herb Butter

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  1. 5 stars
    I would like to add one important rule for brining. Do not attempt to brine a pre-basted or kosher turkey. These turkeys are already salt treated and if you brine them they will be too salty to eat.

  2. In your write-up, you season the bird inside and out with salt and pepper after brining, but in the recipe itself down below you don’t mention this step. Is it necessary? Will it make the turkey too salty? I already have a pre-basted turkey and plan to do the butter part, plus herbs and citrus in the cavity, but not sure if I should season the bird with salt and pepper first.

    1. I Vuthy, I’m so sorry I didn’t see your questions prior to thanksgiving. I hope your turkey turned out delicious. If you have a pre-basted turkey I would not recommend brining at all. This will result in a salty bird. I think a sprinkle of salt and pepper will be fine though, along with the butter rub.