Do You Brine and Inject a Turkey (Techniques For a Juicy Turkey)

Wondering if you need to wet brining your turkey?

Do you strive for tender meat for your kosher turkey at thanksgiving? 

Understanding the brining process is critical for keeping the meat moist. 

While also adding amazing flavor to a juicy turkey. 

Let us find out why it is important to brine and inject a turkey hours before cooking. 

A Tasty Turkey

This larger bird has a fantastic light gamey flavor from its white meat and dark meat.

Complementary flavors from the natural seasoning like brown sugar work well together.

These will permeate the layers of meat and turkey skin. permeate

The average weight is around a 12-14 pound turkey but they can get much bigger. 

Fresh turkeys are served up for Thanksgiving and need a longer cooking time due to their size.

The difference between juicy meat and a dry piece of meat can come down to applying a brining process.

Note: A frozen turkey can be as flavorful if you are unable to buy a fresh pasture-raised turkey.


What Is Brining?

So what is brining and what does it do? in

A brine is treating food with a salt concentration which in our case will be the raw meat of a turkey. 

The two main types of bringing are wet and dry. 

Wet Brine

A wet brine is created by adding sodium into cold water which in turn creates a water and salt solution. 

You could also use apple cider vinegar in the brine.

Dry Brine

A dry brine is applying a concentration of kosher salt to the meat before cooking without water. 

It is liberally covering every area to form a crust which is then removed. 

What Is Best for a Turkey? 

The ideal brine type of brine for a flavorful turkey (which is mostly cooked whole) is wet brine. 


What Role Does Salt Play When Brining a Turkey?

When meat is brined and exposed to salt it penetrates on a cellular level.

Right into the muscle fibers and protein structure. 

The salt molecules permeate the meat in the same way by extracting moisture.

This also stops the muscle contractions.

This adds new flavor profiles and tenderizes.

What Are the Different Methods of Applying a Wet Brine?

The different methods of a wet brine application come in 2 forms. 

Injection brining or injection marinates with a flavorful liquid.

Or a complete submersion of the turkey in your liquid brine ingredients.

Brine Submerged  

The standard for wet brine is submerging your turkey for at least 24 hours before smoking it.

Hours in advance before cooking. 

Injection of Your Brine Recipe 

The injection method is using a meat injector to insert your marinade solution.

The liquid ingredients will go deeper into the muscle tissue (meat). 

I inject my solution after the initial submersion. 

Focus on injecting the turkey breast and legs, right to the bones if you can. 

Note: This can be done if you do not have lots of time to apply the wet brine.


Do You Submerge & Inject Brine With a Turkey? 

You can use both methods of the injection process and the submersion technique. 

I will note however that make sure your injection mixture and brine are similar in flavors.

Also, be mindful of excess salt but we will get into that further on! 

How Long Do You Wet Brine the Turkey Meat? 

So now that we’ve covered the brining method how long are we waiting? 

The longer the better!

As a turkey is large you can be looking at least overnight. 

I follow 60 minutes per pound and have had great results.

It is important to know the weight of your turkey.

Do this before starting the brining and cooking process.

What Are the Ratios When Brining a Turkey? 

The ratio of wet brining and the injection recipe is as followed; 

– 1 cup of water (230ml) to a tablespoon (14 grams) of salt. 

The brine solution should be enough to cover the whole turkey in how many cups of water it takes.

Our Favorite Turkey Recipes

Smoked Turkey Breast

Whole Smoked Turkey in a Gas Smoker

Smoked Turkey Neck

Smoked Turkey Wings

Smoked Turkey Legs

Pre Cooked Smoked Turkey

Smoked Turkey Tails

Dissolving Salt in the Water Before Bringing Your Turkey 

So, get a giant plastic container ready which is large enough to fit in your meat and the water.

Go ahead and fill the desired water in a saucepan with your measured salt.

Regular tap water is fine.

You want to gently bring it to a boil until all the salt is dissolved and then let it cool to room temperature.

Do this the same for the brine you will be injecting.

Tip: Use your favorite salts like pink Himalayan or a gourmet sea salt.

What Do You Need to Inject a Turkey With Brine? 

The best tool to use for your brine injection marinades is a meat injector. 

A meat injector can be purchased online or in your local BBQ store.

It acts just like a syringe that pierces through the layer of fat and into the meat. 

Can You Flavor a Brine? 

So you’ve got your brine cooling after dissolving the salt in hot water? 

Now is the time time to add any desired flavors. 

I like infusing crushed garlic gloves and bay leaves.

Why not add a tablespoon of Worchestershire sauce or fruit juice?

Get creative.

Note: Be careful adding more salt in the form of soy sauce. You do not want to over-season the mild flavor within the delicate meat in parts of the bird.


Do I Keep the Meat Refrigerated When Brining? 

You want to keep the turkey refrigerated while brining it to avoid food poisoning. 

Do You Brine and Inject a Turkey? The Summary 

– Give yourself at least a day to allow the brine solution to do its work. 

You should inject the turkey after the initial submersion of wet brine for best results.

– Use similar flavors in your wet and injection brine.

– Know your turkey’s weight and follow the above measurements.

Cooking Tips

– Use a pellet grill with full temperature control to get the best results.

Pat down with paper towels to remove excess salt and brine.

– Apply olive oil for crispy skin and rest after cooking for at least 60 minutes.

Measure the internal temperature with a meat thermometer while cooking.

Smoke On!


Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling adventures with you!

You can read more on our About Us page.

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