Watch icn

How to Make a Brine 03:39

Brandon Boudet

A well-crafted brine will add depth and flavor to your Thanksgiving turkey.

How to Make a Brine 03:39

Brandon Boudet

A well-crafted brine will add depth and flavor to your Thanksgiving turkey.

Prep Time Cook Time Total Time Serving Size

The Steps

  1. 1. Select a container to use for the brine. The ideal size should be large enough to fit the entire turkey, but small enough so that the brine will be able to surround the bird fully. An ice chest, wash tub, plastic bag, or other non-reactive storage vessel are all decent options. Add the milk, brown sugar, salt, garlic cloves, and thyme to this container. 01:22

  2. 2. Place the turkey into the brine, gently pressing it down so that it is submerged. Turn the turkey in the liquid a couple of times to ensure that the seasonings get mixed in evenly with the milk. 02:28

  3. 3. Place the container in the refrigerator or keep it chilled with ice. Allow the turkey to marinate in the brine for 12 to 24 hours. 02:55

What You'll Need


- Large container or bucket
- Chef's knife
- Cutting board
- Ice (optional)


- Turkey (1, 10 to 14 pound whole bird)
- Whole milk (1 gallon)
- Brown sugar (1/2 cup)
- Salt (1 cup)
- Garlic (5 cloves, smashed)
- Fresh thyme (a few sprigs) 

Chef Notes

A brine helps the meat retain moisture during cooking, and it also allows the seasoning to penetrate into the inner layers.  Brining liquid is a salty mixture that covers meat for several hours so the salt gets absorbed deep into the muscle. Traditional brine is usually made up of salt, water, and seasonings, but it can be made with other liquids. A dry-brine is one which used the salt and seasonings to coat the outer layer of meat like a rub does.

The key to this brine is using milk as the base. The fat helps to carry flavor and add richness, and the calcium has been shown to mellow out the sharpness of the salt. That said, water can also be used if desired.

Adding sugar to the brine assists in breaking down the protein. It also adds an undertone of sweetness that pairs well with the milk, and helps balance out the saltiness. 

This is a wonderful brine for your Thanksgiving Day turkey. For more instruction regarding turkey preparation, visit Chef Brandon's corresponding tutorials located at the bottom of the page. 


Sign up to leave a comment

Taught by

Brandon profile

Chef Brandon Boudet

Los Angeles

Chef Brandon, born and raised in New Orleans to a large Italian family, is serving up killer Italian cuisine at his New-York ... read more