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Chef JJ’s Thanksgiving Turkey Brine

Prep Time:15 Hours
Cook Time:8 Hours

Nutritional Information

Use this recipe to create a juicy and flavorful turkey for Thanksgiving!


  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • 12 whole juniper berries
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 1/4 cup black peppercorns
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 gallon water
  • 3 cups kosher salt
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 small onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery rib, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, whole
  • 1 bunch parsley, chopped
  • 1 bunch thyme, chopped
  • 6 sprigs rosemary, chopped
  • 1 whole oranges, halved and grilled
  • 1 apple grilled and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 bulb fennel, grilled and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 gallon apple juice
  • 1/2 gallon gallon water
  • 1 15 pound turkey
  • smoking wood, if desired


  • 1. To Brine: In a heavy bottom pot toast the first four ingredients until they become fragrant. Add 1 gallon of water and all of the ingredients except the juice, additional gallon of water and turkey. Cook over medium high heat until the water simmers and the salt and sugar dissolve completely. Add the remaining water and juice and chill until it reaches 45º F. Inject the turkey with the brine by spacing injections three inches apart and fill until the flesh begins to puff and is firm. Focus on the thickest part of the breast meat and move your way outwards (for a total of 3-4 injections per breast). Submerge the Turkey completely in the brine. Store the turkey below 40º F for a minimum of 1 hour per pound and a maximum of 2 hours per pound. Once brined, remove from the solution, rinse with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Allow the bird to sit uncovered in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours until the skin becomes tacky to the touch. This will aid in the color and crispiness of the skin while cooking.
  • 2. To Smoke: Preheat EGG to 225ºF. Once fire is going, placed your desired smoking wood over the hot coals. Set the EGG up using indirect heat, with the plate setter legs up, drip pan filled with desired liquid on top of the plate setter and a stainless steel rack on top of that. Place the turkey on the rack and smoke for 25 minutes – 35 minutes per pound, and the breast meat reaches 165º F. Remove turkey and let rest for 15-30 minutes before carving.
  • 3. To Roast: Preheat the EGG to 325º F using indirect heat; plate setter legs up, drip pan filled with desired liquid and setting on top of the plate setter, with porcelain grid on top. Roast the turkey for an average of 10-15 minutes per pound, or until the breast meat reaches 165º F. Let the turkey rest for 15-30 minutes before carving.
  • 4. Notes: Choose a brining container that is large enough to hold the turkey and all the solution. It also needs to be able to be refrigerated. If this is not possible, a cooler can be used for a 24 hour brine. Supplement the second 1 gallon of water with 2 gallons of ice. Store the cooler in a cool room or garage. If using a cooler, the brine solution may need to be increased. The turkey needs to be completely submerged in brine.

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Chef JJ’s is a unique, personal and hands-on culinary experience with a focus on kamado style cooking, corporate team building, private events and grilling classes. Indy's large party restaurant. Indianapolis, Indiana 317.602.3828