Preparing your Turkey (Thawing & Brining)

Thawing a Frozen Turkey

5 hours per lb in the refrigerator or 1 hour per ib in water

Refrigeration Method: Put the turkey on a tray and place on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator. It will take approximately 4 days for a 20 lb. turkey to thaw.

Water Method: Place a wrapped frozen turkey in the sink and completely cover with cold water. Before putting turkey in the sink, you must ensure that the sink has been thoroughly disinfected and rinsed before starting this process. Add ice cubes if you are thawing over night. Change water frequently using cold water only.

Fresh Turkey

Check the expiry date on the packaging of a fresh turkey and be sure you can cook the bird before this date. If you are storing a fresh turkey in your refrigerator, put it on a tray and place it on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator. This will keep any raw juices from coming into contact with other foods (cross-contamination). You can become very sick if raw meat/poultry/fish juices come into contact with other foods.

When prepping the turkey, it important to wash all kitchen surfaces that will come into contact with the turkey. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds. Wash kitchen surfaces with dish soap, then rinse with a sanitizing solution of 1 capful of chlorine bleach in a sink full of warm water. Follow with a rinse of hot water.

Brining Your Turkey

What You Need


  • 1 turkey
  • 4 quarts water
  • 1 cup coarse kosher salt, or 3/4 cup table salt
  • Aromatics: bay leaf, peppercorns, cloves, juniper berries, allspice berries, orange peels, lemon peels, etc.


  • 1 large pot or bucket with a lid
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Paper towels


  1. Find a pot and make fridge space: Find a pot or food-safe bucket large enough that you will be able to entirely submerge your turkey. Next, clear some fridge space and make sure your pot will fit.
  2. Place the turkey in the pot: Unwrap your turkey and remove the giblets, then transfer it to your pot. Add any aromatics you’d like to use.
  3. Mix the brine solution: Heat 1 quart of water in the microwave until warmed — it doesn’t need to come to a boil, just be warm enough to dissolve the salt. Add the salt and stir until the salt has dissolved. Let the liquid cool slightly; it’s fine if it’s still a touch warm.
  4. Pour the brine solution over the turkey.
  5. Pour the remaining 3 quarts of water over the turkey: This dilutes the salt solution to the best ratio for brining and also helps further cool the solution.
  6. Make sure the turkey is completely submerged: If necessary, prepare additional brine solution at a ratio of 1/4 cup salt per quart of water to completely submerge the turkey.
  7. Cover and refrigerate: If the turkey floats, weigh it down with a dinner plate. Cover the pot and place it in the refrigerator.
  8. Brine for 12 to 24 hours.
  9. Rinse the turkey in cool water and pat dry. Clean your sink thoroughly after doing this step to avoid cross-contamination. Pat the turkey dry with paper towels.
  10. Dry for another 24 hours for crispier skin, optional: If you have time, let the turkey air-dry overnight in the fridge. Place it on a roasting rack set inside a roasting pan and cover loosely with plastic bags to avoid cross contamination. This drying step will give your turkey crispier skin.
  11. Roast as usual, but check your turkey early: You can roast the turkey either immediately after brining or after air-drying. I’ve found that brined turkeys tend to cook a bit more quickly, so cook as usual, but start checking the turkey’s temperature an hour before the end of your estimated cooking time.