overhead photo of a roasted turkey with crispy brown skin and herbs surrounding

Wet Brined Turkey

  • Author: Stephanie
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Cook Time: 18 hours brine + 3 1/2-4 hrs cook
  • Total Time: 18 hours 15 min
  • Yield: Depends on size of turkey
  • Category: Turkey
  • Method: Wet Brine
  • Cuisine: Thanksgiving


This easy wet turkey brine leaves you with moist turkey meat and crispy browned skin for your Thanksgiving meal!



  • 14 to 18 pound turkey, cleaned, innards removed
  • 6 quarts water, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups coarse kosher salt
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 2 cups honey
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon dried sage
  • 10 fresh thyme sprigs
  • A few fresh sage leaves
  • 2 heads garlic broken into individual cloves, unpeeled & crushed
  • 5 pounds ice cubes

Herb Butter

  • 16 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 lemons, zested
  • 1 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves


  1. If frozen, thaw turkey according to weight [see notes]
  2. In a medium pot, boil 3 quarts of water and mix in the salt until salt is completely absorbed. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes. 
  3. In the same pot, add the molasses, soy sauce, honey, red pepper flakes, sage, thyme, garlic, and mix until blended.
  4. In your brining pot or large bucket/cooler, add the ice, the remaining 3 quarts of water, and then carefully pour the brine mixture in and mix until fully combined.
  5. Place the turkey into the pot breast side down and push the bird down to allow the cavity to fill with the brine mixture. Cover the cooler and let the bird sit overnight 18 hours, max 24 hours [see note].
  6. Once done brining, carefully remove the bird from the brine. Remember the cavity is filled with liquid, so allow it to pour out into the pot. Dry it fully inside/out with paper towels. Place bird on roasting rack+ pan.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  8. Assemble the herb butter in a small bowl. Using your fingers, by the neck loosen the skin on the turkey so you can get under it and insert the herb butter. You can also use the extra herb butter to rub on the outside as well.
  9. Put on the lower rack and loosely tent with foil for the first half of cooking, then remove for final half for the skin to brown and crisp. Roast until the internal temperature of the turkey on the innermost part of the thigh and the thickest part of the breast is 165 degrees F [see notes].
  10. Remove turkey and transfer to a cutting board or serving dish and allow to rest for 20 minutes before carving/serving.


  • Thaw turkey based on weight
    • 4-12 pounds: 1 to 3 days
    • 12-16 pounds: 3 to 4 days
    • 16-20 pounds: 4 to 5 days
    • 20-24 pounds: 5 to 6 days
  • Brine for 18 hours, max 24 hours. If you brine for too long the turkey can get overly salty and tough. If you have reached the brining time and not ready to roast, remove from brine, pat dry, and place in refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
  • Tent the turkey with aluminum foil (shiny side out) for the first half of the roasting so the skin doesn’t burn. Uncover for the second half to allow the skin to brown and crisp.
  • Time: Since turkey’s are different sizes, use a meat thermometer to ensure your turkey is fully cooked. Do not rely on “pop up” turkey tabs.
    • 12-14 pounds at 350 degrees F: about 2 hr 45 min-3 hours
    • 15-16 pounds at 350 degrees F: about 3 hr 30 min-3 hr 45 min
    • 18-20 pounds at 350 degrees F: about 4 hr- 4 hr 25 min
    • 21-22 pounds at 350 degrees F: about 4 hr 30 min- 4 hr 45 min
  • Turkey temperature should register 165 degrees F before you remove it from the oven. Check with a thermometer in two places to ensure it is fully cooked
    • Innermost part of the thigh and wing
    • Thickest part of the breast
  • Allow the turkey to rest. Wait at least 20 minutes before carving the turkey to allow the juices to settle.

Keywords: Turkey, turkey brine, wet brine, thanksgiving turkey, turkey recipe