Brined Turkey Breast

Once you learn how to make a brined turkey breast, you’ll never have it any other way. It turns out moist, perfectly seasoned and so delicious that Christopher wants me to make it this way for many years to come.

Turkey breast slices on a plate with gravy, potatoes and veggies

Why and how brining works

Meat is basically muscle and muscles are long bundled fibers. Placing the turkey in the salt and water mixture over a certain amount of time helps the fibers relax. The soaking of the bird allows water to enter the muscle fibers, which means when you cook the turkey, there is less water loss, which means moist meat. Here is a good article explaining why brining works.

It is not a secret that I will always choose dark meat over white meat, if given a choice. The reason for this preference is that in my experience, white meat is usually cooked too long and the meat turns out dry.

Thankfully, I was introduced to brining. Now, instead of despairing at the thought of white meat left on the platter at Thanksgiving, I know I can rejoice that the white meat I cook will be moist and delicious.

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Helpful tips

  • All salts are not created equal. Certain salts are milder than others. So, I use Kosher salt when brining because it’s not as salty as table salt.
  • There is a difference between a turkey breast and a turkey breast roast. The breast is just the breast with the bones in and the roast has both thigh and breast meat and does NOT have bones.
  • Make sure when you brine the turkey breast that it is fully submerged.
  • Brine your turkey breast in either stainless steel or plastic.
  • When you heat the water so you can melt the salt, you don’t have to bring it to a boil. I’ve done it both ways and it really doesn’t make a difference in taste.
  • Some people put sugar in the brining mixture, but I do not as I don’t think it needs it. And don’t we already have too many foods with sugar added?
  • Even though rinsing poultry is not encouraged because it supposedly spreads around bacteria, I do rinse the turkey after it has been brined to get excess salt off of it.

Ingredients and substitutions

  • Kosher salt – Kosher salt is less dense and made of larger crystals than table salt or fine grain sea salt. But even among brands of kosher salt there can be differences. For instance, Diamond Crystal salt crystals are larger and dissolve faster than Morton’s, so if you use Morton’s, you’ll need less salt than if you use Diamond Crystal.
  • Water – Filtered is best because it is purer, with less contaminants.
  • Oregano – Organic ground. You can use any herb in the brining mixture. I prefer oregano or tarragon.
  • Sage – Fresh sage leaves can be found in the produce section of the grocery store, near the herbs.
  • Peppercorns – I use black but you can use any color you like.
  • Butter – Organic. I never use margarine as I don’t trust the ingredients.
  • Rosemary – Fresh sprigs are found in the produce section of the grocery store, near the herbs.
  • Garlic paste – This is the best product ever. I find it in the produce section of the grocery store and use it in a lot of my recipes. If you can’t find the paste, I recommend using garlic powder over chopping up garlic.
  • Pepper – Ground.

How to make brined turkey breast

Pre-step

Get out your brining container. I use my stainless steel stockpot.

Step one

Gather the ingredients – Kosher salt, sage leaves, oregano, peppercorns and whole turkey breast.

Salt, pepper, oregano, sage and a turkey breast in the background

Step two

In a saucepan, combine everything in the above photo, except the turkey, in filtered water. Set heat to medium and cook just long enough to melt the salt. Use a wooden spoon to stir, making sure there are no grains of salt left.

Let cool to at least room temperature. I transfer the salt mixture out of the pan and put it into the fridge.

The salt mixture heated in a medium pan with the turkey breast in the background

Step three

Dry your turkey breast inside and out and place in the brining container. Gently pour the brining mixture over the turkey. Add just enough additional filtered water to cover the turkey.

Water and the brine mixture in a pan with the turkey

Step four

Cover the container and place in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours. I usually brine the turkey breast for around 18 hours.

Turn the turkey at least once during the brining.

Step five

Preheat oven to 325.

Step six

After the turkey is finished brining, carefully take the bird out of the mixture and throw away the brining water. Rinse the bird inside and out and dry it thoroughly by taking a paper towel and dabbing at it. You want the skin as dry as possible so it will brown nicely.

Step seven

You can either use an appropriately sized roasting pan with the V insert or do as I do. I thickly slice an onion and lay the slices down in a roasting pan. I do this because the drippings from the roasted turkey drip onto the onions, flavoring them so nicely.

Step eight

Place the brined turkey breast on the onions. Add 4 sage leaves, 2 sprigs of rosemary and rub butter and garlic paste on the skin. Sprinkle as much pepper as you want.

Turkey with pepper on onions and rosemary and sage in a pan

Step nine

You cook a bone-in turkey breast for 15 – 20 minutes per pound or until the temperature reaches 155-160 Fahrenheit in the thickest part of the breast.

My bird was 5 pounds and took 1 hour and 40 minutes to reach 160; so it ended up taking 20 minutes per pound.

Step ten

Take the brined turkey breast out of the oven and let it rest on the counter for 20 minutes before slicing. Some people place a tent of foil over the bird but I don’t bother.

The turkey breast out of the oven with browned skin and gravy in the background

Look at those yummy onions.

Step eleven

Slice the breast as thickly or thinly as you want.

Close up of the sliced turkey breast and onions on a platter and a plate in the background

Plate a few pieces with some potatoes and veggie and pour on the gravy.

A close up of two slices of breast meat with gravy, potato veggies on the plate. There is a platter in the background

Yum.

I hope you enjoyed this brined turkey breast recipe. Once you’ve brined, you’ll never go back to plain dry turkey.

And as always, may all your dishes be delish!

If you’ve tried this recipe, I’d love the know what you thought about it in the comments below. I love hearing from you! You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOKTWITTERINSTAGRAM and PINTEREST to see more of my delicious food and delightful cocktails!

Slices of turkey breast on a plate - square

Brined Turkey Breast

Once you learn how to  make a brined turkey breast, you'll never have it any other way. It turns out moist, seasoned perfectly and so delicious that Christopher wants me to make it this way for many years to come.
5 from 17 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Keyword: brined meat, brined turkey breast, turkey breast
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Brining time: 18 hours
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 101kcal

Ingredients

Brining Solution

  • 1 cup Kosher salt (I used Diamond )
  • water
  • 1 tablespoon oregano (dried)
  • 8 leaves sage
  • 1 tablespoon peppercorns (any color)

Bird

  • 5 pound turkey breast (or as big or small as you want it)

To Bake

  • 1 medium onion (sliced thickly)
  • 1 tablespoon butter (approx. – enough butter to slather over the skin of the bird)
  • 2 teaspoons garlic paste (enough to slather over the skin of the turkey – or garlic powder)
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 4 leaves sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

Instructions

Brining

  • In a saucepan, add salt, oregano, peppercorns and sage leaves and enough filtered water to dissolve the salt. Turn heat to medium and stir with a wooden spoon until all the salt has been dissolved. You should not be able to hear any scrapings of grit at the bottom of the pan. There is no need to bring mixture to a boil
  • Take brining mixture off heat and let it come to room temperature. I usually transfer brining mixture to a big glass measuring container and place it in the fridge for 10 minutes
  • Open package of thawed turkey breast, remove giblets if included and pat turkey down with paper towels
  • Place turkey in a big stockpot and pour cooled brining mixture over the turkey. Add enough filtered water to cover the turkey and place in the refrigerator for 8 – 24 hours. I like it to be in the brining solution for at least 18 hours
  • Preheat oven to 325 F
  • Slice onion in thick slices and place in the bottom of a roasting pan
  • Remove turkey from the brining solution and set aside. Dump the solution down the drain. Rinse turkey inside and out and pat dry with paper towels
  • Lay turkey breast side up on the onions and add 2 sprigs of rosemary and 4 sage leaves to the pan. Rub butter and garlic paste on the skin and sprinkle pepper on the bird. If you don't have garlic paste, sprinkle garlic powder on the bird
  • Bake – between 15 – 20 minutes per pound. My 5 pound turkey breast took 1 hour and 40 minutes. Check temperature in the thickest part of the breast. Temperature should be between 155 – 160 F. (The temperature will rise somewhat as the turkey rests)
  • Let turkey rest for 20 minutes before cutting it in slices
  • Serve
  • Smile
  • Enjoy
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Notes

Helpful Tips
  • All salts are not created equal. Certain salts are milder than others. So, I use Kosher salt when brining because it’s not as salty as table salt.
  • There is a difference between a turkey breast and a turkey breast roast. The breast is just the breast with the bones in and the roast has both thigh and breast meat and does NOT have bones.
  • Make sure when you brine the turkey breast that it is submerged fully.
  • Either brine your turkey breast in either stainless steel or plastic.
  • When you heat the water so you can melt the salt, you don’t have to bring it to a boil. I’ve done it both ways and it really doesn’t make a difference in taste.
  • Some people put sugar in the brining mixture, but I do not as I don’t think it needs it. And don’t we have too foods that have added sugar?
  • Even though rinsing poultry is not encouraged because it supposedly spreads around bacteria, I do rinse the turkey after it has been brined to get excess salt off of it. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 101kcal | Carbohydrates: 4.1g | Protein: 0.59g | Fat: 0.15g | Saturated Fat: 0.07g | Sodium: 200mg | Potassium: 66.1mg | Fiber: 1.14g | Sugar: 0.84g | Vitamin A: 23.29IU | Vitamin C: 1.88mg | Calcium: 41.81mg | Iron: 0.71mg
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34 Comments

  1. Stellar I bake only the turkey breast too because nobody at home likes the dark meat and brining is the way to go to make it moist, Pinned!

  2. All these herbs and seasonings pair perfectly with turkey. I’ve never brined a turkey breast before, but I most certainly want to now. Thanks for your easy guide on how to.

  3. I’m going to have to give this a try. I’ve never tried brining before, but I’ve heard it really gets the meat tender.

  4. We always brine our turkey, it really does make a huge difference! Will try your recipe this year!

  5. I love brining my turkey as well. I love that you also only use the turkey breast and not the whole bird. I rarely make a whole bird and no one here really is a big dark meat fan. Gorgeous shots and I love the easy instructions!

    1. Thank you Lori! I’m actually a huge dark meat fan and will only eat breast meat that’s been brined! ๐Ÿ™‚ So the next time you brine a whole turkey, invite me over and I’ll take care of the dark meat for you! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. I’m in total agreement! Brining really helps with adding not only taste but moisture to the bird. We’ve brined both just the breast and also the entire turkey. It is the secret to a fantastic meal. Your seasonings are right on the mark.

  7. What an incredibly helpful step-by-step post! And I love your description of each ingredient; i am a HUGE Diamond Kosher salt girl (thank you Chrissy T), but it’s hard to relay the reduced potency of that salt v. other salts. You did it all in this post though!

  8. I love brine meat, it keeps the flavors locked in and meat is so moist and tender. These turkey breasts looks absolutely delicious!

  9. You and I are on the same page with brining our turkeys! There really is no better way to tenderize and flavorize that turkey breast. Yum!

  10. Hey Lainey, This looks yummy especially since I’m one of those people who can’t get the timing right and always end up over cooking the breast meat ๐Ÿ™
    I already bought a turkey breast roast. Do you know if brining would work with this or do you have to have the bones to make it work right?

    1. Hey Devie, I have done it with the turkey breast roast and I’ve brined it. The difference is, if I remember correctly, since it doesn’t have the bones, I think I cooked it 10 minutes less, so around 1 hour and 30 minutes – so that comes to 20 minutes per pound. If you have a digital thermometer, the temp should be 160 – and let it rest for 10 min before cutting. I love brining it because it keeps the meat moist which helps as I hate dry breast meat!! Also, leave on the twine casing to keep it together while you’re cooking it. Let me know how it goes. Miss you! xo