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Danilo Alfaro

How to Brine a Turkey Breast

By November 23, 2010

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If you want to serve roasted turkey for the holidays, but a whole turkey is more than you need, consider roasting a turkey breast. Because it's all white meat, a turkey breast can be roasted at a high temperature and still come out moist and juicy.

Also, a roasted turkey breast is a wonderful thing to brine. That's because you can roast a turkey breast until it is perfectly cooked and not a second longer, so the brine is actually doing some good — specifically, adding flavor and moisture to the breast.
Basic Brine Recipe - How To Brine - Easy Brine Recipe - Turkey Brine
Brining turkey breasts.
Photo Danilo Alfaro

One thing to note is that you need to bring the brine to a boil and then let it cool thoroughly. But don't add an uncooked turkey breast to a room-temperature brine. That's a food safety hazard, as room temperature water is a great place for bacteria to multiply. The brine should be icy cold when you add the breast.

The best thing about making your own brine is that it's so easy. You probably have all the ingredients already. If you were already planning to roast a whole turkey breast, you still have time to make a batch of brine and let your turkey breast brine until you roast it on Thanksgiving. Check out How to Brine a Turkey Breast.


December 17, 2011 at 7:08 pm
(1) James Rushworth says:

The title of the how to is ‘How to brine a turkey breast’. However, there are no instructions on How to brine a turkey breast! What the ratio of salt to water? o you put sugar in? ow long should you leave it in the brine? Does this affect cooking time? None of these questions are answered. I knew everything that was stated in this how to. Pointless.

December 17, 2011 at 7:56 pm
(2) Danilo says:

Indeed, you will find all the info you mentioned, and more, simply by clicking on the indicated link. Enjoy!

December 18, 2011 at 4:37 am
(3) James Campbell says:

Will the turkey breast really cook in just 1 hour-I plan to try this for Christmas dinner but I don’t want to miscalculate the time-even 20min per pound for a 5 pound turkey breast takes 2 hours-is it really possible to do it in 1 hour?
Thanks in advance for your advice

December 18, 2011 at 2:07 pm
(4) Danilo says:

Mr. Campbell: At 450 degrees, a 5-pound boneless turkey breast will easily cook in an hour. A bone-in breast may take a little bit longer.

December 18, 2011 at 7:55 am
(5) lrogers13 says:

I have been successfully brining and roasting whole turkeys for several years. However, I no longer have reason to cook so much bird.

February 19, 2012 at 12:10 pm
(6) Kathy says:

I’m giving this brine recipe a try! We have brined our turkey for the past 10 years, but have used a basic brine that doesn’t say to boil the brine mixture first! Can you tell me what the reason is for boiling the mixture? I also saw a recipe for Alton Browns brine, and he boils and cools his mixture as you do. Very curious as to why! Thank you for you help! And I hope others were able to SEE the links on “how to brine”.

February 19, 2012 at 5:31 pm
(7) Danilo says:

Hi Kathy. In this case, boiling the brine helps release the flavors in the whole peppercorns and whole allspice. But in a simpler brine (just sugar, salt and water, for example), you could skip the boiling (and consequently the cooling).

April 8, 2012 at 8:06 pm
(8) Cory says:

I just used your recipe for Easter dinner. It was the best turkey I’ve ever made & I’ve been doing turkeys for years. – very juicy & tender and really flavorful. I’ll definitely use it from now on. thanks!

April 8, 2012 at 11:43 pm
(9) Danilo says:

Hi Cory. I’m glad you enjoyed the turkey! Thanks for writing.

November 3, 2012 at 12:42 am
(10) Rebecca says:

I’m really excited to try your brine recipe! I have a 2.88 lb turkey breast that I want to roast after brining. Any roasting recommendations?

November 3, 2012 at 12:44 am
(11) Rebecca says:

I just saw your link to roasting. Sorry to ask a question already answered! :)

November 16, 2012 at 5:49 pm
(12) Cora says:

If a person uses a frozen turkey breast which has been impregnated with salt solution, should your brine recipe be altered, e.g., less or no salt? Should the frozen breast be defrosted prior to brining?


November 20, 2012 at 7:53 am
(13) Leslie Hayes says:

I have an 8 pound turkey breast. How long would you recommend I cook it, and would you still recommend 450 degrees? So nice of you to answer our questions!

November 21, 2012 at 4:05 pm
(14) Danilo says:

@Cora: A frozen turkey breast is fine in the brine overnight. As for whether to adjust the recipe, my feeling is that if the brine is saltier than the liquid already in the breast, the breast will absorb up to the intended amount of salt. But if the salt solution is saltier, no additional salt would be absorbed.

November 21, 2012 at 4:10 pm
(15) Danilo says:

@Leslie: It might be closer to 1.5 hours, but if you’re using a digital probe thermometer as described, you just need to wait for it to hit 150 or so ( not 155 since there is more residual cooking for a larger piece of meat). If the outside starts to get too brown you could shield it with a piece of foil for the last 30 minutes. Good luck!

November 13, 2013 at 3:14 pm
(16) MRD says:

Instead of cooling the brine with ice, is it permissible to refrigerate it to cool it before adding the turkey breast?

November 13, 2013 at 6:08 pm
(17) Danilo says:

@MRD: As long as you cool the brine to room temperature and then refrigerate it, and then add the turkey when the brine is fully chilled, you’ll be fine. Just don’t put the hot brine in the fridge, as you’ll warm up everything else in the fridge and create a food safety hazard. Good luck!

November 24, 2013 at 6:34 pm
(18) Kris says:

I’ve purchased a frozen turkey this year instead of a fresh one. I’ve always brined the turkey in Kosher salt and sugar. Does a frozen turkey contain salt, and if so, is it still OK to brine?

November 24, 2013 at 7:59 pm
(19) Danilo says:

@Kris: If your turkey has been injected with a salt solution, it will say so on the package. I want to say that most frozen turkeys have been. But as far as brining, you don’t have to worry about it being too salty, since the turkey will only absorb up to the maximum of whatever has more salt in it, whether that’s the salt solution it was infused with or the brine. Chances are, though, that your homemade brine will have better flavor than the one they used at the factory, so brining can only help but can’t hurt. Good luck!

November 28, 2013 at 8:02 am
(20) Sherry says:

Thank you so much for the recipe & roasting instructions. I’m hoping to try it on wild turkey breast to help with the gamey taste. We normally soak it in Italian dressing and then saute it, but I’m ready for more flavor options!

December 21, 2013 at 1:43 pm
(21) mary says:

How long would you brine an 11 lb turkey breast? 24 hrs? Less?

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