Ace Hardware

Ace Hardware Longmont
1727 Main St.
Longmont, CO 80501

(303) 776-5173

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How to Brine a Turkey

Put your best turkey forward this year.

Every host wants to impress their holiday guests with a great-tasting, juicy turkey as the centerpiece for their holiday meal.  
At Ace we have many ways to help you get your bird cooked (frying, grilling, smoking, roasting), but a few basic techniques can be used no matter how you choose to make it happen.

Injectable marinades are a great, easy way to add flavor to your turkey. Most commonly thought of for fried turkeys, injecting also works well on roasted, smoked, and grilled birds. Injecting gets the flavor deep into the meat of the turkey and you can customize the flavor to suit your individual taste. There are many prepared marinades available or you can make your own using ingredients like Crab Boil. Ace has a variety of injectors and prepared marinades to choose from.

Whether you’re roasting, grilling, or smoking your turkey, brining is a great way to make it juicy and flavorful. Brining basically involves soaking your turkey in a salt solution that infiltrates the turkey and helps it retain moisture during cooking. Many people advise only using fresh turkeys for brining, but we have also brined thawed, frozen turkeys with great results. Also, don’t let a lack of refrigerator space deter you from brining your turkey, a cooler works as well. 

Finally, don’t underestimate the flavor you can add to both the inside and outside of the turkey with a rub. Sprinkle the rub on the inside cavity of the bird as well as under the skin. A little rub on the outside of the skin can also add nice color. Use your favorite combination of herbs and spices or an already prepared rub. Join us for our Free Turkey Brine class on November 8, and learn all the techniques and secret tips from Chef Jason Morse of 5280 Culinary.

Preparing to Brine

  • Here are a few things that will help you get ready to brine your bird.
    • Large Work Area
    • Clean Bird, Inside and Out
    • Bucket or Bag.  Large enough to hold the bird
    • Clean Counters
    • Brine Kit
    • Space in the fridge or in a cooler
    • Cover for the bucket or zip ties for the bag

Brine Process (if using breast only go right to step 6)

  1. Select the perfect bird, know its weight.
  2. Select the brine to fit your taste (sweet, savory, garlic, Italian, etc.).
  3. Remove the bird from the bag.
  4. Remove any gift packages in the bird.
  5. Rinse the bird inside and out.
  6. Place in the brine bucket or bag.
  7. Mix your Brine spices, add 2 quarts of water and cook for a short time to dissolve the sugar and salt.
  8. Cool the spice/sugar mixture, add chilled water to the desired strength.
  9. Place the water into the bucket or bag.  BE SURE TO COVER THE BIRD WITH BRINE.
  10. Place in the fridge. If your fridge is not big enough, use a cooler large enough to fill with the bucket and ice around the sides.
  11. Brine for about 45 minutes per pound.  Be sure not to over brine.
  12. Remove bird from the brine solution, DO NOT RINSE.

Proceed to cook or smoke as you normally would do.  Watch video and see below for more cooking tips.

National Turkey Federation also offers these safety recommendations:
  1. Do not roast the turkey in a oven temperature lower than 325° F. Poultry should be roasted at Minimum 325° F. or higher to avoid potential food safety problems.
  2. Do not roast the turkey in a brown paper grocery bag. Present day grocery bags may be made of recycled materials and are not considered safe for food preparation.
  3. Do use a meat thermometer (available at Ace) to determine the correct degree of doneness. Turkey is done when meat in the thigh reaches 180°F or (meat in the breast in finished at 170°F).

 Unstuffed Turkey Stuffed Turkey 
 8 to 12 pounds – 2 3/4 to 3 hours
12 to 14 pounds – 3 to 3 3/4 hours
14 to 18 pounds – 3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hours     
18 to 20 pounds – 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours
20 to 24 pounds – 4 1/2 to 5 hours
 8 to 12 pounds – 3 to 3 1/2 hours
12 to 14 pounds – 3 1/2 to 4 hours
14 to 18 pounds – 4 to 4 1/4 hours
18 to 20 pounds – 4 1/4 to 4 3/4 hours     
20 to 24 pounds – 4 3/4 to 5 1/4 hours


  • We suggest covering your turkey during roasting to keep moisture in, then uncover during the last hour of roasting to cook the skin and give it that golden finish. Rest the bird UNCOVERED.
  • To bacon wrap or not to bacon wrap? Always a great flavor, but be careful with brines as the added salt from the bacon may cause a saltier than desired turkey.
  • Turkey Breast Only Cooking – 350° for 20 minutes, turn down to 275 until done
    • 4-6 lbs. – 2 Hours
    • 6-8 lbs. – 3 Hours

Tips provided by