Sam Hayward’s Brined Turkey Instructions

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Sam Hayward’s Brined Turkey Instructions

Following these brined turkey instructions will yield a moist, succulent bird. You can brine a 14-pound turkey overnight in the refrigerator in a large lobster pot. Or, if you’re cooking a very large bird, you can brine it outside in a large, very clean picnic cooler filled with the brine and a few bags of ice to keep the temperature cold. You’ll need to double the brine recipe in this case. Secure the lid with heavy weights or a bungee cord, then let the cooler sit outside overnight. The high concentration of salt and sugar in the solution will keep it from freezing.

Yield: about 3 quarts


  • 1 14-pound turkey, preferably fresh
  • 2-1/4 cups kosher salt
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns, cracked with the bottom of a skillet
  • 2 to 3 sprigs each of fresh rosemary, thyme, and sage
  • 2-1/2 gallons cold water


Remove the giblets and neck from the bird, saving the neck if you plan to make stock (see recipe). Set aside.

The evening before you roast the turkey, mix the remaining ingredients in your container, stirring until the salt and sugar have completely dissolved. Place the whole turkey in the brine, breast side down, and move it around a bit to expel air from the cavity. Place the container in the refrigerator (or outside, remembering to add ice and secure the lid), then allow the turkey to rest in the brine 12 hours.

Remove the bird from the brine, and drain it well before roasting. Discard the brine.

  • This is the first time I brined a turkey and this recipe was great. Will use this recipe from now on.

  • In addition, add two quartered oranges and lemons. Add about two cups of apple juice mixed with beef broth. Delish!

  • This is by far the most delicious and moist turkey ever! We will use this every year from now on and not JUST on Thanksgiving!

  • We raise our own turkeys and the brine made the bird even more flavorful and juicier then ever.

  • Last Thanksgiving we smoked the turkey after brining. The turkey was magnificent. The gravy was awful, so this year we’ll skip the smoking.

  • This was the best turkey I have ever made or eaten. We now use the recipe for all our turkey dinners.


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