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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Orange Juice Brown Sugar Turkey Brine

Orange Juice Brown Sugar Turkey Brine

I started hosting Thanksgiving dinners in 2005. Years ago, one or another of my aunts would cook and sometimes everyone would congregate at one place, other times we'd eat at one house and again the next day at another house.

I moved away for a while and after my ba noi (Vietnamese paternal grandmother) passed away, I guess the large family gatherings kinda petered out, except for big anniversaries. One year, some of my aunts and uncles had gone to Vegas, and other cousins cooked a pre-made turkey dinner purchased at one of the grocery stores. It made me sad to see the family split up.

So that year, I invited everyone and made two 13-lb turkeys.

The top one in the photo had a Rosemary Olive Oil Turkey Marinade. The bottom turkey had a Butter, Maple, Orange Juice Turkey Marinade. Both were brined in a mix of orange juice and brown sugar. I know the photo isn't the best, this being prior to blogging and all. I've included the recipe on the blog before, but it was buried in another post so I figured it was a good time to break it out separately.

Orange Juice Brown Sugar Turkey Brine

For two 13-lb turkeys, or one 20-lb+ turkey, you'll need:
1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup kosher salt
8 cups water
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 cup orange juice
1 tsp bay leaf
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp sage
3 tsp ground black pepper

Place all ingredients in a pot and bring to boil on high heat. Turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Let the mixture cool down completely.

Put the turkey in a large bowl or container. Pour the cooled brine over the turkey. Cover and refrigerate for at least two days, turning the turkey over after 24 hours.

Marinade as desired the morning you intend to cook the turkey. Bake breast side down for half an hour at 425 degrees. Then turn heat down to 325 degrees, flip turkey over and cook until done. About 3 to 4 more hours.


My other turkey brine recipes:
Salt Rub and Butter Turkey Dry Brine
Apple Juice and Red Wine Turkey Brine

1 year ago today, The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens (Rose Garden) (Spring) - San Marino.
2 years ago today, the best turkey recipe ever -- Salt Rub and Butter Turkey.
3 years ago today, Pumpkin Cream Penne with Italian Sausage.


  1. I have been brining my turkeys ever since 2002 when after spending a huge amount of bucks I had the most dried out turkey that even the dog didn't want. So now I brine...but this recipe is going to be my next brine...who would have thought of orange juice..brilliant

  2. Natalie,
    Do let me know if you try it! Brining is a must. Turkey is so difficult to cook with since it gets tougher the longer you cook it and it's so big. So every little bit to make it easier to cook and tastier, definitely helps.

  3. WC, when you said "marinade as desired" in the last part of your recipe, what does that marinade consist of? (don't mind me my ignorance since I'm new to cooking...hehe)thx!)

  4. WC, just wondering since you have a few turkey brine recipes that all look sooo delicious, if you can only pick one to make for all of your viewer, which one would you make?

  5. Christine,
    OJ, rosemary, thyme, butter, any marinade you wish! My favorite is just the salt and butter method though. That creates a moist turkey that doesn't compete with anything else.

  6. Probably seems like a silly question...but is it ground sage and thyme, or just the finely chopped kind? I'm taking a leap and assuming (oooh...that's a bad word!) you mean the dry kind of herbs. :)

    Sounds YUM!

  7. Flossie's Mom,
    I used ground sage and dried thyme because that's what I had on hand at the time, but finely chopped is fine too.


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