Sam Hayward's Brined Turkey

Chef Sam Hayward strongly recommends brining turkey because no other method does such a good job of creating moist and flavorful meat.

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.


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.

Cooking & Recipes


about 3 quarts

Preparation Method


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