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Buttermilk Brined Turkey

Buttermilk Brined Turkey is moist, tender and flavorful. Soaking your turkey in our Salty buttermilk brine with spices creates a delectable, flavorful bird at the table.

Why wet brine? Turkey is a lean meat. It tends to cook up dry and tough without much flavor if left to itself. That is why we load it with potatoes, gravy and lots of flavorful salads and sides at the Holidays.

Oven baked Turkey is often just a boring ‘also ran’ rather than the main attraction at the table. Lets change that!

For generations cooks have used various creative methods to enhance the moisture and flavor of turkey meat. We all know them.

  • Basting a turkey during roasting or baking keeps the skin moist.
  • Tenting your bird with foil during cooking also captures moisture that tend to cook out in the long hours a turkey is in your oven.
  • You can also inject the bird to really drive moisture and flavorings deep into the meat.
  • Dry brines will improve the overall meat flavor. At the surface of the bird.
  • A proper Wet brine tenderizes the bird and adds flavor.
Buttermilk Brined Turkey
Buttermilk Brined Turkey

Buttermilk Brined Turkey:

Wet Brining your turkey in buttermilk with salt and spices is an excellent method to tenderize, moisturize and add flavor to Turkey meat.

Why Buttermilk Brine?

Here’s the scientific explanation.

Buttermilk tenderizes meats. Its lactic acid and enzymes denature protein strands and break down collagen, making the meat more tender and allowing moisture to penetrate into the tissue. When it is heated, the protein strands contract, trapping the moisture inside, making it juicer.

Chef Martin Bayer

Anyway you slice it, Buttermilk brined turkey meat is flavorful, moist and tender. Your guests will love it. And buttermilk turkey makes excellent leftovers for sandwiches.

When you want a delicious, moist and tender Thanksgiving Turkey, brine it.

Here is our other excellent non dairy wet brine with complete instructions for roasting a turkey.

About wet brining a turkey.

This is a bit of a process. You will need to plan ahead.

  • The turkey has to be defrosted enough to remove the neck and giblets before brining. This will take several days for a large bird. Unless you quick thaw the bird in your sink with cold water.)
  • The Turkey needs to soak in brine 12 to 24 hours for the brine to do its work on the meat. We soaked our brined turkey for 36 hours to meet our schedule. It was delicious.
  • A brining turkey takes some room in your fridge. but you remove it the day of cooking so you have more room in the fridge for sides, desserts and condiments then.

To buttermilk brine turkey breast rather than the whole bird, Cut this recipe by half and soak the breast 8 to 12 hours.

Stuffing and Baking Your Buttermilk Brined Turkey:

You can stuff your turkey as you wish. We recommend lightly stuffing the bird with aromatics like onion, lemon and fresh herbs. We used Sprigs of fresh oregano and rosemary.

Turkey Stuffing Ingredients
Fresh herbs, onion and lemon make a light aromatic stuffing for your turkey.

Light herbal stuffings allow the bird to bake quickly and the baking heat can penetrate internally. This ensures the bird is baked clear through to food safe temperatures.

IF you choose a heavy bread stuffing:

The baking time will increase quite a bit.

Be SURE to bake your turkey to the proper required internal heat of 165 degrees F into the breast and 175 degrees F. into the thigh for a food safe bird.

With heavy bread stuffings this is extremely important. The heat cannot easily get into the bird during cooking so it cooks more from the outside in.

You will need to use a foil tent and regular bastings to keep the bird moist.

This method will also produce a moist tender bird though. You do you. 🙂

Buttermilk Brined Turkey Recipe-Pin Image
Buttermilk Brined Turkey is moist, tender and flavorful. Soaking your turkey in our salty buttermilk brine with spices creates a delectable, flavorful bird at the table.
Buttermilk Brined Turkey
Yield: 5 quarts brine

Buttermilk Brined Turkey

Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 4 hours
Additional Time: 1 day
Total Time: 1 day 5 hours

Buttermilk Brined Turkey is moist, tender and flavorful. Soaking your turkey in our Salty buttermilk brine with spices creates a delectable, flavorful bird at the table.


Brine Ingredients:

  • 4 Cups Water (or turkey broth)
  • 1/8 Cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 Cup dried Basil
  • 1/4 Cup coriander (whole seeds)
  • 2 Tablespoons peppercorns
  • 2 Tablespoons mustard seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 Quarts buttermilk


For the Brine:

Pour the following ingredients Into a large pot on high heat

  1. water, salt, basil, coriander, pepper corns, mustard seeds, bay leaves and garlic powder.
  2. Bring to a boil. Boil 2 to 5 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat, pour into large pot and cool to room temperature.Mixing Buttermilk Brine

Prepare the Turkey:

While the brine spices are cooling,

  1. remove the neck and giblets from the turkey.Remove Giblets And Neck
  2. Wash the turkey inside and out.
  3. Pat dry.
  4. Set bird into a brine bag. (or other strong, large waterproof bag)Turkey In Brining Bag

Brine the bird:

  1. Whisk the buttermilk into the cooled spices.Buttermilk Brine
  2. Pour the brine into the brine bag with the turkey.
  3. close the bag with a strong seal, electrical tape or duct tape.
  4. Set the bagged turkey into your roaster or other large container.Turkey In Brine Bag With B Buttermilk Brine
  5. Set the container in your fridge for 24 to 36 hours. (At least twelve hours). Turning the bird occassionally to evenly distribute the brine.

Prepare the turkey to cook:

  1. Remove the turkey from the brine bag into a clean sink.
  2. Wash the turkey inside and out and set out to warm to room temperature. (an hour or so).
  3. Rub the softened butter over all surfaces of the turkey.Buttering A Buttermilk Brined Turkey-
  4. Stuff the turkey as desired.
  5. Truss the turkey and turn the wings under.
  6. Bake or roast as desired. (watch the video below to see how we stuffed and baked our turkey.)Buttermilk Brined Turkey

Our baking Instructions:

This is how we baked this bird. If you prefer to roast your turkey go here for roasting instructions.

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Set the bird into the oven uncovered for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove bird from oven. REDUCE heat to 325 degrees F.
  4. Set the bird back into the oven.
  5. Bake in 30 minutes intervals and baste with butter as needed.
  6. Tent the turkey with foil once you are happy with the amount of browning you have on the bird.
  7. finished baking temeperature of your bird. 165 F.internal breast temperature. 175 F. Thigh internal temeperature.
  8. At this point remove the turkey from heat and let rest in the pan 30 minutes.
  9. Carve and serve.


The time and nutrition of this recipe will change according to the size of turkey you are baking. We used an 18 pound turkey.

Buttermilk Brined turkey Breast:

To buttermilk brine turkey breast rather than the whole bird, Cut this recipe by half and soak the breast 8 to 12 hours.

Watch our recipe demonstration for a complete walk through of how we brined and baked this turkey.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 62Total Fat 6gSaturated Fat 4gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 2gCholesterol 15mgSodium 504mgCarbohydrates 2gFiber 1gSugar 0gProtein 1g

The serving size will change depending on the appetites of those you are feeding and the amount of bone in the bird.

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Recipe Adapted From Williams and Sonoma

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