Holiday Turkey Brine

turkey brineRecently, my boys and I took a trip to Williams-Sonoma to purchase a pan for the Paleo Pecan Pie Tart.  While perusing the store, trying not to buy more than was absolutely necessary – a difficult task, I might add- I happened upon a large jar of Turkey Brine. Just last Fall I purchased a honey-brined turkey breast from a local grocery store and was surprised at the difference the process made in the taste.  So when I saw the Williams-Sonoma turkey brine I was all set to buy it, until…..I looked at the price.  It was $18 for what is mostly sea salt!

Less than $2 for more than enough sea salt to brine a large turkey

Disappointment immediately turned to scheming as I stood there examining the jar for a few minutes trying to discern what was in it.  It was clear I already had most of these ingredients in my kitchen.  So I set off for home determined to produce my very own, and much less expensive, turkey brine recipe.  I customized the ingredients to represent flavors that I happen to enjoy.  For example, Herbes de Provence is something I use quite often with poultry because the flavors it imparts are divine with chicken and turkey. The woodsy flavors from the rosemary bush that I have in my backyard go really well with the star anise and other ingredients so it was an obvious choice.  Not to mention, the green color is simply gorgeous.

Dry Ingredients

  • 2 scant cups sea salt – course crystals
  • 1/2 cup star anise
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons Herbes de Provence (mix of thyme, lavender, rosemary and savory)
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoons dried rosemary (or 2 tablespoons fresh)
  • 1 tablespoon juniper berries

Fresh Ingredients

  • peel of one fresh orange
  • juice of one fresh orange
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup honey (optional)
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • rosemary – one fresh sprig, leaves removed

orange garlic rosemary

While putting this turkey brine recipe together it occurred to me to use one of the Ball jars recently procured for storing chicken stock.  Once the dry ingredients were combined, I wrapped the lid in some brown paper and twine. This is very unlike me as I am NOT much of a craft person. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate all the wonderfully creative things that go on in the world of crafts and homemade goods. But it has simply never been my forté.  However, in this case, I love that it combines a love for all things culinary with the creation of something that could easily become a gift. paleo holiday turkey brine recipe

NOTE: The fresh ingredients should be added just prior to use. It is quite possible that you could put the orange peel, cut into smaller pieces, into the jar with the dry ingredients. That would actually make it even prettier. The sea salt would most likely act as a preservative and it would certainly dry out the peel.  I cannot recommend it simply because I have never tried it. If any readers have thoughts on that kindly let me know.

In Part 2 I will show you how I used the turkey brine recipe.
And check out Part 3- how to roast a brined turkey.

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13 thoughts on “Holiday Turkey Brine

  1. Pingback: Holiday Turkey Brine: Part Two, Brining the Turkey - Paleo Spirit

  2. Pingback: How to Roast a Brined Turkey - Paleo Spirit

  3. What a great idea! Brining is something that makes such a difference, but most people do not know about it. I have been doing some reading and I believe that you could put the orange peel in (as well as dried cranberries if you like) and go through sealing the jars like you would for canning and you should be good! I am going to try this for Christmas gifts this year and make them a little smaller with a recipe for chicken!


  4. Pingback: Paleo Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup- Plus Advice from Experts!

  5. Thank you for this recipe, we used it for our Friends-giving turkey last week, and we loved it so much, it will be our Christmas Gifts that we make this year!!
    I have a blog too, and will most likely be sharing your recipe and our finished products after we make them! I’d love for you to check it out-

  6. Would leaving out the star anise and especially the juniper berries still taste ok? I have NEVER seen juniper berries for sale here in south Florida in the spice sections, and I never have need for star anise before this, so I’d hate to buy it if not necessary. Thanks in advance!

  7. Hi. My niece has switched to a paleo diet, because it’s the best way for her to control her ulcerative colitis. She’s joining us for Thanksgiving, so I am trying to find paleo-friendly menus and came across your website. I noticed in this article you mentioned the Williams-Sonoma turkey brine. I used that all the time to brine my turkey and have already purchased it for this year. Can you tell me if it’s paleo?
    If it is, then I’m on my way to making a paleo turkey for her.

    • Hi Irene,
      I don’t have the WS turkey brine here with me so I can’t check the ingredients to be sure but I’m willing to bet it is similar to the recipe I have presented here. Just double check that there are no gluten or MSG ingredients if your niece is sensitive to those. Happy Thanksgiving!

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