Brining a Thanksgiving turkey is a lot easier than you might think. Plus, it keeps your turkey moist and adds lots of flavor. I created a simple, no-fail citrus and tea brine that can be put together in just minutes.

I brined my turkey for 24 hours using just a mixture of Honest Tea, Simply Orange, onion, garlic, lemon, and herbs. Remember my Coca-Cola Journey post on how to preserve herbs from earlier in the fall? I used the rosemary and thyme from that project to season my turkey, and it turned out beautifully. The tea helped to lock in the turkey's flavor while the citrus added hints of lemon and orange to the bird.

Brining Tips & Tricks:

·       It is crucial that you thoroughly rinse both the inside and outside of the turkey after brining and before roasting, otherwise it will be too salty. 

·       Use the salty pan drippings to make gravy. Yum! The secret is to place a diced potato in the gravy while cooking since the potato will absorb the excess salt. Just let it simmer in the gravy for 20-30 minutes.

Honest Tea and Simply Orange Brined Turkey

Honest Tea and Simply Orange Brined Turkey

To brine the turkey you will need:

  • 2 (59 oz) bottles of Honest Tea, Lori's Lemon Flavor
  • 59 oz of Water
  • 1 (11.5 oz) bottle of Simple Orange Pulp Free
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 large white onion
  • 1 lemon
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 4 sprigs of rosemary
  • 4 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 gallon of ice
To roast the turkey you will need:

  • The brined turkey
  • 1/4 olive oil
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 4 sprigs of rosemary
  • 4 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 teaspoon pepper 
Step 1:

Pour the tea into a brining bag or cooler. Fill one of the empty Honest Tea bottles with water and add it to the tea. Stir in the orange juice and salt. Slice the onion and lemon, chop the garlic and add it to liquid. Then add the herbs.

Step 2:

Add the turkey to the brining liquid. Make sure you remove the giblets from the cavity of the turkey, and rinse the turkey first. Pour the ice over the turkey. 

Step 3:

If you are brining the turkey in a cooler, just put the lid on the top. If you are using a brining bag, then place it in a cooler. 

Step 4:

Let the turkey brine for 24 hours. Flip the turkey once half way through if the turkey isn't fully submerged in the liquid.

Step 5:

After 24 hours, remove the turkey from the brining liquid and thoroughly rinse it both inside and out. Pat dry with paper towels.

Step 6:

Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Place the turkey in a roasting pan, breast facing up. Chop the lemon, onion and garlic and place them inside the cavity of the turkey. Add 3 springs of the rosemary and thyme on top.

Step 7:

Rub the olive oil over the turkey. Then sprinkle the pepper and the remaining rosemary and thyme over.

Step 8:

Place the turkey in the center of your oven. The cook time will depend on the size of the turkey. My 10 pound turkey cooked in just over 2 hours. Generally the cook time for a turkey is about 10-15 minutes per pound. The turkey is fully cooked when a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 160 degrees. Let the turkey rest for 20 minutes before carving - if you don't let the turkey rest it will lose moisture as you carve it.

Happy Thanksgiving! Be sure to leave a comment or review if you plan on trying my tea brining method!

Kitt Graham

Kit Graham spends her time cooking up new creations in her kitchen and exploring Chicago’s ever-evolving culinary scene. She began blogging in 2011 when her friends gifted her a blog as a way to get her to share her recipes. In 2013, Kit wrote her first cookbook, The Gourmet Grilled Cheese Cookbook, which is an ode to her favorite meal from childhood. Kit was raised in Kennebunk, Maine, went to college in Massachusetts, and lived in New York City before settling in the Windy City. For more, head over to where Kit shares original and practical recipes and Chicago restaurant reviews.

Kit is part of The Opener, an exclusive, invite-only contributor network that will bring the best food, culture, and innovation writing to the pages of Coca-Cola Journey.