Mastering the Art of Post-Brining: What to Do After Brining Your Turkey

Brining your turkey is a time-honored tradition that promises a juicy, flavorful, and tender feast on your holiday table. However, the process doesn’t end there. To truly unlock the full potential of your brined bird, you need to know the proper steps to take after the brining process. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the essential techniques and tips to ensure your brined turkey is a culinary masterpiece.

The Importance of Post-Brining Prep

Brining is a game-changer when it comes to achieving a moist and flavorful turkey, but it’s crucial to handle the bird correctly after the brining process. Failing to do so can lead to a salty or unevenly cooked turkey, undoing all your hard work. By following the right post-brining steps, you’ll not only enhance the flavors but also ensure a perfectly cooked, juicy, and crispy-skinned turkey that will have your guests raving.

Step 1: Rinsing the Brined Turkey

After removing the turkey from the brine solution, it’s essential to rinse it thoroughly under cold water. This step serves two crucial purposes:

  1. Removing Excess Salt: While brining infuses the turkey with flavor and moisture, it can also leave behind excess salt on the surface. Rinsing helps to eliminate any residual saltiness, preventing an overly salty taste.

  2. Cleaning the Turkey: Rinsing the turkey ensures that any brine solution or debris is removed from the cavity and surface, ensuring a clean and fresh taste.

To rinse the turkey properly, follow these steps:

  • Place the turkey in a clean sink or large container.
  • Run cold water over the entire turkey, including the cavity.
  • Use your hands to gently rub the surface of the turkey, dislodging any brine solution or salt buildup.
  • Repeat the rinsing process until the water runs clear.

Pro Tip: After rinsing, pat the turkey dry with paper towels or clean kitchen towels. This step is crucial for achieving crispy skin during the roasting process.

Step 2: Soaking the Brined Turkey (Optional)

While rinsing is an essential step, some culinary experts recommend taking it a step further by soaking the brined turkey in cold water for about 15 minutes. This process, known as “purging,” helps to further reduce the salt content and ensure a well-balanced flavor.

To soak the turkey, follow these steps:

  • Fill a clean sink or large container with cold water.
  • Submerge the rinsed turkey in the cold water, ensuring it’s fully covered.
  • Let the turkey soak for 15 minutes, occasionally moving it around to ensure even soaking.
  • After 15 minutes, remove the turkey from the water and pat it dry with paper towels or clean kitchen towels.

Pro Tip: If you plan to brine your turkey well in advance, you can skip the soaking step and instead store the rinsed and dried turkey in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before cooking. This period allows the salt levels to equalize, resulting in a perfectly seasoned bird.

Step 3: Seasoning and Trussing the Brined Turkey

Once your turkey has been rinsed (and soaked, if desired), it’s time to prepare it for roasting. This step involves seasoning and trussing the bird.


Brining already infuses the turkey with flavor, but you can take it a step further by adding extra seasoning. Here are some popular options:

  • Herb Butter or Compound Butter: Create a flavored butter by mixing softened butter with your favorite herbs, spices, and aromatics. Gently loosen the skin and spread the seasoned butter underneath, ensuring even distribution.
  • Dry Rubs or Seasoning Blends: Apply a dry rub or seasoning blend to the surface of the turkey, focusing on the cavity and areas where the skin has been loosened.
  • Aromatics: Stuff the cavity with fresh herbs, citrus slices, or aromatic vegetables like onions and celery for an extra burst of flavor during roasting.


Trussing, or tying the legs of the turkey together with kitchen string, helps the bird maintain its shape during cooking and promotes even browning. Here’s how to truss your turkey:

  1. Tuck the wing tips under the turkey’s back.
  2. Cross the legs and tie them together with kitchen string.
  3. Optionally, tie a piece of string around the breast area to secure the shape further.

Pro Tip: If you prefer a crispy skin, consider letting the seasoned and trussed turkey air-dry in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before roasting. This step helps to dry out the skin, resulting in a crispy, golden-brown exterior.

Step 4: Roasting and Basting the Brined Turkey

With your brined turkey properly prepared, it’s time to move on to the roasting process. Here are some key considerations:

Roasting Temperature and Time

The recommended roasting temperature for a brined turkey is typically 325°F (163°C). However, some experts suggest starting at a higher temperature, such as 400°F (204°C), for the first 30 minutes to promote browning, then reducing the temperature to 325°F (163°C) for the remainder of the cooking time.

As for the cooking time, a general rule of thumb is to roast the turkey for 13-15 minutes per pound. However, it’s essential to use a meat thermometer to ensure the turkey reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) in the thickest part of the breast and 180°F (82°C) in the thigh.


While basting is not strictly necessary for a brined turkey, as the brine helps retain moisture, some cooks still prefer to baste their bird periodically. If you choose to baste, use the turkey’s own juices or melted butter for added flavor and a crispy skin.

Pro Tip: If you find that the skin is not browning to your desired level, increase the oven temperature to 425°F (218°C) for the last 30 minutes of roasting, or until the skin reaches your desired crispiness.

Step 5: Resting and Carving the Brined Turkey

Once your brined turkey has reached the desired internal temperature, it’s crucial to let it rest before carving. This resting period allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, ensuring a moist and flavorful result.


After removing the turkey from the oven, transfer it to a cutting board or serving platter and tent it loosely with aluminum foil. Let the turkey rest for at least 20-30 minutes before carving.


When it’s time to carve, use a sharp knife and follow these steps:

  1. Remove the trussing strings and discard them.
  2. Slice the turkey breast meat by making long, horizontal cuts parallel to the cutting board.
  3. Remove the legs and thighs by cutting through the joints.
  4. Separate the drumsticks and thighs, if desired.
  5. Transfer the carved turkey to a serving platter and garnish with fresh herbs or citrus slices for a beautiful presentation.

Pro Tip: Reserve the turkey drippings from the roasting pan to make a delicious gravy. However, keep in mind that brined turkey drippings may be saltier than usual, so adjust the seasoning accordingly or use low-sodium chicken broth when making the gravy.

Bonus Tips and Tricks

To take your brined turkey game to new heights, consider these additional tips and tricks:

  • Experiment with Brine Flavors: While traditional brines often feature salt, sugar, and herbs, you can get creative by incorporating other flavors like citrus juices, beer, or spices.
  • Dry Brine Alternative: If you’re short on time or prefer a simpler approach, consider dry brining your turkey. This method involves rubbing the turkey with a salt mixture and letting it sit in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before roasting.
  • Inject Flavor: For an extra burst of flavor, try injecting the turkey with a flavorful marinade or butter mixture before roasting.
  • Use the Leftovers: Brined turkey often yields delicious leftovers, which can be used in a variety of dishes like turkey sandwiches, turkey salad, or turkey pot pie.


Brining your turkey is a fantastic way to ensure a juicy and flavorful feast, but the post-brining steps are just as crucial. By following the techniques outlined in this guide, you’ll be able to unlock the full potential of your brined bird, creating a culinary masterpiece that will leave your guests in awe. Remember to rinse, season, truss, roast, and rest your turkey properly, and don’t be afraid to experiment with different flavors and techniques. With a little practice and attention to detail, you’ll be a brining pro in no time!

Does turkey need to be seasoned after brining?

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