Low-Carb Turkey Brine

Fall means Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving means turkey! This low-carb turkey brine is perfect for your carb-free Thanksgiving meal!

Low-Carb Turkey Brine
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WHAT IS BRINE?

Brine is a (basically) salt water used to make meats not only taste better, but also more tender. Brining was originally used for food preservation in the era before refrigerators and other types of cold food storage.

Most brine solutions also contain other ingredients such as spices and sugar, to add different flavors.

A QUICK BRINING WORD OF CAUTION

Brining is a great way to give meat more flavor and add tenderness. However, you need to be careful with any meat that has been injected with any kind of solution. These meats can be brined, but you’re asking for them to turn out very salty. More than likely, too salty to eat.

Before purchasing meat to brine, check the label to make sure it hasn’t already been injected with any kind of sodium or saline solution.

HOW DOES BRINING WORK?

Brining works by the magic of osmosis. What is osmosis, you may ask? Osmosis is the process by which a molecules of two solutions equalize. In this case, this means the saltier liquid (brine) equalizes the salt content of the meat.

Secondly, brine adds water content to the meat. So, when you cook it, your meat will lose the same amount of moisture, but will still end up juicier.

Lastly, when you brine a meat, it is not only gaining liquid, it’s also gaining salt. The higher salt concentration will begin to break down its proteins.

When proteins are broken down, it makes the meat more tender, which in turn makes it all the more better to eat.

Low-Carb Turkey Brine

WHAT MEATS ARE BEST FOR BRINING?

Basically any meat can be brined, but the most popular brined meats are:

  • Poultry
  • Pork (ribs especially)
  • Shrimp

WHY BRINE A TURKEY?

As we’ve mentioned above, you should brine a turkey to enhance its moisture content and flavor. Poultry is a very bland meat, so anything you can do to add to its flavor is a must!

LOW-CARB TURKEY BRINE INGREDIENTS

Before you try to make a batch of this brine, you’ll want to make sure you have the following ingredients on hand.

  • 4 quarts water
  • 1 cup Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh sage leaves, chopped
  • 6 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp whole peppercorns

After you have this, you’re set and ready to go!

Note: If you’re planning on bringing a large turkey, you should consider making sure you have enough ingredients on hand to double the recipe. This amount should work for most average sized turkeys.

Low-Carb Turkey Brine

HOW TO MAKE A LOW-CARB TURKEY BRINE

  1. Combine salt, water, and peppercorns in a large pot over high heat
  2. Bring to a boil and boil until salt is dissolved, stirring occasionally
  3. Remove the mixture from the heat and let cool
  4. Combine the rest of the ingredients and stir
  5. Transfer the mixture to a large sealable container
  6. Place turkey in brine and place into the refrigerator for a minimum of 8 hours

AREN’T ALL BRINES CONSIDERED LOW-CARB?

Not even close! Almost all brine recipes (and pre-made brines, should you be able to find those in your local supermarket or grocery store) call for the use of either white sugar or brown sugar.

A lot of recipes even call for maple syrup, believe it or not. The use of sugar or maple syrup gives a sweet yet salty taste to the turkey, which is enjoyable but adds sugar to the turkey.

This brine doesn’t call for any kind of sugar or sweetener. We don’t recommend trying to use a sweetener as most sweeteners change taste the longer they sit. You run the risk of ruining the turkey by using a sweetener.

Low-Carb Turkey Brine

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO BRINE A TURKEY?

As a general rule, brining meat takes about one hour per pound. Therefore, the exact time needed to brine a turkey will depend on how large of a turkey you are trying to brine.

If you’re on a time crunch, a suggestion would be to plan on at least 8 hours worth of brine time, regardless of size.

Do be careful, however, about brining your meat too long. Use the one hour per pound as a maximum. If you brine too long, you run the risk or making the meat too salty and/or breaking down the meat proteins too much.

If they break down too much, the turkey will have a mushy, unappealing consistency.

Low-Carb Turkey Brine

SHOULD I RINSE MY TURKEY BEFORE BRINING?

No! In fact, you should never rinse poultry before handling or cooking.

Why, you may ask?

Although raw chicken and turkey can carry bacteria on their surfaces, research has shown that washing raw poultry under running water in your kitchen sink is a bad idea.

By doing this, you are actually splashing bacteria all over yourself, anything you touch after the rinse, your countertops, and your kitchen sink. It can also splash water particles full of bacteria onto any nearby food.

Simply take the turkey out of the packaging and place into the brine. Leave it to the heat of the cooking process to kill any bacteria present on the meat.

WHAT TO EAT WITH BRINED THANKSGIVING TURKEY

Obviously, you can brine a turkey at any time of the year. However, it’s most popular around the holidays (specifically Thanksgiving).

Here are some Thanksgiving-inspired recipes that would go great with a brined turkey, Thanksgiving or not!

For more ideas, you can check out our recipe index.

TOOLS USED TO BRINE A TURKEY

Click on the links to see the items used in making this recipe. You can also find these products linked in the recipe below.

  • Commercial Plastic Storage Container (22 quart) – While a plastic 5 gallon bucket would also work, the more “kitchen appropriate” option to brine your turkey in is a commercial plastic storage container. These containers come in many different sizes, but a 22 quart container provides plenty of room for many different turkey sizes and the brine. This container is roughly the size of a 5 gallon bucket, so if you get one, make sure to plan your refrigerator space accordingly!
Low-Carb Turkey Brine

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Low-Carb Turkey Brine

Low-Carb Turkey Brine

Yield: 1 serving
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 10 minutes

Fall means Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving means turkey! This low-carb turkey brine is perfect for your carb-free Thanksgiving meal!

Ingredients

  • 4 quarts water
  • 1 cup Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh sage leaves, chopped
  • 6 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp whole peppercorns

Instructions

    1. Combine salt, water, and peppercorns in a large pot over high heat
    2. Bring to a boil and boil until salt is dissolved, stirring occasionally
    3. Remove the mixture from the heat and let cool
    4. Combine the rest of the ingredients and stir
    5. Transfer the mixture to a large sealable container
    6. Place turkey in brine and place into the refrigerator for at least a minimum of 8 hours

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Nutrition Information
Yield 1 Serving Size 1
Amount Per ServingCalories 0 Total Fat 0g Carbohydrates 0g Protein 0g
Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy, sourced from an online food databse. All carbohydrate counts are calculated as net carbs instead of total. Net carb count excludes both fiber and sugar alcohols, because these do not affect blood sugar in most people. We try to be accurate, but feel free to make your own calculations.
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