This is the best gluten free brined turkey recipe. Juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside. Simple and flavorful, with orange juice, white wine, and thyme, this gluten free brined turkey is bursting with flavor.
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My husband would eat turkey every day if he could. He loves turkey, any time of year. We actually will buy a turkey in the offseason to cook this gluten free brined turkey. We use it for sandwiches, salads, soups, casseroles, just about anything.
A few years back we had our first Thanksgiving at home, just the two of us and decided to try brining for the first time. I wish I had done it sooner. It made all the difference in the world!
If you haven’t checked out my guide to a Stress Free Thanksgiving, go check it out now!
Why Brine a Turkey?
Because it tastes better. This gluten free brined turkey is one of our favorite proteins. I feel like it should be that simple, but there is a bit more to it than that.
The brining process allows the turkey meat to soak up all the flavors, kinda like a marinade. That way, not only do you have flavoring on the outside, but throughout the whole turkey.
The main ingredient in the brine is salt, which helps break down the muscle and keeps the turkey from losing as much moisture as it cooks. While you will still get drippings from this turkey, it might not be as much as you are used too (though I think they taste better!).
Not everyone is the brine your bird camp, but I think the flavor (especially in this recipe) is worth the time it takes (and the refrigerator space!). Brined turkey also makes the best leftovers!
How to Brine and Cook a Gluten Free Brined Turkey
The brining process imparts so much flavor into the meat of the turkey. So often, turkey has a flavorful skin, but the actual meat is bland. There is a reason they serve gravy with turkey. It needs more flavor.
This turkey is brined in orange juice, white wine, thyme, peppercorns, bay leaves, salt, and brown sugar. It produces a juicy, tender meat with lots of flavor with ingredients you most likely have on hand.
Steps to Brining
- Start with a big pot. I have a large stock pot that I use (I love it, I have no idea where I got it, but it is also great for making broth out of the bones!). The one I have is a 15 quart, but a 20 quart would be better (I’ve linked to two different ones on Amazon)
- Prepare your turkey by thawing and removing the neck, giblets, all that stuff (be sure to save it if you want to use the neck for stock). If your turkey is still a bit frozen, that’s ok.
- Combine all the brining ingredients in a stock pot and stir well to dissolve the salt. Add the turkey and cover.
- Refrigerate 10 to 12 hours. I like to turn it a couple of times while it’s brining.
What Happens After the Turkey is Brined?
After brining, I pat it dry and rub it with poultry seasoning. Double check your poultry seasoning to make sure it has salt. If it does not have salt you are going to want to salt your turkey skin, just as you normally would.
Allow your turkey to rest at room temperature before you roast it, for about an hour.
When I roast it, I place it on a tray (usually just a little cooling rack) because I hate it when the bottom is all soggy. It’s a personal preference. I always use the suggest roasting times from the Butterball website.
For the first half of the cooking time I leave it uncovered, then once it has begun to brown I cover it so it doesn’t burn. I have noticed that I don’t start seeing a lot of drippings until after it is covered. Be sure to save the drippings for gravy or to add into stock, if you choose to make any with the bones.
Let’s Eat Turkey
We generally do a 13-15 pound turkey. If yours is much larger, you may want to double the recipe. I’m lucky enough to have a pot big enough to fit the whole turkey, but if you don’t you can use a large roasting bag, fill it with the turkey and brine and place it inside a large bowl or in a cooler with ice to brine.
Once all is said in done, we like to use Geoffry Zacharian’s method for carving. It always works perfectly and is so easy.
Are all Turkey’s gluten free? No, read the labels. I usually stick with Butterball because their turkeys are gluten free (still read the label, things could change) and they are easy to find. Honeysuckle is another brand that is gluten free and I have seen them at WinnDixie.
Can I use a pre-brined Turkey? If your turkey is already brined, you do not want to brine it again.
Can I use a Turkey Breast instead? Yes, I have done this with both boneless and bone-in turkey breast. In order to do this, I cut the brine recipe in half. I like to do two boneless turkey breasts at a time and use them for lunch meat.
What do I do with all the Turkey leftovers? I’m glad you asked! Here are a few ideas for you:
Of course, if it’s Thanksgiving you don’t want to forget the gluten free sides, like these green beans with garlic and almonds or these easy to make gluten free stuffing cups. Other no fail sides include these Roasted Radishes from Cooking LSL or this Blanched Broccoli from Food Doodles. For a different spin on potatoes, try these Twice Baked Potatoes from My Gluten-Free Kitchen or these Vegan Mashed Potatoes from Vegetarian Mama! Need bread to serve? Try these Gluten Free Honey Cornbread Muffins from Flippin Delicious.
Happy Gluten Free Eating!
Easy, No Fail Gluten Free Brined Turkey
- 1 Whole Turkey 12-15 pounds, giblets and neck removed
- 1 gallon water
- 3 cups orange juice
- 3 1/2 cups white wine basically a bottle of Pinot
- 1 1/2 cups Kosher Salt if using table salt, use 1 cup
- 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
- 2 Tablespoons peppercorns
- 4 bay leaves
- 4 sprigs thyme
- Olive oil
- 3 – 4 Tablespoons poultry seasoning.
- Add water, orange juice, wine, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, bay leaves and thyme to a large pot and stir together to dissolve.
- Add turkey and push down to submerge.
- Cover and refrigerate over night.
- Remove from brine and pat dry.
- Preheat oven to 325.
- Coat turkey with olive oil and coat with poultry seasoning.
- Roast for about 20 minutes per pound or until thermometer in thickest part of breast registers 165 degrees.
- Cover turkey breast with aluminum foil about 2/3 of the way through to prevent over browning.
- Save drippings for gravy or Turkey Stock.
Originally published November 5, 2018