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Nov 7, 2007 09:42 AM

Brining a Butterball?

I've been reading some of the posts and they all say you shouldn't brine a Butterball turkey. Why and what would happen? I have a small one that I was going to brine & fry for Thanksgiving (as a second turkey for seconds / leftovers). I typically brine for 3 days, remove from the brine that morning, and fry (I've been doing this for 5 or so years now, usually pretty good, but don't think I ever had a Butterball). Will I even taste a difference (of a Butterball vs. Something else)?

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  1. No you should not. If you talk to the Butterball hotline they will tell you not to brine their turkeys.

    Here is a couple of past links with that same question:

    1. "Fresh" Butterballs come in different colored packaging than their frozen birds and are a bit more expensive. They have in years past NOT been pretreated like their frozen counterparts have been. I have been brining them for years quite successfully and plan to do so again this year.

      But given the fact that Butterball says not to, I will scour the packaging for any indication that sodium has been added. If it has been, I'll buy a different brand. Do not brine any bird that says it has been treated with salt or sodium.

      Personally I like a Bell and Evans bird, but the family prefers the Butterball.

      1 Reply
      1. re: C. Hamster

        I'm going to try an organic free range bird this year and brine it myself. Although, I'll admit I'm a bit leary as I've always had great results with my Butterball.

      2. I brined a Butterball a few eyars ago (didn't know you weren't supposed to) and thought the results were tasty.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Honey Bee

          Same here. I have brined Butterball's and other enhanced or processed (saline injected) Turkeys. The results have been great. The birds cook faster and never turn out dry. I have found one drawback, however. The drippings turn out too salty for use in gravy.

          1. re: Antilope

            Combine salty drippings with unsalted giblet broth to even them out.

            1. re: Antilope

              Perfect. That's what I needed to know. I don't make my own gravy so the drippings don't matter (my wife is a jarred gravy & stove top gal). Glad to see that the bining of a Butterball was not just edible but good eats.

          2. I compared the "fresh" versus frozen Butterballs at the supermarket over the weekend. The fresh ones do not say they have been treated with saline solution, while the frozen ones state that they have been in very conspicous type.

            I'm going to go ahead and brine a fresh butterball this T-giving

            1. I was planning on brining my frozen butterball as well, and now I am worried about all the salt, since I do make my own gravy. I was wondering if it was possible to make a brine without the salt. Would it work? Would the sugar and the other herbs do their job without the added salt, since it is already in there? I really like the idea of using fresh herbs and the zest from oranges and lemons.

              2 Replies
              1. re: FalcoOat

                There is no such thing as a brine without the salt. It's the salt that makes the brine work.

                Frozen butterballs have, in effect, already been brined. So have kosher turkeys.

                You can marinade a turkey and it will flavor it to some extent. Brining, however, pulls liquid from the brine into the turkey's cells. It's the salt in the brine that makes that happen.


                1. re: FalcoOat

                  You can make a less salty brine. For years I've been using Alice Water's turkey brine recipe, altering it to fit my smaller pot. I've found if you make the solution "soup-like" and not overly salty, but bring for 3 days, you will get a very flavorful turkey. Years ago, I posted that recipe here, you can do a search and find it probably.