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Should I brine a Butterball turkey?

I know Butterball is a bad word around here, but I wanted to experiment grilling a turkey and this was all my husband could find at short notice. It's a Butterball Premium young turkey "raised without hormones" but it does say it contains "up to 8 percent solution of water, salt, spices."

I want to see just how easily I can grill a turkey and would just as well not brine it, but people rave so much about brining, I'm wondering if I should try that too.

BTW, I've still got it thawing in cold water and want to grill it tomorrow, so there's not a lot of time. But I should have at least 10-12 hours if it's worth trying. Oh, and I don't have a large bag to do it in, so that might be an issue--trying to find one in the little time I'll have tonight to go looking. Can I do it directly in the crisper drawer without a bag, or is that a bad idea?

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  1. Call Butterball 1-800-288-8372

    1. No, it's already brined for your convenience.

      1. I think that the "8% solution" would take the place of brining. I'm not sure the bird could absorb much more water and salt, nor would you want it to.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Jeri L

          Replying to all 3 of you above, the thing is that Butterball has a brine recipe here: http://www.butterball.com/tips-how-to.... They do recommend using a fresh turkey over frozen so that you don't have to thaw, but they don't mention that you wouldn't want to because of the salt already added.

          But honestly, I'd rather try the grilling on its own first rather than adding brining, so maybe it's just as well that I skip it.

        2. No, the 8% solution is more than enough. My husband accidentally bought one like that one year and then brined it. The texture was horrible.

          1. There's no one available to talk to at Butterball on the weekend.

            1. Don't brine!!! I love Butterballs; I have the very best results using them, can't stand gameyness of other brands.

              1 Reply
              1. re: walker

                Well that's encouraging. :-)

                Thanks to everyone else--now I just wonder why Butterball recommends it on their website. You'd think they'd say something like "but don't do this for those in a salt/spice solution."

                1. re: luciaannek


                  Check the label. "Fresh" Butterballs aren't -- or did not when I bought them. I brined them just fine. But the quality of the product has declined too much for me to buy them anymore,

                2. You don't brine kosher poultry (already salt-treated) or Butterballs or any other poultry labeled as self-basting, pre-seasoned, or enhanced.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: greygarious

                    Ditto. I never brine - have never found a need to & my free-range organic turkeys from Whole Foods have always turned out hands-down FABULOUS.

                    But if I WERE going to brine, I'd NEVER brine a kosher bird, a Butterball or any other commercial bird that was already "self-basted", "pre-seasoned", or "enhanced" exactly as Greygarious stated.

                    Overkill, & could absolutely RUIN your bird.

                  2. The average brine is around 5% salt so no extra brining is needed

                    1. It might make it really mushy. I would skip it b/c of the pre-brining.

                      Butterballs are just fine. Yes, Heritage turkeys are yummy, but honestly, Butterball is what my mom always made/makes, so it doesn't seem like Thanksgiving without one. I am all about the nostalgia, and Butterball still tastes damned good to me.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: sisterfunkhaus

                        Oh don't get me wrong - I like Butterball turkeys & turkey products as well, & enjoy them year-round. And it was my family's Thanksgiving bird as well. But around 15 years ago we ordered a free-range bird from Whole Foods "just to try it", & the moistness & particularly the turkey flavor was SO much better, that we've enjoyed it as our Thanksgiving bird every year since. Even the leftovers are better - always moist & flavorful. (And I never brine.)

                        1. re: Bacardi1

                          Well, I don't have a choice this year. Would have been fine with paying extra for another bird, but with just my husband and I, the only bird I could find under 15 pounds was a Butterball. I've never had one before. Here goes nothing.

                          1. re: amysuehere

                            I doubt you'll be disappointed. Butterball puts out a very good product. Just don't brine it - it's already been injected with what is, essentially, a "brine".

                            1. re: Bacardi1

                              I've tried them all and Butterball is the best of the big name frozen turkeys by far. I already have mine thawing since it's a big one, paid 69 cents vs Shadybrook @59 cents. Rare to see Butterball on rock bottom sale so no contest.
                              And I've found that there is SO much food on the day, nobody is paying that much attention to any one dish, even the turkey itself.
                              At least in my house, where the plates are overflowing with all the sides.
                              PS I have a turkey farm a mile or two away from me but I find they don't taste all that much better, and are $4/lb, so haven't used in the last few years. They do have goose though, and I'm kinda tempted with that.Maybe Christmas?

                              1. re: coll

                                Just from first-hand experience, I've been roasting a goose for Xmas for decades now, & always buy a frozen bird from the supermarket. One year we decided to splurge & order a fresh organic free-range one from Whole Foods (at a huge premium price, of course). Bottom line? Couldn't tell any difference between the pricey Whole Foods goose & the regular supermarket bird.

                                So while we do order our Thanksgiving turkey from Whole Foods every year (because we definitely DO taste a difference), we didn't find any difference in the geese, so won't be doing that again.

                                We also have a local farm that offers organic free-range home-grown poultry, & might at some point try one of their geese, but the prices are so exhorbitant, I'm not sure it would be worth it.

                      2. Just wanted to followup that we didn't brine, cooked it on our gas grill, and it was terrific. Even if other turkeys are better quality, this was the smallest turkey we could find and most affordable. Since we all loved it and it came out very moist and tasty, we won't feel inclined to try anything else.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Thanks4Food

                          So glad it worked out well for you. Like I said before - Butterball produces a good bird.