HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Brined turkey -- using the drippings for gravy and the carcass for soup. Too salty or not?

We usually brine the turkey and that's what we'll be doing this year. We've always had one guest who needs to be low salt and I've been concerned the gravy would be too salty.

So I've gotten turkey wings and other parts and roasted them the night before and made gravy from that.

This year, we don't need to be worried about our low-salt family member. So can I make the gravy from the brined bird drippings? Think I've seen people say that's fine.

Also, can we use the carcass for stock? Think that should be fine but am wondering.

Edit -- I see I accidentally posted this twice. Not sure how I did that. (Can moderators delete?) Sorry for any extra bother.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. yes to both questions. if you rinse the turkey carefully after it comes out the brine, you will not have a problem with extra salt or saltiness. We have been brining our turkeys for many years now with no problems of this sort..

    1. I dont like using the brined turkey drippings for gravy-too salty for my taste plus I don't like the citrus flavor it takes on from the brine itself. However I always make stock afterwards and that comes out great. Don't think the carcass itself absorbs that much of the brine. I also don't use the skin so I think that helps too.

      4 Replies
      1. re: foodieX2

        citrus? I guess we limit ourselves to a simple salt and water brine, so brine flavorings are not a factor. Again, if the bird is washed, and actually dried with paper towels as we do, before the bird goes in theoven, I cant imagine a major flavoring input into gravy or broth afterwards.

        1. re: jen kalb

          Dont knock till you try it. The brine I make is fabulous I just don't like how the gravy comes out- it too salty *for my taste* even after being rinsed/dried. Plus I like a more tradtional gravy on such a flavorfull bird.

          This is what I usually put in my brine but honestly it depend on whats available at the time. Sometimes I substitutle apples for the citrus.

          kosher salt
          dark brown sugar
          bay leaves

          1. re: foodieX2

            for me a traditional gravy uses the drippings (:>)) along with broth and other things, like maybe some madeira or mushrooms..
            we get plenty of flavor in the bird and gravy their by putting chopped up sauteed onion/carrot/celery with plenty of herbs in the cavity, ditto veg below the rack in the pan and the butter, white wine and fresh rosemary salt and pepper that are rubbed all over and used in the baste.

            The idea of making a gravy that is seasoned differently from the turkey as a whole is interesting

            1. re: foodieX2

              My brine has lots of ginger, I also add a few oranges, apples and use and replace about 50% of the water with apple cider.... I use the whole thing for stock and gravy - tastes great.

              •6 quarts water
              •2 large onions, quartered
              •1 cup coarse salt
              •1 cup chopped fresh ginger
              •3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
              •4 large bay leaves
              •4 whole star anise
              •12 whole black peppercorns, crushed

        2. Can't comment on the drippings for gravy as we smoke our turkey so I never have drippings to use. As for the carcass for stock, it's fine and there is no reason to do anything other than toss the carcass in the stockpot as usual.

          1. I've used a brine for years and always use the drippings with no problems. I use no salt added butter for the roux and go forward from there.

            Edited to add, that as Jen Kalb already stated, I quick rinse the bird after removing it from the brine.

            1. We also brine and smoke our turkey so no drippings to be had. Like you, I buy turkey parts in advance, roast them, and then make stock for the gravy. The one advantage is that I can make the gravy base ahead of time. Any juices from the turkey as it is carved are added to the gravy during its final moments on the stove.

              1 Reply
              1. re: smtucker

                Being Canadian we have already had our Thanksgiving. Once again the brined turkey was a spectacular success....moist and cooked very quickly. I made gravy out of the drippings without rinsing and it was delicious. I only use brown sugar and kosher salt in my brine so there is no citrus taste. While I did not make soup this year I have in the past and while it does taste a bit salty, not overly so. Happy Thanksgiving to all of our neighbours to the south.

              2. Depends upon how strong of a brine you use, but if you use a basic brine, you should be fine.

                1. i like to do as much as possible in advance. and gravy can be made way in advance. so i roast a couple of turkey wings and use the drippings from that for the gravy. as far as stock goes, i've never had a problem making stock from the carcass of my brined birds.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: eLizard

                    strained round one of brined carcass stock this morning. no salt issue at all.

                  2. Thanks everyone! It looks like we'll have no problems using the carcass for soup.

                    And I'm inclined to use our drippings for gravy. But we'll be careful to rinse and dry the bird before roasting.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: karykat

                      especially make sure you rinse the cavity and the neck opening well - thats where the salt can accumulate

                    2. Yes it will work fine. Overly salted brine solutions will add an unpleasant saltiness. Collect the drippings. Baste the turkey with a good quality chicken stock either home made or store bought. But make sure it's a high quality stock.

                      Store bought stock should be somewhat opaque and not clear. Two cups of stock is enough to baste with. The turkey juices will provide enough to make more juice for the gravy. Don't worry about the salt.

                      1. I always make gravy from my brined bird. Normall I do mine on the grill - I do add additional vegs to the bottom of the pan so perhaps the sugars in the carrot, celary and onion counteracts the the saltness to the brine?

                        I had been making my gravy from brined birds for along time - it wasn't until I met a very accomplished cook that said you shouldn't do this... news to me - bumble bee's also don't fly:-).

                        1. Thanks for these thoughts.

                          1. The drippings will be salty if you have brined it correctly. But just use unsalted broth to complete your gravy and it will be delicious. Personally I don't think rinsing matters. I've roasted rinsed and no rinsed brined birds. The drippings are coming from under the surface of the turkey anyway.

                            I have made terrific gravy with brined turkeys for 15 years.

                            The carcass is fine for soup too.

                            1. My gravy came out pretty salty this year - due to the brine - almost too salty to be used. I put in a cup of white wine and undersalted the potatos worked out good - but I was very surprised.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: sparky403

                                Then your brine recipe was too high in the salt component for the amount of water you were using.

                                1. re: jmnewel

                                  I measured the salt pretty carefully - the turkey itself was one of the better tasting ones ever I have ever made in the dozen or so years that I have been brining.

                                  One factor that likely added to this - I didn't have low salt chicken stock that I used to for the Basting - anyway, I would sacfice the gravy for better flavor of the bird. But something was different so perhaps I didn't measure the salt as accurately as I thought.

                                  1. re: sparky403

                                    certainly if you are using salty broth and cooking it down you may wind up with an excess salt issue. We make our stock and we dont salt it. used the drippings and had to add salt. The turkey is only going to absorb a certain quota of salt - so Id venture to say that if if the drippings are too salty its probably because of either salt left on the surface or in the cavities of the bird after brining (not well enough cleaned) or salt added during the cooking process.

                              2. Mine was delicious as usual. Not salty in the slightest.

                                I pour off the drippings and deglaze with hot water. Then I use the drippings and dissolved fond as well as UNSALTED turkey stock.

                                Never, ever salty. And I cook for a couple of salt-phobes.

                                1. Thanks to everyone for the post-T-day reports. I ended up making a batch of gravy separately with some turkey parts like wings. Partly just because we wanted a bunch of extra gravy.

                                  And a large amount of turkey stock was made from the carcass and is safely tucked away in the freezer.