Can You Brine a Pre-Brined Turkey?

A reader asks if they should brine a pre-brined turkey they bought from the store. Our editor answers.

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Question: So, I went to the store to get a turkey for my BBQ, but all they had were pre-brined ones. The recipe I want to use calls for brining the turkey, but I’m not sure if I should bother since the turkey is already pre-brined. My question is, will brining it again make a difference, or should I just skip that step and move on to the cooking?

Answer: It sounds like you’ve got yourself a bit of a dilemma with that pre-brined turkey, partner! But don’t you worry none, for you and I are going to get to the bottom of this here turkey-brining conundrum and figure out what to do.

It’s important to understand why the recipe calls for brining the turkey in the first place. Brining the turkey adds flavor and helps keep it moist and juicy, even if it’s smoked low and slow on the BBQ.

When you soak the turkey in a saltwater solution (with maybe some herbs or spices thrown in for good measure), the salt helps the turkey retain its moisture. This can make for a more succulent bird when it’s all said and done.

But let me tell you, you’re right to be hesitant about brining a pre-brined turkey.

After all, if the turkey has already been soaked in a brine solution before it made it to the store, do you really need to brine it again? It’s a good question — and one that can make or break your Sunday cookout or maybe even Thanksgiving dinner.

Pre-brined turkeys can be mighty tasty all on their own. That done-for-you brine adds plenty of flavor and moisture to the bird, and, nine times out of ten, you don’t need to do anything else to it. You shouldn’t brine pre-brined turkey because it may turn out too salty and frankly inedible.

On the other hand, some folks might want to add their own flavorings to the turkey, and that’s perfectly fine. You can still add in all other flavorings the recipe calls for, like herbs, spices, aliums, and whatnot, just don’t add salt. And if you do end up adding salt, go very, very easy on it lest you oversalt the bird. I personally wouldn’t.

So, to sum it all up: there’s no need to brine a pre-brined turkey because the turkey is already salty enough. Skip the brine, slide the bird right into the hot oven or smoker, and, you’re sure to have a turkey that’ll make the folks at the table asking for seconds!

By Sammy Steen

Sammy, Barbehow's editor, is a die-hard carnivore, barbecue whisperer, and self-proclaimed master of the grill.

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