Chef Jacobs’ turkey brine

This Thanksgiving brine comes from Chef Randall Jacobs, executive chef at Elate, a River North hotspot for new American cuisine and brunch. The secret? Giant ziplock bags, like the kind this new father says he uses to store the clothes his 1-year-old is constantly outgrowing. See more Thanksgiving recipes from Chicago chefs.


  • 1/2 gallon water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup sea salt
  • 1 ounce fresh rosemary
  • 1 ounce fresh sage
  • 1 ounce fresh thyme
  • 1 ounce oregano
  • 3/4 gallon ice
  • Peel of two oranges


  1. In a large stock pot combine water, sugar, sea salt, rosemary, sage, thyme, and oregano and bring to a boil, stirring frequently to dissolve salt and sugar.
  2. Place ice in a large bowl; remove mixture from heat and pour over ice and add orange peel.
  3. Pass through a chinois and reserve both liquid and dry ingredients separately.
  4. Wash and dry turkey and remove innards. Place the turkey in the bag and add dry ingredients. Place bagged turkey in a large mixing bowl, being sure that the bag opening is upright.
  5. Slowly pour the brine into the bag, covering the turkey ¾ of the way. Remove excess air, allowing the turkey to be better submerged
  6. Seal the bag (reinforce with duct tape) and place in refrigerator overnight.
  7. Remove, carefully drain off excess brine and pat dry. Discard brine and prepare turkey according to your recipe.
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