Finding space in the refrigerator for a container large enough to hold a couple of gallons of brine and a turkey can be a tall order. One way to free up space is to place the turkey and brine in an oven bag and then stash the tightly sealed bag in a cooler or large Styrofoam box with ice.
What You’ll Need: A turkey-size oven bag and 2 to 3 gallons of brine depending on the size of the turkey. The oven bag means you can use any size cooler that fits the bird. Plus, you won’t have to clean it.
Before You Start: Make sure that the turkey and brine are well chilled (no warmer than 40 degrees) before placing them in the cooler. This allows all the ice’s cooling power to go toward maintaining a food-safe temperature inside the cooler.
How to Brine Turkey in a Cooler
1. Combine the brine and turkey (thawed if frozen) in the bag and carefully remove as much air as possible before sealing the bag so that the bird is enveloped in brine.
2. Place the bag and 15 pounds of ice in the cooler or Styrofoam box (any size large enough to hold the bag will do) and do not open it until you’re ready to proceed with the recipe. We found that 15 pounds of ice was enough to keep a 20-pound turkey cool for more than 12 hours.