Can You Reuse Turkey Brine?

When you cook a homemade turkey or chicken, there will usually be some brine left over after the job is done. Many people hate the idea of throwing out this brine and often wonder if it’s acceptable to reuse turkey brine.

Turkey brine that should not be reused

Can You Reuse Turkey Brine?

Turkey brine should never be reused, not only for health reasons but also because reusing brine can throw off the salt ratio for whatever food you use the brine with next. Keep reading for more details on why reusing chicken or turkey brine is not a good idea.

Health Reasons

When you cook a turkey or chicken in a concoction you made yourself or for which you used a recipe, you’ll likely use fresh ingredients such as pepper and kosher salt, as well as other herbs and spices. But the truth is that as soon as you put that raw poultry into this concoction, everything gets mixed in together. As you cook the meat, proteins and liquids from the meat get into the water. The end result is a water mixture that is made up of all the things that came out of the poultry, and this remains in the brine.

Even if you let the brine sit for a short period of time, contaminants such as bacteria can get into the mixture. This is unhealthy and potentially dangerous. There is always the possibility of getting ill from consuming used brine. This is why, for food safety reasons, used brine should never be reused in any other recipe.

Culinary Reasons

When brine is made, certain ingredients are added to the cold water or broth in very specific proportions. Once you’re finished cooking your turkey, the proportions will be out of whack, with too much of some ingredients and too little of others.

The whole point of brining is to infuse the meat with the salt and spices from the brine, so once those are transferred to the meat, there is less of them in the brine water. The salt-to-water ratio will be off, and the taste of whatever you cook next with the brine simply won’t be as good as it would’ve been had you used fresh brine instead.

The bottom line is that it’s always better to not reuse any type of poultry brine. Your best bet is to discard the turkey brine or chicken brine as soon as the first turkey or chicken is cooked, since the leftover brine has the potential to make you sick. Although it’s possible to reuse brine and not become ill, you shouldn’t risk it. This is why reusing brine from any type of poultry product is never a good idea.

If you happen to have purchased a pre-basted turkey, see our article on whether you should brine a pre-basted turkey at all.