Paula Deen's basic turkey brine recipe consists of one cup kosher salt, one cup of brown sugar and one gallon of water. The mixture needs to be completely dissolved before placing the turkey in the liquid for the best results. Heating up the water and dissolving the sugar and salt in the liquid also is an effective method for complete dissolution, but the final brine needs to cool completely before any poultry rests in it.
Once the turkey brine is mixed and cooled, fully submerge the turkey and leave in a refrigerator for at least 24 to 48 hours. After that time has passed, wash the marinated bird of any excess brine and pat the surface dry before roasting.
Brining provides moisture to the turkey due to osmosis. When the turkey is placed in the salty water, the brine's molecules infuse themselves to the bird. When a whole turkey is soaked in brine liquid overnight, its end weight is typically much heavier than when it was originally placed in the mixture. This is because it is infused with moisture-locking salt water that partially evaporates when cooking. Because not all of the brine is evaporated, the end result is a juicy, succulent turkey.