Can You Use A Trash Bag To Brine A Turkey? [Good Substitutions]

Cooking poultry evenly while keeping it moist can be rather tricky. Now, the task becomes a bit more challenging because of the size of a turkey. That is one of the reasons why you need to brine the bird. However, finding something to brine it in can be tedious. So, can you brine a turkey in a trash bag?

Trash bags are not made to hold fresh food. So, they are not food safe, at least in most cases. For this reason, it is advised that you do not brine turkey or any other meat using a trash bag. That said, some people still choose to do it. So, your best alternative to a trash bag is to buy turkey brining bags.

can you use a trash bag to brine a turkey

Food safety is no joke, so I want to kick off the rest of this article with a little bit about how unsafe it is to use a trash bag to brine turkey. 

I will also give you a few suitable substitutes before recommending my favorite bags to brine a turkey. So, if you have a turkey and no way to brine it, I recommend reading through this article.

*This page contains affiliate links to products I recommend. If you purchase something from this page, I may receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you.

Is It Safe To Brine A Turkey In A Trash Bag?

Trash bags are not dirty until you throw trash in them, so it might make sense to use them to brine a large turkey. 

However, a lot more thought goes into it, and it is best to understand the hazards and risks you are taking if you choose to use one of these bags to prepare fresh food.

Some of the risks include the following:

  • Hazardous chemicals could seep into the brine.
  • Once in the brine, those chemicals can find their way inside the turkey.
  • Because brine can be a little bit acidic, there is a risk that a few microplastics could seep into the brine and turkey.

I cannot 100% say whether or not you will get hazardous chemicals or microplastics in your food because you might find food-grade trash bags, or you may get lucky with no chemicals or plastics in your food regardless of which bag you use.

However, it is best to be safe. So, if your friends, family, or strangers online tell you it is a good idea to use a trash bag, remember you may not be as lucky as them.

3 Best Things To Brine A Turkey In

Again, I advise you not to use a trash bag. Instead, try to use one of these substitutions, as it will make your cooking experience better, safer, and healthier. 

That said, here are my three favorite things to brine a turkey in:

A Turkey Brining Bag

Further down in this article, I will recommend a few of my favorite turkey brining bags. They are the best when it comes to getting the job done. 

Not only are turkey brining bags designed to hold the weight of the turkey and brine, but they are easy to use.

Using a bag specifically designed to brine food in is the best way to ensure that you are using a food-grade product that won’t put your health and safety at risk.

A Cooler Box

Before I start, please do not use ice packs or bricks when using a cooler to brine a turkey. Often, an ice brick has chemicals, and it is best to avoid them. 

Other than that, the cooler is a great way to brine a turkey. There are two ways that you can use a cooler:

  • With a bag: You will use a turkey brining bag as you normally would and then place it in a cooler. This is the best method if you do not have space in your fridge.
  • Without a bag: After following a few instructions below, you should know how to brine a turkey in a cooler without a bag safely. The method works and is preferred by many people.

Whenever you use a cooler, you need to sanitize it before and after use. One of my favorite methods of doing this is to wash it out with bleach and ensure that you rinse it thoroughly.

You want to keep your cooler box topped up with ice so that the turkey stays cool while it is brining. 

It is especially important to check up on the state of the cooler box every two or three hours.

A Large Oven Cooking Bag

Large oven cooking bags do work when using them to brine a turkey. My biggest concern is that you have one that can handle the weight of the turkey and the brine, which could weigh between 20 and 30 lbs altogether. 

Remember, these bags are not explicitily made for brining food in, which is why I am concerned about the weight, but every time I’ve used one, it has worked. 

Can You Brine A Turkey In A Styrofoam Cooler Box 

It is entirely possible to brine a Turkey in a Styrofoam cooler. The trick is to find one large enough to fit the turkey and the brine. Remember, Styrofoam coolers tend to be small. 

When using a Styrofoam cooler to brine food, especially poultry, place the food into a bag with the brine and then put it into the cooler. Try to avoid placing the turkey directly in the cooler.

If you can find one that is large enough, well done; your next step is to follow a few precautions:

  • Keep the cooler in a dry place.
  • Use a brining bag with the cooler.
  • Avoid moving the cooler around too much.
  • When moving the cooler around, try to lift it from the bottom.

Can You Buy Turkey Brining Bags?

I always say it is best to keep a few brining bags in the cupboard ready for the day when you need them. You can find a brining bag for any meat, but a turkey bag is unique because of its size. 

Here are some of my favorite bags available on Amazon:

All these bags make your life much more convenient, especially around Thanksgiving. 

However, I recommend buying these before Thanksgiving, as I’m sure many units could be out of stock around that time of year.

Final Word

If you want to make a brined turkey that will wow your guests, it is best to be prepared. While the dish is not the easiest to make, it is worth the effort. 

Hopefully, after reading through this article, the next time you cook a turkey, you will have all the information you need to brine it safely for a delicious and moist meal.

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