Making the perfect turkey or ham on Thanksgiving or Christmas is a time-honored tradition.
To achieve the maximum level of tender, juicy, falling-apart goodness, many people turn to brining.
But what if you can’t find a brining bag?
It’s happened to all of us: you’ve got your turkey or ham thawed and ready to go, and you go to prepare the brine, only to realize that you don’t have any brining bags in the pantry.
We’ve got 12 great suggestions for what to use instead of a brining bag.
What to Use Instead of A Brining Bag?
If you’re as obsessed with cooking as I am, you probably go through a lot of brining bags.
Whether it’s for making your Thanksgiving turkey or cooking up some pulled pork, brining bags are an essential part of the process.
But if you don’t have one handy when you need it (or if you just want to try something new), what are the alternatives?
Here are 12 of them:
1. A 13-Gallon Plastic Kitchen Garbage Bag
I’ve used a large 13-gallon plastic kitchen garbage bag in the past with no issues with the plastic affecting the flavor of the food in my experience.
The bag is large enough to lay flat on a counter, and I can put the turkey inside (breast down), then add the brine, close it up and place in the refrigerator.
It’s not as convenient as a brining bag, but it’s about as cheap as you can get.
I then rinse everything after removing the turkey from the brine to make sure there are no salt or other residue left behind.
For easy cleanup, I use one of those kitchen trash bags that has a flap to keep odors in.
This allows me to set the trash bag down on top of a kitchen counter or cutting board, then remove it when done (kind of like setting a bowl upside down over something).
I did find that one time I had some leakage where the meat was touching the plastic, so I now put it all on top of a layer of paper towels before putting it into the fridge.
2. A Big Stockpot
If you have a large stockpot, or even a giant soup pot, you can use it to brine your turkey. Just make sure that it is large enough to cover your bird in liquid.
If it isn’t quite big enough, cut the bird in half (through the breast) and use both halves. You can also cut off the legs and wings and brine them separately.
3. A Clean Plastic Bucket
If you don’t have a large enough pot, try using a clean plastic bucket instead.
You will probably want to weigh the bird down to ensure that it stays submerged in the brine.
If you don’t have anything heavy enough, try placing a large glass bowl on top of the meat with a heavy can on top of that.
Just make sure that everything is completely clean before placing food inside!
4. A Cooler
A cooler is a great alternative if you don’t have a brining bag or enough room in your refrigerator for the turkey.
Here’s what you do:
- Place the turkey inside a cooler with a lid that seals tightly.
- Pour in the brine so that it covers the entire turkey. Seal up the cooler and place it in an area where it won’t get knocked over or disturbed.
- If possible, place it someplace cool where temperatures will remain at around 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Check on the turkey after 24 hours to make sure the brine hasn’t evaporated and top off as needed until you’re ready to cook the bird.
5. Turkey Roasting Bag and A 5-Gallon Bucket
If you need to brine something very large like a whole turkey, use a heavy duty turkey roasting bag and a 5 gallon bucket.
The size of the bag allows it to easily fit inside the bucket while keeping the turkey submerged in the brine.
The 5 gallon bucket is also large enough to hold liquid, but it’s not so big that it takes up too much room in your refrigerator.
6. Ziplock Bag
If you don’t have any plastic food storage bags lying around the house, then try using a ziplock bag instead.
Simply fill it up with water and add some salt to create a brine solution for your turkey or chicken breasts.
7. A Large Bowl
This is an easy solution for small amounts of food that needs to be brined.
A large bowl can easily accommodate turkey breasts, chicken breasts, or pork chops without any issues.
Since most bowls are tall and narrow, they take up little space in the refrigerator.
If you’re making a larger amount of meat than will fit in a single bowl, use multiple bowls to hold everything.
8. Cooking Pan
You can use a large cooking pan as an alternative to a brining bag.
Make sure it’s big enough to fit your turkey or chicken completely. Place the meat inside the pan and then add some water and salt.
After that, you will have to place the pan in your refrigerator.
The best thing about this method is that it is simple and no extra expense is required.
However, the downside of using a large cooking pan is that it takes up a lot of space in the refrigerator and you might not be able to store other things on your fridge shelves for the duration of the brining process.
9. A Crockpot Liner
A crockpot liner works well as an alternative to a brining bag.
Place the meat inside and pour in enough brine to cover it entirely.
The advantage of this method is that you can close up the liner, which keeps everything contained. It’s also reusable so you don’t have to worry about disposal once you’re done.
10. A Glass Food Storage Container
A glass food storage container is one of the best alternatives to a brining bag.
This container has a tight lid so that it can be sealed properly.
Moreover, the lid can prevent any leakage from the container if the turkey is leaking.
In addition to this, this type of container is easy to clean and reuse again.
If you want to save money then you should go for this option because it’s very cheap and affordable.
You can simply place your turkey into a glass container and add water in it.
Then, put the lid on top of it and leave it overnight so that your turkey gets marinated well.
11. Dutch Oven
If you can fit the meat and brine into your Dutch oven, that works just as well as a brining bag.
Just make sure to keep an eye on the moisture level and add more liquid if necessary.
12. Aluminum Foil
This is probably the easiest alternative as most kitchens have aluminum foil in stock.
You just need a couple of standard size sheets (not the heavy duty ones) so that you can wrap and seal the turkey securely during brining.
Here’s how to do it:
- Put turkey into a pan or bowl large enough so that the foil can be folded over all sides of the turkey without touching it.
- Mix salt with water in a bowl until fully dissolved. Pour this over the turkey, making sure that all parts are covered in liquid, including inside its cavity.
- Fold the aluminum foil over all sides of the turkey, wrapping it securely so no liquid can escape from the pan or bowl during brining.
Thankfully, there are a ton of DIY techniques that you can use in place of brining bags.
In the end, they’ll save you money, and they work just (if not better) than a commercial brining bag.
So the next time you want to give your piece of chicken or turkey some extra flavor, don’t reach for that commercial brining bag – consider these alternatives instead.