I was looking forward to trying out brining a turkey this year. But I have ended up in the UK for Thanksgiving and have had to buy a "butter-basted" turkey. I have done a lot of googling, but can't figure out exactly what this means and whether I can/should still brine it.

While trying to figure out if "butter basting" involves salt, I keep coming across the term "self-basting." And it is usually associated with advice to avoid brining.

Can anyone out there help? I just began to defrost the turkey and my original plan was to do the defrosting in a brine in the fridge. Given that it's "butter basted" though, I'm wondering if I should go near it with salt at all. Thanks very much.

1 Answer 1


Pre-basted turkey is indeed already brined. You can double check this by looking on the ingredient list of the turkey packaging and you should see a salt or vinegar solution listed.

You can still soak the bird if you would like, but either use no salt or a low-salt brine, like a 0.5-1% solution. In this case you will probably be pulling out some of the salt from the brine that's already on the turkey.

Here's a description from The Food Lab (a pretty rigorous source) on these types of turkeys:

Self-basting birds have been injected with a salt and flavor solution to help keep them moist while cooking. They come out incredibly moist, almost wet, and can be cooked directly from the package with minimal pre-roast work required. They also tend to be dull and diluted in flavor.

  • Thank you very much. I'll go and check for the presence of salt solution on the package right now.
    – Ant
    Commented Nov 22, 2017 at 17:00

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