A Panini Press Thanksgiving…Brined Turkey Thigh

{I’m making an entire Thanksgiving feast on the panini maker! Here’s Part 1 of the seriesBrined Turkey Thigh.}

Could I prepare an entire Thanksgiving meal on the panini press?

I gave it some thought and determined, well, yes – of course! If you can roast it, you can grill it in most cases. Moreover, for those of us working with just one oven on Thanksgiving (or, in the case of many college students, no oven at all) it actually might be helpful to be able to leverage the panini maker to prepare the annual feast. Over the next two weeks I’ll share four Thanksgiving-appropriate dishes that can be prepared either entirely or in part on the panini maker.

Today I’ll start with the star of the show: Brined Turkey Thighs. Clearly, we’re not going to be able to wedge an entire bird between the grill plates, but a thigh is flat enough to fit on the grill and cook through evenly in about 35 minutes. Thigh meat tends to be nice and juicy on its own but brining it ahead of time gives it even more flavor. On top of it all, through the grilling process you get wonderfully crispy skin.

Of course, this is a great way to quickly grill turkey for sandwiches any time of the year. But if there will be a party of just one or two at your Thanksgiving table this year, brining and panini-grilling a turkey thigh might be a great way to go.

Brined Turkey Thighs


Brined Turkey Thigh

Prep time: 5 minutes (plus 18 hours brining time) | Cook time: 35 minutes | Total time: 18 hours 35 minutes (including brining time)

Serves 2


  • 8 cups cold water
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons dried sage
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 lb bone-in, skin-on turkey thigh
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil


  1. Stir together the water, salt, sugar, thyme, sage, rosemary and black pepper in a large bowl until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Submerge the turkey thigh in the brine, cover the bowl and refrigerate for 12-18 hours.
  2. Preheat the panini grill to 350°F.
  3. Remove the turkey thigh from the brine, pat it dry and transfer it to the grill. Drizzle with olive oil and close the lid. Grill for 35 to 40 minutes or until the thigh is cooked through to an internal temperature of 165°F.



KathyPanini Happy, online since 2008, is more than just a sandwich blog. Here, you'll find hundreds of my original panini recipes, my guide to choosing a panini press and a whole lot of other creative uses for the panini press.
~ Kathy Strahs
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  1. naomi wrote:

    I love your panini creativity. Turkey? YES, this looks awesome!!

    Posted 11.7.11 Reply
  2. Great idea! And as I’m just putting together my Thanksgiving menu, I’m excited to think about how to use my panini press during the holidays for more than leftover turkey sandwiches.

    Posted 11.8.11 Reply
    • Kathy wrote:

      And you can be sure I’ll have more leftover turkey sandwiches after Thanksgiving too. 🙂

      Posted 11.8.11 Reply
  3. super clever!!

    Posted 11.8.11 Reply
  4. Michael Strahs wrote:

    I love when you cook meat and poultry using the meat thermometer – everything always comes out perfect! I still can’t get over how good this turkey thigh came out. Who needs a whole turkey for Thanksgiving – let’s just grill another thigh (or 2)!

    Posted 11.8.11 Reply
    • Kathy wrote:

      I know, it’s tempting!

      Posted 11.8.11 Reply
  5. kellypea wrote:

    I think my stomach just growled ; ) Another very, very clever use of your press.

    Posted 11.8.11 Reply
  6. Jeanette wrote:

    I just picked up some boneless turkey thighs from the market…now all I need is a panini press!

    Posted 11.8.11 Reply
  7. bjames wrote:

    Are you using a turkey thigh with the bone in, or a boneless thigh? There is no specification of what was used.

    Posted 11.8.11 Reply
    • Kathy wrote:

      I used a bone-in thigh – I will clarify the recipe.

      Posted 11.8.11 Reply
  8. Amy wrote:

    Kathy, Kathy, Kathy…you are one clever gal!!

    Posted 11.9.11 Reply
    • Kathy wrote:

      I try, Amy! 🙂

      Posted 11.9.11 Reply
  9. You are way too clever! LOL
    I am totally into that crispy skin, too. It’s amazing that a panini press can do that.

    Posted 11.9.11 Reply
  10. You kill me! I can’t believe you cooked this on a panini press! Such an inspiration 🙂

    Posted 11.9.11 Reply
  11. Erin wrote:

    Looks delish! Yuuuuum.

    Posted 11.10.11 Reply