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Apple Cider Brined Turkey

Apple Cider Brined Turkey

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A whole roasted turkey brined in apple cider.MORE+LESS-

Updated November 18, 2014



tablespoons black peppercorns


inches fresh ginger, sliced

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  • 1

    Combine brine ingredients except cold water in a large pot and bring to a simmer. Simmer for a few minutes to make sure sugar and salt are dissolved. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes.

  • 2

    Add brine to a large pot or five gallon bucket with 20 cups of cold water. This should cool off the brine to below room temperature. If it is still warm, add a few cups of ice to the mixture.

  • 3

    Remove giblets from turkey if they are included and add thawed turkey to the brine mixture, making sure it covers the bird. Add more ice to the mixture to keep it cool. Cover and store in a cool place (outside works if it gets to 40 degrees at night) overnight. You can also just keep adding ice to the mixture occasionally to keep it cool.

  • 4

    In the morning, remove turkey and rinse it very well in a clean sink. Remove all debris from bird and wash it well to remove brine. Pat dry with paper towels.

  • 5

    Preheat oven to 500°F. Place turkey in roasting pan and make sure it is very dry. Insert probe thermometer in largest part of breast, going in through the front of the bird.

  • 6

    Make a large triangle out of aluminum foil and mold the foil to fit over the breast of the turkey. Once shaped, remove foil and store until needed.

  • 7

    Add two quartered lemons, a sprig of rosemary, and a sprig of sage to the cavity of the turkey.

  • 8

    Brush entire turkey with canola oil and bake for 30 minutes at 500°F.

  • 9

    After thirty minutes, gently place the foil triangle on the breast to guard it from the heat, turn the oven temperature down to 350°F, and let it cook until the temperature in the breast reaches 162°F.

  • 10

    Remove turkey and cover loosely with foil. Let rest for 25-30 minutes before carving.

No nutrition information available for this recipe

Cider-Brined-and-Glazed Turkey

Simmer 1 quart apple cider, salt, allspice, and bay leaves in 20-quart pot 5 minutes, stirring often. Cool completely. Add remaining 3 quarts cider and 4 quarts water. Place turkey in brine. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Step 2

Drain turkey and rinse. Arrange on several layers of paper towels in roasting pan. Refrigerate uncovered overnight.

For broth:

Step 3

Simmer all ingredients in large saucepan 30 minutes. Strain sage broth into bowl.

For glaze:

Step 4

Boil cider in saucepan until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 15 minutes. Whisk in butter. Cool completely.

Step 5

Set rack at lowest position in oven preheat to 350°F. Remove paper towels from roasting pan. Pat main and neck cavities of turkey dry stuff loosely with stuffing. Place turkey in pan, tuck wings under, and tie legs together loosely.

Step 6

Roast turkey 1 hour. Brush with some of glaze. Roast until beginning to brown, about 1 hour. Cover with foil. Roast until thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 175°F, brushing with glaze every 30 minutes and adding up to 1 cup water to pan if drippings begin to burn, about 3 hours longer. Transfer turkey to platter tent with foil. Let stand 30 minutes.

For gravy:

Step 7

Pour pan juices into large measuring cup. Spoon off fat. Reserve 3 tablespoons fat and degreased juices. Pour sage broth into roasting pan. Bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Combine flour, sage leaves, and reserved 3 tablespoons fat in heavy large saucepan stir over medium heat 1 minute. Whisk in broth from roasting pan and reserved pan juices. Add applejack and cream and boil until gravy thickens slightly, whisking often, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Strain into sauceboat. Serve turkey with gravy.

Added by

OUTSTANDING! The apple brine left the turkey moist and flavorful. There was a barely detectable sweetness from the brine that enhanced the flavor of the meat. We used unsweetened apple cider, and instead of powdered ginger we used slices of fresh ginger. We did not stuff the turkey but you definitely could if you wish. If you are looking for a sure-fire turkey recipe for a holiday or anytime, we highly recommend this one!

I used this as a test before Thanksgiving on a bone in turkey breast to see what kind of flavor it gave the turkey. WOW was it good! It had to be the most moist and delicious turkey I've ever tasted. I can't wait to use this on a whole turkey! We're cooking a 20 pound bird so I'll be doubling this.

OMG. I know that everyone probably has already tried this because I see comments dated from 2006. However, I'm a little late in getting in on the good stuff but I really had to add my comments and just tell you how awesomely wonderful this turkey turned out. We had Christmas Dinner on Dec 27/08 with 6 people and a 15 lb turkey. When it was all over, there were very few leftovers because everyone kept coming back for 2nd's & 3rd's and just raving about the wonderful moist turkey. One lady said she was disappointed when she saw that turkey was on the menu because she hates turkey - but she came back 3 times because it was soooooooooo good. Thanks for this great recipe! It is definitely going to be the only one I ever use from here on in - because I'm not crazy about turkey either. UNTIL NOW.

in the recipe it say's "12 cups quarts cold water" do I take this to mean 12 quarts of water?

I believe that's 12 cups (originally it probably said 12 cups (3 quarts) cold water)

FANTASTIC! I just used this recipe to cook the bird for Thanksgiving dinner and everyone said it was the best turkey they have ever tasted! The meat has a complex wonderful spiced apple flavor and the meat was tender and moist. However, that was very likely a result both of the apple brine AND the cooking method I used. I’m sharing the steaming method I used because it is so easy, and the Turkey was so great. Easy Steaming Method Some of the classic cook books say that broiled (uncovered) basted bird has a better meat flavor. Yet, who wants to nurse a bird for 3+ hours by basting every ten minutes? Furthermore, the big problem with that open air broiling method is it is very easy to end up with DRY overcooked turkey because the bird is exposed to the dry heated oven air and/or not basting frequently enough. It is MUCH easier to simply surround the bird completely in a sealed aluminum pan, and put some liquid in the bottom of the pan, effectively steaming the bird inside. This is how I did it: 1) Follow the recipe for apple brining the bird. However, I modified that brining method in the following ways, with great results: • Once the brown sugar was melted with the apple juice, I added the rest of the ingredients into the simmering mixture, with the exception of the water and the orange juice. I did this for obvious reasons. I wanted those ingredients to simmer their flavor into the brine. However, I added the orange juice and water only after the boiled ingredients had a chance to cool to refrigerator temp. • When time is a factor, it is obviously much faster to cool the boiled brine in the freezer instead of the fridge, but you simply have to check it every 30 minutes to catch it before it freezes. • Why on earth would anyone air dry the bird in the fridge for 4-hours after it has been apple brined and patted dry? You can skip that and simply start stuffing the bird and cook it immediately after draining the brine from it. 2) STUFFING: I highly recommend using the Pepperidge Farm cornbread stuffing mix, and using apple juice as the liquid adder, along with a cup of dried cranberries (they look like dried red grapes, available at most grocers), along with a cup of chopped onion and cup of sliced celery, plus the recommended amount of butter. It is also nice to add in a cup of chopped nuts, such as walnuts for a nutty flavor. Of course, you must finely chop and sauté the liver and giblets and add that to the stuffing mix for added turkey flavor both for the stuffing cooked inside the bird, and extra stuffing that is cooked in a pan outside of the bird. I have tasted many alternative recipes for stuffing, but none of them are even close to as tasty as that cornbread stuffing. 3) Put the bird, after stuffing, into a deep aluminum turkey broiling pan. Now slather the bird with a layer of oil or butter (barding the fowl). Pre-heat your oven to 450 F. Now seal the skin to lock in the moisture by searing in that 450 F oven for about five minutes or until the top half of bird has very light brown color. You must peak in every few minutes to make sure the skin doesn’t get burned or over-browned. I chose to use the bottom burners of the oven plus added the upper broiler burner for a few minutes to get a nice light brown seared outside in only a few minutes. 4) Pull the bird back out of the oven and dump at least one cup of apple juice OR one cup of the original brine into the bottom of the broiling pan, so that steam will be produced. Now carefully (the aluminum pan is very hot) completely cover the bird with a double-layer of aluminum foil, sealing it against the aluminum broiling pan by bending it firmly over the edge all the way around the pan. Of course, you must use insulated cooking mittens to do this. The seal around the edge must be made very thoroughly because if it opens during cooking your bird will be very dry due to lost steam. You can poke a few tiny fork holes into the top of the foil. Ideally, try to have an air layer between the bird and the foil above it, because when the foil sits directly upon the bird, that skin area may burn or get dry. Reduce oven temp to 350 degrees and bake it about 3 to 4 hours for a 12 lb bird. 5) IMPORTANTLY, the only way to avoid overcooking is to check the bird early and often with a meat thermometer, pulling the bird as soon as 185 F is reached for the inner thigh and breast meat, and min 165 F for the inner core of the stuffing. You must check temp early to avoid overcooking. For example, if you are cooking a twelve pound bird and the cook books say that will take 3+1/4 to 3+3/4 hours, you need to first check the temp at 2+3/4 or 3 hours, because variations in cooking conditions and type of oven could easily cook your bird early. Obviously if the meat is not hot enough you quickly close the oven door and check it again after another 20 minutes of cooking. Be careful when opening the aluminum foil after cooking because immense amounts of potentially scalding hot steam will escape. This method worked so well in producing fantastic turkey that I will never again baste another bird.

Cider-Brined Turkey with Star Anise and Cinnamon

Bring 2 quarts cider, 1 cup salt, and the next 10 ingredients to a boil in a very large (16-qt.) pot, stirring to dissolve salt and sugar. Let cool to room temperature. Stir in 1 1/2 gallons cold water. Add turkey to brine and press down to submerge. Cover refrigerate overnight.

Step 2

Remove turkey from brine and pat dry with paper towels discard brine. Season lightly inside and out with salt and pepper. Place turkey, breast side up, on a rack set in a large heavy roasting pan and tie legs together with kitchen twine. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.

Step 3

Preheat oven to 375°. Combine the remaining 1 cup of cider and 3 cups water in roasting pan. Scatter apples around. Brush turkey with butter. Flip breast side down.

Step 4

Roast turkey, breast side down, basting occasionally, for 1 hour. Using paper towels, flip turkey. Roast, basting occasionally, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 165°, 1–1 1/2 hours longer. Transfer turkey to a platter. Let rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.

Step 5

Meanwhile, strain the juices from the roasting pan into a saucepan, reserving apples. Simmer over medium heat until juices have thickened, about 10 minutes. Serve the cider jus alongside the turkey and apples and garnish with extra star anise pods and cinnamon sticks.

How would you rate Cider-Brined Turkey with Star Anise and Cinnamon?

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Recipe Summary

  • 4 cups Wood's Cider Mill Boiled Cider
  • 4 cups hard cider
  • 8 cups fresh apple cider
  • 2 cups coarse salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/2 cup dark-brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon whole allspice
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 4 sprigs fresh oregano
  • 2 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 gallon ice water
  • 1 whole (10-to-12-pound) turkey, fresh or frozen (defrosted)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 apples, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 rib celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1 sweet onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 to 3 cups low-sodium store-bought chicken stock or broth, for basting

In a large stockpot, combine boiled cider, hard cider, fresh cider, 2 cups salt, sugar, peppercorns, allspice, cinnamon, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar and salt dissolve, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat add thyme, rosemary, oregano, and parsley. Let steep for 5 minutes. Add ice water, stir, and let brine cool to room temperature.

Rinse turkey inside and out under cool running water. Remove giblets and neck set aside for gravy or stuffing, if desired. Place turkey in a pot large enough to hold the turkey and the brine or a large, food-safe plastic bag, set in a pot or roasting pan. Cover turkey with brine, make sure both cavities of turkey are filled. Cover or tightly close bag and refrigerate 10 to 12 hours. If using a bag, rotate turkey occasionally to make sure it is evenly brined.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Remove turkey from brine and rinse well under cold running water pat dry with paper towels inside and out. Place turkey, breast-side up, in a large, heavy-bottomed roasting pan fitted with a rack. Rub all sides with butter, stuffing some underneath the skin. Season inside and out with salt and pepper. Stuff turkey with apples, celery, and onion. Loosely tie drumsticks together with kitchen twine. Transfer to oven and roast until skin is golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Reduce heat to 325 degrees. Cover turkey loosely with a double layer of parchment paper-lined aluminum foil. Continue roasting, basting once every half hour with 1/2 to 3/4 cup stock, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the largest part of the thigh (avoiding the bone) registers 161 degrees, about 1 hour more.

Remove from oven and transfer turkey to a serving platter. Let turkey stand, tented with foil, about 20 minutes before carving.

How to brine a turkey

  1. To prepare brine, combine first 8 ingredients in a large saucepan bring to a boil. Cook 5 minutes, or until sugar and salt dissolve. Cool completely.
  2. Take out the giblets and neck from turkey reserve for Savory Herb Gravy. Rinse turkey with cold water pat dry. Trim excess fat. Stuff body cavity with orange quarters. Place a turkey-sized oven bag inside a second bag to form a double thickness. Place bags in a large stockpot. In the inner bag, place the turkey. Add cider mixture and ice. Secure bags with several twist ties. Refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours, turning occasionally.
  3. Remove turkey from bags, and discard brine, orange quarters, and bags. Rinse turkey with cold water pat dry. Lift wing tips up and over back tuck under turkey. Tie legs together with kitchen string. Place garlic, sage, thyme, parsley, onion, and broth in the bottom of a roasting pan. Place roasting rack in pan. Arrange turkey, breast side down, on roasting rack. Brush turkey back with 1 tablespoon butter sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes.
  4. Reduce oven to 350 degrees! Remove turkey from oven. Carefully turn turkey over (breast side up) using tongs. Brush turkey breast with 1 tablespoon butter sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bake at 350º for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into meaty part of thigh registers 170º (make sure not to touch bone). (Shield the turkey with foil if it browns too quickly.) Remove turkey from oven let stand 20 minutes.

Best part of a turkey dinner? The leftovers! I love turkey on rolls with cranberry sauce!

For the hard cider brine, in a large brining bag or in a large stock pot, add hard cider, cider, kosher salt, bay leaves, onion, Worcestershire sauce, peppercorns, and parsley. Add the turkey to brine and cover with water. Refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 450°F and align a rack in the lower third of the oven.

Remove the bird from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Drizzle with EVOO and season with salt and pepper and place into the oven. Check on the turkey after 40 minutes and tent with foil if getting too dark. Roast until the turkey reaches 160˚F, about an hour and a half. Set aside to rest.

Herb-Roasted, Apple Cider Vinegar-Brined Heritage Turkey

This year has been challenging and unique, but your upcoming holiday feast can include the comforts of familiarity. If a turkey is on your menu this Thanksgiving, this savory roast will tickle the taste buds of everyone at your family gathering. 

It takes a bit of planning, but those hoping to add a little twist to their table centerpiece may want to secure a heritage turkey. Sometimes found under the names &aposNarragansett&apos or &aposBourbon Red,&apos these turkeys are firmer in texture than a regular supermarket bird. Often raised free-range with a diverse diet and extended lifespan, heritage turkeys grow slowly and develop deeper flavor than conventional birds. Usually smaller than the hybrid breeds readily available at the local grocery store, heritage turkeys take anywhere from 24-30 weeks to reach market weight, compared to about 18 weeks for a conventional turkey. Smaller heritage turkeys are a great fit for this year&aposs smaller gatherings and perfect size for one of our favorite roasting pans, Made In&aposs new਋lue Carbon Steel Roasting Pan, which holds a twelve-pound bird. The angled stainless steel handles are ideal for tenting with aluminum foil – a crucial step in turkey roasting. 

The key to a moist, tender heritage turkey is an acidic brine, ideally overnight or for a full day before roasting. But if you&aposre not using a heritage turkey this year, this recipe also works very well for a regular turkey! Brining poultry adds terrific depth and flavor to blander meat. For heritage turkeys specifically, the brine will help soften the flesh, resulting in a succulent, crisp turkey for your holiday table. 

Cider Sauce

  • 4 cups apple cider
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon finely shredded orange peel

In a medium saucepan bring apple cider to boiling reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 to 30 minutes or until cider is reduced by half (2 cups). In a small bowl combine the water and cornstarch stir into reduced cider. Cook and stir over medium heat until slightly thickened and bubbly. Stir in butter, ginger, and orange peel.

Recipe Summary

  • 1 (16 pound) whole turkey, neck and giblets removed
  • 1 ½ gallons water
  • 1 gallon apple cider
  • 1 ½ cups kosher salt
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon poultry seasoning

Rinse turkey inside and out with cold water pat dry with paper towels.

Mix water, apple cider, kosher salt, and sugar in a large pot or 5-gallon food-grade bucket, stirring to dissolve salt and sugar. Submerge the turkey in the brine, cover the container, and place in refrigerator, 8 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).

Remove turkey from brine and discard used brine. Place turkey with breast side up into a roasting pan pat turkey and cavity dry with paper towels. Loosen turkey skin over the breast and thighs with your fingers.

Mix olive oil, thyme, and poultry seasoning in a small bowl. Rub the seasoned oil over the turkey and underneath the loosened skin. Cover turkey loosely with aluminum foil.

Roast in the preheated oven until an instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh, not touching bone, reads 165 to 175 degrees F (75 to 80 degrees C), 4 to 4 1/2 hours. Remove foil tent about 45 minutes before end of roasting time to let the skin brown. Let turkey rest 30 to 45 minutes before carving.