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Apple Cider Turkey Brine

Infuse amazing flavor and plumping action with this easy apple cider turkey brine!

Cider-turkey-brine

Brining your turkey is a great way to ensure that it stays moist and full of flavor, especially when smoking it. This apple cider turkey brine is perfect for adding amazing flavor and moisture to baked, grilled, or smoked poultry. If you’re looking to take your holiday meal to the next level, start with this recipe. 

Please note that this brine is suitable for 12-14-pound turkeys. Double the recipe for larger ones. Cut the recipe in half if you are cooking a whole turkey breast rather than an entire turkey.

Why you should be using a turkey brine

Brining is a great way to ensure that your turkey stays moist and flavorful during cooking. The salt in the brine helps to break down the proteins in the meat, making it more plump and juicy. It is especially important for turkey breast, which tends to become dry and tough during smoke cooking and oven roasting. 

Tip: Purchase an unbrined turkey or one that is not self-basting. These turkeys are packed in a sodium solution, and a brine will make them very salty. Instead, look for fresh or organic turkey at your local grocery store, specialty store, or through an online meat purveyor.

apple-cider-brine-solution

Brine ingredients

  • Apple cider, unfiltered (sub with apple juice, but do not use apple cider vinegar!)
  • Morton kosher salt (*see notes below in recipe card)
  • Dark brown sugar
  • Yellow onion
  • Whole black pepper (peppercorns)
  • Whole cloves
  • Fresh rosemary sprigs (or fresh herbs like: fresh thyme, sage, or parsley)
  • Bay leaves
  • 1 orange quartered (optional) – sub with 2 halved lemons

Steps to make it

turkey-in-cider-brine
  • Simmer all ingredients (except ice) in a large stock pot over medium heat until the salt and brown sugar have dissolved. 
  • Remove pot from the heat and let the mixture cool for 1 hour. It should not be warm at all. If needed, place prepared ice packs into the solution to cool it down further (do not add ice pieces directly into the brine yet). 
  • Once cold, place the turkey inside a large plastic brining bag breast side up. Pour the apple cider liquid over the turkey and top with ice cubes. Seal the bag tightly and place it into the refrigerator for 24 hours. 
  • Remove the bird from the brine and gently rinse it under cold water. Pat dry with paper towels.
  • Apply a salt-free seasoning blend to the turkey, getting under the breast skin and cavity. Cook as directed. 

Make a homemade rub for your brined turkey. Remember to omit the salt!

Try one of our delicious cooking methods!

Cider-turkey-brine

Apple Cider Turkey Brine

Infuse amazing flavor and plumping action with this apple cider turkey brine!
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Marinades/Brines
Cuisine: American, American BBQ
Keyword: apple cider turkey brine, cider brine for turkey
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 12 cups
Calories: 120kcal

Ingredients

  • 10 cups apple cider
  • 1/2 cup Morton kosher salt (*see note below)
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar packed
  • 1 onion halved
  • 1 tablespoon lightly crushed whole peppercorns
  • 8 whole cloves (sub with 1 cinnamon stick)
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary (sub with sage, thyme, or parsley)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cups ice
  • 1 orange quartered (optional) – sub with 2 halved lemons

Instructions

  • Simmer all ingredients (except ide) in a large stock pot over medium heat until the salt and brown sugar have dissolved.
  • Remove the pot from the heat and let the mixture cool for 1 hour. It should not be warm at all. If needed, place prepared ice packs into the solution to cool it down further (do not add ice pieces directly into the brine yet).
  • Once cold, place the turkey inside a large plastic brining bag. Pour the apple cider brine over the turkey and top with ice cubes. Seal the bag tightly and place it into the refrigerator for 24 hours.
  • Remove the bird from the brine and gently rinse it under cold water. Blot away moisture with paper towels. Discard brine.
  • Apply a salt-free seasoning blend to the turkey, getting under the breast skin and cavity. Cook as directed.

Notes

Note on salt: We used Morton kosher salt for this recipe and recommend using it as well. Other brands will require measurement adjustments. Do not use table salt for this recipe as it is fine and much more concentrated. You will end up with an over salted turkey. Other products like Diamond or sea salt will produce varied results. As always, use a low sodium or sodium-free rub on your turkey once brined.
Use a fresh or organic turkey. DO not use turkeys packed in brine or self basting solution.

Nutrition

Calories: 120kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 0.4g | Fat: 0.3g | Saturated Fat: 0.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.02g | Sodium: 4730mg | Potassium: 234mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 25g | Vitamin A: 10IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 33mg | Iron: 0.4mg

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