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Apple Brined Turkey

recipe at a glance
Rating: 5/5
4 reviews
1 comment

ready in: over 5 hrs
serves/makes:   8

recipe id: 58192
cook method: oven, stovetop

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12 pounds uncooked turkey (not injected with a salt solution)


8 cups apple juice or cider (bottled or from frozen concentrate)
1 pound brown sugar (light or dark)
1 cup kosher salt
12 cups cold water
2 cups orange juice
1 tablespoon ground ginger
15 whole cloves
6 large bay leaves
3 tablespoons crushed garlic


Combine apple juice, brown sugar, and salt in a large saucepan.

Bring to a boil, stir to dissolve sugar and salt. Boil for one minute and remove from heat. Cool to room temperature.

In a large food safe container (2 to 5-gallons), combine the apple juice mixture with the remaining ingredients, then refrigerate to 40 degrees F.

Remove giblets and neck from raw turkey and place turkey in the brine solution, breast side down. Place a heavy plate or bowl on top to keep the bird submerged, if necessary. Place container in fridge and brine the turkey for 24 hours.

Discard brine solution and rinse turkey well, inside and outside. Pat turkey dry and air dry in fridge for about 4-hours, uncovered.

Coat turkey with light coating of oil or butter and bake in oven (or smoke, outdoors, in bbq smoker) at 325 degrees F. until thermometer placed in breast reads 165 degrees F (about 3-hours).

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870 calories, 42 grams fat, 7 grams carbohydrates, 110 grams protein per serving. This recipe is low in carbs.
Show full nutritional data (including Weight Watcher's Points ®, cholesterol, sodium, vitamins, and diabetic exchanges)

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CDKitchen Reviewed

REVIEW: 5 star recipe rating

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!

Registered Member at
Member since:
Apr 12, 2002

REVIEW: 5 star recipe rating
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.

Guest at

REVIEW: 5 star recipe rating
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!!!

Guest at


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

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

Registered Member at
Member since:
Nov 26, 2006

REVIEW: 5 star recipe rating
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.

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