With a bit of planning and a few ingredients, this delicious apple cider brine recipe will elevate your bird at this year’s Thanksgiving Day table.
Brined turkey tends to be juicier and tender with incredible flavor and will leave you wishing Thanksgiving turkey wasn’t just a once-a-year occasion! You’ll never go back once you try the best turkey brine recipe!
Try this easy turkey brine with my no waste Turkey Giblet Gravy for a Thanksgiving feast your guests will talk about for years to come. Or, if you have any, use leftover turkey breast in this Leftover Turkey Lasagna recipe.
Turkey can be made year-round but is typically enjoyed during Thanksgiving and Christmas. After trying out this apple cider turkey brine recipe you may be convinced to add it into a more regular rotation.
Think of all the leftovers than can be enjoyed when you are not hosting your entire family!
Unlike the many times you may have overcooked your roast turkey, brining helps to keep it moist and juicy while giving it the best flavor. Dry turkeys are thing of the past with this turkey brine recipe.
WHY YOU’LL LOVE THE BEST TURKEY BRINE RECIPE
- It’s easy and can be made ahead of time
- Most turkey brine recipe ingredients are easy to find in your pantry
- Your turkey breast is guaranteed to be juicy and tender
- Unlike other brines, this apple cider brined turkey recipe uses less salt
Special Ingredients You Need For This Recipe
- Juniper berries: These are not a typical pantry item but are easy to find in a specialty store or online. Try these juniper berries to add pepperiness and a touch of fruitiness to your apple cider turkey brine. Juniper berries are best known for being used to flavor gin, yum!
- Kosher salt: The best option for brining as it is coarse and dissolves well into the turkey brine recipe. Kosher salt also sticks to food better and will distribute evenly across the surface of the turkey.
Special Equipment Needed to Make This Recipe:
- Extra-large stock pot: this will come in handy for heating your brine to dissolve your ingredients. A pot with extra space for added ice and water to help cool down the brine is essential. Try this one
- Large brining bags: this is not a necessary item, but it can be helpful if you are tight on refrigerator space (which is often the case during the holidays!). A brining bag like this one will take up less space than a large container.
- Large food-safe container: If you prefer to use a food-safe container with a lid, be sure to get one large enough. This will depend on the size of your turkey, but make sure the turkey is completely covered in brine solution no matter what equipment you use.
How to make Apple Cider Brine
Step 1: Gather your brine ingredients
Gather all your dry ingredients and measure them out. I find it easiest to always pre-measure ingredients before beginning a recipe because it eliminates the possibility of making mistakes or forgetting something!
Next, measure your wet ingredients, keeping the water and ice separate. Add your apple cider to the pot and bring to a boil.
Step 2: Add all of your dry ingredients to boiling apple cider
Combine apple cider with your dry ingredients – brown sugar, kosher salt, black peppercorns, juniper berries, thyme, and garlic bulbs – and heat until the sugar and salt dissolves.
Step 3: Cool completely
Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool completely. Leave it covered and set aside.
Step 4: Brine turkey
Add the water and ice to the mixture. Place uncooked turkey in the vessel of your choice and pour the cooled brine over it, ensuring that the turkey is completely submerged in the apple cider turkey brine.
Step 5: Place turkey brine in the refrigerator overnight
Transfer the pot, bag, or food-safe container to the refrigerator. You should brine the turkey for 1-2 hours per 450g (1lb), which means this can be done in as little as one day, depending on the size of your turkey.
Step 6: Transfer turkey and discard brine
Remove the turkey from the brine and pat dry with paper towels before placing it in a roasting pan.
If space and time allow, placing your turkey on a rack in its roasting pan uncovered in the refrigerator will help the skin to dry out even more and give you that crispy end result that is so desirable.
Step 7: Cook as you prefer
When you’re ready, remove the apple cider turkey from the refrigerator and cook as you prefer. This can mean roasting, smoking, or even deep-frying!
Rinsing the brined raw turkey can leave a mess of bacteria in the sink and surrounding areas that will need to be cleaned up…as if there isn’t enough to do on Thanksgiving day!
What to Serve with Your Turkey
- Creamy Mashed Potatoes
- Dried Cranberry Sauce
- Green Bean Casserole
- Marmite Roast Potatoes
- Courgette Chutney
- Sweet Potato Casserole
- Sausage and Herb Stuffing
- Gin and Ginger Beer Cocktail
- Apple Cider Mojito
- Apple Pie Sangria
- Whiskey Smash
- Hot Toddy
- Apple Cider Mimosa
Variations To Apple Cider Turkey Brine
While these are the herbs used in this turkey brine recipe, they can easily be replaced with other dried or fresh herbs. Some alternatives are:
- 3 bay leaves
- 6g (3 tbsp) dried sage
- 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 20 allspice berries
- 2g (1 tbsp) whole cloves
There are lots of options to personalize your brine, but make sure not to overcomplicate it by adding too many different spices!
If you are looking for a spicier flavor for your apple cider turkey brine, simply add 32g (¼ cup) of black peppercorns instead of the amount indicated in the recipe.
If you can’t get hold of kosher salt, you can substitute it with half the amount of table salt, i.e. 410g (1½ cups).
You can substitute the brown sugar with maple syrup or honey. Whenever you use sugar in a brine, you need to remain alert during the cooking process. This is because the skin will brown faster when being cooked.
The risk being that the skin is brown but the meat is not actually fully cooked. The best way to navigate around this is to cover the turkey with foil halfway through cooking so that the skin doesn’t get too dark
Apple cider vinegar can also be used in your turkey brine in addition to apple cider! Simply replace half of the amount of apple cider with apple cider vinegar.
The vinegar combined with the salt in the brine will further tenderize your turkey meat without compromising the apple cider flavor.
For an average whole chicken, weighing around 1.8kg (4lbs), you can quarter the above amounts. The same goes for a 1.8kg (4lbs) pork loin. Whatever you do, make sure the meat is completely submerged.
Do not over brine your turkey! Follow the apple cider turkey brine recipe instructions of 1-2 hours per 450g (1lb) on time and amount of liquid, ensuring to allow enough time for the turkey brine to penetrate the entire turkey.
If the turkey is left in the apple cider turkey brine for too long it will become overly salty and the texture can become spongy.
This low-salt solution cider turkey brine was prepared for an 11kg (24lbs) turkey, which is on the large side. It all depends on what size container you used to brine the turkey in.
If there is going to be plenty of space around it, you will need more brine, because covering the whole turkey is paramount. We first made one batch of the brine and then realized it was not enough, so two batches were needed.
Can you substitute apple juice for apple cider in a brine?
Yes, you can use apple juice the same way that you use apple cider in this recipe. Both have sugar in them, but apple cider tends to be thicker and can have some pulp to it.
How long should you brine turkey?
Follow the rule of 1-2 hours per 450g (1 lb). So, if you have a 9kg or 20 lb turkey, you can brine put the turkey in the brine recipe at noon the day before Thanksgiving, and remove turkey the next morning ready to be cooked.
Be sure not to overbrine you turkey! The turkey breast will begin to get spongy and too salty. You should not brine turkey for longer than two days.
If you would like to prepare the turkey ahead of time, simply put it in the turkey brine for the amount of time needed for the size of the bird.
You can remove the turkey from the brine, pat dry, and place it in a large roasting pan leaving it uncovered in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook it.
How long to cook a brined turkey?
One advantage of putting in the extra time for this recipe is that brined turkeys tend to cook slightly quicker than unbrined turkeys.
Instead of calculating 15-17 minutes per pound at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for an unbrined turkey, figure on 13 minutes per pound for a turkey that has been brined.
If you decide to use a turkey roasting bag, your turkey will cook even faster. This also helps with clean up at the end of the day.
Just remember that in order to get a crispy skin you need to finish the turkey with the bag open so that the skin gets a chance to get hit with lots of heat. Cut the bag open and allow the top of the turkey to be exposed for the last 15 minutes of cooking.
Keep in mind that times differ if you are stuffing your turkey. Add an additional two minutes per pound for a stuffed turkey.
Can I use table salt instead of kosher salt?
Yes, but it is not ideal. Kosher salt is a larger grain salt, taking up more space but making it less dense than table salt.
In a pinch using table salt means that you need to change the amount, using ½ of the amount of table salt as you would kosher.
Kosher is ideal for brining because it dissolves clear into the brine, coats the surface of the meat evenly, and sticks to food better than table salt.
Do I need to keep brine in the refrigerator?
Yes, it is important to brine the meat at a food safe temperature, which is around 40 degree Fahrenheit.
Although brining is a form of preservation, it is important to stick to food safety when dealing with raw turkey.
Other Thanksgiving Recipes You’ll Love
- Whole Turkey Brine Another turkey brine recipe available on my website that is simpler and involves less ingredients but will still yield a juicy bird.
- Turkey Giblet Broth A delicious zero-waste recipe using the giblets that are often discarded from the turkey.
- Turkey Stock When you’re finished enjoying all the turkey meat, save the bones to create a versatile stock to use in recipes, soups, and gravy.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 degrees Celsius)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don’t leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove
See more guidelines at USDA.gov
Don’t forget to come back and let me know how your recipe turned out!!Print
Want to learn how to make an Apple Cider Turkey Brine to bring that extra flavour to your favourite bird? It’s easier than you think.
- 2L/quarts apple cider
- 110g (½ cup) brown sugar
- 432g (1½ cups) kosher salt
- 7g (1 tbsp) black peppercorns
- 20 juniper berries
- 10 fresh thyme sprigs
- 2 garlic bulbs, halved
- 5L/quarts cold water
- 2L/quarts ice
- Place all the ingredients except the water and ice into a large pot.
- Bring the mixture to a boil.
- When the sugar and salt have dissolved, remove from the heat and let it cool down. Keep covered and set aside.
- When you are ready to start the brining process, add the water and ice to the mix.
- You can brine the meat for 1-2 hours per 450g (1lb), which means this can be done overnight.
- Proceed to cook to your preference. Enjoy!
- This low-salt solution brine was prepared for an 11kg (24lbs) turkey, which is on the large side. It all depends on what size container you will be using to brine the turkey in. If there is going to be plenty of space around it, you will need more brine, because covering the whole turkey is paramount. We first made one batch of the brine and then realised it’s not enough, so two batches were needed.
- For an average whole chicken, weighing around 1.8kg (4lbs), you can quarter the above amounts. The same goes for a 1.8kg (4lbs) pork loin. Whatever you do, make sure the meat is completely submerged.
- You can substitute the brown sugar with maple syrup or honey.
- If you can’t get hold of kosher salt, you can substitute it with half the amount of table salt, i.e. 410g (1½ cups).
- Flavour-wise, feel free to experiment with different herbs and spices, such as 4 sprigs of rosemary or 6g (3 tbsp) dried sage.
- Whenever you use sugar in a brine, you need to remain alert during the cooking process. This is because the skin will brown faster when being cooked. The risk being that the skin is brown but the meat is not actually fully cooked. The best way to navigate around this is to cover the turkey with foil halfway through cooking so that the skin doesn’t get too dark.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 5 minutes
- Category: Brine
- Method: Brining
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: apple cider brine, apple cider recipe, turkey brine recipe, chicken brine, apple cider brine for pork, apple turkey brine, apple cider turkey brine