I still have nightmares about a thanksgiving turkey that was so dry, it took a quart of gravy just to choke it down.

Cider Brined Turkey Recipe (Flickr: threephin)

Over the years of making the traditional turkey dinner for my family, I have tried multiple recipes, but this is the best one I’ve found.

The combination of the brine and slow roasting produces a juicy and flavorful bird that will leave your family and guests raving about it.  It’s best to begin the brine process at least three days in advance, but even a single day of soaking will add flavor and juiciness.

Yes, it takes a little extra time, but I promise it is well worth it!

Enjoy!

Brine:

  • 8 cups apple cider
  • 2/3 cup kosher salt
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns, coarsely crushed
  • 1 tablespoon whole allspice, coarsely crushed
  • 8 (1/8-inch-thick) slices peeled fresh ginger
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 (12-pound) fresh or frozen turkey, thawed
  • 2 oranges, quartered
  • 6 cups ice

Remaining ingredients:

  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 6 sage leaves
  • 6 thyme sprigs
  • 4 parsley sprigs
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 1 (14-ounce) can chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and divided
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

 Preparation

  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. Remove giblets and neck from turkey; reserve for 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. Place turkey inside inner bag. Add cider mixture and ice. Secure bags with several twist ties. Refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours, turning occasionally.
  3. Preheat oven to 500º.
  4. 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 500º for 30 minutes.
  5. Reduce oven temperature to 350º.
  6. 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). Remove turkey from oven; let stand 20 minutes. Reserve pan drippings for gravy.