Nothing makes a turkey more juicy than this easy apple cider turkey brine! It takes just a few minutes and makes the turkey extra juicy, more flavorful and aromatic! Learn how to brine a turkey with my easy video tutorial and recipe – this recipe works for any size turkey! This turkey brine is made with apple cider, citrus fruit, fresh herbs and spices. It’s a really simple step that you can add to your Thanksgiving turkey recipe.
Make sure to defrost your turkey safely! A large turkey can take up to 5 or 6 days to defrost in the refrigerator. Plan ahead so you don’t have to work with a frozen turkey!
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How to Brine A Turkey
Brining a turkey really comes down to science! Simply put, the brining process involves submerging meat in a briny, salty solution, sometimes seasoned with other herbs and spices. This salt solution gets absorbed into the meat, making it more juicy. So brining your turkey does in fact make it more juicy! My apple cider turkey brine is an elevated, more flavorful version of traditional brining.
- Prep the brine: For my turkey brine recipe, I use apple cider instead of water. The sweetness from the apple cider adds even more flavor to the turkey! I combine the apple cider with garlic, fresh herbs and whole spices – peppercorns, allspice, cloves and even a stick of cinnamon. I also add a generous about of sugar and kosher salt, which is the best variety to use for brining or seasoning meats. And for some citrus flavor, I also like to add a quartered lemon and orange. It’s important to cook this brine solution until the salt is almost completely dissolved! By simmering the brine with the garlic and spices, it infuses with the flavors much better! Once you have the brine ready, it needs to cool. I recommend using ice to cool the mixture down quickly.
- Prep your container: Next, prepare a large container to fit the turkey. It’s important that the turkey is completely submerged! I recommend using a large stock pot or even a 5-gallon bucket. For easier cleanup, I recommend lining the inside of the pot or bucket with food safe plastic bags. Pour the prepared brine into the pot, along with the remaining ingredients. Next, prepare the turkey – remove it from packages, remove the giblets and rinse the turkey with cold water. Place it into the brine and then add ice on top. Add the ice brings down the temperature of the brine and keeps the turkey food safe.
- Brine for 24 hours: For best results, brine the turkey for a minimum of 24 hours. If you have the time, allow the turkey to brine for 36 to 48 hours. Once brined, there is not need to rinse the turkey. Simply remove it from the brine, place onto a large platter or cutting board and pat it dry with paper towels before seasoning. I hope you enjoy this method for your next Thanksgiving turkey!
Check out my Garlic Butter Turkey recipe and use it along with this apple cider turkey brine! Once your turkey is done brining, simply pat it dry with paper towels, then stuff it and season it following this easy recipe! My post also includes a roasting guide, turkey drippings gravy recipe and a carving tutorial!
Looking for more Thanksgiving recipes? I have you covered! Check out some of my favorites!
- Classic Pecan Pie – the best pecan pie recipe, made without any corn syrup!
- Loaded Bacon & Garlic Potatoes – the most amazing potato side dish to go along with your Thanksgiving turkey!
- Kale Pom Salad – my all-time favorite salad recipe! Always a hit for dinner!
- Orange Cranberry Sauce – easy and so delicious! Homemade cranberry sauce!
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Apple Cider Turkey Brine Recipe (video)
- 1 gallon apple cider or apple juice, divided
- 1 1/2 cups kosher salt
- 1 cup white granulated sugar
- 1 tsp whole peppercorns
- 1 tsp whole cloves
- 1 tsp whole allspice
- 1 cinnamon stick
- small bundle EACH: fresh rosemary, fresh thyme
- 6 to 8 garlic cloves
- 1 of EACH: lemon, orange; quartered
- ice, for cooling
- additional water, if necessary
- Before beginning on the brine, prepare a pot or bucket for the brine - use a large stock pot or 5-gallon bucket to ensure the turkey stays completely submerged. Double line the pot with food safe plastic bags for easier cleanup. Wash your turkey and remove the giblets and neck. This recipe will work for any size turkey.
- For the brine: pour in 4 to 6 cups of apple cider into a large saucepan. Add the salt, sugar, spices, herbs and garlic. Bring the mixture up to a simmer over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and stir, cooking for 5 to 7 minutes, until the salt and sugar are dissolved. There may be small bits of salt that do not dissolve; that is okay.
- Remove the brine from heat and add about 4 cups of ice to cool it down quickly. Pour the brine into the prepare pot or bucket and add the remaining apple cider, the orange and lemon. Carefully lower the turkey into the brine, making sure it stays completely submerged. If you have a very large turkey, you may need to add more water or more apple cider. Add an additional 6 to 8 cups of ice over the top, to lower the temperature of the brine and keep the turkey food safe.
- Brine the turkey in the refrigerator for a minimum of 24 hours, or 36 to 48 hours for maximum flavor. If brining for more than 24 hours, add more ice to the brine after the first day. Once done brining, remove the turkey from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. There is no need to rinse the turkey after the brine. Proceed with my Garlic Butter Turkey recipe.