apple cider brined turkey

Recipe: Apple Cider Brined Turkey


Cary, NC — Several years ago, we discovered how easy it was to brine our turkey and loved the results of a moist and flavorful bird.

Tips for Brining

Brining (or soaking the bird in salt water and spices overnight) makes the meat juicy and flavorful. We generally cook at a low (325°) temperature for an extended amount of time.

This recipe, the third in our Thanksgiving 2014 Recipes series, comes to us courtesy of  The Matthews House in Cary. Instead of a simple salt water and spices brine, the chef has added apple cider, oranges and maple syrup to impart the flavors of fall.

Make sure you have a container that can accommodate a gallon and a half of liquid along with the size of your bird. We generally use a large cooler that is set aside every year just for this purpose. A lobster pot may work as well. As temps get pretty cool the week of Thanksgiving, we keep the bird in our garage, covered, as opposed to trying to fit a large pot in our already packed refrigerator.

Recipe: Apple-Cider Brined Turkey


  • 2 quarts apple cider
  • ½ cup salt
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • ¾ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cloves
  • 6 strips of orange rind
  • 2 rosemary sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 gallon cold water


  • 1 (12 lb) turkey, thawed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons sage
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 apple, sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • ½ onion, sliced


  1. Prepare the brine – combine all of the ingredients, except water, in a large pot over high heat. Cook until salt dissolves, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat and add 1 gallon of cold water. Cool to room temperature.
  2. Remove the giblets and neck from turkey. Trim excess fat. Add turkey to brine. Refrigerate 18 – 24 hours, turning occasionally.
  3. Remove turkey from brine and pat dry and loosen the skin from the turkey.
  4. Combine olive oil, rosemary, sage, and black pepper. Rub the mixture under loosened skin and over turkey. Place in a roasting pan and bake at 375 for 1 hour. Cover loosely with foil and bake for an additional 1 hour. Allow more time for a larger bird
  5. Mix ½ cup apple cider and ¼ cup bourbon in a saucepan. Cook over medium high heat; boil 3 minutes. Drizzle over turkey.


The Thanksgiving Food Column was sponsored in part by the Matthews House of Cary. View their complete Thanksgiving menu.  Photo by Steven Depolo.


1 reply

Comments are closed.