Apple Turkey Brine

Apple juice turkey brine recipe

The Spruce / Cara Cormack

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 10 mins
Total: 30 mins
Serving: 1 gallon
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
42 Calories
0g Fat
11g Carbs
0g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1
Amount per serving
Calories 42
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 7078mg 308%
Total Carbohydrate 11g 4%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Protein 0g
Calcium 26mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Turkey brines are known to make for a tender and juicy bird, but they can also add a signature flavor. This turkey brine recipe includes apple juice, which contributes sweetness, along with cloves, cinnamon sticks, and orange zest, giving the turkey quintessential fall flavor, perfect for the Thanksgiving table.

Make sure to plan ahead when making this recipe as it will require several hours. First, the sugar and salt solution needs to be cooked on the stove to dissolve the sugar; then the brine should be chilled. (For food safety, the final brine needs to be at refrigerator temperature before you use it on your turkey.) You will then need to brine the turkey for one hour per pound, up to 24 hours. This brine recipe is enough for up to a 12-pound bird; double the recipe for larger turkeys up to 20 pounds.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup non-iodized table salt (or 1 1/2 cups kosher salt)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 quarts water (divided)
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 2 quarts apple juice (cold)
  • 1 whole turkey (up to 12 pounds)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for turkey juice brine
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  2. In a large pot, combine the salt, sugar, and 1 quart of water. Bring it to a simmer, stirring until the salt and sugar have completely dissolved.

    Salt, sugar, and water
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  3. Remove the pot from the heat and add the cloves, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, and orange zest. Allow it to cool completely, for 30 to 40 minutes.

    Cinnamon
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  4. Add the cold apple juice and the remaining 1 quart of water, which should also be cold. Refrigerate until the brine is chilled.

    Stir
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack 
  5. Place the poultry in a large plastic container or brining bag. Pour the brine over the top. Brine the poultry in the refrigerator for 1 hour per pound. For example, a 12-pound turkey should brine for 12 hours while a 20-pound turkey should brine for 20 hours.

    Place poultry in container
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  6. Thoroughly rinse all the brine from the turkey before cooking. This is vital to prevent the turkey from tasting excessively salty.

    Rinse
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack
  7. Season and cook the bird as planned. It can be coated with a dry rub, butter, or injected with marinade and then roasted, smoked, grilled, or deep-fried.

    Apple juice turkey brine
    The Spruce / Cara Cormack 
  8. Enjoy.

Tips

  • Only use non-iodized salt when brining since iodized salt will spoil the flavor.
  • Buy the cheapest apple juice you can find to use in the brine since you'll need a lot of it and the quality won't matter in the final product. It's not worth it to use artisanal hand-pressed apple juice from the farmer's market—save that for making some spiced cider.
  • Your turkey needs to be fully immersed in the brine. If you use a brining bag rather than a large plastic container, more of the bird will be in contact with the brine.
  • A brined bird will have plenty of salt, so you should not use salt in any rub you apply before roasting or smoking. If you stuff your turkey, omit the salt from the stuffing as the juices from the bird will season your stuffing very well.
  • Although perfect for turkey, this apple brine can also be used for large pork roasts.