Turkey Apple Brine

Ingredients for apple brine
Claire Cohen
Ratings (46)
  • Total: 30 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 10 mins
  • Yield: 1 gallon (serves 14-16)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
42 Calories
0g Fat
11g Carbs
0g Protein
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This is the ultimate turkey brine for flavor. The apple juice in this brine gives a sweet flavor to poultry and is perfect for turkey. You can also use this brine for larger pork roasts.

You should buy the cheapest apple juice you can find to use in the brine. You are going to 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. If you want only organic ingredients, you may go in that direction.

Only use non-iodized salt when brining. Iodized salt will spoil the flavor. If you use kosher salt, you will need to use more as it is lighter by volume due to having larger crystals.

You will need to plan ahead for brining a turkey as you will need to heat the sugar and salt solution to get it to dissolve, then chill it. For food safety, the final brine needs to be at refrigerator temperature before you use it on your turkey. You will then need a brining time of one hour per pound, up to 24 hours.


  • 2 quarts water (separated)
  • 1 cup table salt (or 1 1/2 cup kosher salt)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest (1 orange)
  • 2 quarts apple juice

Steps to Make It

  1. In a large pot combine salt, sugar, and 1 quart of water. Bring it to a simmer, stirring until the salt and sugar have completely dissolved.

  2. Remove pot from heat and add cloves, cinnamon sticks, peppercorns and orange zest. Allow it to cool completely, about 30 to 40 minutes.

  3. Add the remaining 1 quart of water (cold) and apple juice. Refrigerate until the brine is chilled.

  4. 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.

  5. Thoroughly rinse all the brine from the turkey before cooking. This is vital to prevent the turkey from tasting excessively salty.

  6. Cook the bird as planned. It can be roasted, smoked, grilled, or deep-fried.

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, you can omit salt from the stuffing as the juices from the bird will season your stuffing very well.

Your turkey will need to be fully immersed in the brine, so you may need to increase the brine for larger birds. If you use a brining bag rather than a large plastic container, more of the bird will be in contact with the brine and you will need less.