Apple-Brined Turkey


"Brining introduces flavor that penetrates to the bone," says chef Ken Oringer. "And, because brining adds moisture, the turkey can handle high heat." Slideshow:  Thanksgiving Turkey Recipes 

Apple-Brined Turkey
Photo: © Christina Holmes
Active Time:
1 hrs
Total Time:
3 hrs 45 mins



  • 3 cups apple juice

  • 1 green apple (quartered)

  • ½ navel orange

  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds

  • 2 tablespoons fennel seeds

  • 4 sprigs tarragon

  • 1 bunch thyme (medium)

  • 2 cloves garlic (crushed)

  • 2 tablespoons Old Bay seasoning

  • 8 sprigs sage

  • 1 tablespoon whole allspice berries

  • 2 whole cloves

  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns

  • 2 cups light brown sugar

  • 1 cup kosher salt

  • 1 turkey (5-pound legs and breast separated (see Note)

Herb Butter

  • 6 unsalted butter (1 1/2 pounds at room temperature)

  • 3 tablespoons thyme (chopped)

  • 3 tablespoons parsley (chopped)

  • 2 tablespoons chives (chopped)

  • 2 tablespoons sage (chopped)

  • Salt

  • Freshly ground pepper


Brine the Turkey

  1. In a pot, combine all of the ingredients except the turkey and add 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and add 12 cups of cold water. Let stand until cool. Add the turkey and refrigerate for 12 hours.

  2. Set a rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Remove the turkey from the brine and transfer it to the prepared rack; pat the turkey dry with paper towels and refrigerate it uncovered for 12 hours.

Make the Herb Butter

  1. In a medium bowl, blend all of the ingredients except the salt and pepper.

  2. Set a clean rack over a clean baking sheet and set a large rack in a large roasting pan. Gently separate the turkey skin from the breast meat. Rub half of the herb butter over the breast meat under the skin. Spread the remaining herb butter all over the skin of the breast and legs; season with salt and pepper. Set the breast in the prepared roasting pan and tuck the wings under it. Transfer the legs to the prepared baking sheet. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.

  3. Preheat the oven to 400°. Roast the turkey for about 2 hours, basting every 15 minutes with the melted herb butter and tenting the breast with foil after 30 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer registers 165° in the thickest part of the breast and 180° in the inner thigh. Let rest for 30 minutes. Carve and serve.


Ask your butcher to separate the legs from the turkey.

Suggested Pairing

Spiced Pinot Noir: 2011 DeLoach Russian River Valley.

Related Articles