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It’s that time of year again! Turkey time! I’ve cooked plenty of turkeys over the years but my favorite method by far is my Apple Cider Brined Turkey. Easy to prepare, moist, and so flavorful that once we tried this there was no going back to basic turkey again.
The first time I cooked a turkey I made a Thanksgiving dinner for two for Mr. MondayisMeatloaf the first year we were married in our tiny studio apartment. It was beautiful, perfect browned, and it looked like it had jumped off the cover of a magazine. My sides needed work, but I was so proud that the star of the show turned out so well!
A little while before we sat down to eat Mr. MondayisMeatloaf asked where the bag of goodies were. As a young wife, I had searched the cavity of the turkey for the bag of goodies but didn’t find it so I told him it didn’t come with one. I proceeded to cook the turkey blissfully ignorant of the fact that there was a second cavity that had the little bag of goodies. Thank goodness it was in a paper bag! LOL The bag of innards was safely steamed in the neck cavity of the turkey! Found once the breast meat had been cut off and you could see down into the cavity of the bird. Lesson learned and shared. 🙂
We cook our apple cider brined turkey over an open fire in the backyard on an Auspit rotisserie. Of course we are in sunny Florida, but many times because the weather is cool and windy in the Fall/Winter we will attach this to a homemade steel table that we have for Dutch Oven cooking on the back porch. Of course, you can totally cook this in an oven as well and it’s perfectly delicious.
Find a container large enough to fit your turkey and all the ingredients we will use for the brine. I use a five gallon bucket. I generally cook about a 12-pound turkey because we cook it on the rotisserie so there is a weight limit. However, you can use whatever size turkey you wish.
Thaw your turkey according to the instructions provided with it. In a large pot on the stove combine the apple cider, or juice…the kosher salt, and brown sugar until the sugar is dissolved. When done set aside to cool for 15 minutes.
Put together a herb bouquet that has fresh thyme, rosemary, parsley, sage, chives, and basil. Around Thanksgiving you can find pre-made bouquet that have a variety of herbs so you don’t have to purchase them individually if you don’t already have an herb garden. Take this and place into the cavity of the turkey.
Quarter two oranges, and slice a generous handful of fresh ginger. I like to put a slice of orange into the cavity of the turkey as well.
Pour the apple cider/juice mixture into the bucket, and add ice leaving enough room to submerge your turkey. Cool completely and add to this the remaining orange sections, juice of two orange with rind, garlic cloves, apple cider vinegar, and hot red pepper flakes, and ice to fill the bucket. Put the turkey in, and add more ice if needed. Let this brine overnight until you are ready to cook your turkey the next day.
Remove your turkey from the brine, and discard the brining liquid. If you are using the Auspit to rotisserie then truss your turkey and slide onto the rotisserie and secure. If cooking in the oven put the turkey on a baking tray breast side up. To cook in the oven preheat to 450-degrees. Melt butter, and soak cheesecloth in it then place on the turkey breasts. This will keep the meet moist. Cook at 450-degrees for 15 minutes then reduce heat to 350-degrees. This has the effect of searing the chicken much like you would do for a beef or pork roast. Cook about 15 minutes per pound (17 minutes per pound if stuffed) or until the turkey reaches an internal temperature of 165-degrees. Continue to baste every twenty minutes then remove cheesecloth for the last 20 minutes of cooking.
If cooking on the rotisserie the turkey will self baste as it rotates and cooks. Cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 165-degrees. If you find yourself in a situation where you cannot keep the temperature up then you can always finish in a preheated 350-degree oven.
Once cooked rest the bird in foil tent for about 15 minutes then carve and serve with your favorite holiday side dishes! Of course, the leftovers are fantastic and can be stored in an airtight container for up to one week.
If you liked this you might enjoy this with some of these sides Bacon Brussel Sprouts, Instant Pot Green Beans with Onions (+Stove Top Directions), or Delicious Summer Squash Casserole.
Apple Cider Brined Turkey
- 12-15 pound turkey
- 1 herb bouquet (thyme, rosemary, parsley, sage, chives, and basil) a few sprigs each
- 1 gallon apple cider or juice
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 1 large handful fresh ginger sliced
- 20 garlic cloves
- 4 naval oranges quartered
- 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp hot red pepper flakes
- 1 ice enough to fill bucket once brining fluid has been put in
- Combine apple cider/juice, salt, and dark brown sugar in a large pot on the stove. Heat until sugar and salt have dissolved. Set aside for 15 minutes to cool.
- Stuff the cavity of the turkey with the herb bouquet, and a couple of orange sections. Place the turkey into a container large enough to hold the turkey and the brining liquid. I use a clean 5-gallon bucket. Pour the brining liquid into the container with the turkey.
- Add the garlic cloves, ginger, orange sections, apple cider vinegar, and hot red pepper flakes. Add ice to fill the bucket to cover turkey with liquid. Cover and brine overnight or up to 24 hours.
- Remove turkey from brine, and discard the brine. Truss the turkey, and position onto rotisserie skewer. Cook over open fire until turkey reaches an internal temperature of 165-degrees. Turkey will self-baste as it cooks.
- Preheat oven to 450-degrees. Place turkey on baking pan, breast side up. Melt 1 cup of butter. Place a cheesecloth on the turkey breast that has been soaked in butter. This will keep the meat moist to keep from overcooking while baking. Cook for 15-minutes then reduce heat to 350-degrees.
- Cook for 15 minutes per pound (if stuffed then 17 minutes per pound), basting every 20 minutes. Cook until turkey reaches an internal temperature of 165-degrees. Remove cheesecloth the last twenty minutes of cooking.
- Remove to a tray and tent with foil for 15 minutes prior to carving. Carve and serve immediately. Can be stored in an airtight container for up to one week.
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