Apple-Rosemary Turkey Brine Recipe

If you want to make the best turkey you've ever eaten, whether you're cooking it for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner or for a summer gathering with friends, you're going to want to go try this brine recipe created by chef and recipe developer Stephanie Rapone of Pantry to Plate Meals. Here are three reasons why: First, the brine calls for just 8 common ingredients, not including water and ice. Second, the brine takes less than 20 minutes to prep and simmer, and most of that time is hands-off. And third (and most importantly), this apple-rosemary brine will yield one amazingly tasty turkey. As in "How did you cook this?" and "What flavors am I tasting?" and "You snuck out and bought this from a restaurant, didn't you?" kind of tasty.

"This is actually a recipe my husband and I have developed during our 12 years of hosting Thanksgiving," Rapone says. "We tried other brine recipes from well-known chefs and took our favorite elements from each to make this — the orange and rosemary from one, the apple juice from another, and brown sugar and vinegar from our own cooking experiments." Her dozen years of experimenting were worth it, and she's ready to share not just the brine, but also the recipe for the turkey, which she smokes after brining.

Gather your ingredients for apple-rosemary turkey brine

As noted, this recipe calls for 8 ingredients, not counting the ice and water, but we'll go ahead and mention them here, to be safe. For an average-sized turkey, you'll need 8 cups water, 2 large oranges, 8 cloves garlic, 8-10 sprigs of rosemary, 2 cups kosher salt, a ½ cup light brown sugar, 1 tablespoon black peppercorns, 3 cups apple juice, 1 cup apple cider vinegar, and lots of ice — Rapone usually uses a small bag of ice from the store.

"The brown sugar is the ingredient that is definitely different from other brine recipes, and it really rounds out the orange, rosemary, and vinegar with its molasses notes," says Rapone.

Heat the water and prepare the oranges and garlic

Add the water to a large pot — as in, large enough to accommodate all of these ingredients plus a whole turkey — and place it over high heat to bring the water to a boil.

While the water is heating, cut the oranges into wedges and smash and peel the garlic cloves. You can also measure out the other ingredients as you wait.

Add the sugar and salt, then the oranges, garlic, and spices

Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low to keep it at a simmer. Add the kosher salt and brown sugar and stir until both have dissolved. Next, add the orange wedges, the smashed garlic, the rosemary sprigs, and the black peppercorns. Stir well, and let everything simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the vinegar and juice, chill, then add the turkey

After 10 minutes, remove the pot from the heat. Add the apple juice and apple cider vinegar and stir, then add about 8 cups of ice to bring the temperature of the liquid down. Once the brine is cool, you can pop it in the fridge until you have the thawed bird at the ready.

When you're ready to brine your turkey, add the turkey to the brine and add enough ice to bring the liquid level up over the turkey so the bird is fully submerged in the brine. Brine it overnight in the fridge, then roast or fry it to perfection the next day.

Apple-Rosemary Turkey Brine Recipe
4.9 from 17 ratings
If you want to wow your guests at Thanksgiving, you need to try this apple-rosemary turkey brine recipe that took 12 years of testing to perfect.
Prep Time
5
minutes
Cook Time
15
minutes
Servings
1
Batch
turkey brining in pot
Total time: 20 minutes
Ingredients
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 large oranges
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 8 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 cups kosher salt
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 3 cups apple juice
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 10 cups ice
Directions
  1. Add the water to a large pot and place over high heat to bring it to a boil.
  2. While the water is heating, cut the oranges into wedges and smash and peel the garlic cloves.
  3. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the kosher salt and brown sugar and stir until dissolved. Add the orange wedges, garlic, rosemary sprigs, and black peppercorns. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove the brine from the heat. Add the apple juice and apple cider vinegar. Add about 8 cups ice to reduce the temperature.
  5. When you're ready to brine your turkey, add the turkey to the brine and add enough ice to bring the liquid level above your turkey so it's fully submerged. Brine the turkey overnight in the fridge.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 158
Total Fat 0.7 g
Saturated Fat 0.2 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 36.9 g
Dietary Fiber 3.0 g
Total Sugars 29.6 g
Sodium 2,232.6 mg
Protein 1.3 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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