Grilled Apple-Brined Turkey Recipe

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Producing a juicy amber-colored turkey infused with flavor is possible with this apple juice-based brine. You won't regret planning for the long marinating time. This uncommonly tasty turkey is worth every minute. —Trudy Williams, Shannonville, Ontario
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 30 min. + marinating Grill: 3 hours + standing
MAKES:12-14 servings
Test Kitchen Approved
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 30 min. + marinating Grill: 3 hours + standing
MAKES: 12-14 servings


  • 2 quarts unsweetened apple juice
  • 2-1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 4 ounces fresh gingerroot, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 15 whole cloves
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 medium oranges, quartered
  • 3 quarts cold water
  • 1 turkey (12 to 14 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil

Nutritional Facts

8 ounces cooked turkey equals 473 calories, 23 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 210 mg cholesterol, 213 mg sodium, 1 g carbohydrate, trace fiber, 62 g protein.


  1. In a large kettle, combine the first seven ingredients. Bring to a boil; cook and stir until salt and sugar are dissolved. Stir in oranges. Remove from the heat. Add cold water to cool the marinade to room temperature.
  2. Remove giblets from turkey (discard or save for another use). Place a turkey-size oven roasting bag inside a second roasting bag; add turkey. Carefully pour cooled marinade into bag. Squeeze out as much air as possible; seal bags and turn to coat. Place in a roasting pan or other large container. Refrigerate for 18-24 hours, turning occasionally.
  3. Prepare grill for indirect heat. Drain and discard marinade. Rinse turkey under cold water; pat dry. Rub oil over skin. Skewer turkey openings; tie drumsticks together.
  4. Place breast side up on a rack in a disposable foil roasting pan. Grill, covered, over indirect medium heat for 1-1/2 hours. Tent turkey with foil; grill 1-1/2 to 2 hours longer or until a thermometer reads 180°. Cover and let stand for 15 minutes before carving. Yield: 12-14 servings.
Editor’s Note: This recipe was tested with Morton brand kosher salt. It is best not to use a prebasted turkey for this recipe.
Originally published as Grilled Apple-Brined Turkey in Taste of Home October/November 2008, p78

Medium-Bodied White Wine

Enjoy this recipe with a medium-bodied white wine such as Riesling or Gewürtztraminer

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Reviewed Dec. 30, 2011

"I just want to make sure readers are aware that you need to use a food-grade plastic container to brine your turkey, for safety reasons. Alos, you can find turkey-sized oven bags (Reynolds makes one) and set that in your bucket before pouring the brine over your turkey. Then tie in a knot."

Reviewed Nov. 28, 2011

"I've used this brine recipe for the past 3 years for our Thanksgiving turkey. I only follow the brining portion of the recipe, since we don't grill our turkey. I always like getting the biggest turkey possible, and this year's was 24 lbs. I made 1 1/2 batches of the brine, which was the perfect amount for this size turkey. I also learned some tips on brining by watching some videos online from Alton Brown (Food Network), which I thought were helpful. He said you could make the brine in advance, so I made the brine on Monday, and stored it in the fridge. All of the brine fit into my rectangular Rubbermaid container (holds 40 cups), and it was nice getting that task done in advance. He also suggested brining your turkey in a bucket, and since I always have a large turkey, this was very helpful for me. He said with all the salt in the brine, you don't have to worry about bacteria growing, and you don't have to store your turkey in the fridge. It's fine brining the turkey in the bucket and putting it in a cool place in your house or your garage (if it's cold outside). I just bought an unused bucket that will now be used only for brining. I highly recommend this brine recipe. Our turkeys have been SO juicy and flavorful since we started brining them. We have noticed that our brined turkeys DO take less time to roast in the oven."

Reviewed Nov. 17, 2011

"Wonderful flavor! This will be a tradition!"

Reviewed Jan. 26, 2011

"I made this for the first thanksgiving I ever cooked and it opened to rave reviews! We have 3 picky eaters at our dinner and each of them said it was by far the best turkey they had ever tasted. I'm normally not a huge fan of turkey because it tends to be so dry, but this recipe turns out an astonishingly moist bird. My father-in-law has a rotisserie attachment for his grill and we cook it that way by creating a foil tent and taking it off about halfway through cooking. It creates a flavor like you wouldn't believe! I have now become famous in our circles because of my Thanksgiving turkey!"

Reviewed Dec. 6, 2010

"Okay- we have made this recipe for the last 3 years and it NEVER fails us. We get an abnormally juicy turkey - everytime. A smaller (14-16lb) turkey comes out the best, but this last Thanksgiving we brined a 22 pounder (by doubling the recipe) and it still came out VERY good... My Irish brother-in-law has even asked for the recipe to send to his sister in Ireland! Hows that for being good! Don't let the brining process scare you - its really easy."

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