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Citrus-Scented Brined Turkey

Our home economists marinate this turkey to keep it deliciously moist while roasting.
  • Total Time
    Prep: 30 min. + marinating Bake: 4 hours + standing
  • Makes
    12-14 servings


  • 11 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 6 cups unsweetened apple juice
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh gingerroot
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 6 cups cold water
  • 1 turkey (12 to 14 pounds)
  • 1 medium lemon, cut into wedges
  • 1 medium orange, cut into wedges
  • 1 medium onion, cut into wedges
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil


  • Mince five garlic cloves; halve the remaining garlic cloves and set aside. In a large saucepan, combine the apple juice, salt, brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, bay leaves and minced garlic. Bring to a boil; cook and stir until salt and sugar are dissolved. Remove from the heat. Add cold water to cool the brine to room temperature.
  • Remove giblets from turkey and discard. Place a turkey-size oven roasting bag inside a second roasting bag; add turkey. Carefully pour cooled brine into bag. Squeeze out as much air as possible; seal bags and turn to coat. Place in a roasting pan. Refrigerate for 18-24 hours, turning several times.
  • Drain and discard brine. Rinse turkey under cold water; pat dry. Place the lemon, orange, onion, thyme and reserved garlic in both cavities. Rub oil over skin. Skewer turkey openings; tie drumsticks together.
  • Place turkey breast side up on a rack in a roasting pan. Bake, uncovered, at 325° for 4 to 4-1/2 hours or until a thermometer reads 160° (cover loosely with foil if turkey browns too quickly). Let stand for 15 minutes before removing contents from cavities and carving the turkey.
Editor’s Note: This recipe was tested with Morton brand kosher salt. It is best not to use a prebasted turkey for this recipe.

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Average Rating:
  • PenelopeWin
    Feb 27, 2016

    This was a lot of work. It wasn't any better than cooking the turkey the regular way in a roasting pan basting it. I just don't think it was worth all the trouble and extra time it took to prepare.

  • kitchen designer
    Nov 26, 2013

    This is a great recipe. Makes a very moist and tender turkey. Do not use the juices for your gravy tho. It's too salty. I usually simmer the neck and use the juices and meat from that for gravy.

  • LanaLOwen
    Nov 20, 2013

    I have used this recipe for years since it came out in Taste of Home. I would never make my turkey a different way. It always turns out perfect, so very moist and tastes so good!

  • christmastreegal
    Nov 19, 2012

    I have used this brine recipe since it came out several years ago! My family thinks it bakes the best, most moist turkey ever!

  • hembree
    Nov 23, 2009

    This has to be my favorite turkey ever! We have grilled our holiday turkeys for quite a few years now and last year we did this brine method but still grilled it. It is my favorite. I had to search for this recipe so we could have it again this year.

  • akgirl76
    Nov 14, 2009

    For Thanksgiving 2008 I had the honor of hosting the family gathering at my house for the first time. I wanted a fantastic recipe, and this was worth every hour. The family buzzed about my turkey, and asked for it AGAIN this year. I have never been so proud to serve a recipe. Thank you.