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Grilled Apple-Brined Turkey

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. + brining Grill: 3 hours + standing
  • Makes
    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


  • To make the brine, in a large kettle, combine the first 7 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 brine to room temperature.
  • Remove giblets from turkey (discard or save for another use). Place a turkey-sized 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 or other large container. Refrigerate for 18-24 hours, turning occasionally.
  • Prepare grill for indirect heat. Drain turkey, discarding brine. Rinse turkey under cold water; pat dry. Rub oil over skin. Skewer turkey openings; tie drumsticks together.
  • Place breast side up on a rack in a disposable foil roasting pan. Grill, covered, over indirect medium heat for 30-40 minutes. Tent turkey with foil; grill, covered, until a thermometer reads 165°, 2-1/2 to 3 hours longer. Cover and let stand for 15 minutes before carving.

Test Kitchen tips
  • Roasted Apple-Brined Turkey: Place rinsed turkey on a rack in a roasting pan. Bake at 325° for 3 to 3-1/2 hours or until a thermometer inserted in the thigh reads between 170°-175° (cover loosely with foil if turkey browns too quickly). Proceed as directed.
  • This recipe was tested with Morton brand kosher salt. It is best not to use a prebasted turkey for this recipe.
  • Nutrition Facts
    8 ounces cooked turkey: 473 calories, 23g fat (6g saturated fat), 210mg cholesterol, 213mg sodium, 1g carbohydrate (1g sugars, 0 fiber), 62g protein.

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    • Marina
      Nov 27, 2019

      Can you use regular apple juice? My turkey is currently being brined but I only had Motts apple juice on hand. I hope it still comes out ok.

    • CarlyFace
      Jan 1, 2019

      My husband and I tried this recipe when it was first published years ago, and this turkey is OUTSTANDING. We’ve been preparing our turkeys this was for years, and now it’s the only way we prepare turkey when we host Thanksgiving Dinner. We always substitute apple cider for the unsweetened apple juice because we tend to have fresh cider on hand in the fall months, but I can’t imagine that makes a significant difference. My husband cooks the turkey using our grill’s rotisserie attachment, and with a little monitoring it works like a charm. The skin usually crisps up and even blackens slightly before the bird is cooked through, but don’t let that deter you — the skin tastes crunchy, sweet, and savory, and it is arguably the best part of the turkey. Guests always fight over the crispy bits, and I totally understand why! One less obvious perk to grilling your turkey is at it frees up oven space for sides. The only downside I have found with this recipe is that the cook misses out on turkey drippings that can be used to make gravy. I work around this by roasting turkey parts several days before, collect the drippings, make stock with the parks, and ultimately make a huge batch of gravy to serve with the grilled turkey and sides.

    • vickyc603
      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.

    • kristinscotth
      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.

    • dhillaw57
      Nov 17, 2011

      Wonderful flavor! This will be a tradition!

    • JLHoff09!
      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!

    • MominCA
      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.

    • jkadams25
      Nov 20, 2010

      I have made this brine for the past 3 Thanksgivings and plan on using it again this year! It is awesome! The end result is moist and flavorful. Everyone will love it.

    • lbarts1
      Jun 1, 2010

      I made this turkey for the first Thanksgiving I've ever hosted and it was fantastic, and surprisingly easy. I brined it in an 18-gallon storage tub.It's the first Thanksgiving ever where my husband has voluntarily eaten turkey. If that's not a glowing recommendation, I don't know what is!

    • dhillaw57
      Feb 19, 2010

      We made this for last thanksgiving and the kids are still talking about it 6 mo later so I had to write a review! It was very tender and had great flavor. We will do this again.