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Grilled Apple-Brined Turkey Recipe

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 YIELD: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


  • 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.

Recipe Note

Editor’s Note: This recipe was tested with Morton brand kosher salt. It is best not to use a prebasted turkey for this recipe.

Nutritional Facts

8 ounces cooked turkey: 473 calories, 23g fat (6g saturated fat), 210mg cholesterol, 213mg sodium, 1g carbohydrate (1g sugars, 0 fiber), 62g protein.

Reviews for Grilled Apple-Brined Turkey

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vickyc603 User ID: 2709500 105425
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."

kristinscotth User ID: 2609242 174387
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."

dhillaw57 User ID: 4106155 176367
Reviewed Nov. 17, 2011

"Wonderful flavor! This will be a tradition!"

JLHoff09! User ID: 5787208 175067
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!"

MominCA User ID: 5657454 107309
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."

jkadams25 User ID: 3693583 179133
Reviewed 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 User ID: 5190342 179131
Reviewed 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 User ID: 4106155 175053
Reviewed 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."

reesem User ID: 3462013 158095
Reviewed Dec. 15, 2009

"This recipe was outstanding. Very moist and quite delicious. Definitely a keeper and I plan on using it again for my Christmas dinner."

rvorwaller User ID: 3232526 114423
Reviewed Nov. 21, 2009

"This recipe is "fo shizzle, my nizzle." I had a hard time brining it with the roasting bag, so I actually bought a new plastic garbage pail with a lid, and dropped the bird in. Turned out awesome. Definitely will do this again."

starkitten80 User ID: 3437335 158094
Reviewed Dec. 17, 2008

"What would the conversion for a bigger 19lb turkey?"

jas43056 User ID: 3620409 175045
Reviewed Nov. 25, 2008

"can i cook the turkey in an roaster oven instead of using the grill?"

taste3803 User ID: 3557475 175042
Reviewed Nov. 23, 2008

"how about cooking in a turkey oven bag? will this eliminate the basting?"

ksieck User ID: 1448844 101462
Reviewed Nov. 7, 2008

" normally, you could stuff a cider brined bird because of the low salt content in the brine. The stuffing may be a bit salty . As a health care associate, I do not recommend stuffing a bird period. It does not completely kill the bacteria even though the recommended stuffing temperature is 165º. It still harbors bacteria. That is why for the same reason you do not leave a cooked turkey at room temperature for more than 2 hours.:)

ksieck User ID: 1448844 89607
Reviewed Nov. 7, 2008

"yes. you can use your favorite roasting method. Roast at 325º to 350º for about 15 to 18 minutes per pound, basting occasionally with a little apple juice and water or broth every thirty minutes or until internal temp reads 180, tenting with foil if necessary. It came out great."

jsplq5u1 User ID: 965165 173298
Reviewed Nov. 2, 2008



Schellainey User ID: 2217639 89591
Reviewed Oct. 20, 2008

"I do not have a grill can you do this turkey in the oven"

hscgardener User ID: 2871308 175040
Reviewed Sep. 24, 2008

"Why can't you stuff a brined bird?"

luvgdfood User ID: 1024611 160397
Reviewed Sep. 19, 2008

"It won't have that wonderful smoky flavor and you can't stuff it, (You can never stuff a brined bird!) but you can bake it at 350, 25 min. per #. Tent it with foil to keep it from burning too much.

Bon Appetit!"

simplyred User ID: 2152568 176366
Reviewed Sep. 17, 2008

"I, too, would like to try this in a regular oven. Would it work?"

piddi User ID: 3134147 175038
Reviewed Sep. 17, 2008

"Do you have to grill the turkey? Could I bake it?"

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