Apple Cider Turkey Brine

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An apple cider turkey brine combines sweet and savory flavors to bring you a moist, flavorful, tender, and juicy roasted turkey with a rich brown crispy skin! 

This Thanksgiving and Christmas, you can still keep it classic by pairing an apple cider turkey brine with traditional sides of favorite Southern recipes like mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and green beans. 

Apple Cider Turkey Brine

What is an apple cider turkey brine?

Apple cider turkey brine brings a new level of flavor and juiciness to your holiday bird. This brine is easy to prepare because it’s simply homemade apple cider with apples and notes of citrus, pomegranate, cinnamon, brown sugar, and cloves. And like any brine, the result is tender, juicy, and the most flavorful turkey meat!

How long do you brine a turkey?

What is brining?

Brining is a method of soaking meat in salt water or other liquids like beer or apple cider before cooking to add moisture and intensify the flavor of the meat.

Will the turkey taste like apples?

An apple cider brined turkey will yield a savory turkey incomparable to any other in delicious flavor!

It won’t taste like apples per se, but it will have crispy outer skin and moist, juicy, flavorful meat inside when roasted.

A turkey with an apple cider brine is the perfect holiday entrée for your Thanksgiving or Christmas table! ​​​​​​​

What is An Apple Cider Turkey Brine?

Kitchen equipment for an apple cider brine

Pro tip: An Instant Pot and reusable strainer bag are super helpful for this brine recipe!

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Ingredients for an apple cider turkey brine

  • 8 cups of water
  • 5 apples, quartered (You can use a mix of tart and sweet if you like – i.e., Granny Smith, Gala, Red Delicious)
  • 1 orange, with the peel on, quartered 
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 ½ tablespoon of whole cloves
  • 1 pomegranate, quartered 
  • ½ a cup of brown sugar
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
Apple Cider Turkey Brine Ingredients

Instructions for the apple cider turkey brine

  1. Remove the Instant Pot lid and turn on the sauté setting for 30 minutes. (30 minutes is the most you can sauté, so you’ll add more time when this time is up.)
  2. Add the water, apples, and brown sugar to the stainless-steel inner pot with the lid off. 
  3. Place the cloves, ginger, cinnamon sticks, pomegranate, and orange into the strainer bag, tighten the bag’s strings, and place the strainer in the inner pot.
  4. Allow the cider to simmer.
  5. When the 30 minutes is up, turn on the sauté setting for an additional 10 minutes.
  6. When the cooking time is finished, remove the straining bag and scoop out the apples.
  7. Transfer the apple cider turkey brine to a deep-dish roasting pan with the turkey.
  8. Then oven-roast your turkey in the apple cider brine, basting the turkey with the brine pan juices every 20-30 minutes.
  9. You can garnish apple cider brined turkey with fresh thyme sprigs, fresh rosemary, or parsley.

See the recipe below for how to cook a Southern soul food apple cider-brined turkey.

Black Folks Southern Turkey Recipe
Southern Turkey Recipe The Soul Food Way
Crispy skin and moist, juicy, flavorful meat – that's what embodies a Black folks Southern turkey recipe!
An exceptional addition for your soul food Thanksgiving menu.
Check out this recipe!

Pro Tip: You can make baked apple slices with the leftover apples from the apple cider brine. Add melted butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar.

What do you serve with a roast turkey with apple cider brine?

What do you serve with a roast turkey with apple cider brine?

My Southern soul food Thanksgiving menu always includes an apple cider brine turkey! Contrary to the name that may sound complex, this entree is easy to prepare, and the flavors are so unique.

So what do you serve with roast turkey with apple cider brine? 

Here are some of my favorites to accompany this incredible roasted turkey dish: Southern-style green beans, collard greens, Southern cornbread dressing, baked mac and cheese, creamy mashed potatoes, and fresh cranberry sauce.

Southern Apple Cider Turkey Brine

Apple cider turkey brine FAQs

Can you substitute apple juice for apple cider in a brine?

What if you don’t have apple cider or the ingredients to make it?

Good news! You can substitute apple juice for apple cider in this recipe. Just make sure it’s unsweetened apple juice and add the remaining recipe ingredients, so you’re not too far off from the original flavor profile.

Can you use an apple cider blend?

Yes, but if the pre-made blend is sweetened, you may want to hold off on the brown sugar when adding the remaining recipe ingredients.

What kind of cloves do you use?

Cloves are dried flower buds that come from a clove tree. They add a wonderful aroma to ciders and other dishes. You can also use cloves as an alternative to cinnamon sticks or nutmeg for desserts like apple pie, pumpkin pie, and sweet potato pie.

Store-bought ground cloves are typically dry or ground into powder form to make them easier to use. However, whole cloves may be more flavorful because they haven’t been processed into smaller pieces.

Black Folks Southern Turkey Brine Recipe

Do you use apple cider vinegar for this apple cider turkey brine?

Vinegar (not even apple cider vinegar) is not what you want for this apple cider turkey brine recipe. 

Apple cider vinegar is your ideal selection when you plan for a smoked turkey instead of roasted. The acidity in the vinegar helps create that wonderful smoky flavor.

What does vinegar do in brine?

Vinegar is used to decrease the saltiness and acidity in food, making it an essential ingredient for certain dishes. Vinegar’s acidity helps to break down the protein in poultry and fish. It softens the meat or fish and makes them more tender when cooked.

This recipe uses cider brine instead of salt or vinegar brine.

Can you brine a frozen turkey?

If you use a non-kosher frozen turkey, you can add it to the brine while it is semi-frozen, allowing it to thaw during the brining process.

Most frozen turkeys are pre-brined in saltwater before being packaged. A kosher turkey will also already be salted. 

If you brine a turkey using cider sage brine, you may end up with an incredibly salty turkey, which is not good.

How long do you brine a turkey?

A brined turkey is an exciting and easy way to ensure your Thanksgiving turkey is moist, flavorful, and extra juicy! However, the length of time you brine your meat largely depends on various factors, such as the size of the bird or which part you’re using.

Apple Cider Turkey Brine Instructions

What is boiled cider and hard cider?

Many people often confuse hard cider with boiled cider thinking they are the same thing. 

Hard cider is an alcoholic beverage derived from apples. It’s often called “hard” because of its alcohol content.

Boiled cider is made with fresh apples, not fermented like hard cider. In boiled cider, apples are boiled in water until they are soft with added sugar. 

Which container is best for brining a turkey?

The best container for brining a turkey, according to many cooking experts, is a deep-dish roasting pan. It will allow the bird to have enough room for all of the liquid it needs and provide more surface area for flavor absorption.

Is it necessary to refrigerate a turkey while brining?

When preparing your turkey for the holidays, one of the most important steps is to make sure it has been appropriately brined. 

Turkey must be stored at an even temperature while brining that should be below 40 degrees F. You can consider refrigerating it because it’s a controlled environment. 

Pro tip:

It would not be suitable to add ice to a brine because the ice would dilute the brine as it melts. 

What type of turkey is best for brining?

This innovative, versatile apple cider turkey brine is perfect for whole turkeys, turkey legs, or even small turkey breasts. So you can prepare succulent feasts that are juicy and tender on the inside – and, if roasted properly, crispy on the outside! 

This apple cider turkey brine recipe is for turkeys up to 15 pounds. If your turkey is larger, you can use the dynamic recipe card in this post to adjust the proportions of the ingredients based on serving size (approx 1 pound per person).

What should you do if you have to brine the turkey earlier than 24 hours before roasting?

This apple cider turkey brine also works beautifully while roasting your turkey. Check out this Southern turkey recipe HERE.

Can you use this Southern turkey brine with chicken instead of turkey?

Yes, and the chicken recipe is HERE.

A Soul Food Thanksgiving Menu

What do you think about this apple cider turkey brine recipe?

Have you had it?

Would you make it? 

Comment below and lemme know. 

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The Ultimate Soul Food Recipes Guide
The Ultimate Soul Food Recipes Guide
What is soul food? Soul food recipes are African-American recipes full of flavor! A legacy of Southern cooking the Black way. Check out this collection of the best soul food recipes!
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Apple Cider Turkey Brine Recipe
Apple Cider Turkey Brine

Apple Cider Turkey Brine

Apple cider turkey brine brings a new level of flavor and juiciness to your Thanksgiving or holiday bird.
This brine is easy to prepare because it’s simply homemade apple cider made with apples and notes of citrus, pomegranate, cinnamon, brown sugar, and cloves. The result is tender, juicy, and the most flavorful turkey meat!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Course: Brine, Main Course
Cuisine: Southern Food
Servings: 10
Calories: 124kcal

Equipment

  • Instant Pot electric pressure cooker
  • Reusable straining bag or strainer with a handle
  • Turkey roasting pan

Ingredients

  • 8 cups water
  • 5 apples quartered (You can use a mix of tart and sweet if you like – i.e., Granny Smith, Gala, Red Delicious)
  • 1 orange with the peel on, quartered
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger minced
  • 1 ½ tablespoon whole cloves
  • 1 pomegranate quartered
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 3 cinnamon sticks

Instructions

  • Remove the Instant Pot lid and turn on the sauté setting for 30 minutes. (30 minutes is the most you can sauté, so you’ll add more time when this time is up.)
  • Add the water, apples, and brown sugar to the stainless-steel inner pot with the lid off.
  • Place the cloves, ginger, cinnamon sticks, pomegranate, and orange into the strainer bag, tighten the bag’s strings, and place the strainer in the inner pot.
  • Allow the cider to simmer.
  • When the 30 minutes is up, turn on the sauté setting for an additional 10 minutes.
  • When the cooking time is finished, remove the straining bag and scoop out the apples.
  • Transfer the apple cider turkey brine to a deep-dish roasting pan with the turkey.
  • Then oven-roast your turkey in the apple cider brine, basting the turkey with the brine pan juices every 20-30 minutes.
  • You can garnish apple cider brined turkey with fresh thyme sprigs, fresh rosemary, or parsley.

Video

Notes

Apple Cider Turkey Brine Recipe Card
 

Nutrition

Calories: 124kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 16mg | Potassium: 217mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 25g | Vitamin A: 82IU | Vitamin C: 14mg | Calcium: 42mg | Iron: 1mg
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3 Comments

  1. Osama Onaghinor says:

    5 stars
    Hi, thank you for sharing this!! I’m excited to try it! Can I sit my turkey in it for 24 hours prior to going in the oven?

    1. 5 stars
      Thanks for asking! While we’ve not marinated with this recipe for this long, that shouldn’t be a problem. Just make sure you’re marinating in the fridge since it’s for 24 hours. Happy Thanksgiving!