Turkey Brining Recipe

Hosting your first thanksgiving? Botched it last year and looking for redemption? Just want to try a fun new recipe? When I found myself hosting my very first thanksgiving last year, I knocked it out of the park using this recipe.


1 gallon apple cider

¾ cup kosher salt

1/4 cup sugar

2 onions, diced

1 orange, sliced

2 carrots, diced

3 celery ribs, diced

1 whole bulb garlic, cloves chopped coarsely (or not at all)

Small bunch rosemary

Small bunch sage

2 tablespoons coriander seeds

2 tablespoons fennel seeds

6 bay leaves

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 turkey, neck and giblets discarded


For the herb butter

2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature

2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage

Kosher salt

Other Stuff you’ll need

5 gallon bucket with lid

Refrigerator with space for the bucket

Calibrated cooking thermometer

Turkey Baster

Roasting Pan

Paper towels

Mesh strainer


Combine 1 gallon apple cider and 1 gallon water with the salt, sugar, onions, carrots, celery, garlic, orange slices, rosemary, sage, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, bay leaves, and crushed red pepper in 5 gallon bucket and stir to combine. Put the bird in the bucket (breast side down) and add water until bird is completely submerged. Then cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.


Remove bird from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Make the herb butter by combining rosemary, sage, butter and salt in a bowl then massage all over bird.

Strain out herbs, vegetables and orange slices from the brine, and use them to evenly layer the bottom of the roasting pan. Set the turkey on top and leave in the fridge uncovered (yes, uncovered).


You should figure a cooking time of at least 15min/lb.

Preheat oven to 450° and roast turkey for 30-45 min (rotate at about 15min) to nicely crisp the skin, then reduce heat to 350° and begin basting and rotating every 30min (if you want, you can tent the bird with tinfoil to help with even cooking). Once the internal temperature hits 165° remove from oven and let rest for about 30 min.


Carve the turkey, receive respect.