Apple-Brined Turkey With Garlic Herb Butter

September 10, 2021
1 Ratings
  • Prep time 12 hours
  • Cook time 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Serves About 10
Author Notes

This is my absolute favorite method of turkey-ing. Of all the methods I've tried, nothing beats brining. The turkey is so moist and flavorful that it really stands alone, but who wouldn't want to throw a stick of deliciously flavored butter in there somehow? And is that a chunk of breast meat missing from the bird? I can't imagine how that happened (eyes cast innocently skyward). —campagnes

Test Kitchen Notes

Let's face it: Picking a recipe to prep a whole turkey can be intimidating. There's a lot of pressure to make sure it comes out just right so as not to disappoint your family and friends. You're investing a lot of time and ingredients into making a showstopper of an entrée, so you need to pick the best recipe you can, especially if it's your first time roasting a turkey.

This recipe is foolproof and a classic, featuring a simple brine made with apple juice, brown sugar, rosemary, and thyme, representing the best of fall flavors. What helps put it over the top is the addition of a savory garlic-herb butter. With fresh parsley, rosemary, thyme, and, of course, garlic, it's the perfect way to add more flavor to the perfectly turkey. Brining the turkey allows it to cook faster, so there is some prep work involved and it's highly recommend to let the turkey brine overnight for the ultimate results. Then all you have to do is mix the ingredients for the butter before roasting the turkey, so overall, this recipe is pretty easy. Stuffing the butter under the skin keeps the meat moist while it's roasting. It should take about 2 1/2 hours for the turkey to cook through, but considering all turkeys and ovens can be very different, be sure to check the internal temperature of the thickest part of the thigh as you go. Just be sure to pull it at 160°F, as it will continue to cook as it rests. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • Apple Brine
  • 1 gallon apple juice, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups kosher salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 4 to 5 large sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 large sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 gallon ice cubes
  • 1 gallon ice water
  • 1 (13-pound) turkey
  • Garlic Herb Butter
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. To make brine: In a large pot, combine 6 to 7 cups of the apple juice, the salt, sugar, thyme sprigs, and rosemary sprig. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the salt and sugar are dissolved and the herbs are fragrant. Remove from the heat and add the ice cubes; pour into a large, clean, nonreactive container (I used a new, clean trash can) and add the water and remaining apple juice.
  2. Place the turkey in the brine, breast-side down, and fill the cavity with the brine. Add more water if the turkey isn't fully submerged. Let brine for at least 8 hours (overnight is best).
  3. While the turkey is brining, in a medium bowl, combine the butter, garlic, and chopped parsley, rosemary, and thyme; season with salt and pepper. Set aside at room temperature until ready to use.
  4. After brining, remove the turkey from the brine and discard the excess brine. Rinse the turkey, including the cavity, and pat dry with paper towels. Let stand, uncovered, for about 4 hours to allow the skin to dry.
  5. When ready roast, heat the oven to 350°F. Separate the skin from the turkey breast and legs. Stuff the butter under the skin. Rub any remaining butter on the outside of the turkey. Roast for about 2½ hours, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 160°F. Let stand for 30 minutes before carving.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Alicia
  • Missy Humphrey
    Missy Humphrey
  • ellencooks
  • Dunnkit
  • campagnes

7 Reviews

Alicia November 13, 2015
This is my first time at brining a turkey. Where it says to allow to brine for at least 8 hours, best overnight, then to rinse, dry and let stand for 4 hours would that be in the refrigerator or is it safe at room temperature?
Dunnkit November 21, 2015
Hey Alicia: you should be able to keep it at room temperature for 4 hours after brining. The salt will have killed some bacteria, so it shouldn't be an issue.....unless you live in a hot environment. I think if you put it in the fridge, it will get too cool right before roasting.
Missy H. November 21, 2014
Has anyone used the pan drippings to make grave? How does it taste?
ellencooks November 5, 2012
Shouldn't a 13 # turkey be cooked for about 4 hours?
campagnes November 5, 2012
Hi, ellencooks! Brining a turkey causes it to cook more quickly. If in doubt, track the temperature carefully.
foodluver October 23, 2011
how much brine do you suggest making if I want to make a 16-18 lb turkey? I don't want to water the recipe down in order to submerge the turkey.
campagnes November 5, 2012
Sorry I didn't see your question earlier! I would probably just make 1.5 times the brine for a turkey of that size.