Recipe Reboot – DIY: Brine Your Own Thanksgiving Turkey

This year I rebooted my 2011 turkey brine recipe. Here is the new and improved recipe!

Domestocrat’s Thanksgiving Turkey Brine ver. 2013
1.5 cups kosher salt, divided
1/2 gallon apple cider
3/4 gallon water
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 orange
1 lemon
3 tbsp. black peppercorns
One bundle of fresh rosemary, sage, and thyme (we used a very handy “poultry mix” from Whole Foods)

Additional ingredients for cooking day-of:
1 onion
1 orange
2 apples
16 tbsp. (2 sticks) butter
1 tbsp. rosemary
2-3 cups chicken stock
Salt & pepper
One bundle of fresh rosemary, sage, and thyme (again, the “poultry mix” is the best way to go)

We brined our 20 lb. turkey in a bringing bag in the fridge for 36 hours (Tuesday night to Thursday morning).

About 45 minutes prior to brining, boil 2 cups of water and 1/2 cup of the salt over high heat until the salt has dissolved. Let the mixture cool completely before you brine.

When the salt water has cooled, load the turkey into a bringing bag. Pour in the salt water, apple cider, and additional water. Next add the cup of salt, peppercorns, herbs, orange, lemon, and maple syrup. Give the bag a good seal, pressing as much air out as possible. Pick a spacious spot in your fridge, line with a towel, and rotate the brining bird every 12 hours or so.


On Thanksgiving morning I prepped the additional ingredients right before roasting. Mix the butter (room temperature) and rosemary together and evenly spread under the skin. Stuff the cavity with the herb bundle, onion, orange, and apple. In the bottom of the pan pour the chicken stock and toss in the remaining apple pieces. Finally, pat the top of the turkey dry with paper towels and sprinkle on a dash and salt and pepper.


Roast the turkey on 400 degrees for the first hour. Then lower the heat to 350 degrees for the remainder of the cooking time. All told, our turkey took a little over 3.5 hours. The most important thing is that your meat thermometer (yes, you have to have one of these! don’t use the little plastic pop-up thingy!) reads 170 degrees. (The USDA says 165 is good, I think 170 is better, especially for dark meat.)


The turkey was flavorful, tender, perfectly salted, and extremely moist. I still can’t get over how moist a brined turkey is in comparison to a non-brined turkey. This is absolutely the way to cook a turkey!

Author: Domestocrat

I'm a lady who enjoys photography, football, cooking, long drives with the windows down, This American Life, kettlecorn, hot yoga, pop punk, my nephews, my cat Reggie, and my home: Boston.

6 thoughts

  1. Do you find that the skin is not as crispy? That has been a bit of a problem for our brined turkeys the past couple years.

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