Cider-brined and Glazed Turkey

We made this for Thanksgiving in 2005, and it was terrific.
Prep Time1 day
Cook Time4 hours
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 12 people


For Brine:

  • 4 quarts apple cider (divided)
  • 1 1/2 cups kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup whole allspice
  • 8 bay leaves
  • 4 quarts cold water
  • 20 pound turkey (neck and gizzard reserved)

For Sage Broth:

  • 2 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 1/2 onion (quartered)
  • 1 celery stalk (cut into 4 pieces)
  • 8 fresh sage leaves

For Glaze:

  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1/2 cup (1 sticunsalted butter

For Gravy:

  • 3 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp fresh sage leaves
  • 1/4 cup applejack brandy or Calvados
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream


For brine:

  • Simmer 1 quart apple cider, salt, allspice, and bay leaves in 20-quart pot 5 minutes, stirring often. Cool completely. Add remaining 3 quarts cider and 4 quarts water. Place turkey in brine. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  • Drain turkey and rinse. Arrange on several layers of paper towels in roasting pan. Refrigerate uncovered overnight.

For broth:

  • Simmer all ingredients in large saucepan 30 minutes. Strain sage broth into bowl.

For glaze:

  • Boil cider in saucepan until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 15 minutes. Whisk in butter. Cool completely.
  • Set rack at lowest position in oven; preheat to 350°Remove paper towels from roasting pan. Pat main and neck cavities of turkey dry; stuff loosely with stuffing. Place turkey in pan, tuck wings under, and tie legs together loosely.
  • Roast turkey 1 hour. Brush with some of glaze. Roast until beginning to brown, about 1 hour. Cover with foil. Roast until thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 175°F, brushing with glaze every 30 minutes and adding up to 1 cup water to pan if drippings begin to burn, about 3 hours longer. Transfer turkey to platter; tent with foil. Let stand 30 minutes.

For gravy:

  • Pour pan juices into large measuring cup. Spoon off fat. Reserve 3 tablespoons fat and degreased juices. Pour sage broth into roasting pan. Bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Combine flour, sage leaves, and reserved 3 tablespoons fat in heavy large saucepan; stir over medium heat 1 minute. Whisk in broth from roasting pan and reserved pan juices. Add applejack and cream and boil until gravy thickens slightly, whisking often, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Strain into sauceboat. Serve turkey with gravy.


Unlike most brined turkeys, this one can be stuffed because the apple-cider brine contains less salt than the typical recipe. You can use up to 8 cups of stuffing. Begin brining two days ahead.