Cider-Brined Grilled Turkey

This Cooking Club contributor shared her best-ever recipe for the holiday bird.

8 servings

The recipe relies on hard cider to impart a sweet and tart flavor as well as a sticky-sweet glaze that will appeal to diners of all ages. Use sweet smoking wood chips like apple or hickory, if available; otherwise, alder wood or corncob are nice choices.


2 1/2 cups water
2 cups hard or non-alcoholic apple cider
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon crushed juniper berries
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 (6-inch) sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves

1 (10- to 12-lb.) turkey
1 cup apple or hickory wood chips, divided
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted


1 cup hard or non-alcoholic apple cider
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper


1. Combine all brine ingredients in large bowl, stirring until honey and salt have dissolved. Place turkey in jumbo resealable bag; pour in brine and seal. Place in shallow pan or bowl. Refrigerate 12 to 24 hours, turning occasionally.

2. Meanwhile, combine all glaze ingredients in medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium to medium-low; boil gently 8 to 10 minutes or until reduced to about 3/4 cup, stirring occasionally. (Glaze can be made 1 week ahead; cover and refrigerate.)

3. Before grilling, soak wood chips in water at least 1 hour. When ready to grill, set up grill as follows. For charcoal grill: Heat coals in center of grill to medium heat. Divide coals, placing half on each side of grill, leaving center open. For gas grill: Light two outside sections, leaving middle section unlit (three-burner grill). Or light one side and leave other side unlit (two-burner grill). Place drip pan on unlit side. Heat on high until hot. Reduce heat to medium.

4. Place roasting rack in large metal roasting pan (disposable foil pan is fine); coat rack and pan with cooking spray. Remove turkey from brine; discard brine. Pat turkey dry. Tuck wing tips behind turkey; place breast-side up on rack. Brush with melted butter.

5. Drain wood chips; discard water. For charcoal grill place 1/2 cup of the wood chips directly on coals. For gas grill, place 1/2 cup of the wood chips inside packet of foil, leaving opening in top to allow smoke to release. Place foil packet directly above lit burner. Place roasting pan in center of grill away from heat.

6. Grill, covered, 11/2 hours, rotating pan occasionally for even cooking. (Temperature should stay between 325°F. and 350°F. Add additional coals to charcoal grill as necessary.) Add remaining 1/2 cup wood chips to grill or foil packet. Grill, covered, an additional 1 hour. Brush turkey with glaze. Continue grilling 1 to 11/2 hours or until internal temperature in thickest part reaches 170ºF. to 175ºF., brushing with glaze every 15 minutes. Cover turkey loosely with foil if browning too quickly. Remove turkey; cover loosely with foil. Let stand 30 minutes before carving.

PER SERVING: 385 calories, 17 g total fat (6 g saturated fat), 47 g protein, 7.5 g carbohydrate, 140 mg cholesterol, 655 mg sodium, 0 g fiber

Note Turkey can be roasted in oven as follows: Follow directions above through step 4, eliminating step 3. Instead, heat oven to 325ºF. Bake 11/2 hours; brush with glaze. Bake an additional 1 to 11/2 hours or until internal temperature in thickest part reaches 170ºF. to 175ºF., brushing with glaze every 30 minutes. Loosely cover with foil if browning too quickly.

Anne-marie Ramo enjoys cooking Thanksgiving dinner so much she hosts it first in July, so she can cook and eat the delicious dishes usually saved for once a year.

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