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Cider-Brined Turkey

This delicious cider-brined turkey recipe from Emeril is sure to be a Thanksgiving hit. Try it with his Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes and Creamed Mustard Greens.

  • servings: 12




  • 4 cups Wood's Cider Mill Boiled Cider
  • 4 cups hard cider
  • 8 cups fresh apple cider
  • 2 cups coarse salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1/2 cup dark-brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon whole allspice
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 4 sprigs fresh oregano
  • 2 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 gallon ice water
  • 1 whole (10-to-12-pound) turkey, fresh or frozen (defrosted)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 apples, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 rib celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1 sweet onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 to 3 cups low-sodium store-bought chicken stock or broth, for basting


  1. Step 1

    In a large stockpot, combine boiled cider, hard cider, fresh cider, 2 cups salt, sugar, peppercorns, allspice, cinnamon, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar and salt dissolve, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat; add thyme, rosemary, oregano, and parsley. Let steep for 5 minutes. Add ice water, stir, and let brine cool to room temperature.

  2. Step 2

    Rinse turkey inside and out under cool running water. Remove giblets and neck; set aside for gravy or stuffing, if desired. Place turkey in a pot large enough to hold the turkey and the brine or a large, food-safe plastic bag, set in a pot or roasting pan. Cover turkey with brine, make sure both cavities of turkey are filled. Cover or tightly close bag and refrigerate 10 to 12 hours. If using a bag, rotate turkey occasionally to make sure it is evenly brined.

  3. Step 3

    Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

  4. Step 4

    Remove turkey from brine and rinse well under cold running water; pat dry with paper towels inside and out. Place turkey, breast-side up, in a large, heavy-bottomed roasting pan fitted with a rack. Rub all sides with butter, stuffing some underneath the skin. Season inside and out with salt and pepper. Stuff turkey with apples, celery, and onion. Loosely tie drumsticks together with kitchen twine. Transfer to oven and roast until skin is golden brown, about 30 minutes.

  5. Step 5

    Reduce heat to 325 degrees. Cover turkey loosely with a double layer of parchment paper-lined aluminum foil. Continue roasting, basting once every half hour with 1/2 to 3/4 cup stock, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the largest part of the thigh (avoiding the bone) registers 161 degrees, about 1 hour more.

  6. Step 6

    Remove from oven and transfer turkey to a serving platter. Let turkey stand, tented with foil, about 20 minutes before carving.

The Martha Stewart Show, November 2009



Reviews (11)

  • Joyceluvs2cook 8 Dec, 2011

    This was the first time my family LOVED my turkey! It turned out somewhere past unbelievable! I made my own boiled apple cider, and couldn't get any hard cider here out west so I used regular apple juice. I just ordered a hard cider kit from Mr. Beer and will make my own for the next turkey I do! My husband told me that it only took me 38 years (our time together) to finally learn how to make a delicious bird! Thanks Martha & Emeril.

  • rrfshn 16 Dec, 2009

    King Arthur Flour sells boiled cider on their website. one pint - $10.95.

  • MrsEscue 26 Nov, 2009

    i couldnt find boiled cider or hard cider either, ANYWHERE. i used apple juice in place, ive used emerils brines every year for thanksgiving

  • works2hrd 25 Nov, 2009

    I can't find boiled cider anywhere. Would apple juice be an acceptable substitute? Or should I just adjust the ratio of hard cider to apple cider to get the correct volume?

  • bperrell3 23 Nov, 2009

    can I deep fry my turkey after using this brine recipe?

  • CarolTaylor 23 Nov, 2009

    What is the approx. cook time per lb.?

  • ebonyrose 23 Nov, 2009

    How much sodium per serving? My husband is on a restricted sodium, very-low sodium diet.

  • petitemlleavery 23 Nov, 2009

    Do I double this recipe for a 20 lb turkey??? Help! Thanks.

  • julieeliz 23 Nov, 2009

    What is boiled cider and hard cider? Any substitutions?

  • nicolejoy 23 Nov, 2009

    Do you cook the turkey for 1 more hour after the temperature reads 161, or just until it reads 161?

  • debfoxxxx56 23 Nov, 2009

    I thought that Emeril said to reduce the oven temp to 325, not 425...???