Cider-Brined Turkey Breast

The Beauty of Brining:
Your best bet for getting a moist, tender turkey is to brine your bird. Brining involves completely immersing your turkey in a heated then completely cooled mixture of salt, sugar, water, and seasonings, usually overnight. Brining infuses meat with salt, so shop for a fresh (not frozen) or organic turkey that has not been injected with a sodium solution to make sure your turkey doesn’t get over-seasoned.

Cider-Brined Turkey Breast
Yield: approximately 6 servings
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  1. 8 cups apple cider
  2. ½ cup plus ½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  3. ⅓ cup sugar
  4. 2½ teaspoons ground black pepper, divided
  5. 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  6. 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  7. 1 (6-pound) bone-in turkey breast (see note)
  8. 7 cups water, divided
  9. 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  10. 2 smoked ham hocks
  11. 1 cup chicken broth
  12. Garnish: sliced apples, thyme sprigs
  1. In a large saucepan, bring cider, ½ cup salt, sugar, 2 teaspoons pepper, ginger, and garlic powder to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and let cool completely.
  2. Rinse turkey and place in a brine bag or large bowl; add cooled cider mixture and 6 cups water. Secure bag or cover bowl; refrigerate 8 to 10 hours, turning occasionally.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°. Remove turkey from brine; discard brine. Pat turkey dry; place on a rack in a roasting pan. Rub with oil; sprinkle with remaining ½ teaspoon salt and remaining ½ teaspoon pepper. Add ham hocks to rack. Pour remaining 1 cup water and chicken broth in pan.
  4. Bake until a meat thermometer reads 165°, approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes. Cover with aluminum foil to prevent excess browning, if necessary. (Add ½ cup additional water to pan halfway through baking time, if needed.) Place turkey on a cutting board; lightly cover with foil. Let stand 20 minutes before serving. Reserve pan drippings for Ham Hock-Cider Gravy (recipe below) Garnish with apples and thyme, if desired.
Taste of the South
Ham Hock-Cider Gravy
Yield: approximately 2¼ cups
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  1. ½ cup reserved drippings from Cider-Brined Turkey Breast
  2. 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  3. 1 cup water
  4. ⅔ cup apple cider
  5. 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  6. 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  7. ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
  8. Salt (optional)
  1. Skim fat from drippings. In a medium saucepan, place flour. Whisk in skimmed drippings, 1 cup water, and apple cider. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until thickened and bubbly, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in vinegar, thyme, and pepper. Season with additional salt, if desired.
Taste of the South


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