Apple-Brined Whole Turkey


Chris Allingham

Staff member

Here's a recipe for apple-brined turkey that is great cooked on the WSM.

  • 1 12-14 lb turkey
  • 2 quarts apple juice
  • 1 lb brown sugar
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 3 quarts water
  • 3 oranges, quartered
  • 4 ounces fresh ginger, sliced thin
  • 15 whole cloves
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 6 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • Vegetable oil or melted, unsalted butter
Combine apple juice, brown sugar, and salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve. Boil for one minute, remove from heat, let mixture come to room temperature, then refrigerate to 40*F.

In a large non-reactive container, combine the apple juice mixture with the remaining ingredients and stir. Place rinsed, drained whole turkey into the brine. Use a heavy weight to keep the bird submerged, if necessary.

Refrigerate for 24 hours. Remove turkey from brine, rinse inside and out, and pat dry with paper towels. Fold wing tips under the bird. Brush outside surface with vegetable oil or melted butter.

Cook at 325-350*F to 160-165*F in the breast, 170-175*F in the thigh, approximately 2-1/2 to 3 hours. Cover loosely with foil and let rest 30 minutes before carving.

You'll find a detailed version of this recipe, including photos, here:

Whole Turkey - Apple Brined

Albert Sanchez

TVWBB Super Fan

On Saturday, I used this recipe to smoke a turkey.

The results were superb! I'll definately use this recipe again.



Bryan Rockoff

TVWBB Member
I've been using this for years (since it was posted here) and I can tell everyone that this is the best. I have been told by the family that I better not change the recipe.

Shawn W

TVWBB Emerald Member
Just finished dinner after cooking my second turkey with this brine. Wow. Out of this world. I'm a brine believer now.

Used one chunk apple + BBQers Delight Cherry sample for first bird and one chunk apple + Orange sample pack for second.

Used fresh free-range non-medicated birds. Breast down, loosely tied wings. Cooked to 168ºF internal. The white meat was so juicy and tender, when I poked it with my finger clear juice oozed out. I was even eating the dark meat which was unheard of.

Don't think I need to try any other turkey brine recipes, this is it.

Thanks Chris

Jane Cherry

TVWBB All-Star
With all the other brines I want to try, I can't get past using this one over and over. I always use this for turkey, because it's so good, that I am afraid to try something else. I figure if you have a winner, stick with it, but my thinking certainly doesn't expand my horizons, nor my repertoire.

James Tucker

I am trying my first turkey on the WSM and have brined it with the recipe you supplied. I was wondering if a rub should be used and I also saw a post that described how much charcoal to use and the technique but I can't find it again, ANY advice would be GREATLY APPRIECIATED. THANX cookin in CANADA!!!!!

K Kruger

TVWBB 1-Star Olympian
Should be used? No. Could? Yes. I rub virtually everything because I like rubs. Some things I do you could barely call it a rub; more like a light dusting of complementary or supporting flavors.

I'd recommend not using a rub for this recipe, at least the first time out, so you get a good sense of how the aromatic brine and smoke work together on the meat. If you choose to do a rub here, now or in the future, skip the salt in the rub.

Read the instructions found here; just skip the parts on brining and rub. It'll tell you about fueling and smokewood.

James Tucker

Thanx Kevin for the information and the prompt response it was exactly what I needed to get started!! It's 1:00 pm. and I'm about to fire up the cooker. I'll let you know how it turned out tomorrow after the hangover wears off. Thanks again. Smokin in Canada.

Darren Clark

New member
Hey James,

Where about in Canada are you? I'm in Calgary.
I agree about the rub - I would leave it out for the first smoke. I did this recipe for the first time on Easter and I must say, it was ther best turkey I've ever had in my life.

I used a mix of apple and cherry for this smoke and just oiled the bird and put a little kosher salt and pepper on the skin.

James Tucker

Well it's 11:38 pm. and everyone just left. The turkey was a big hit, everyone said it was very good , but I did end up with a few leftovers . LUCKY ME!! I cooked a few sausage for apps. put them on the top rack over the bird. The turkey turned out very juicy and tender. I did have a bnit of a problem keeping the heaT UP IN THE 320/350 RANGE. Iused 2 full starters full of lump charcoal and had to leave the access door open to get the temp. up. I also added about another 3/4 of a chimney part way through to see if this would help the temp. Anyways all was good but I think I might add a light rub to the proceess next time. SMOKIN and DRINKIN in CANADA !!!!


TVWBB Super Fan
I really want to try this. couple of questions though before I go ruining a perfectly good bird!

I'm assumng no water in bowl, but lined with foil to catch drippings? And how long, at say 320, for a 12 pound bird on average? Am I looking at 3 hours, or 5 or more??

Must say, the recipe sounds great..

Hi Andrew
I did one of these and it was great, it took closer to 3 hours, I think. I let it go a bit too long, you really need a thermometer in the breast, which I din't have at the time so it was a tad dry. Next time. :)
Also, I'll make a nice sauce next time with a good slug of oil in it to give the bird a nice gloss.
Hey! here it is.

Graham M

TVWBB Member
I got my thermometers from here
Eti Ltd
They are very good, I also got the Nu-temps - through the offer on this website. They are very convenient, but I still use the ones from ETI to doudle check.



I have made this turkey and it is great. If I know that I will have plenty of leftovers I like split the turkey after it has cooked and refriderate one half over night. The next day I think the smoke flavor really sets in nicley and cold smoked turkey sandwiches are great.


The Weber manual says to cook a whole turkey for 9 hours (or something like that). Probably at lower temperature, but that's a big difference than what I see on this site. Is three hours long enough to get a decent smoke flavor?

Doug D

TVWBB Hall of Fame
A couple thoughts. One, I would never cook poultry so low that it takes 9 hours to finish-- too much time in the danger zone between 40 and 140°. But that wouldn't be the only thing in the WSM manual Weber got wrong.

Second, poultry soaks up smoke like a sponge-- go much lighter on the smokewood than you would with pork or beef. We're barbecuing with the WSM, not smoking, technically, so smoke the entire duration of the cook is not necessary or even desirable. 30-60 minutes' worth max is plenty on any meat.

Greg Kemp

Chris, I'm going to try this recipe.

questions: How long did you cook it?

Pan/no pan, was the bird on the grate?

If you had only one thermometer where would you place it...thigh or breast?

Going to try it this weekend if you think that recipe is still good this year and doesn't need any tweaking.

Your carving looks good.

thanks and Aloha!

Greg Kemp