Apple-Brined and Hickory-Smoked Turkey

  • Active Time 10m
  • Total Time 26h 10m
  • Rating ****

Makes 15 servings

For many grillers, producing a juicy, amber-colored turkey imbued with wood smoke is a benchmark of pride. An apple juice-based brine and 24 hours of marination are the keys to this uncommonly tasty version.


  • For the Brine:
  • 2 quarts apple juice
  • 1 pound brown sugar
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 3 oranges, quartered
  • 4 ounces fresh ginger, thinly sliced
  • 15 whole cloves
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 6 large cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 turkey, 12 to 14 pounds
  • Cotton string for trussing turkey
  • Roasting rack
  • Heavy-gauge foil pan
  • Hickory chips, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes


In a large saucepan over high heat, bring the apple juice, brown sugar, and salt to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt. Cook for 1 minute, remove from the heat, and skim off the foam. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature.

In a 5-gallon plastic bucket or other container large enough to easily hold the turkey, combine 3 quarts of water, the oranges, ginger, cloves, bay leaves, and garlic. Add the apple juice mixture and stir.

Remove and discard the fat from the turkey cavity. Reserve the neck and giblets for another use. Rinse the turkey inside and out, drain, and submerge the turkey in the brine. If necessary, top with a heavy weight to make sure it is completely immersed. Refrigerate for 24 hours.

Follow the grill's instructions for using wood chips. Set up the grill for indirect cooking over medium heat.

Remove the turkey from the brine and pat with paper towels until very dry. Tie the legs together with cotton string. Lightly brush the turkey with vegetable oil, and place on a roasting rack set inside a heavy-gauge foil pan. Cook indirectly over medium heat. When the wings are golden brown, about 40 minutes, wrap them with aluminum foil to prevent them from burning. Brush the rest of the turkey with vegetable oil. When the turkey breasts are golden brown, about 1 hour, cover the turkey with aluminum foil to prevent the skin from getting too brown. The turkey is done when its juices run clear, the internal temperature of the thickest part of the thighs is about 180 degrees F, and the internal temperature of the breast is about 165 degrees F. Figure 12 to 14 minutes per pound.

Transfer the turkey to a cutting board or platter, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 20 minutes before carving. The pan drippings may be used to make gravy.

WINE NOTES: The lightly smoked meat pairs especially well with a Chardonnay-based Macon Blanc from France, or a spicy Gewurztraminer. Red-wine lovers would do well with a Chateauneuf-du-Pape.

Recipe reprinted by permission of Chronicle. All rights reserved.

RecID 1560

nutrition information per serving

443 calories; 2g total fat; 225mg cholesterol; 934mg sodium; 10g carbohydrates; 0g fiber; 89g protein

These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.

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