Smoked Turkey Brine With Apple Cider Vinegar (3 Super Simple Steps)

Are you looking to create delicious brine for your smoked turkey?

You HAVE to try my apple cider vinegar brine, it ensures your turkey stays tender and moist!

Some people may avoid using apple cider vinegar as a brine, due to the strong smell. 

But this doesn’t translate in the flavor. 

Try it today and you won’t regret it!

You’ll be surprised how juicy, moist and flavorful your turkey will be!

Why Brine A Turkey?

Brining is the process of soaking poultry or meat in a saltwater mixture. 

The turkey absorbs the salt and flavors, giving tender flavorful meat.

Salt also helps dry out the exterior skin, giving a nice crispy skin when cooked. The acids in the brine solution also help break down and tenderize the meat while it’s soaking.  

With a little extra time and effort, you’ll have your mind blown at how good the bird is.

Wet Brine or Dry Brine?

The brining method you use is very much a personal choice.

Wet brining involves soaking the turkey in a solution in the refrigerator

Dry brining a turkey involves covering with the same dry ingredients, without all the water.

Leave either in the fridge for 12-24 hours. Any more than this will over-salt the meat. The decision comes down to what you are comfortable with.

How To Make Turkey Brine With Apple Cider Vinegar

For this recipe, we are using a wet brine solution, using apple cider vinegar.

Apple Cider Vinegar Brine Ingredients

In a large stockpot mix together the following ingredients:

  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Water
  • Kosher salt
  • Bay leaves
  • Fresh rosemary, fresh sage, and fresh thyme
  • Black pepper or Black Peppercorns
  • Quartered oranges and lemons. 

Preparing the Brine

Bring the contents of the stockpot to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes on low heat. Let it cool completely before adding the turkey.

Once cooled, pour the cider mixture in a brine bag or large container that’s big enough to hold and cover the turkey.

Prepping Turkey

The next step is to prep your turkey.

Remove the bird from the bag. Take off the neck and any giblets from the cavity.

Rinse the turkey under cold water. Pat dry with a paper towel. Tie the legs together and fold the wings under the turkey.

Brining Turkey

Place the raw turkey in the prepared cider brine fluid. Position the bird breast side down.

Make sure to submerge the entire turkey. Leave it to sit in the brine for 8-16 hours. Don’t leave longer than 24 hours, or the meat will become too salty.

Cover or seal in the brining container. Store in the fridge or a cool area. Keep the turkey’s internal temperature cool for food safety reasons.

If fridge space is a premium, try using a larger iced tub. Halfway through the brining time, flip the bird to breast side up. 

What Sort Of Salt Is Best?

Regular table salt is much saltier than kosher salt, so keep that in mind when you come across a recipe. As a general rule, 1 part of table salt is equal to two parts kosher salt.

Using equal parts will give an over-salted brine mixture. Some bought turkeys have salt injected, so be aware of that when mixing a brine solution.

What Is The Advantage of Using Vinegar In A Brine?

The idea of a brine is to tenderize the meat. 

Vinegar is acetic acid. It breaks down the proteins and softens the tissue in the meat while giving extra flavors. So adding an acid like apple cider vinegar helps the turkey become juicy and flavorful.

Storing The Brine

Discard the brine solution after its had meat in it. Raw meat can cause contamination, so reusing the mixture is unsafe.

Refrigerator

The homemade brine solution can last in the fridge, without the turkey, for up to 2 days. If the turkey is in the solution, don’t keep it longer than 18-24 hours.

Freezer

The brining mixture stored in an airtight container in the freezer can last for up to a month. Defrost the fridge overnight.    

Recipe Variations

Your imagination is the only limit to the flavor combinations for brine solutions. Try some of these for a flavor difference:

  • Citrus brine – use citrus fruit like limes, lemons, oranges, and grapefruit.
  • Buttermilk brine – add buttermilk to the standard brine solution. The acids in the milk act as a tenderizer.
  • Beer brine – throw a can of your favorite beer into the mix for an earthy flavor.
  • Apple brine – add some apple juice to the cider brine for a sweet twist.
  • Smoked brine – add a dash of liquid smoke to mix for a BBQ taste.
  • Asian brine – try ginger, allspice, brown sugar, star anise, and a dash of soy sauce for an eastern flavor.
  • Spice brine – add some bay leaves, whole star anise, allspice, juniper berries, cinnamon sticks, and nutmeg for a Christmas hit.

Apple Cider Vinegar Turkey Brine

You HAVE to try this apple cider vinegar brine, it ensures your turkey stays tender and moist!
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Brining Time16 hrs
Total Time16 hrs 25 mins
Course: Dinner, main, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4
Calories: 30kcal
Author: Charlie

Ingredients

  • 1 Turkey Whole
  • 2 cups Apple cider vinegar
  • 1 gallon Water
  • 1 cup Kosher salt
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1 sprigs of Fresh rosemary
  • 1 sprigs Fresh Sage
  • 1 tbsp Black pepper or Black Peppercorns
  • peels of Quartered oranges and lemons

Instructions

Preparing the Brine

  • Bring the contents of the stockpot to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes on low heat.
  • Let it cool completely at room temperature.
  • Once cooled, pour the cider mixture in a brine bag or large container that's big enough to hold and cover the turkey.

Prepping Turkey

  • Remove the bird from the bag.
  • Take off the neck and any giblets from the cavity.
  • Rinse the turkey under cold water. Pat dry with a paper towel.
  • Tie the legs together and fold the wings under the turkey.

Brining Turkey

  • Place the raw turkey in the prepared cider brine fluid. Position the bird breast side down.
  • Make sure to submerge the entire turkey. Leave it to sit in the brine for 8-16 hours.
  • Cover or seal in the brining container. Store in the fridge or a cool area. Halfway through the brining time, flip the bird to breast side up. 
  • Allow the turkey to soak in the cold brine for 18-24 hours.
  • Rinse the turkey inside and out and pat dry the turkey with paper towels.
  • Bring to room temperature for 1-2 hours before roasting.
  • Roast according to your preferred method.

Notes

  • Regular table salt is much saltier than kosher salt, so keep that in mind when you come across a recipe. As a general rule, 1 part of table salt is equal to two parts kosher salt. Using equal parts will give an over-salted brine mixture.
  • Some bought turkeys have salt injected, so be aware of that when mixing a brine solution.
 

Brine solutions add some extra moisture and tenderness to an otherwise lean type of meat. And it’s the perfect opportunity to add some interesting and tasty flavor elements.

Give it a try today!

Smoke On!

Charlie

Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling adventures with you!

You can read more on our About Us page.

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