Cranberry-Brined Turkey with Hard Cider Gravy



For the Brine:

  • 24 cups water
  • 8 cups cranberry juice
  • 2 cups kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • ½ tablespoon whole cloves
  • 2 oranges, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic bulb, halved crosswise
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • 1 bunch sage
  • 1 bunch rosemary

For the Turkey:

  • One 15-pound turkey
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 garlic bulb, halved crosswise
  • 1 bunch sage
  • For the Gravy:
  • 2 tablespoons reserved turkey fat
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup hard apple cider
  • 2 cups turkey drippings (see headnote)


1. Make the brine: In a large pot, combine all the ingredients and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until the salt has dissolved, 1 minute, then let cool completely.

2. Make the turkey: Add the turkey to the brine, making sure it is fully submerged and refrigerate overnight.

3. The next day, transfer the turkey to a roasting pan fitted with a rack, and dry well with paper towels. Discard the brine. Let the turkey sit out at room temperature for 2 hours. Preheat the oven to 350º.

4. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt the butter with the garlic over medium heat. Using the sage bunch as a brush, dip the herbs in the butter and brush over the turkey.

5. Roast the turkey, basting with butter every 30 minutes, until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer reads 155º when inserted into the thigh, 2 hours and 15 minutes, to 2 hours and 30 minutes. If the legs or body begin to get too dark, tent the bird with foil to prevent it from burning.

6. Transfer the turkey to a cutting board and tent with foil. Let rest for 30 minutes. Pour out all of the pan drippings into a measuring cup and let the fat separate from the liquid. Reserve 2 tablespoons of fat and 2 cups of liquid drippings.

7. Make the gravy: In a small saucepan, heat the turkey fat over medium heat. Sprinkle in the flour and cook until combined and blonde in color, 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the hard apple cider and cook until reduced slightly, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the turkey drippings and cook until thickened, 5 minutes more.

8. Carve the turkey and serve with the gravy on the side.


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