This apple cider brined turkey breast is tender, juicy, and has a subtle apple flavor that makes it the perfect main dish for a small holiday gathering or family dinner.

Both sides of an apple cider brined breast sliced and arranged on a white serving platter with garnishes.

Making a brined turkey breast is considerably less time-consuming than making a whole turkey, which is why it’s the perfect solution when entertaining a small group. Just five hours in our apple cider brine adds great taste and juicy texture to the turkey, and adding a touch of cider to the pan gravy boosts the flavor even more.

An assortment of ingredients for apple cider brine including kosher salt, cider, fresh rosemary, whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, allspice, and peppercorns.

How To Make An Apple Cider Brine

Our easy-to-make apple cider brine only has a few ingredients and the basic instructions here will work for just about any salt and sugar brine, no matter what the flavorings.

Ingredients

For exact quantities, see the printable recipe below.

  • Kosher salt
  • Granulated sugar
  • Whole cloves
  • Whole allspice
  • Black peppercorns
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • Apple cider

Start by adding a portion of the water to a saucepan and bringing it to a simmer. Add the salt and sugar and stir until both are thoroughly dissolved.

Remove the mixture from the heat, add your flavorings while still hot, and allow it to cool to room temperature.

Add your turkey to the container you’re going to use for the brining process, pour in the remainder of the liquid in your recipe (in this case more water and apple cider), cover, and refrigerate for the recommended amount of time.

FAQs About Brining a Turkey Breast

Can I defrost a frozen turkey breast in the brine?

When making roast turkey, it’s always best to plan ahead. A frozen turkey breast takes 36 to 48 hours to defrost in the refrigerator. Theoretically, you could defrost in a brine, but it is not recommended and this recipe calls for a fully defrosted or fresh turkey breast.

How long does it take to brine a turkey breast?

An average-sized turkey breast should brine for 5 to no more than 12 hours. Brining for too long can cause excess saltiness and potentially change the texture of the meat. Follow the time recommended in your recipe and if you’re not ready to roast your bird right away, simply rinse it off, pat it dry, and put it back in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

Should I rinse a turkey breast after brining?

It’s always best to rinse your turkey under cool running water after brining, then thoroughly pat it dry with paper towels before putting it in the roasting pan.

Two side-by-side photos, on the left, raw turkey breast submerged in brine, on the right, turkey breast in the roasting coated with compound butter.

How to Roast a Brined Turkey Breast

This is an overview of how this dish is made. You’ll find detailed measurements, ingredients, and instructions in the printable version of the recipe below.

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 450°F (425°F for convection).
  2. Combine softened butter with freshly ground black pepper, chopped fresh rosemary, and thyme leaves until thoroughly blended.
  3. Coat both your roasting pan and rack with nonstick spray and place the turkey breast on the rack.
  4. Use your hands to rub the softened butter all over the skin, coating the turkey breast as completely as possible.
  5. Pour chicken broth and apple cider into the bottom of the roasting pan.
  6. Roast for 15 minutes, then turn the pan 180° and roast 15 minutes longer. If you feel any portion of the skin is browning too quickly cover loosely with heavy-duty aluminum foil sprayed with nonstick spray.
  7. Reduce the heat to 325°, rotate the pan again, and continue roasting, basting every 15 to 20 minutes. Begin checking the temperature after 30 minutes until the internal temperature at the thickest part of the breast registers 160°F.
  8. Remove the breast from the oven and allow it to rest for 20 to 25 minutes before carving.
Carved turkey breast on a platter garnished with fresh rosemary and thyme and half an apple, serving fork in the background.

What To Serve With Apple Cider Brined Turkey Breast

Here are a few easy side dish ideas to serve with your turkey.

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Sliced apple cider brined turkey breast on a serving platter.

Apple Cider Brined Turkey Breast

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This apple cider brined turkey breast is moist, flavorful, and the perfect main dish for a small holiday gathering or family dinner.

Ingredients

  • 6 to 7 lb turkey breast, fresh or completely defrosted
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth, approximately
  • 1/2 cup apple cider

For the brine:

  • 5 quarts water, divided
  • 3/4 cup kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 10 whole allspice berries
  • 16 whole black peppercorns
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 cups apple cider
  • 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary

Instructions

Brining the turkey breast:

  • Place 1 quart of the water in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the salt and sugar and stir until dissolved.
  • Remove from the heat and add the cloves, allspice, peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, and rosemary. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature, 30 to 45 minutes. Note: If you can, prepare this a day ahead and refrigerate.
  • Combine the cooled sugar and salt mixture with the remaining 4 quarts of water and apple cider in a very large stockpot or food-safe plastic container.
  • Submerge the turkey breast in the brine, cover, and refrigerate for 4 to 5 hours (see notes below).

Roasting the turkey breast:

  • Drain the brine off the turkey breast, rinse it briefly under cold running water, and pat dry thoroughly with paper towels.
  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 450°F (425°F for convection).
  • Combine the salt, pepper, rosemary, and thyme in a small bowl, then mix in the softened butter until thoroughly blended.
  • Thoroughly coat a roasting pan and rack with nonstick spray and place the turkey breast on the rack.
  • Using your hands, rub the softened butter all over the skin, coating it as completely as possible.
  • Pour the chicken broth and apple cider into the bottom of the roasting pan. This will prevent the drippings from burning and provide the basis for gravy if you choose to make it.
  • Place the turkey breast in the oven and roast for 15 minutes. Turn the pan 180° and roast 15 minutes longer. Note: If you feel the skin is browning too quickly during roasting, tent loosely with heavy-duty aluminum foil.
  • Reduce the heat to 325°, rotate the pan again, and continue roasting, basting every 15 to 20 minutes, until the internal temperature at the thickest part of the breast registers 160°F. Tip: Begin checking the temperature after 30 minutes.
  • Remove the breast from the oven and allow it to rest for 20 to 25 minutes before carving.

To make pan gravy:

  • While the turkey is resting, skim and discard the excess fat from the pan juices, and strain the remaining juices into a 4-cup measure.
  • Add 2-1/2 cups of the strained juices to a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. If you don't have enough liquid, add some water or low-sodium chicken broth.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup cornstarch with 1/3 cup water. Add to the simmering broth and continue whisking until thickened.
  • Season to taste and transfer to a bowl or gravy boat for serving.

Tips for Making This Recipe

For the brining:

Place your turkey breast upside down in the brine and if necessary, weigh it down with a plate to keep it submerged. 

Coating the turkey with butter:

It’s best to let the turkey sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes prior to coating with butter. If the meat is ice cold, it will make the butter harder to spread.

Roasting the turkey:

If you’re using a convection oven, make sure to lower the initial temperature to 425°F. You can follow the instructions as written on the temperature reduction to 325°F.
Calories: 348kcal, Carbohydrates: 8g, Protein: 53g, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 3g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 153mg, Sodium: 616mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 4g
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