Apple-Brined and Mesquite-Smoked Turkey on the Grill

One of my sisters checked my website for brining turkey recipes and found none.  So, TJ this is for you… I decided to post this recipe  from Weber’s Art of the Grill (1999) which I made some time ago when I had my big gas grill which was a smoker as well.  I made it at least twice; once using a 13 lb. whole turkey and again using a 7 lb. bone-in turkey breast; my comment was “excellent”.  Of course you can adapt this recipe to your oven.

By the way I have four of the Weber Grill cookbooks and they have excellent recipes.  I also get emails with new recipes, I think about one every week.  We’ve had nothing but Weber Grills  from the big and fancy to what I have now – 2 different sized electric grills.

I gave up brining when health issues developed in my family.  Salt does make meat more flavorful and tender but too much is not good for you!

See also Maple Brined Pork Tenderloin which I recently made.

  • 2 quarts apple juice
  • 1 lb. brown sugar
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 3 oranges, quartered
  • 4 oz. fresh ginger, thinly sliced
  • 15 whole cloves
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 turkey 12-14 lbs.; I also used a 7 lb. bone-in turkey breast
  • hickory chips (I used mesquite chips and so I have changed the name to mesquite-smoked turkey)

In a large saucepan bring the apple juice, brown sugar and salt to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt.  Cook for a couple of minutes and remove from the heat.  Skim off any foam and allow the apple juice mixture to cool to room temperature.

In a 5 gallon plastic bucket (available at King Arthur Flour) combine 3 quarts of water, the oranges, ginger, cloves, bay leaves and garlic.  Add the apple juice mixture and stir.

Remove the neck and giblets 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 – a second refrigerator comes in handy.  If you use a turkey breast, keep it in the brine for about 12 hours.

Remove the turkey and pat dry.  Lightly brush the turkey with oil and place on a roasting rack set inside a heavy-gauge foil pan.  Cook indirectly over medium heat for 40 minutes, wrap the wings with foil to prevent burning.  After an hour cover the breasts with foil.  The turkey is done when the internal temperature of the thickest part of the thighs is about 180 degrees and the breast temperature is about 165 degrees.  Allow about 12 to 14 minutes per pound.

The 13 lb. turkey took 3 hours total to cook on my gas grill; the 7 lb. turkey bone-in turkey breast took just under 2 hours – watch carefully as not to burn it.   I put it in a heavy foil pan and covered it entirely with foil.  Let rest for 20 minutes before slicing and serving.

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