Cider-Brined Spatchcock Turkey


Brining is a classic way to prep roast turkey for the oven. It infuses the meat with so much flavor from apple cider, celery, onion, oranges and fresh herbs. Spatchcocking is the technique of removing the backbone of a turkey or chicken and pressing the bird flat. It's a convenient way to speed up the roasting time and it results in evenly browned, moist turkey.

Prep Time:
30 mins
Additional Time:
1 day 2 hrs 30 mins
Total Time:
1 day 3 hrs
12 servings


  • 5 cups apple cider, divided

  • 1 cup kosher salt

  • ½ cup sugar

  • 4 cups ice cubes

  • 4 stalks celery, chopped

  • 4 oranges, 2 cut into 2-inch pieces and 2 sliced, divided

  • 1 large onion, cut into chunks

  • cup whole juniper berries, smashed

  • 6 sprigs fresh sage

  • 4 bay leaves, preferably fresh

  • 1 (12 to 14 pound) turkey, preferably organic

  • 2 gallons cold water

  • 2 cups dry white wine


  1. To brine turkey: Heat 3 cups cider, salt and sugar in a large pot over medium-high heat, stirring, until the salt and sugar dissolve completely. Remove from heat and stir in the remaining 2 cups cider, ice cubes, celery, orange pieces, onion, juniper berries, sage and bay leaves.

  2. Remove giblets from turkey (reserve for giblet broth, if desired). Place the turkey in a container large enough to hold it and the brine, such as a clean 5-gallon bucket, similar-size clean cooler or brining bag. Add the cider mixture, water and wine. Place a plate on top of the turkey, if necessary, so it stays below the surface, or add enough additional liquid to make sure the turkey is mostly submerged. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 day and up to 2 days.

  3. To roast: Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

  4. Remove the turkey from the brine and pat dry. Trim any excess fat from the turkey. Using heavy-duty kitchen shears or poultry shears, cut the turkey down one side of the backbone, through the ribs. Make an identical cut on the opposite side to remove the backbone completely; discard or reserve for making broth. Place the turkey cut-side down and flatten with the heel of your hand (you'll have to press hard!). Splay the thighs outward and tuck the wings under.

  5. Layer the sliced oranges in a large roasting pan. Set the turkey on the oranges. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted the thickest part of the breast and innermost thigh registers 165 degrees F, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Transfer to a large, clean cutting board and let rest for 20 minutes before carving.

    Cider-Brined Spatchcock Turkey


To make ahead: Brine turkey (Steps 1-2) up to 2 days ahead.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

158 Calories
4g Fat
4g Carbs
26g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 12
Serving Size 3 ounces
Calories 158
% Daily Value *
Total Carbohydrate 4g 1%
Dietary Fiber 0g 1%
Total Sugars 3g
Added Sugars 1g 2%
Protein 26g 51%
Total Fat 4g 5%
Saturated Fat 1g 6%
Cholesterol 92mg 31%
Vitamin A 59IU 1%
Vitamin C 10mg 11%
Folate 15mcg 4%
Sodium 440mg 19%
Calcium 21mg 2%
Iron 1mg 6%
Magnesium 29mg 7%
Potassium 244mg 5%

Nutrition information is calculated by a registered dietitian using an ingredient database but should be considered an estimate.

* Daily Values (DVs) are the recommended amounts of nutrients to consume each day. Percent Daily Value (%DV) found on nutrition labels tells you how much a serving of a particular food or recipe contributes to each of those total recommended amounts. Per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the daily value is based on a standard 2,000 calorie diet. Depending on your calorie needs or if you have a health condition, you may need more or less of particular nutrients. (For example, it’s recommended that people following a heart-healthy diet eat less sodium on a daily basis compared to those following a standard diet.)

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a special diet for medical reasons, be sure to consult with your primary care provider or a registered dietitian to better understand your personal nutrition needs.

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