Roasting a Turkey for Two - Roasted Turkey Breast with an Apple Cider Brine

Author Karen Gibson


  • 5 to 8 pound whole thawed turkey breast, bone-in

for the brine

  • 4 cups apple cider or 5-8 large apples, freshly pressed or juiced, to make 4 cups
  • heaping 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar or raw sugar
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice berries
  • 5 thin slices fresh ginger
  • 2 or 3 whole cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 or 5 thyme sprigs

for basting

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 fresh sage leaves chopped
  • freshly ground black pepper


prepare the turkey

  • Identify a brining vessel large enough to fit the turkey breast. I used a 5 quart dutch oven; an extra large ziplock bag might work, too.
  • Remove the netting and wrapping around the turkey. Remove any packaged extras from inside the turkey, such as the gravy bag. (Wash the outside of the gravy bag and refrigerate, if you plan on using it.)

for the brine

  • Place all of the ingredients in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
  • Place the turkey in the vessel, then pour all of the brine ingredients over it. Add enough cold water to completely cover the turkey breast.
  • Cover (or seal the bag), and refrigerate for at least 12 hours, up to 24.

for the roast

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  • Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse (optional, if you can) and pat dry. Place on the V-rack of a roaster, breast side up.
  • Melt the butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Add the thyme and sage leaves and stir.
  • Brush the entire visible surface of the turkey with the butter-herb mixture.
  • Place the turkey in the oven. Check the bird after an hour and a half - take an initial temperature read with a meat thermometer or instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast. You're looking for a temp of 165 degrees F. It likely won't be done at this point, but your focus should be the skin: the top should be a lovely burnished color. If it is, drape a rectangle of foil over the area (so it doesn't proceed to burn), leaving the rest of the bird uncovered.
  • Check every 20 minutes or so, taking the temp and examining the skin for that beautiful burnished color. (My 6 lb bird took 2 hours and 20 minutes.) When the internal temp reaches 165 degrees F, remove from the oven and let rest, tented with foil, for 20 minutes.
  • Slice and serve!


Use a mixture of your favorite sweet tart apples: gala, honeycrisp, fuji, northern spies, sweetango, pink lady - which produces a more complex yet balanced flavor.
To speed cooling of the brine, pour it into a medium bowl, then nestle the bowl in a larger bowl of ice water.