Thanksgiving Favorites: Ancho Chile Brined Turkey

A delicious, moist, brined turkey! Original recipe from Sunset, November 2010


  • 1 turkey

For the Brine:

  • 1 1/3 cups kosher salt
  • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 6 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 dried ancho chiles, woody stem removed (keep some seeds if you like)

For the Spice Rub:

  • 2 tablespoons ground ancho chiles
  • 2 tablespoons dried Mexican oregano
  • 1/4 cup olive oil


  1. In a large pot, heat 1 qt. water with salt and sugar, stirring to dissolve. Remove from heat, add 5 qts. cold water, garlic, cinnamon, and chiles, and let cool to room temperature.
  2. Remove packets of giblets, etc. from turkey cavities. Discard or save for your favorite gravy recipe. Rinse turkey, then lower into brine*. Chill, covered, 12 hours.
  3. Remove turkey from brine, rinse, and pat dry. Discard brine.
  4. Combine ground chiles and oregano in small bowl. Rub turkey all over with oil, then sprinkle the seasoning inside and out of the turkey.
  5. Grill or roast turkey in your preferred method until internal temperature reaches 155. Remove from grill or oven, let rest covered, until temperature reaches 160-165. (People in the know recommend cooking to 165 for food safety, but we always eat ours at 160).


Brine the turkey, breast down, in an oversize pot that the bird will fit in. Make sure you have room in the refrigerator for the pot. If not, you can use an ice chest. Just put the turkey in a turkey brining bag (I’ve used a trash bag before) and put the turkey in the ice chest, then pour the brine over turkey and seal the bag. Keep turkey covered with ice.

For complete instructions on how to set up your grill to cook the turkey, click here