Bourbon Brined Turkey

Beer brined, cider brined, and I’ve used wine in a brine. This year I decided to just throw caution to the wind and bust out the big guns.


For Thanksgiving this year, I decided to go with a Southern inspired meal.  Mashed potatoes and stuffing were standard but I made collards for a side dish and wanted to make my turkey have a bit of a Southern flair to it.

I went back and forth on what to use in the brine.  Finally it occurred to me that bourbon would probably be really tasty when used in a brine.  It’s sweet, smooth, and it’s made in the south.

I put the brine together the day before Thanksgiving and it smelled amazing!  And a little boozy. Happy Holidays!

Andrea’s Bourbon Brined Turkey

1, 12-14lb Turkey

Brine Foundation:

  • 2/3C Bourbon, I used Knob Creek
  • 3 1/2C Chicken Stock
  • 4C Hot or Boiling Water
  • 1C Kosher Salt
  • 1/2C Brown Sugar, Packed

Additional Seasonings and Ingredients:

  • 2 Fresno Peppers, sliced in half
  • 2 Cherry Peppers, tops sliced off
  • 1 Large Onion, chunked
  • 3 Carrots, chunked
  • 3 Ribs Celery, chunked
  • 1 Large Sweet Apple, cut in half
  • 1/2TBSP Poultry Seasoning
  • 2TBSP Garlic Powder
  • 2TBSP Chili Powder
  • 1TBSP Smoked Paprika
  • Additional Water
Roasting Ingredients:
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Onion
  • Olive Oil
  • Garlic Powder
  • Chili Powder
  • Smoked Paprika
  • 1/2C Bourbon
  • 3C, Chicken Stock
In a large bucket, add in the all of the ingredients for the brining foundation.  Stir and allow to rest so the salt and sugar dissolve.  Make sure the turkey is cleaned, neck and giblets removed.  Rinse and pat dry.
Once the salt and sugar are dissolved and the liquids are cooled, add in about 4 more cups of water along with the additional ingredients.  Stir.  Add the turkey into the brine, breast first and legs towards the top of the bucket.  Remember, the turkey should be vertical in the bucket.
Fill bucket with cold water until the turkey is completely covered and submerged.
Store in a cold place, like your fridge.  Brine turkey for 24 hours.
Preheat oven to 350.  Remove turkey from brine, rinse and pat dry. In a roasting pan, add in the liquids and stir.  Add in the veggies and then place the turkey in the pan.  Allow to sit for at least 1/2 an hour before roasting.  Rub turkey with light olive oil and sprinkle with a little bit of garlic powder, smoked paprika, and chili powder.
Fill the cavity of the turkey with onion, carrots, and an apple.  In the roasting pan, roast turkey at 350, basting every half hour, until the internal temp of the turkey reaches 163F.
Remove turkey from oven, tent with foil and allow to rest for half an hour.  Carve and serve!

The chili powder will make the skin on the turkey roast to a very dark color.  It’s not burnt, just a deep brown!

This was hands-down the best turkey Scott and I have ever had.  We barely talked to each other during dinner because we were too busy making comments about the tenderness and flavor of the turkey.

It was sweet and succulent.  The juiciest turkey I have made to date.  Even leftovers the next day were amazing.  We declared this a winner and will be the brining choice for the next several Thanksgivings.

The bourbon flavor isn’t super strong.  It’s just enough to give the turkey a smooth buttery flavor and keep it moist through cooking.  Next time when I make this, I’ll add in more peppers to the brine and as I roast it.  I want a little bit of kick at the end just to give it a twist.  I might bump the bourbon up to a full cup as well.

Have fun guys, and remember, always play with your food! Enjoy!

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