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Bourbon & Orange Brined Turkey


While you're deep-frying your turkey, use orange and bourbon to give it even more great flavor and taste.

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Rate this recipe 3.7/5 (77 Votes)


  • 2 gallons cold water
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups bourbon
  • 1 cup kosher salt, such as Morton’s brand
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large navel orange, sliced into 6 wedges
  • 2 bay leaves, crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 3-inch cinnamon stick, coarsely broken
  • One 12 to 14 pound turkey, defrosted if frozen, giblets removed. Deep frying recommended maximum bird is 15 pounds. Smaller is ideal.
  • NOTE: Only use the following if oven roasting, smoking or grilling your bird:
  • 1 large navel orange, sliced into 6 wedges
  • Several sprigs of fresh herbs, such as sage, thyme, rosemary, etc.
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier or other orange-flavored liqueur (optional)
  • Freshly ground black pepper


Servings 8
Preparation time 10mins
Cooking time 25mins


Step 1


In a large stockpot or other container large enough to hold the turkey and brine, combine the water, bourbon, salt, brown sugar, orange wedges (squeeze each wedge to release the juice), bay leaves, peppercorns, and cinnamon stick. Stir to dissolve the salt and sugar. Add the turkey to the brine, breast-side down, weighting it with resealable plastic bags filled with ice or cold water. Refrigerate the turkey and brine for 24 hours.

When ready to cook, drain the turkey and discard the brine. Blot the turkey dry with paper towels and knock off any solid bits of spices. Remove any large gobbets of fat at the front of the main cavity. Put the orange wedges and herbs in the main cavity. Tie the legs together with butcher’s string and fold the wings behind the back. Combine the butter and Grand Marnier, if using, and coat the outside of the turkey.

Start your grill, oven or roaster - set to 350°F. Roast the turkey until it is deeply browned, the skin is crisp, and the internal temperature of the thickest part of a thigh is 165°F when read on an instant-read meat thermometer.

If deep frying - heat oil to 375°F. When lowering the turkey into the oil it is recommended to turn off the burner. Once turkey is fully submersed light the burner and cook maintaining 350°F oil temperature. Cook 3 to 4 minutes per pound. Internal temperature should be 165 to 170°F in the breast, 175 to 180°F in the thigh. Remove and let grease drain. Set on paper towel to rest for 15 minutes.

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