Beer Brined Turkey

There are two ways to look at this post. Either it’s a week late, or 11 1/2 months early. I prefer the latter. Unless you are a turkey on Christmas type of person, in that case, I’m right on time.

I use Rouge Hazelnut Ale for several reasons. This is a recipe that needs a dark beer, with a malty finish and low hops. This is a beer with the perfect flavor profile to brine a turkey, and it is also a beer that is becoming available at more and more locations while still maintaining its Craft Beer status. Making it the perfect beer to recommend for this recipe. If you live in a land where Rogue isn’t available, look for another malty, low hop, dark beer instead.

Why brine with beer? Is it because I named myself The Beeroness and beer related cooking is a must as it is now expected of me? No. Cooking preceded the naming. The reason I cook with beer, good beer, is because the flavors are exceptional and translate really well in cooking process. This beer brine does two things: First, alcohol is a natural meat tenderizer, making the turkey juicy and dare I say succulent without you forming naughty thoughts in your head? Second, the skin had a beautiful crisp with faint flavors of the hazelnut and malt that Rogue took so much time crafting.

Follow these steps and you will impress both the men and the women at your next holiday table.

Beer Brined Turkey

1 12-16 lb turkey, thawed (try to find a fresh, never frozen turkey if possible)

3 quarts of water

2.5 cups Kosher or Sea Salt (yes, it makes a difference, don’t use iodized table salt)

5 cloves of garlic, quartered

1/4 cup whole allspice berries

1 tbs whole cloves

2 onions, quartered

2 large (1 pint, 6 oz) bottles of Rogue Hazelnut Ale (about 5 1/2 cups) Or other dark, malty, low hop beer

3 celery stocks, cut in half

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tsp salt

2 cups of chicken broth

4-6 cups water

 You will also need 2 large turkey oven bags, or bucket large enough to fit the turkey, but small enough so that the entire turkey is submerged.

If you are able to do so, try and find a local butcher and order a fresh, free range or heirloom turkey, there is a taste difference from those frozen guys at the grocery store.

In a large pot, put the water, salt, garlic, allspice, cloves, and one of the onions. Bring to just barely boiling and remove from heat, stiring occasionally to dissolve the salt. Add the beer and stir.

Allow to cool to room temp, refrigerating if necessary. You really want to make sure that your brine is cooled before you add your turkey or you will start to cook it, and you really don’t want to do that.

Rinse your thawed turkey and remove the little bags of goodies that they leave inside.

Place your turkey in either the large bucket, or the oven bags. If you are using the oven bags, place one inside the other and the turkey inside those. Pour the brine over the turkey. If using the oven bags, make sure to remove as much air as possible and seal as tightly as you can, placing in a roasting pan in case the brine starts to leak. Place in the refrigerator.

Brine for 16-18 hours. If using the bags, rotate the turkey every 6-8 hours to insure an even marination.

Remove from the brine and rinse, inside and out.

Place turkey a roasting rack inside a roasting pan. Place in the fridge, uncovered, for 12-18 hours to dry the skin. This is the step that will give you a nice crispy skin to go along with your juicy bird.

Preheat your oven to 400.

Truss your turkey if desired, Here is a great video about the subject from the sexy Alton Brown (men who know how to cook are by default, sexy).

Brush your entire turkey with olive oil, sprinkle with salt.

Stuff the other quartered onion, and the celery stalks inside the cavity of the bird.

Place the turkey on a roasting rack inside a roasting pan. Add the broth to the bottom of the roasting pan. If the pan starts to dry out during the cooking, add the additional water to the bottom of the roasting pan. Do not allow the broth/water in the roasting pan to touch the turkey.

Cook until your turkey reachs about 160 degrees (it will continue to cook once out of the oven to meet the 165 degree temperature). Allow to rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Weight Total Roasting Time
8-12 pounds 2 to 3.5 hours
12-16 pounds 3 to 4 hours
16-20 pounds 4 to 5 hours
20-25 pounds 5 to 6 hours
25-30 pounds 6+ hours

 Chart borrowed from

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4 responses to “Beer Brined Turkey

  1. When you say add water shouls i add at this time the beer and broth also? If the amount of water is not enough to cover the turkey waht shoul i add? Thank!!!!

    • I updated the post to make it more clear, hope that helps!

      If you have a huge turkey, over 25 lbs, then you should just double the brine recipe and that will give you enough. If it is just slightly too little, just add a bit more water or just rotate the turkey a little more frequently to make sure it all gets it’s share of the brine!

      Hope that helps 🙂

  2. Aw, this became an extremely good post. I love beer, but I had no idea I could cook so many things with it. I WILLbe trying this for next thanksgiving.

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