Beer Brined Turkey

Beer Brined Turkey

Make sure that your Thanksgiving turkey has not already been injected with a sodium solution, or your bird will be unbearably salty. It should say right on the package under the “Ingredients” list. Beer and brown sugar combine to create beautiful mahogany-colored skin, and aromatics like onion, apple, and herbs will perfume the meat.

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  • 1 12- to 14-pound turkey
  • 3 12-ounce cans or bottles dark beer or apple cider
  • 4 quarts cold water
  • 1-1/2 cup kosher salt or 3/4 cup table salt
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 onion, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 4 sprigs each fresh rosemary, thyme, parsley, and sage
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 apple, cut into wedges
  • Vegetable oil


Thaw the turkey, if frozen, 3 days before you plan to eat the bird. Remove the giblets, if any. Make the brine: In a large 5-gallon bucket or clean cooler, combine the beer, water, salt, and brown sugar and stir with a long-handled wooden spoon until the salt and sugar crystals are dissolved. Add the garlic and peppercorns. Add the turkey. Keep it submerged with a heavy pot lid or resealable bags of ice. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours. Remove the bird from the brine. Dry the turkey thoroughly, inside and out, with paper towels. Discard the brine. Put the onion, herbs, bay leaves, celery, and apple in the main cavity and tie the legs together with butcher’s twine. Fold the wings behind the bird’s back. Oil the outside of the bird. Put the turkey on a rack in a sturdy roasting pan. If you don’t care to save the drippings, you can put the turkey directly on the grill grate. When ready to cook, start the Traeger grill on Smoke with the lid open until the fire is established (4 to 5 minutes). Set the temperature to 350 degrees F and preheat, lid closed, for 10 to 15 minutes. Put the roasting pan with the turkey on the grill grate and roast for 2-1/2 to 3 hours, or until a temperature probe inserted in the thickest part of the thigh reads 165 degrees F. Let the turkey rest for 20 minutes before carving.