Maple Bourbon Brined Roast Turkey

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: brine, turkey
Dietary Restrictions: Gluten-Free, Low-Carb, Paleo
Prep Time: 1 day
Cook Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Resting Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 day 3 hours 50 minutes
Servings: 12
Calories: 579kcal
To get the moistest, most flavorful bird, you need to brine it!  This recipe makes it easy -- just clear a shelf in your fridge -- time will do the work for you!
Print Recipe


  • turkey brining bags or 12 quart pot or receptacle
  • large roasting pan
  • turkey baster


  • 12-14 pound turkey neck, giblets and liver removed

For The Brine

  • 4 quarts water divided
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon whole allspice berries
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 8 cups ice
  • 1/2 cup bourbon

Aromatics For The Turkey

  • 5 carrots rough chop
  • 2 large onions rough chop
  • 4 stalks celery - including leaves rough chop
  • 2 granny smith apples cut into halves
  • 6-7 sprigs thyme
  • 5-6 sage leaves
  • 6-7 sprigs parsley
  • 1-2 cups chicken broth for basting

For The Herb Compound Butter

  • 4 tablespoons butter softened
  • 5-6 large sage leaves chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper



  • Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in a large stock pot. Remove from heat and stir in the kosher salt, brown sugar, maple syrup, black peppercorns, cloves, allspice, cinnamon stick and bay leaves. Stir until the salt and sugar are completely dissolved and let it rest for 15-20 minutes. Place a sieve over a large bowl and strain the brine to remove the solids.
  • Add ice to the brine and stir until the ice melts. Add an additional 4-8 cups of cool water or until you have about 4 to 4 1/2 quarts of liquid. Stir in the bourbon.


  • Remove the offal items (neck, giblets, heart and liver) from the turkey and save for gravy. Use a large food storage container, stock pot or brining bag to hold the turkey and the brine. Add the turkey to the container and pour the brine over the bird. Seal up the container and brine for 12-18 hours in the refrigerator, turning the turkey over at least once during the brining process.


  • In a small bowl, combine the butter, sage, thyme, salt and pepper together with a fork until smooth and creamy.
  • Set the oven rack to the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°.


  • Remove turkey from brine and dry thoroughly with paper towels.
  • Place one half of the granny smith apple into the "neck" cavity of the turkey and cover with the excess flap of turkey neck skin. Loosely fill turkey cavity with about half of the carrots, celery, onion, and thyme, sage and parsley. Scatter the other half in the bottom of the roasting pan. Place the turkey in the pan, resting on the vegetables. You can also use a turkey rack in the pan if you have one, but resting it on the vegetables accomplishes the same thing.
  • Liberally coat the outside of the turkey with the compound butter.
  • Place turkey in the oven and roast for 1 hour. After one hour of cooking baste the turkey with chicken broth every hour or so until the broth has been used, then use the drippings for basting the turkey. Roast the turkey for about 2 to 2 1/2 more hours or until a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees. Remove the turkey from the oven and tent it with aluminum foil. Let the turkey rest for 20 minutes before carving.


To Defrost A Frozen Turkey: Place the packaged turkey onto a lipped sheet pan and place it in the refrigerator to thaw. This will take 2-3 days. Plan ahead!
For last minute thawing: (I don't recommend letting it get to this point)  place the frozen turkey in a large stock pot and run cool water over it, changing the water several times.  It will take several hours to thaw, but you've got a better than average shot of actually eating the turkey on Thanksgiving day.


Calories: 579kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 77g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 261mg | Sodium: 9945mg | Potassium: 963mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 2095IU | Vitamin C: 6.2mg | Calcium: 99mg | Iron: 4mg