Gin Brined Turkey

November 22, 2014
4 Ratings
Photo by Mark Weinberg
  • Serves 6-8
Author Notes

A whole bottle of gin goes into this floral, citrus, and juniper brine laced with honey. I promise will rock your Turkey Day world. —Lydia Martinez w/ Suitcase Foodist

Test Kitchen Notes

This was a beautiful and very tasty bird. I was really surprised to find that it didn't have too much of that gin flavor like you would think. I couldn't taste any gin in the breast, but could taste hints of it in the thighs. I will say it was a bit salty, I would recommend using only 1 cup of Kosher salt next time. The skin was lightly brown and very crispy. I rubbed mine with olive oil and salt and pepper before roasting. The brine was very simple to make, I just tossed everything into a large bowl then placed the turkey inside, covered, and place in my fridge for about 36 hours before roasting. I did turn the bird in the brine a few times just to be sure it was fully covered in the liquid. I preheated my oven to 450°F then reduced the temp to 350°F and roasted the turkey for 80 minutes before checking on it. It was still undercooked so I cooked it for another 35 min and when I pulled it out the breast we're at 150°F and the thighs 165°F. It was perfect, I then let it sit for 20 minutes before carving. I also used Beefeater Gin. —maryGpastorek

What You'll Need
  • 1 12 to 14 pound turkey
  • 1 liter high-quality gin
  • 1 liter water
  • 2 cups kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh sage, rosemary, and thyme, crushed
  • 1 lemon and 1 lime, sliced thin
  • 1 apple, quartered
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon juniper berries
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppercorns
  1. In a very large working bowl, combine gin, water, and salt. Stir with a wooden paddle to dissolve the salt. Add the honey and stir to dissolve as well.
  2. Add all the aromatics to the brine: the thyme, rosemary, sage, juniper berries, peppercorns, lemon, lime, apple, and garlic. Make sure the fruit and the garlic are slightly crushed so they will release their flavors.
  3. Put the turkey in a brine bag and then put it in a food safe large bucket, ice chest, or big bowl. Pour the brine over the bird, seal the brine bag and put it in the fridge. If you have the bird in an ice chest, pack it with ice.
  4. Let the bird hang out in the brine for at least 24 to 48 hours. Four hours before you are going to roast the bird, remove it from the brine. Rinse, pat dry with paper towels and place in the roasting pan.
  5. For crispy skin, it is important to return the turkey to the fridge for a couple of hours uncovered so the skin has time to dry out. Bring the turkey out of the fridge at least an hour before you roast it—your turkey will turn out better for it.
  6. I always add compound butter under the skin of my turkeys. You can also rub the skin with oil and salt and pepper. Be sure you have turkey broth in the base of your roasting pan for basting. I added a few shots of gin as well to flavor the broth and the future gravy.
  7. It never hurts to stuff some aromatics inside the bird—I put an apple, a lemon and an onion inside my bird—all halved or quartered.
  8. Use your preferred roasting method, or use what we did: Preheat your oven to 450°F, then reduce the temperature to 350°F and roast the turkey for 80 minutes, basting intermittently. Check on the turkey and roast for another 35 to 40 minutes—or until breast is 150°F and the thighs are 165°F. Let rest 20 minutes before carving. Use the gin flavored drippings to make a ginny gravy. Happy Ginsgiving!

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