Orange Bourbon Turkey Brine

Orange Bourbon Turkey Brine

0 reviews
READY IN 24 - 48 hours
PREP TIME 15 min
COOK TIME 15 min
SERVINGS 18 servings

Okay, this is chemistry again and I've conceded in other recipes that I was a mediocre chemistry student in college.  So, I've elected to have someone else explain the chemistry .  .  .

Per Alan Henry: "The science of brining is pretty straight forward, and explained in more detail in the video. When you dissolve salt into water, it dissociates into sodium ions and chloride ions, positively and negatively charged, respectively. Those ions then diffuse into the food, and the chloride ions specifically attach to the protein filaments in the meat, giving them a slight negative charge. Those filaments repel, leaving room for the sodium-rich water to come in and hang around."

Now, you're in the know about "brining."  I started brining my Thanksgiving turkeys in 2011 and I should have applied this technique a long time ago.  If you don't brine, start now!  Your turkey will be tender, moist and flavorful.

Note: most frozen turkeys have a brine solution added before freezing.  So, I prefer a fresh turkey.

This recipe is easy to make and combines several ingredients that you will have around the kitchen for the extended holiday season.   The turkey should be brined for at least 24 hours.  If your refrigerator is too full to hold the brining bag with the turkey; I would suggest an Igloo style cooler with ice as a substitute. 


  • 1 Fresh or Frozen Turkey - always use fresh if available; allow about 1 -1.5 lbs per person
  • 1 Brining Bag and a picnic cooler big enough to hold the turkey and brining bag
  • 2 cups Orange Juice
  • 1 cup Bourbon
  • 2 Oranges - zest in wide strips, then quarter, squeeze and add everything into the brine
  • 2 Limes quartered, squeezed and add everything to the brine
  • 1 cup Salt
  • 2 cups Brown Sugar
  • 5 Bay Leaves
  • 5 Garlic Cloves minced
  • 1 tablespoon Black Pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Thyme (dried)


  • 1Thaw the turkey (if not fresh) and remove the neck & giblets, etc.
  • 2Rinse the bird under cold water; removing any pin feathers and excessive fat; then pat dry with paper towels
  • 3Brine Solution - 2 quart Sauce Pan - combine: orange juice, bourbon, orange & zest, limes, salt, brown sugar, bay leaves, garlic, black pepper and thyme. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 5 minutes. Cool the solution to room temperature or add ice cubes
  • 4Pour the cool brine solution into the brining bag that already contains the turkey.
  • 5Add 1.5 gallons of water to the brine solution already in the bag. You can add more water if the bird isn't at least 3/4's covered
  • 6Let marinate for 24 to 48 hours in either the refrigerator or an Igloo style cooler with ice added around the bag.
  • 7Discard the brine solution and wash the bird in cold water to remove any excess salt. Some cooks cover the bird in cold water for 15 minutes. I don't feel that's necessary.
  • 8Pat the bird dry, place on a racked roasting pan, slather the skin with a compound butter of your choice and cook according to your normal roasting process
  • 9Reserve the drippings for your gravy.
  • 10Use a thermometer 165 F in the thickest part of the bird; let set covered in aluminum foil for 15 minutes before slicing