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maple cider bourbon brined turkey with bourbon gravy

The general rule is that you should plan for 1-1.5 lbs of turkey per person. If you are thawing your turkey, make sure it is not already salted and seasoned. Also allow for 1 day per 5 pounds for thawing.


  • 15 lb turkey fresh or thawed, innards removed

for the brine:

  • 32 oz apple cider
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp peppercorns
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • zest from 1 orange
  • 3/4 cup bourbon
  • 1 gallon water

for the turkey:

  • 1 apple quartered
  • 1 onion quartered
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter at room temperature
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp fresh rosemary chopped

for the gravy:

  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 16 oz chicken broth
  • 2 tsp fresh rosemary chopped
  • 2 tbsp bourbon
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • In large pot, combine apple cider, maple syrup, kosher salt, peppercorns, rosemary, cinnamon stick, and orange zest.
  • Bring to a boil then let simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Let cool completely.
  • In large pot or brining bag (I used an oven bag) combine cooled cider mixture with bourbon and water.
  • Add turkey and let brine for 8 to 24 hours, turning every few hours.
  • Once brined, remove turkey from brine and place bird on roasting rack.
  • Pat very well to dry.
  • Place apple, onion, sprig of rosemary, garlic cloves, and stick of cinnamon into cavity of turkey.
  • Combine butter, brown sugar, salt, and rosemary and mix well.
  • Rub all over turkey, making sure to peel skin back from breast and spread some of the butter under the skin.
  • Tuck the wings under the body, and tie the legs together with twine.
  • Pour 1/2 cup of water (or additional chicken broth, if desired) to bottom of roasting pan.
  • Bake in 500 degree oven for 30 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 350 and bake 2 hours more, or until internal temperature (measured at the thighs) reaches 165 degrees F. Keep an eye on the turkey for the last hour and if the skin is getting too brown, you can cover it with foil for the remainder of the cooking time.
  • Cooking time will vary depending on the size of your bird. Use a meat thermometer to ensure it is completely done.
  • Remove turkey from roasting pan and cover with foil, allowing to rest for 15-20 minutes while making the gravy.

To make the gravy:

  • In a medium saucepan, add strained drippings from roasting pan and bring to a simmer.
  • Shake flour and chicken broth in a sealed container (like a mason jar) for at least 45 seconds.
  • Add to simmering drippings, along with rosemary and bourbon.
  • Stir constantly until thickened, about 15 minutes.
  • Add salt and pepper, taste.
  • Serve with carved turkey.
  • Enjoy!