Beer Brined Turkey

Beer-Brined-Roasted-TurkeyThere are two ways to look at this post. Either it’s a week late, or 11 1/2 months early. I prefer the latter. Unless you are a turkey on Christmas type of person, in that case, I’m right on time.

I use Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar for several reasons. This is a beer with the perfect flavor profile to brine a turkey, and it is also a beer that is becoming available at more and more locations while still maintaining its Craft Beer status. Making it the perfect beer to recommend for this recipe. If you live in a land where Rogue isn’t available (how sad), look for another malty brown ale that isn’t too hoppy instead.

Why brine with beer?  This beer brine does two things: First, alcohol is a natural meat tenderizer. Second, the brown ale gives a beautiful but faint flavor of the hazelnut and malt that Rogue took so much time crafting. Turkey cooking is tricky, while the dark meat should be cooked to 175, the white meat is done at 165. Giving you only two basic options when cooking the whole bird: overcook the white meat, or undercook the dark meat. The beer brine infuses the meat, making it possible to get that dark meat up to the temperature it needs to be without drying the white meat out. This gives you the coveted juicy bird. But what about the skin? Brine can make it soggy. Follow the steps to dry the skin in a roasting rack in the fridge and you’ll have that crispy skin.

Crispy skin: check. Juicy bird: check. Follow these steps and you will impress both the men and the women at your next holiday table.

More tips throwing a Craft Beer Thanksgiving 

Beer Brined Turkey

Beer Brined Turkey


Beer Brined Turkey


  • 1, 12-16 lb turkey, thawed (try to find a fresh, never frozen turkey if possible)
  • 10 cups of water
  • 2 cups Kosher or Sea Salt (don't use iodized table salt)
  • 5 cloves of garlic, quartered
  • 1/4 cup whole allspice berries
  • 1 tbs whole cloves
  • 2 onions, quartered
  • 2 large (1 pint, 6 oz) bottles of brown ale such as Rogue Hazelnut Ale (about 5 1/2 cups)
  • 2 cup ice
  • 3 celery ribs, cut in half
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups of chicken broth, plus 4-6 cups water if needed
  • Additional equipment
  • 2 large turkey oven bags, or bucket large enough to fit the turkey, but small enough so that the entire turkey is submerged.


  • In a large pot, add the water, salt, garlic, allspice, cloves, and one of the onions. Bring to just barely boiling and remove from heat, stiring occasionally to dissolve the salt. Add the beer and ice, stir. (if your turkey is over 18 lbs, double the brine recipe)
  • Allow to cool to room temp, refrigerating if necessary.The brine must be cooled before you add your turkey or you will start to cook.
  • Rinse the thawed turkey and remove anything that has been place inside the cavity.
  • Place turkey in either the large bucket, or the oven bags. If you are using the oven bags, place one inside the other and the turkey inside those. Pour the brine over the turkey. If using the oven bags, make sure to remove as much air as possible and seal as tightly as you can, placing in a roasting pan in case the brine starts to leak. Place in the refrigerator.
  • Brine for 16-18 hours. If using the oven bags, rotate the turkey every 6-8 hours to insure an even brine.
  • Remove the turkey from the brine and rinse really well, inside and out with cold water.
  • Place turkey on a roasting rack inside a roasting pan. Place in the fridge, uncovered, for 12-18 hours to dry the skin. This is the step that will give you a nice crispy skin to go along with your juicy bird.
  • Preheat your oven to 400.
  • Truss your turkey if desired.
  • Brush your entire turkey with olive oil, sprinkle with salt.
  • Stuff the other quartered onion, and the celery inside the cavity of the bird.
  • Place the turkey on a roasting rack inside a roasting pan. Add the broth to the bottom of the roasting pan. If the pan starts to dry out during the cooking, add the additional water to the bottom of the roasting pan. Do not allow the broth/water in the roasting pan to touch the turkey.
  • Cook until your turkey reachs about 160 degrees (it will continue to cook once out of the oven to meet the 165 degree temperature). Allow to rest for 10 minutes before carving.


If making this for Thanksgiving, start brining the turkey Tuesday night.

How To Truss A Turkey, Alton Brown.

Weight Total Roasting Time
8-12 pounds 2 to 3.5 hours
12-16 pounds 3 to 4 hours
16-20 pounds 4 to 5 hours
20-25 pounds 5 to 6 hours
25-30 pounds 6+ hours

 Chart via

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37 Responses to Beer Brined Turkey

  1. Snippets of Thyme November 30, 2011 at 5:38 pm #

    Beautiful, gorgeous turkey! Thank you for that tip on how to get the skin crispy.

  2. Ana December 21, 2011 at 4:01 pm #

    When you say add water shouls i add at this time the beer and broth also? If the amount of water is not enough to cover the turkey waht shoul i add? Thank!!!!

    • The Beeroness December 21, 2011 at 10:51 pm #

      I updated the post to make it more clear, hope that helps!

      If you have a huge turkey, over 25 lbs, then you should just double the brine recipe and that will give you enough. If it is just slightly too little, just add a bit more water or just rotate the turkey a little more frequently to make sure it all gets it’s share of the brine!

      Hope that helps :)

  3. Mia April 18, 2012 at 10:48 pm #

    Aw, this became an extremely good post. I love beer, but I had no idea I could cook so many things with it. I WILLbe trying this for next thanksgiving.

  4. Dave November 9, 2012 at 9:22 am #

    Does the brining part of this work well frying a turkey? I bought a turkey fryer a year ago for home brewing and when I finally made a fried turkey I was hooked! Best turkey I have ever had.

    Thanks for any advice! And love your site!


    • Jackie November 9, 2012 at 11:07 am #

      Brining works really well with a fried turkey, the main function of a brine is to infuse the meat with flavor and help it to remain really juicy. Let me know how it goes for you!

  5. Dave November 9, 2012 at 3:19 pm #

    Thanks! I will after I awake from my turkey induced food coma! May even try it before Thanksgiving to make sure it works. ;-)

  6. Kellie November 19, 2012 at 12:17 pm #

    Jackie- what kind of gravy would you suggest with this?

    • Jackie November 19, 2012 at 12:53 pm #

      I just make a simple pan gravy with the drippings, flour, broth and some butter. Maybe some sage.

  7. Ben November 12, 2013 at 4:09 pm #

    How would you adjust this for just a turkey breast?

    • Jackie November 12, 2013 at 6:08 pm #

      Much smaller brine, obviously. You can cut the brine time down to 6 hours and the drying time down to 8 hours (if there’s no skin, skip it). And the cooking time would be closer to 45 minutes.

  8. Sam November 21, 2013 at 8:07 pm #

    I made this last year and it was hands down the BEST turkey I’ve ever had. It is now the only recipe I’ll ever use.

    • Jackie November 27, 2013 at 8:20 pm #

      That’s great! Thank you :)

  9. Sean November 26, 2013 at 2:48 pm #


    Is that copious amount of salt crucial to the brine?

    Thank you.


  10. Sean November 26, 2013 at 2:49 pm #

    More about the salt…

    We are all on low-salt diets, and it is a kosher turkey. As a kosher turkey, it has been soaked and salted already. We had seen somewhere else that kosher turkeys do not require salt in the brine.

    Thank you.


    • Jackie November 26, 2013 at 6:26 pm #

      Kosher turkeys are packed in salt to draw out excess blood, but they haven’t been brined, it’s a different process. You can cut the salt back, but salt is essential to the brining process. Possibly try and find a low salt brine recipe that might fit your needs better

      • Sean November 27, 2013 at 5:30 pm #

        Thank you. By the way, the marinated flank steak with the avocado cream sauce was stupendous.

        Take care.


        • Jackie November 27, 2013 at 6:34 pm #

          Great! That’s good to hear :)

  11. Luke MacCado November 28, 2013 at 1:27 pm #

    I just made this for Thanksgiving and everyone agree that it was the best turkey we have ever had. Thank you so much for the great recipe!

  12. Sean November 28, 2013 at 6:57 pm #

    That was yummy.

    Note to all: read the full instructions first.

    We were able to use only 1.5 cups of salt. We brined it in my favourite beer, Muskoka brewery dark ale. It is one of the semi-local breweries for us Torontonians.

    We did not leave the turkey on a rack to dry. That was the key part about reading the instructions in advance.

    I normally prefer the white meat on fowl. This time, the dark meat was remarkably succulent, with a bit of a smoky taste to it.

    We will certainly try this recipe again. It was delightful. Thank you.


  13. Cindy November 13, 2014 at 4:18 am #

    I am so excited to try this recipe!! We make turkey 2 ways every year: roasted and smoked (and sometimes a third way: fried). The smoked version is made the day before Thanksgiving…my husband mans the smoker (after I have done ALL of the work in prepping the turkey and stocking the wood…then he takes the credit…LOL), invites his friends to join him outside as he keeps an eye on the temps whilst they drink copious amounts of various varieties of beer.

    I think this brine would be EXCELLENT with my smoked turkey, and I look forward to trying it this year!! I have only recently discovered your site and I LOVE it!! :-)

    • Jackie November 13, 2014 at 12:54 pm #

      Sounds like a great party!

  14. Dan November 13, 2014 at 10:41 am #

    I was looking for a new way to do turkey this year – do you think I could adapt the recipe for a 20 lb. turkey? I;m going to hunt down the hazelnut ale…

    • Jackie November 13, 2014 at 12:59 pm #

      I’d double the brine and use a clean 5 gallon bucket, if it can fit in your fridge! If not, try the oven bags, maybe use three. And have someone help you with getting the brine in the oven bags.

    • Patrick November 25, 2014 at 1:13 pm #

      I am doing a 24lb turkey and using a large cooler to put the turkey in with the brine, and using a brine bag inside the cooler. Put ice bags along with it to keep it cold and the cooler should do the rest.
      This sounds awesome and I can’t wait to make this.

  15. Jennifer November 17, 2014 at 6:07 pm #

    I was at Rogue Newport this summer. Rogue has a “garage” sale on major, or minor holidays. They sell tons of stuff for cheap. I procured a case of Hazel Nut Ale. My plan was to make snickers with it, combination of hazel nut beer and chocolate stout, yes it is as good as you think. Now I am also going to bring my turkey in it. Oh the heaven that it a good beer brine.
    Also Rogue has a Beer and Bed in Newport I suggest every one check it out if you like beer and sleeping above you pub? Who could say no.
    Thanks for the post

  16. Jennifer November 17, 2014 at 6:08 pm #

    I forgot to add that the case of bombers was 20$.

  17. Rob November 23, 2014 at 9:54 pm #

    I’m giving this a go this Thanksgiving. One question: Does said roasting pan have a cover? I usually use a roasting bag, but I’m not sure if this should be without cover? Seems like that would dry out quick, but then I’m not sure where that would leave the crispy skin if I did use a bag or lid.

    • Jackie November 24, 2014 at 9:38 am #

      No cover. That’s how the skin gets crispy and brown. If it starts to brown too much towards the end of cooking, tent it with aluminum foil, but I almost never have to do that (only really needed if you have a very large turkey that needs lots of time in the oven.)

  18. Chuck November 25, 2014 at 1:49 pm #

    I am wondering if you can give a conversion for the salt in weight.. I have different salt and it’d be a big help.

    • Jackie November 25, 2014 at 2:42 pm #

      about 550 grams or 1 lbs, 3 ounces. But I do recommend kosher or sea salt

  19. Jessica from the North Pole November 30, 2014 at 2:54 pm #

    My hubby and I brined our Thanksgiving turkey with this recipe and then deep fried it. It was amazing! Super juicy and flavorful!

    I’ve made three things off of your website so far and they have been amazing! Thank you for combining one of my favorite things too, beer and food! :)

  20. LM December 2, 2014 at 10:24 am #

    My daughter used your recipe to brine her range turkey this year for our Thanksgiving feast….it was really the best turkey I’ve ever had!

    Now..wondering if you have ever tried this on chicken? I have 2 freshly processed chickens that I want to brine so was hoping to apply the recipe to them.

    Your thoughts?


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