The brine is all the seasoning you need for this fantastic bird. While the amount of bourbon used in the brine may seem generous, it will impart a very subtle flavor to the meat once all the water is added, diluting it slightly. If you want a more intense smoke flavor, add a handful of soaked applewood chips to the grill. For a deeply bronzed, almost mahogany look, brush the skin with a mixture of water and honey each time you go to rotate the bird.

Robin Bashinsky
This Story Originally Appeared On


Credit: Jennifer Causey

Recipe Summary

45 mins
1 day
Serves 16 (serving size: about 5 oz.)


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Bring 4 cups water, bourbon, salt, honey, and bay leaves to a boil in a medium saucepan; cook 2 minutes or until salt dissolves, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; let stand 10 minutes. Place brine and remaining 8 cups water in a brining bag.

  • Remove giblets and neck from turkey; discard or reserve for another use. Place turkey, breast side down, on a cutting board. Using kitchen shears, cut along both sides of backbone; discard backbone. Turn turkey breast side up; press firmly against breastbone with the heel of your hand so that the bird is splayed open, butterfly style (you'll hear a crack when the breastbone breaks). Trim excess fat; add turkey to brine. Refrigerate 18 to 24 hours, turning occasionally.

  • Preheat one side of grill to medium (375°F).

  • Remove turkey from brine; discard brine. Pat turkey dry.

  • Coat grill grate with cooking spray. Place turkey, skin side up, on grate over unlit side of grill. Cover and grill 2 1/2 hours or until a thermometer inserted into thickest portion of thigh registers 160°F, rotating the turkey 90 degrees every 30 minutes. Place turkey on a cutting board. Let stand, covered with foil, 30 minutes (internal temperature will rise to 165°F). Remove skin before serving.

Nutrition Facts

131 calories; fat 2.3g; saturated fat 0.7g; mono fat 0.5g; poly fat 0.7g; protein 25g; carbohydrates 1g; cholesterol 83mg; iron 2mg; sodium 230mg; calcium 17mg; sugars 1g; added sugar 1g.