Beer-Brined Turkey with Giblet Gravy Recipe

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Our relatives request this turkey every Thanksgiving and I hate to disappoint them. Brining the turkey keeps the meat moist while roasting gives it incredible flavor.—Jeff Locke, Arma, Kansas
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 70 min. + marinating Bake: 3-1/2 hours + standing
MAKES:14-16 servings
Test Kitchen Approved
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 70 min. + marinating Bake: 3-1/2 hours + standing
MAKES: 14-16 servings


  • 2 quarts apple cider or juice
  • 1-1/2 cups kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons whole peppercorns
  • 2 cinnamon sticks (3 inches)
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon Juniper berries, optional
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 6 bottles (12 ounces each) dark beer, chilled
  • 6 cups cold water
  • 1 turkey (14 to 16 pounds)
  • 2 turkey-size oven roasting bags
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon rotisserie chicken seasoning
  • GRAVY:
  • 3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup white wine or chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons fresh sage or 2 teaspoons dried sage leaves

Nutritional Facts

9 ounces cooked turkey with about 1/4 cup gravy equals 560 calories, 29 g fat (11 g saturated fat), 274 mg cholesterol, 547 mg sodium, 3 g carbohydrate, trace fiber, 67 g protein.


  1. In a large kettle, combine the first eight ingredients. Bring to a boil; cook and stir until salt and brown sugar are dissolved. Remove from the heat. Add cold beer and water to cool the marinade to room temperature.
  2. Remove giblets from turkey; cover and refrigerate for gravy. Place a turkey-size oven roasting bag inside a second roasting bag; add turkey. Carefully pour cooled marinade into bag. Squeeze out as much air as possible; seal bags and turn to coat. Place in a roasting pan. Refrigerate for 18-24 hours, turning several times.
  3. Drain and discard brine. Rinse turkey under cold water; pat dry. Place the onion, carrots, celery and garlic in both cavities. Skewer turkey openings; tie drumsticks together. In a small bowl, combine the broth, butter and chicken seasoning.
  4. Place turkey breast side up on a rack in a roasting pan. Bake, uncovered, at 325° for 3-1/2 to 4 hours or until a meat thermometer reads 180°, basting occasionally with broth mixture. (Cover loosely with foil if turkey browns too quickly.) Cover and let stand for 15 minutes before carving; discard vegetables or save for another use.
  5. For gravy, add 1 cup broth to the pan, scraping to loosen browned bits. Skim and discard fat, reserving 1-1/2 cups pan drippings; pour into a small saucepan.
  6. Chop giblets. In a large saucepan, cook giblets in oil and butter until browned. Add 1-1/4 cup pan drippings; cook and stir for 5 minutes. Combine flour and remaining drippings until smooth. Gradually stir into pan. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.
  7. Add the wine, sage and remaining chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half. Serve with turkey. Yield: 14-16 servings.
Editor’s Note: This recipe was tested with Morton kosher salt and McCormick rotisserie chicken seasoning. It is best not to use a prebasted turkey for this recipe.
Originally published as Beer-Brined Turkey with Giblet Gravy in Taste of Home's Holiday & Celebrations Cookbook Annual 2009, p118

Full-Bodied White Wine

Enjoy this recipe with a full-bodied white wine such as Chardonnay or Viognier.

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Reviewed Nov. 22, 2015

"This turkey recipe produced some amazing turkey meat! I grabbed a 5-gallon bucket out of the garage, lined it twice with clean tall kitchen sized garbage bags, and went for it. You have to be careful to add some cold beer and water with the hot brine slowly as not to melt the bags, but once it's all in there, dunk the turkey and tie the inner bag shut. Voila!

My guests raved about this one, and could not believe it was the first turkey I've ever been responsible for preparing! The brine does the legwork for you.. I will be making this annually!"

Reviewed Nov. 28, 2012

"I have been making this recipe for three years now and my family absolutly loves it. I get the compliment everytime "that its the best turkey that they have ever had". This recipe is a keeper."

Reviewed Nov. 27, 2012

"I made this for the first time for Thanksgiving and it was a hit! Very easy to make, the turkey was very moist and had a wonderful flavor. Did not use the bags, just put it in a big container and rotated the turkey."

Reviewed Nov. 23, 2012

"The turkey brined nicely but my husband didn't care for the brine flavor. It was also a mess to make. The turkey oven bags broke as I was turning the turkey as suggested. We ended up putting the turkey into a pan and there wasn't enough brine to cover the whole turkey. Very messy to make!"

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