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  • Writer's pictureSarah Hiers

Brined, Bourbon Butter Injected Smoked Turkey aka Best. Turkey. Ever!

Updated: Nov 20, 2023

Every year, for a vast number of years, the neighbors get together at Thanksgiving and cook together.

Each year we would try something new. Deep-fried Turkey. Mojo Turkey cooked in the Caja China. Twenty-one spiced Turkey. All good in their own right, but none that really grabbed my husband, the self proclaimed, non-turkatarian's attention. In our house, if you are just OK with something the answer is, in veritably, fine. In suggesting a turkey for Christmas this year I was met with, you guessed it, Fine. Ugh. I thought I had discovered a new fun way to try turkey. I was psyched. I was excited. I had a brand new, shiny injector in hand! Fine was not the answer I wanted so it was time to cook a test-run bird.

Below is a recipe I adapted from Food & Wine magazine. The ingredients are true to the recipe with a few minor exceptions. We brined the turkey first. I, of course, added more than a splash of bourbon to the bourbon butter (which in the end was un-noticed), the herbs and spices were all organic and we smoked the turkey low and slow in our gas grill. This was a first time smoking a turkey and I will say, its the easiest bird I have ever cooked. The flavor of the bird was amazing. The spice rub seemed intense when applying it to the bird but it gave it amazing flavor without over powering the flavor of the turkey itself. The injection of butter and bourbon made the meat incredibly flavorful and juicy. Even the white meat remained juicy as left-overs days later. No dry meat.

Bourbon Butter Turkey
The Original Boubon Butter Turkey

Brine the turkey 24 hours in advance. Our brine consisted of:

One gallon of vegetable broth

1/2 C sea salt

1 Tbs Rosemary, Sage and Tyme

One gallon ice water

Bring the vegetable broth, salt and herbs to a boil. Stir frequently to make sure the salt is dissolved. Once the salt is dissolved, remove the brine from heat and let it cool. When the brine is cool, place the clean and dried turkey in a container that can hold the 2 gallons of brine. I use a giant pot for canning. Put the turkey in breast side down and add the brine and ice water. Store in the fridge for 24 hours.

The brine pre turkey
The brine waiting for our bird

Remove the turkey from the brine and pat dry. Discard the brine. Next, move on the the bourbon butter injection phase....

Inject the turkey with:

1/2 C melted butter

1/2 C Chicken stock

Splash of Bourbon (my splash was more like two)

The bird is being injected with the bourbon and butter
Bourbon and Butter injection

Ingredients for the Rub

2 Tbs Paprika

2 Tbs Ancho

1 Tbs Onion powder

1 Tbs Cayenne

1 Tbs Thyme

1 Tbs garlic powder

1 tsp ground bay leaf

1 Tbs each salt and pepper

Spices for the turkey
The various spices ready for to be rubbed on the bird

Since we do not have an actual smoker, we used our Weber gas grill with smoking chips on one side with the heat, bird on the other side. It is recommended to smoke the bird at 240 degrees. Our grill wasn't able to maintain that low of a temp and we smoked the turkey at 300 degrees. The timing is 30 to 40 minutes per pound.

We are making this recipe again for Thanksgiving 2017 because it was The. Best. Turkey. Ever! And, again in 2020 and 2021 because we need bourbon in our bird! Yeah, its that kind of year. Happy Thanksgiving, y'all!

And please comment if you'all try it!

2023 and we are going to try it on Cornish hens! Bourbon butter hens!

Our brined and bourbon injected turkey ready for the smoker
Bourbon Buttered Turkey ready for the smoker

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