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Brined Wild Turkey

By: Fresh Home Magazine of Reader's Digest

Here's a delicious turkey recipe that calls for Bourbon brine and gravy. Brined wild turkey is the perfect meal for this year's Thanksgiving dinner. Create this great turkey recipe and you'll have a holiday to remember.


MAKE AHEAD: Brine the turkey overnight and make the gravy the day before, and on the day of serving all you need to do is bake the turkey and reheat the gravy. The brine can be prepared the day before using it; cover and chill until ready to add to the bag with the turkey.


If you're looking for a new way to prepare your Thanksgiving bird, check out The Top 41 Best Thanksgiving Turkey Recipes for more great ideas!

Cooking Time2 hr


  • Bourbon Brine:
  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup bourbon
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 1 lemon, cut in half
  • 2 cinnamon sticks (3 inches)
  • 2 tablespoons whole cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  • Turkey:
  • 1 bone-in turkey breast half (3 1/2 to 4 pounds)
  • 2 turkey drumsticks or thighs
  • Bourbon Gravy:
  • 3/4 cup Bourbon
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly group pepper
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 can (14 oz) chicken broth


  1. In a very large bowl or butch oven, combine all brine ingredients (give the lemon halves a slight squeeze as you add them to release juice); stir until salt and brown sugar are dissolved.
  2. Rinse turkey breast and drumsticks under cold water. Place in a large oven roasting bag; place bag in a stockpot or large roasting pan. Carefully pour brine into bag; squeeze out as much air possible. Seal bag and turn to coat. Refrigerate 10-12 hours or overnight, turning occasionally.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the bourbon, mustard, honey, syrup, sage, salt and pepper. Reserve ½ cup glaze in a small bowl for the turkey; cover and refrigerate. Set remaining mixture aside for gravy.
  4. In a medium saucepan, sauté shallot in 1 Tbsp. butter until tender. Stir in flour. Whisk in broth and remaining bourbon mixture. Whisk in remaining butter. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, until slightly thickened about 20 minutes. Strain gravy through a fine-mesh sieve; cool. Transfer to a storage container; cover and refrigerate overnight.
  5. Drain and discard brine. Rinse turkey breast and drumsticks under cold water; pat dry. Spray a large shallow roasting pan and rack with cooking spray. Place turkey breast, bone side down, on rack, leaving room for drumsticks. Brush with 2 Tbsp. of the reserved glaze. Bake, uncovered, at 4ooº for 20 minutes.
  6. Reduce oven temperature to 350º. Add drumsticks to rack; brush with 1 Tbsp. glaze. Brush turkey breast with another 2 Tbsp. glaze. Bake 1 ½ hours longer, brushing twice with remaining glaze, or until a meat thermometer reads 170º (cover loosely with foil if necessary to prevent overbrowning). Turn drumsticks over for the last 30 minutes of baking. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes before carving.
  7. Meanwhile, transfer gravy to a saucepan to reheat, stirring occasionally. Add additional bourbon if gravy becomes too thick. Serve with turkey.

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