Smoked Beer Brined Turkey
Smoked Beer Brined Turkey is hands down the best way to cook your bird for Thanksgiving. This is my super secret most flavorful brine recipe that gives you the juiciest bird EVER. You smoke it low and slow, getting that perfect crispy skin on the outside. Literally the best turkey I’ve ever made.
If you need to know how to cook a turkey, this is the way to do it. Every time.
I swear you will get perfect results. The meat is nice and moist (I still hate that word, but I have to use it here…. that’s how good this bird is), the skin is crispy and brown, and the whole things gets a subtle infusion of smoky flavor.
It is so so so soooooooo good.
Like, mind-glowingly good. Turkey isn’t my favorite part of the Thanksgiving spread – I’m more of a sides and dessert gal myself – but this beer brined turkey has made me actually want to eat turkey multiple times.
I’m totally excited to make another one of these bad boys next week for turkey day.
Even after devouring it for about 3 days in a row this week.
Now I do have to tell you, this bird takes a while to cook.
Smoking is not a quick process, BUT if you have a smoker it’s just about checking on it occasionally. You don’t have to even baste it.
It does take time to make so just make sure that you have your meat thermometer ready and that you are starting with plenty of time.
When I did a test run of this beer brined turkey before thanksgiving I was sure glad I did. It took a few hours longer than I initially guesstimated, which would have been a DISASTER on turkey day, lol.
Times might vary because I made this while the snow was falling outside, so it might take you less time depending on where you are and the weather. Just keep an eye on the temperature of the bird and trust that first and foremost.
No dry birds on turkey day, I beg you!
If you don’t have a smoker, I’m including notes in the recipe card below to cook it in your oven (something I’ve done with this brined bird many times). It will still come out delicious, moist and flavorful.
I just love that sticking the bird in my Traeger means I have my entire oven free as we count down the hours before dinner time.
It’s a win-win!
This Recipe’s Must-Haves
I use this Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Stainless 16-Inch Rectangular Roaster with Rack directly on my grill and it held up BEAUTIFULLY. Plus it is dishwasher safe. BOOM.
If you don’t have a smoker but want to treat yourself, I HIGHLY recommend this Traeger grill. I used Traeger signature pellets, but you could also use Apple or Pecan for a fun flavor twist!
For the perfect carving knife, I used this Wusthof Classic Artisan Butcher Knife. Holy CRAP it’s amazing. So smooth. So perfect. It’s my new fave knife.
I don’t feel like investing in an expensive turkey platter is necessary since it’s only busted out once or twice a year.
That’s why I always get this HIC Turkey Oversized Serving Platter. They are sturdy and my other one only broke because I packed it so poorly when we moved.
- One 12-16 lb turkey, thawed
- 10 cups of water
- 1 1/2 cups kosher salt
- 1/4 cup whole allspice berries
- 1 Tbsp whole cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 sprigs thyme
- 4 sprigs rosemary
- 2 sprigs sage
- 1 large yellow onion, peeled and quartered
- 5 1/2 cups (44 fl oz) brown ale (I used Newcastle Brown Ale)
- 2 cup ice
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- In a large pot, stir together 10 cups water, salt, allspice, cloves, bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, sage, and onion. Bring the mixture to a boil, then remove from heat. Pour in beer and ice.
- Allow the brine liquid to cool completely to room temperature.
- Rinse your turkey and remove the bag of innards that are tucked inside. Place the turkey into whatever you plan to brine it in. I used a giant stock pot that fits a 13-lb turkey, but you can also use a food-grade safe bucket or oven bags.
- Pour the brine over the turkey and cover. Place in the refrigerator.
- Brine your turkey for 16 to 18 hours, rotating every 6 to 8 hours if your turkey is not completely covered in the brine.
- Remove from fridge and remove the turkey from the brine. Truss the legs and tuck the wing tips back around the bird. Rub the bird all over with olive oil. Season with a small amount of black pepper.
- Set your smoker to smoke at 225 degrees F and preheat with the lid closed for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Place the turkey on a roasting rack set inside a roasting pan. Place the pan directly on the grill grate or directly in your smoker, depending on the model you are using. Cook until the internal temperature reaches 100 to 110 degrees F. This took me about 2 1/2 hours for a 13+lb bird. It should take between 1 1/2 to 3 hours depending on the size of the turkey.
- Increase temperature to 350 degrees F. This will take another 1 1/2 to 3 hours, depending on turkey size. Continue to cook until a meat thermometer registers 160 degrees F when inserted into the thickest part of the breast.
- Remove the roasting pan from the grill and let rest 15 minutes until the turkey is 165 degrees F before carving.
If you are cooking the turkey in the oven, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Truss turkey as mentioned above and rub with olive oil all over (about 1/4 cup). Place turkey on the roasting rack in the roasting pan. Cook until turkey reaches about 160 degrees F, about 3 to 4 hours. Again, allow to rest to get to temperature before carving.
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