Recipes | Holiday

Beer & Brown Sugar Brined Turkey


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Beer with Your Turkey?

We love turkey. It is a lean, healthy protein, naturally low FODMAP and feeds a crowd. While we will vary our techniques from time to time, we do like a brined bird and this Beer & Brown Sugar Brined Turkey highlights all the things about brining that we love.

Beer and Brown Sugar Brined Turkey on a platter on the dining table.

Not a Dry Bird In the House

A well-seasoned brine cannot only bring moisture to the flesh but it adds loads of flavor, too. We had never used beer in a brine before and we thought, why not?

After one taste, we were hooked. Or rather, a few Oh. My God. exclamations were heard around the Test Kitchen.

The combo of dark beer, brown sugar and all the classic holiday bird spices make for a fantastic bird.

Using FODY Lemon & Herb Spice Blend, which combines sage, rosemary and thyme, provides the right flavor balance for this dish with the help of additional bay leaf, salt and pepper.

Brine The Day Before

You do need to brine this bird for about 12 hours and then let it sit in the fridge out of the brine (to ensure crispy skin) for approximately another 12 hours, so plan accordingly for time – and make sure to make space in the refrigerator.

We start the brining in the morning, and then let the bird sit out of the brine in the fridge overnight the day before we are going to roast it.

Use Oven Bags For Easy Clean Up

Buy the turkey sized oven bags. They might seem unnecessary but they make the brining technique a much easier and cleaner process. You will find them in the aisle with the aluminum foil and plastic wrap.

A gorgeously roasted Beer & Brown Sugar brined turkey seen from overhead - on a platter with pomegranates and oranges.Serve this Beer & Brown Sugar Brined Turkey with all the classics: gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce – the works!

Please note that you must use gluten-free beer if you want the recipe to be gluten-free. There are many to choose from such as Ground Breaker Dark Ale, Steadfast Beer Company Oatmeal Cream Stout, even Coors has an option – there is even a beer called the Glutenator made in Salt Lake City.

Most stores will have many choices; simply speak to your vendor and read labels. If a brew is gluten-free, it will say so. Also note that a beer does not have to be gluten-free to be considered low FODMAP.

You might also enjoy our article on Thanksgiving Leftovers.

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A gorgeously roasted Beer & Brown Sugar brined turkey seen from overhead - on a platter with pomegranates and oranges.
4.45 from 9 votes

Beer & Brown Sugar Brined Turkey - Low FODMAP

The combo of dark beer, brown sugar and all the classic holiday bird spices make for a fantastic bird. Using FODY Lemon & Herb Spice Blend provides the right flavor balance for this dish with the help of additional bay leaf, salt and pepper.

Low FODMAP Serving Size Info: this will depend on the size off the bird; we suggest ¼ pound (115 g) of turkey per person

Makes: 24 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Brining & Drying Time: 1 day 1 minute
Total Time: 3 hours 20 minutes
Author: Dédé Wilson


  • 2 oven bags; make sure they are large enough to hold your turkey
  • Large stockpot or bucket that fits in the fridge
  • 16 cups (3.8 L) water, divided
  • 1 cup (213 g) firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup (111 g) plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4, 12- ounce bottles dark beer, gluten-free if following a gluten-free diet
  • 1 cup (72 g) chopped leeks, green parts only
  • 1/4 cup (25 g) FODY Lemon & Herb Spice Blend
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1, 13 to 15 pound (5.9 kg to 6.8 kg) turkey, preferably organic, giblets and neck removed, patted dry, at room temperature (see Tips)
  • Butcher’s twine
  • 12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks; 169.5 g) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  1. Place one oven bag inside the other and place both in the pot or bucket with the open ends folded over the outside of the upper rim; set aside.
  2. Stir together 4 cups (960 ml) of the water in a medium-sized saucepan with sugar and 2/3 cup (111 g) salt. Heat over medium heat, stirring once or twice, for a couple of minutes or until sugar and salt dissolve. Cool.
  3. Pour water mixture into oven bags, then add 10 cups (2.4 L) reserved water, beer, leek greens, FODY seasoning and bay leaves. Lower turkey into brine. Seal inner bag, as close to turkey as possible, by tying the bag into a knot, then securely tie outer bag as well. Place in fridge for about 6 hours. Turn turkey over - this is when you will be very happy you have everything sealed in a bag! - and marinate for another 6 hours. (Timing is approximate. Longer is best, but work it with your schedule).
  4. After about 12 hours (give or take), untie bags; discard brine and clean turkey off of any bay leaves or anything sticking to it. Place turkey in a pan and leave in refrigerator uncovered for another 12 hours (again, approximately). This will help the skin crisp during roasting.
  5. Position rack in lower third of oven. Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C.
  6. Place bird in rack set in roasting pan. Tie legs together with twine.
  7. Stir together softened butter with reserved 2 teaspoons salt and pepper. Rub all over the outside of the turkey. Tuck wings in alongside the turkey. Pour remaining 2 cups (480 ml) of water in the bottom of the pan.
  8. Place turkey in oven and roast for 30 minutes. Rotate turkey 180° and roast for another 30 minutes. Baste turkey with pan juices and rotate every 30 minutes until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the thigh (not touching the bone) reads 165° F/74°C. If at any time the bird gets too brown, simply cover loosely with aluminum foil. Total roasting time will be 2 ½ to 3 hours.
  9. Remove turkey from oven and drain any juices from the main cavity into pan. Let turkey rest on cutting board for at least 20 minutes to allow juices to redistribute before carving, covered very loosely with aluminum foil. Meanwhile, use pan drippings to add to your Do-Ahead Gravy, or to make your gravy from scratch. Carve and serve!

Dédé's Quick Recipe Tips Video



  • We like organic birds for their flavor and texture. At the very least do not buy birds that have saline (salt and water) injected. The label will tell you. These birds have inferior flavor and texture, in our opinion. Also, you will end up with a too salty bird after brining!
  • Save the neck and giblets to make stock. We do not use the liver, however, as it can lend a bitter flavor.
  • Beer is considered low FODMAP in 375 ml (12.7 ounce) servings. While Guinness stout itself has not been tested, we have used it in this brine and it yielded exceptional flavor - and we digested it quite well. You might want to try it.


Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American


Calories: 186kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 2555mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 8g | Calcium: 6mg

All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary with brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes and more. For a more detailed explanation, please read our article Understanding The Nutrition Panel Within Our Recipes.