Bourbon Glazed Smoked Turkey

Thanksgiving dinner is my JAM! I start planning for this time of year in September. Every morsel is laid out on a 2-3 day preparation timeline leading up to the big meal. From appetizers to dessert, everything is made from scratch to finish. I have been obsessed with Thanksgiving dinner since college. It was my first experience cooking the big feast and I even roasted my own pumpkins to make pumpkin pie. However, I wasn't as culinarily versed and used a carving pumpkin as opposed to the preferred sugar pumpkins. The pie was not quite right, but still had good flavor.

Since college, Thanksgiving dinner has evolved. Some fare changes from year to year and a couple recipes are staples. The feature edible on every Thanksgiving dinner table, the turkey, has matured over the years in The Bell House.

Before Michael became the grill master, he is today, we used to roast our turkey. I would stuff it with apples, onions and shove a sage, thyme and rosemary butter under the skin. This was our turkey for years. Then we came across this Bourbon Glazed Turkey in a Rachel Ray magazine about 10 years ago.

For a few years, we would roast my turkey and Michael would smoke this Bourbon Glazed Turkey. Both turkeys offered up great flavor and worthy of Thanksgiving dinner, but eventually I laid the roasted turkey to rest.

This Bourbon Glazed Turkey has become an essential player in the Thanksgiving dinner game and we've been informed this turkey is not to come off the menu.

In this post, I found a 9 pound bone-in turkey on sale. You will notice this turkey doesn't have legs or wings. For thanksgiving we buy a 14 pound bird complete with legs and wings. We also serve an appetizer, mashed potatoes, a veggie, dinner rolls, candied sweet potatoes and two types of pies which are not pictured here. Gluttony at its best.



14 pound turkey, or one that will fit on your grill

2 cups peach nectar

2 cups apple juice, plus more for basting

4 cups of water

1 cup of brown sugar

1/2 cup of granulated sugar

1/4 cup of kosher salt

3 cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled

1 1/2 teaspoons of Worchestershire sauce

1 1/2 teaspoon of ground pepper

1 bay leaf

Marinate your turkey the day before. In a large pot, combine all the ingredients, except the turkey. Bring the mixture to boil  and let cool.


Rinse your turkey and place it in a container large enough to hold the bird. An unscented trash bag and cooler works well for those larger turkeys. Pull the giblets out of the turkey and place in a tightly sealed container until the next day. You can use this to make your own gravy. Instructions are below.

CAUTION: Remember to sterlize any and all items that have come into contact with the raw turkey. No one wants Thanksgiving dinner to turn into a food born illness nightmare.

Once the brine has cooled, inject the turkey with the brine. You can find an injector in most grocery and kitchen stores.


Pour the rest of the brine into the container and cover tightly. Refrigerate overnight. Turn the turkey once or twice if it's not completely covered in brine.



4 tablespoons of paprika

4 tablespoons of yellow mustard

2 tablespoons of chili powder

1 tablespoon of garlic powder

1 tablespoon of onion powder

2 packets of Goya Sazon con Azafran (saffron seasoning)

The next day, remove the turkey from the brine, rinse and pat dry. In a small bowl, mix together all the turkey rub ingredients.


Rub the paste underneath the skin and throughout the cavity of the bird.


Prepare your grill using an indirect heat method. Place the hot coals on one side of the grill and your turkey on the other side. You will want to maintain a temperature of 350 degrees during grilling. You can also set a foil tray underneath the turkey while it's cooking. This will capture any turkey drippings you may want to use in the gravy.


Baste your turkey with apple juice every 30 minutes for the next 2-3 hours. If you have a bone in turkey with no legs/thighs, place your insta-read thermometer in the breast. When it reads 165 degrees for 15 seconds, the turkey is done.

If you have a bone in turkey with legs and thighs, the insta-read thermometer should be placed in the thigh, careful not to place the thermometer near the bone. The reading should be the same, 165 degrees.

PREPARATION TIP: If you are concerned with the turkey drying out, you can add another step before grilling. Turn the bird breast side down and using a very sharp knife, cut out the turkey's backbone. Then flip the bird back over, flatten the turkey and remove the legs and thighs using a sharp knife. You can grill the individual pieces to the correct temperature.

During the last 30 minutes of cooking, brush your turkey with the BOURBON-HONEY GLAZE:

1/4 cup of bourbon

1/4 cup of honey

1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar

Whisk all the ingredients together. Brush the turkey with the glaze during the last 30 minutes on the grill. Notice, we ended up placing a foil ring under the turkey to keep the breasts propped up. If your turkey has legs or you removed the backbone, this step shouldn't be necessary.


Let the turkey rest for at least 20-25 minutes before hacking it to pieces.


Slice and serve with turkey gravy. Subscribe to the site and you won't miss the Cornbread Cranberry Stuffing Muffins that have been a constant side dish since the inception of The Bell House Thanksgiving dinners.



All the Giblets

1 apple, cut into quarters

1 onion, cut into quarters

1 celery, stalk tops and ends not being used in stuffing

1 carrot

1 teaspoon of peppercorns

1 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of rosemary

1 teaspoon of sage

1 teaspoon of French Thyme


1 tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with cold water

In a small saucepan, add all the ingredients except for the cornstarch and cold water mixture. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and let simmer for about an hour.


Strain the mixture and put the liquid back in the pot over medium heat. Add any turkey drippings. Mix together cornstarch and cold water. Whisk into the liquid and continue to whisk until the gravy thickens. Give it a taste, adjust the flavor with a pinch of salt and a chicken bouillon cube.


BEFORE YOU GO: Don't toss out the turkey carcass. This is good stuff! Grab a large enough pot to hold the turkey carcass. Fill with water and add some aromatics such as; onions, celery, carrots and a bay leaf. Bring the water to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for at least an hour or until the rest of the meat falls off. Strain the stock. Pick out the meat  and add it back to the stock. 

Now, make the Chicken Pot Pie Soup except use Turkey! You can also freeze the stock for up to a month.