Bourbon sweet tea turkey with molasses glaze

Published: Nov. 9, 2022 at 12:48 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 9, 2022 at 12:59 PM CST
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Trace Barnett aka The Bitter Socialite shared his recipe for Bourbon Sweet Tea Turkey with Molasses Glaze just in time for Thanksgiving. This serves 8–12 people.

Sweet tea is an essential part of living in Alabama. Barnett say, “Why, my mawmaw’s tea is so wonderfully sweet, it could be used as a sugar substitute.” But tea is more than just a refreshment served on the front porch. It has wonderful meat tendering properties, while also locking in moisture in the roasting process. Combine that with bourbon and you’ve got yourself quite the brine, which gives the turkey a delightful caramel color. A sticky, sweet molasses glaze really makes this turkey the star of any holiday table.

Bourbon Sweet Tea Turkey with Molasses Glaze
Bourbon Sweet Tea Turkey with Molasses Glaze(Trace Barnett)

Turkey Seasoning

  • 12–18 pound turkey
  • Coarse salt
  • Ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
  • 2 sticks salted butter, room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped rosemary
  • 3 onions, quartered
  • 2 oranges, quartered
  • 1 apple, quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic, halved
  • 4 stalks celery, halved

Brine Ingredients

  • 1 gallon sweet tea
  • 1 gallon water
  • 2 cups bourbon
  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 onions, quartered
  • 4 garlic cloves, halved
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seed
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons whole peppercorns
  • 1 bunch rosemary
  • 1 bunch thyme

Glaze Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 cup bourbon


  1. In a large stock pot over medium-low heat, combine all ingredients for brine and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat.
  2. Prep turkey by removing from packaging and discarding turkey trimmings (or save them to be cooked later).
  3. Submerge turkey in brine. If turkey floats, weight down with a heavy plate or platter. Place in refrigerator for 24 hours; turning once.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Remove turkey from brine. Pat turkey dry; place in a large roasting pan atop a roasting rack. Sprinkle liberally with salt, pepper, and granulated garlic. Spread butter over entire turkey. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and rosemary, pressing herbs into place with a small amount of pressure. Fill the turkey cavity with onions, oranges, apple, garlic, and celery.
  6. Cover turkey with heavy-duty foil and transfer to oven. Cook for 5 hours, basting hourly by spooning juices from the roasting pan over the turkey.
  7. Meanwhile, in a small pot over medium-high heat, melt butter for glaze. Add brown sugar; stir until dissolved. Add molasses and bourbon to pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer for 5–7 minutes. Remove from heat.
  8. Uncover turkey for final hour of cooking, and spoon molasses glaze over turkey. Cook uncovered until golden brown in color and juices run clear. Remove from oven.
  9. Place on a large platter and garnish with fresh herbs, cranberries, or walnuts. Spoon additional glaze from pan over turkey.

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