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Aquavit Brined Turkey with Apples, Prunes, and Lingonberry Gravy

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Aquavit Brined Turkey with Apples, Prunes, and Lingonberry Gravy is a Scandinavian twist on a holiday classic!

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For years, I have made the same Thanksgiving Turkey recipe. It is loved by all, but I wanted to mix things up a bit this year and infuse some Scandinavian flair. The results were fabulous!

Brining the Turkey:

I am a true believer in brining. Why brine?

  • Brining allows turkey to absorb the extra moisture a relatively lean meat needs to stay juicy and tender
  • Salt seasons, purifies and breaks down protein, while the sugar adds flavor and promotes browning
  • Brining can help with thawing a partially frozen bird and brined turkeys cook more quickly

Use brown sugar, kosher salt, oranges, and lemons for the brine base. I chose additional components specifically to enhance the flavor profile. I added whole juniper berries and rosemary to create the Scandinavian taste.

The secret ingredient is Norden Aquavit–a classic Scandinavian spirit that is flavored with all those lovely botanicals you see on the label below. For more on Norden, check here.

Using an alcoholic spirit in the brining liquid can helps penetrate further into the meat. I use a large plastic tub that fits nicely on the bottom rack of my refrigerator. I like to keep the turkey in the brine for at least 24 hours, turning it once so that both sides are equally submerged.

Roasting the Aquavit Brined Turkey:

The Aquavit Brined Turkey is not stuffed for this preparation, but rather filled with some aromatics and then rubbed with a seasoned butter.

Fill the turkey cavity with onion, oranges, and herbs to give flavor while roasting.

Adding apple wedges to the roasting pan creates a wonderful sweetness in the pan juices.

Prunes soak up all of the wonderful drippings and literally melt in your mouth.

For the the seasoned butter, I like Finlandia Finnish butter combined with Flora Fungi Fauna Juniper Berry Salts. These salts from Norway have incredible flavor and add so much to this recipe! You may also crush up some of the juniper berries used for the brine and add with a bit of salt and pepper as a substitute.

Rub the seasoned butter over the entire surface of the turkey, as well as up under the skin of the breast. Place prunes, onion and apple wedges and some chicken stock or broth at the bottom of the pan beneath the bird on its rack.

Roast the turkey at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 325 degrees. Continue to roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thigh reaches 170 degrees. You will roast the turkey for about 15 minutes per pound. This was a 12-pound bird and took about 3 hours. Halfway through roasting, pour a bit (about 1/2 cup) of Aquavit over the bird. This is the key to a delicious pan gravy! I also basted the bird with the pan juices about every 20 minutes.

Making the Lingonberry Gravy:

When the Aquavit Brined Turkey has finished roasting, remove the caramelized onions, apples and prunes and set aside to serve with the turkey.

To make the Lingonberry Gravy, add 1/4 cup (or more!) lingonberries stirred with sugar or lingonberry jam to the pan juices.

Cook the juices in the roasting pan over the stovetop scraping up all the browned bits.

Strain everything into a saucepan and continue to simmer until slightly thickened. The sauce will be super flavorful and unlikely to need additional seasoning.

Serving the Aquavit Brined Turkey with Apples, Prunes, and Lingonberry Gravy:

The finished turkey should have a beautifully browned exterior and be super moist on the inside after resting from the oven.

Serve the finished Aquavit Brined Turkey with Apples, Prunes, and Lingonberry Gravy with some Rye Juniper Dressing and extra lingonberries or Cranberry Orange Ginger Sauce to complete your Scandinavian feast!

Aquavit Brined Turkey with Apples, Prunes, and Lingonberry Gravy

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Aquavit Brined Turkey with Apples, Prunes, and Lingonberry Gravy is a Scandinavian twist on a holiday classic!


For the Brine:

  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 oranges quartered
  • 2 lemons quartered
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons dried juniper berries
  • 1 cup Norden Aquavit
  • 2 gallons water

For the Turkey:

  • 1 12-14 pound fresh or thawed frozen turkey
  • 2 large yellow onions, skins removed, one quartered and one cut into 6 wedges
  • 1 orange, quartered
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 sprigs fresh Italian parsley
  • 4 ounces softened butter
  • 2 teaspoons Flora Fungi Fauna Juniper Salts, or sea salt and crushed juniper berries
  • 1 large apple, peeled, cored and cut into 6 wedges
  • 1 cup dried prunes
  • Chicken stock or broth, as needed for roasting and basting

For the Lingonberry Gravy:

  • ¼ cup lingonberries stirred with sugar or lingonberry jam


For the Brine:

  • Combine the salt and sugar with one gallon of water in a large stockpot. Heat just enough to dissolve. Cool completely.
  • Place turkey in a large plastic container (be sure to remove neck and giblets from cavity). Add the dissolved salt and sugar mixture and an additional gallon of cold water.
  • Add citrus, herbs, juniper berries, and Aquavit.
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 24.

For the Turkey:

  • Remove turkey from brine and drain all liquid. Pat dry.
  • Preheat oven to 425° Fahrenheit.
  • Put quartered onion, orange and herb sprigs inside the bird cavity.
  • Add the onion and apple wedges, prunes and about 2 cups of stock or broth to the bottom of a large roasting pan.
  • Rub the turkey all over and under the skin of the breast with the seasoned butter. Place the turkey on a rack in the pan.
  • Roast the turkey for 20 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 325°.
  • Baste the turkey every 20 minutes or so, adding additional stock, broth or water to the pan to keep about an inch of liquid. Halfway through roasting, pour ½ cup Aquavit over the bird. Tent loosely with foil once the skin is nicely browned.
  • Roast the turkey until an instant read thermometer inserted in the thigh reaches 170°. Remove from oven, transfer turkey to a cutting board and rest for at least 30 minutes before carving. Meanwhile, make the gravy.

For the Lingonberry Gravy:

  • Place the roasting pan over stove burners, or transfer contents to a large pot if roasting pan is not safe to put on stovetop.
  • Add lingonberries or jam and stir to scrape up browned bits from bottom of pan. Add additional stock or broth if needed to create a gravy.
  • Strain everything into a sauce pot and simmer until a nice gravy consistency. Check for seasoning.

Serving the Aquavit Brined Turkey with Apples, Prunes, and Lingonberry Gravy:

  • Carve the turkey and transfer to a large platter. Serve with apples, prunes, and onions from the pan, Lingonberry Gravy, and additional lingonberries or sauce.


Course: Holiday, Main Course
Cuisine: Scandinavian
Keyword: Aquavit Brined Turkey with Apples, Prunes and Lingonberry Gravy
Servings: 8 people

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