Holiday Lacquered Turkey with Turkey Brine Recipe


I have been brining my Thanksgiving turkey for about the last five years. It virtually guarantees moist and tender white meat.And when my dear friend, Mary Ann, raved about this excellent turkey brine, I knew I’d give it a shot.  The soy and molasses provided the beautiful, dark sheen…and this perfect combination of sweet and salty gave the meat a delectable flavor. Soaking or “brining” any meat allows the salt from the brine to infuse into and plump up the meat. A bit of sugar (in this case, honey and molasses) helps balance the flavor. I started this bird in a 425º oven, and decreased it immediately to 350º. With a combination of butter and white wine, I basted now and again…and covered the turkey with foil once the skin developed its gorgeous, brown lacquer. A real winner…and perfect for any holiday!!! 

Note: I was nearly out of mild molasses so supplemented with blackstrap molasses…which is darker and much stronger in taste and smell. I was worried that it might impart an intense flavor into the turkey meat, but it was wonderful as usual. The legs took on a lot of the color from the brine…but the meat was moist and succulent despite looking almost burnt.

Holiday Lacquered Turkey
Recipe courtesy of Mary Ann Mitsch
  • 1 pound kosher salt
  • 3 quarts hot water
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup honey
  • 5 pounds of ice
  1. Pour hot water into brining bag, then add salt. Agitate bag to help dissolve salt. Add molasses, soy, and honey and mix to combine. Add turkey with giblets removed. Set in cooler filled with at least 5 pounds of ice. Allow to brine over night.
  2. Make sure to drain turkey well and pat dry before roasting as desired.
Yield: Brine for one turkey
Total time: overnight


  1. Wonderful!!How many time do you cook Turkey??? Thanks, hugs, Flavia

  2. Wowowo , beautiful looking turkey , it looks really perfect :) .

  3. Your turkey is gorgeous, and I can just imagine how it must have tasted, so moist and juicy. We must try brining the next our next turkey!

  4. Looks perfectly cook,beautiful pictures with colorful herbs :)

  5. your turkey look georgeous and awesome dear Lizzy:) Nice! here a lot of people eat turkey for Christmas:)

  6. Do you deliver?
    That’s one of the best looking turkeys I’ve seen.

  7. nice! love the sheen on it!

  8. This turkey does look stunning. It is so important to make sure the skin is perfectly browned to get me to come to the table and this definitely would have me running to taste it. A welcome sight indeed-I am ready for some of that turkey-yum!

  9. I’m with you Lizzy, once I start to brine my turkey, I never went back. What an amazing difference it makes (and I love the deep golden color it promotes).

    Fantastic photo!!


  10. Oh, I am going to try this recipe!! I’ve been wanting to brine a turkey for a couple of years now, but the recipes are always ridiculously complicated. This one sounds perfect! Thanks.

  11. You definitely had me with the soy/molasses combination. I’ve got to fit my mom’s brandy in there somewhere too though. :)

  12. That looks absolutely amazing! Picture perfect!!

  13. That doesn’t even look real! Too perfect, like a painting. I WANT!

  14. Absolutely beautiful Liz! Love the presentation……just perfect!

  15. Wow. That color is simply gorgeous!

  16. Liz That one holy turkey dear….
    God, I am literary eating my screen….
    Totally Buzzed.

  17. set with the ice Lizzy, something new for me here. I love turkey but the price is becoming too expensive at my place and we normally have turkey like once a year threat and just once during Christmas.

    Its perfectly done and love the outer layer as the skin is the one I drool for most of the time.

  18. That turkey looks like it should be in a magazine or a stock photo of a happy family holiday dinner!

  19. I am saving this for our next turkey dinner – the photos speak of the perfect turkey – and love the brining flavors.

  20. Wow, Lizzy! that’s a “labor of love” right there with all the pampering the bird gets! Never heard of this kind of brine with molasses, and soy, plus sitting on a 5lb. ice overnight…good Lord! …with all that pampering, no wonder the turkey gets such a beautiful complexion… I mean skin, while baking! For sure I want to try out this method, myself, but first I will use a chicken for the “first tryout”

  21. Wow!!! Lizzy that is literally the most gorgeous Turkey I’ve EVER seen! Such a deep and rich golden color… I’m jealous!

  22. Beautiful turkey, Lizzy. I’m with you, brining is the ultimate for producing a moist, delicious turkey. No more dry turkies!

  23. Looks darn good, never tried lacquering a turkey before, maybe I’ll practice with a chicken.

  24. Brining is so easy and I can’t live without it. What a lovely brine that gives quite a color to the turkey. I have to try this!

  25. WOW… how beautiful!

  26. How gorgeous!!!! Bet it tasted just as good :-) xoxo Kate

  27. The bird looks really perfectly baked!

  28. Awesome brine. I mixed my up a little this year with barely malt and Guinness. Delicious!

  29. Wow Lizzy, did you just cook this turkey after Thanksgiving? You are awesome! That turkey looks like it’s from a magazine. Perfect. Well done and tell your friend her brine looks like a winner. :)

  30. What a beautiful bird! I won’t be able to bring myself to carve that. I’t just to pretty to cut up. I’m a firm believer of brining too but never tried your mix. What a great recipe.

  31. Molasses and soy sounds like a perfect wait to brine a bird. I need to try this. It’s beautiful!

  32. All I can say is yikes. That’s some turkey. Molasses and soy sauce? Sweet and salty? Wow, this is a fabulous idea.

  33. The word ‘lacquered’ paired with turkey sounds so heavenly. I think I have this recipe tucked away somewhere. I hope mine turns out as stunning as yours! It’s almost too beautiful to touch!

  34. Wow! What a stunner!

  35. What a beautiful turkey! I’ve only cooked mine own turkey once, and I am so looking forward to doing it again!

  36. Dear Lizzy, This turkey is picture perfect! A beautiful presentation. The brine sounds wonderful. Blessings, Catherine xo

  37. Wow, this looks incredible! I would PAY you to come cook for me. Problem is, I don’t celebrate Thanksgiving because I’m in England! But we eat turkey at Christmas, so I’ll still have a chance to give this a go!

  38. Beautiful color on the turkey!! Mine did not turn out that pretty this year! The brine sounds great, I will have to keep this for next year!! Thanks!

  39. WOW. That bird looks absolutely amazing! I’d be scared to cut into it 😉

  40. Just gorgeous! I don’t know why it’s never occurred to me to baste with wine. It makes perfect sense.

  41. Picture perfect turkey. Nice presentation. Great job.

  42. What a gorgeous bird! It would make a beautiful Christmas dinner as well. :)

  43. That is a perfect looking turkey. The recipe sounds delicious, full of flavor.

  44. That is one awesome looking turkey!! Laquered is a good word to describe it!

  45. Awesome! I have molasses left from cooking earlier on and wasn’t sure what to do with it. Christmas turkey brine of course :)

  46. What a beautiful color on your turkey!

  47. Wow! That sounds delicious and a great color on the turkey! I agree – brining ensures moisture and FLAVOR! Beautifully done!

  48. Wow, that is absolutely gorgeous. We always brine too. I may have to try this. Thanks for a great recipe!

  49. Now that’s a great looking bird! Making me crave for Christmas dinner already.

  50. The bird looks wonderful. If I ate meat… :)
    Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

  51. I have never cooked a whole turkey… I would not even know where to begin!!! hehehe This looks amazing Lizzy! What a lovely colour! I am sure it tasted great too! :)

  52. This is brilliant. Especially how turkey has a tendency to be so dry.

  53. Molasses? You are brilliant. Moist turkey a must and this way looks fabulously shiny, Liz.

  54. This whole turkey looks so delicious with the shinny skin!! absolutely gorgeous!

  55. Looks perfect…like a picture from a magazine.

  56. big turkey. nicely roasted. i would love to have that too.

  57. Wow Liz your turkey looks straight out of Saveur magazine. Will be bookmarking this. Thanks for sharing.

  58. The dark color is more appetizing and your turkey is beautifully roasted! I have never brine the turkey as they are big and don’t know what to do. One day I hope to cook the whole turkey in the oven. We usually deep fry it at a friend’s house with Cajun spices. Your turkey looks beautiful!

  59. Wow look at that turkey! The color is amazing, it looks absolutely perfect!

  60. What a gorgeous bird, I have never seen such a beautiful lacquer. The brine is a great idea.

  61. Molasses and soy sauce…fantastic! Beautiful looking turkey :)

  62. Wow Lizzy, that turkey looks gorgeously delicious!! I love what the molasses and soy has done to colour the skin. Yum!!

  63. Lizzy, this post is absolutely fetish-worthy and I’ve been inspired to include it in my Friday Food Fetish blog. If you have any objections, please let me know

  64. Oh, that’s a beauty Liz!

  65. This looks incredible. I have been brining for about 2 years. I used to hate turkey but when I brine it I actually love the taste. Great job on this my friend.

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