A few years ago, my girlfriend raved about the Honey Brined Turkey Recipe she used for Thanksgiving. It was flavorful and succulent, not one bit dry!

I jotted down the details of this Turkey Brine Recipe and roasted this mahogany bird for the holidays!

  Honey Brined Turkey Recipe on a white serving platter

Why You’ll Love this Brined Turkey Recipe

  • I have been brining my Thanksgiving turkey for about the last five years. It virtually guarantees moist and tender white meat. 
  • This is a simple turkey brine made with pantry ingredients.
  • The soy and molasses provided the beautiful, dark sheen, and this perfect combination of sweet and salty gave the meat a delectable flavor.
  • Unlike grocery store brined turkey, there this brine has all-natural ingredients.

If you’re not up for dealing with wet brining, check out my Dry Brined Turkey recipe. It’s also fabulous with less mess!

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Should You Brine Turkey?

The ideal brining time for turkey is 8-18 hours. If you brine a turkey too long, the meat can become too salty and the texture of the meat will suffer.

What is the Formula for Brine?

The ratio of salt to water is 1 tablespoon of kosher salt for each cup of water or liquid. Make sure to use kosher (coarser) salt instead of table salt or your brine will be too salty.

What Else Can You Add to Turkey Brine?

Besides salt and water, sugar, herbs, and spices can be added to brines. And the sugar can be granulated white sugar, brown sugar, molasses, or honey.

Does a Turkey Need to Be Refrigerate While Brining?

Yes, it’s crucial that your turkey is refrigerated while brining to prevent any food-borne illnesses. If you’re short on refrigerator space, a large cooler filled with ice will work well.

Do I Rinse the Turkey After Brining?

No, there is no need to rinse your brined turkey. In fact, rinsing will remove the salt which flavors the skin.

You can remove the turkey from the brine and let it dry in the refrigerator for 4-6 hours before roasting. This will help create crispier skin.

 Honey Brined Turkey on a white platter garnished with herbs and oranges

The Benefits of Brining a Turkey

PRO-Tip: Soaking or “brining” any meat allows the salt from the brine to infuse into and plump up the meat. Remember high school chemistry? The process of osmosis allows the saltier brine solution to cross over and enter the less salty turkey cells until both sides are balanced. A bonus of brining your own turkey is that no chemicals are involved, just wholesome ingredients!

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, then covered the turkey with foil once the skin developed its gorgeous, brown lacquer. The best turkey brine creates the best results, and this one was a real winner, and perfect for any holiday turkey!!!

  Honey Brined Turkey Recipe view of stuffing end with herbs and oranges

Tips for Brining Your Turkey:

The first time I made this simple turkey brine recipe, 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 still wonderful. The turkey skin took on a lot of the color from the brine, but the meat was moist and succulent despite the bronzed exterior.

  • My brining bag sprung a leak when re-testing this recipe. Make sure you use the largest turkey brine bag available and I’d recommend double bagging.
  • Mix in the salt first while the water is still at its hottest to help it dissolve. Then add the rest of the ingredients. You can also add aromatics and herbs if you’d like.
  • Let the brine cool a bit before adding to the brining bag.
  • Brine about 12 hours or overnight. Brining longer may result in darker meat and skin, which will taste just fine. Just don’t brine for over 18 hours or your turkey coul be too salty.
  • PRO-Tip: I brine my bird in the refrigerator if I have room, but on Thanksgiving, that real estate is precious and I use a large cooler filled with ice.
  • Truss your turkey (meaning to tie legs and wings tight against the turkey with butcher’s twine) (affiliate link) to help roast more evenly.
  • When roasting, cover your turkey with heavy-duty foil as soon as it is golden brown.
  • If you stuff your turkey, don’t forget to check the temperature of the stuffing before pulling your bird out of the oven.

Used in This Recipe

More Thanksgiving Recipes You’ll Love:

  Honey Brined Turkey Recipe | The perfect way to get succulent meat from your holiday turkey

Honey Brined Turkey

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 15 minutes
Yield 16 servings

The perfect way to get succulent meat from your holiday turkey!

Ingredients

Brine:

  • 1 pound kosher salt
  • 6 quarts hot water
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup honey
  • 5 pounds of ice
  • 16-pound turkey, defrosted (any size will work)

Instructions

  1. Pour hot water into an extra-large brining bag, then add salt. Agitate bag to help dissolve the salt.
  2. Add molasses, soy, and honey and mix to combine.
  3. Add the turkey with giblets removed and seal the bag with a twist tie.
  4. Set in a cooler filled with at least 5 pounds of ice or the refrigerator in a pan to catch any leaks.
  5. Allow to brine for 12 hours or overnight.
  6. Make sure to drain turkey well and pat dry before roasting as desired.

Notes

Recipe adapted from my friend, Mary Ann.

Roasting time varies depending on the size of your turkey.

Calories and nutrition information isn't 100% accurate because of the amount of salt, honey, and molasses in the brining liquid.

Due to the molasses, the turkey meat may be darker than normal. It will still taste wonderful.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

16

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 991Total Fat: 34gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 22gCholesterol: 494mgSodium: 12355mgCarbohydrates: 34gFiber: 0gSugar: 33gProtein: 131g

This nutritional info is skewed as you will not be drinking the brine 🙂

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