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

Holiday Honey Brined Turkey Recipe

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A few years ago, my girlfriend raved about the Honey Brined Turkey Recipe she used for Thanksgiving. I jotted down the details and roasted this mahogany bird for the holidays!

  Honey Brined Turkey Recipe on a white serving platter

Holiday Honey Brined Turkey 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, recommended this simple 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.

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

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

Why Brine?

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. This honey brined turkey was a real winner, and perfect for any holiday!!!

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

Tips for Brining Your Turkey:

The first time I made this brine, 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 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 brining 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.
  • I will 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) to help roast more evenly.
  • 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

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

Honey Brined Turkey

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

  • Author: Liz Berg
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
  • Yield: 10 servings
  • Category: Entree, Holiday, Turkey
  • Method: Roasting, Brining
  • Cuisine: Entree, Turkey, Holiday

Ingredients

1 16 pound fresh turkey

Brine:

  • 1 pound kosher salt
  • 6 quarts hot water
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup honey
  • 5 pounds of ice

Instructions

  1. Pour hot water into extra large 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 12 hours or over night.
  2. 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.

Honey Brined Turkey Recipe photo collage for Pinterest
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20 comments on “Holiday Honey Brined Turkey Recipe”

  1. Thank you for this refreshing idea dear Liz !

  2. Your turkey looks amazing! I also see praline sweet potatoes in the ‘you might also likes’… Yes, I’m pretty sure I might also like them too:@)

  3. Can I leave this in fridge overnight? I noticed there’s stuffing in the bird..anything special you used there?

    • Yes, you can brine it overnight, Angie. I make the same stuffing I’ve made for years—dry bread cubes, sauteed celery and onions (in a good amount of butter), sage, oregano, poultry seasoning,salt and pepper, then moistened with turkey stock. I stuff right before roasting—watch the salt in your stuffing as the turkey juices are saltier than normal and can make the stuffing salty. Hope you give it a try!

  4. I’ve heard a lot about brining turkeys and chicken but I’ve never tried it! This looks so good.

  5. This is one gorgeous bird Liz! I wish you were making my turkey this year 🙂

  6. That turkey is posing so sexily!! It’s making me not able to wait for the glorious day that is… THANKSGIVING!!!

  7. I’m a firm believer in brining a turkey so that it is moist. Your brine certainly does give the skin a beautiful sheen and I’m sure it is a good as it looks.

  8. I have wanted to try brining for ages and your recipe sound wonderful. I’m not doing the turkey this year (we’re celebrating US thanksgiving this year!) but I will give this a go on chicken. I’ll report back on how it worked out. BTW, I would put the brining meat onto a roasting pan, in case it leaks!

  9. I always put a bit of sugar in when I make a brine for any meat, but I’ve never thought about honey! sounds really yummy… I love your tip about brining the turkey in a cooler to save room too! I can’t the believe the holidays are almost here, Liz! 🙂

  10. This is one of the most beautiful turkeys I’ve every seen Liz! That color is gorgeous and I love the idea of using honey and molasses in the brine.

  11. That is one absolutely gorgeous turkey! I can smell it! Now I’d love to taste it.

  12. This sounds like a winner Liz, thank you!

  13. Sounds lovely Liz. We always smoke a turkey outside and I think this brie would be perfect for that too!

  14. So pretty, Liz! I think I’m inviting myself to your Thanksgiving. 🙂

  15. Looks perfect!   Do you leave the turkey in the brine in the cooler with ice and not in the fridge?

    • Yes, Carly, just make sure to have enough ice in your cooler to keep the turkey (in a sealed bag with the brine) cold overnight. If you have enough room in your refrigerator, you can certainly keep it in there. I never have enough space plus if the brine leaks out of the bag accidentally, you have a mess of turkey juices and brine in your fridge. I know from experience 🙂

  16. Looks delicious!   Can I brine the turkey overnight not in the fridge?

  17. An extra large Ziploc Bag, the one with handles, a five gallon bucket, and a very large cooler will do the trick! Put a bag of ice in the cooler, (it’s 25* here tonight) and you are perfect for a delectable bird! Thanks for the tips!

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