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 and roasted this mahogany bird for the holidays!
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!
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. This honey brined turkey was a real winner, and perfect for any holiday!!!
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 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
- TWO Extra Large Brining Bags (I used a grocery store brand, but these look sturdier!).
- All-Clad Hard Anodized Aluminum 16 x13-Inch Roaster
- OXO Angled Turkey Baster
More Thanksgiving Recipes You’ll Love:
- No Boil Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes from Spend with Pennies
- Spinach Souffle
- The Best Thanksgiving Stuffing Recipe from Fifteen Spatulas
- Praline Topped Sweet Potato Casserole
- Shredded Brussels Sprouts Recipe with Pistachios, Cranberries, and Parmesan from Cookin’ Canuck
- Best Holiday Side Dish Recipes
- 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)
- 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.
- Make sure to drain turkey well and pat dry before roasting as desired.
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.
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 🙂