Honey Herb Brined Turkey

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  • When it comes to roasting a turkey, it can be a little daunting. There is always the worry that it turn out drier than the desert. There is only one foolproof method to avoid this. Brine that bird!

    close up of carved turkey after brining

    Honey Herb Brined Turkey is a wow-worthy recipe that will give you a tender turkey have your guests asking you what your secret is. 

    Between family plans, jugging schedules, and inevitable travel, the holiday season tacks on one more task to my docket, cooking. Now I love cooking, but the last thing I want to do is worry about the main dish.

    This technique is a bonafide, 100% amazing, GAME CHANGER. I am an outspoken “disliker” of all things turkey, but this made me see the light. Not only was the bird tender and juicy, but it was also packed with so much flavor my tastebuds couldn’t handle it. 

    turkey in a stock pot of honey herb brine

    Whether you are a newbie or a seasoned pro this method is just the ticket you need for a perfect bird every time.

    It took a while for me to jump on the brining bandwagon. These holiday meals are hard enough to pull off and adding another step to the process was the last thing that I wanted to do. Finally, I caved and had to see what the fuss was about. 

    Let’s walk through the basics.

    whole turkey on a serving platter with lemons and fresh herbs

    Why brine?

    For meats that are relatively lean and low in fat (think turkey, chicken, quail if you are all fancy), you run the risk of them drying out during the cooking process. 

    Without getting too technical, by brining, you are coaxing moisture and seasoning (aka salt), into the meat and locking it there. You are seasoning it from the inside out.

    Brines are often flavored with herbs and aromatics for that added the benefit of flavor. There are two methods of brining. You can do a wet brine or a dry brine.

    close up of carved turkey breast with herbs and lemon

    What is a wet brine?

    The recipe below is an example of a wet brine. You are essentially creating a really salty solution to submerge your turkey in.

    The bird then sits in this overnight (or longer) all the while soaking up the salty liquid and flavors. You rinse it the next day before roasting, but it holds onto all the juicy flavorful goodness.

    What is a dry brine?

    A dry brine is the same basic idea – add moisture to the meat – only without the water. Here a salt mixture is made and rubbed on the turkey. As it sits in the salty blend, moisture is drawn out, it then mixes with the salt, and is finally reabsorbed into the bird. 

    I prefer the wet brine to the dry brine because I can really get a lot of flavor into the meat. Plus the sugar in the honey will caramelize as the turkey roasts and help get that perfect golden skin. 

    plated carved turkey after brining

    No matter your favorite method of roasting or stuffing your holiday showpiece, you should, without fail, add this step to your process. The difference between a brined bird and one that has not been brined is staggering. 

    Think of it as eating in black and white and eating in Technicolor. You will do it once and never look back. 

    honey herb brined turkey for Pinterest

    More turkey recipes you might like:

    Juicy Roast Turkey Recipe
    overhead shot of roasted turkey on a platter
    Juicy Roast Turkey is easier than you think with my buttery recipe, a bottle of bubbles and fresh herbs. 
    Roast Turkey with Orange Thyme Rub
    overhead shot of orange thyme turkey
    Roast Turkey w/ Orange Thyme Rub is the BEST roasted turkey recipe. Juicy turkey guaranteed to give you the best drippings to make gravy!
    Homemade Turkey Gravy
    gravy dripping down side of jar
    Homemade Turkey Gravy made easy! Make it with drippings or without drippings in just 15 minutes.

    Also check out our favorite Thanksgiving side dish recipes and holiday desserts!

    whole turkey brine for pinterest

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    whole turkey on a serving platter
    Print Recipe
    4.67 from 6 votes

    Honey Herb Brined Turkey

    Honey Herb Brined Turkey is a wow-worthy recipe that will give you a tender turkey have your guests asking you what your secret is. 
    Prep Time2 hrs
    Brining Time1 d
    Total Time1 d 2 hrs
    Course: Main Course, Main Dish
    Cuisine: American
    Keyword: how to brine a turkey, turkey brine recipe, wet brine turkey
    Servings: 10
    Calories: 550kcal
    Author: Jessica Formicola


    • 14 pound turkey , giblets and any plastic pieces
    • 1 gallon cold water
    • 1 cup kosher salt
    • 1/4 cup honey
    • 12 bay leaves
    • 1 head of garlic , smashed but not peeled
    • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
    • 3 large rosemary sprigs
    • 1 small bunch of thyme
    • 1 small bunch of parsley
    • Finely grated zest and juice of 2 lemons


    • Combine all the brine ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil on high heat. As soon as it has reached a boil, turn the heat off and stir gently to help the salt dissolve fully. Allow the brine to cool to room temperature.
    • Once cooled, pour the brine over your thawed turkey in a brining bag or in a small cooler. Allow the turkey to brine in the liquid overnight.
    • The next day, remove the turkey from the brine, brushing off any herbs, peppercorns, or other bits from the brine that might be stuck to it. Pat it dry and allow to come to room temperature before continuing with desired recipe, roughly 60-90 minutes.


    Roasting instructions:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. If you are going to stuff the bird, do so now. Place it on a roasting rack in a roasting pan breast side up. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine and tuck the wings in so they are not sticking out. 
    Rub the turkey with 1 stick softened unsalted butter and season liberally with salt and pepper.  Place the turkey in the oven and allow to roast for 2 ½ to 4 hours depending on the size bird you are cooking. Baste and rotate the pan every 30 minutes. When the bird is golden brown and the juices run clear, check the temp of the thigh.
    It should read 180 degrees. The stuffing should be at 165 degrees as it has touched raw poultry.  Remove the bird from the oven and allow it to rest for a minimum of 30 minutes before you carve it. 


    Calories: 550kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 98g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 325mg | Sodium: 118mg | Potassium: 1041mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 271IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 65mg | Iron: 4mg
    image of jessica formicola

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