Honey Herb Brined Turkey

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. Pair it with a gravy, like Pork Gravy and you’ll be making this all the time, not just for holidays.

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:

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

whole turkey brine for pinterest
whole turkey on a serving platter

Honey Herb Brined Turkey

4.91 from 10 votes
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 Time: 2 hours
Brining Time: 1 day
Total Time: 1 day 2 hours
Servings: 10

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

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. 

Nutrition

Calories: 550 kcal, Carbohydrates: 8 g, Protein: 98 g, Fat: 19 g, Saturated Fat: 7 g, Cholesterol: 325 mg, Sodium: 118 mg, Potassium: 1041 mg, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 7 g, Vitamin A: 271 IU, Vitamin C: 1 mg, Calcium: 65 mg, Iron: 4 mg
Author: Jessica Formicola
Calories: 550
Course: Main Course, Main Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: how to brine a turkey, turkey brine recipe, wet brine turkey
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!
Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Jessica Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and chef behind Savory Experiments. You might see her on the Emmy- nominated TV show Plate It! or on bookshelves as a cookbook author. Jessica is a Le Cordon Bleu certified recipe developer and regularly contributed to Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal and more!

Read More About Jessica

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Questions and Reviews

  1. 5 stars
    My favorite recipe for brined turkey! I just can’t get enough of the perfect texture and flavor! Delicious!

  2. 5 stars
    I needed this! My turkey is always a bit hit and miss and I always a good foolproof method that makes delicious and moist turkey!

  3. 5 stars
    Excellent recipe – the turkey turned out so juicy and moist and perfectly tender! This will definitely be on my dining table at our next family gathering!

  4. 5 stars
    I have always wanted to brine a turkey and this recipe is seamless. I am saving this one for the holidays