This Orange Honey Glazed Turkey Breast is juicy, moist, and ultra delicious! The turkey breast is brined, so it is extra moist and flavorful, and then brushed with a sweet orange honey glaze while it roasts in the oven. So so good!
I don’t have a big family, so an entire turkey is always too much food and a hassle for us. This year, I am making a super moist and juicy orange honey glazed turkey breast!
Not only is it more manageable and less stressful, but it also takes way less time to cook. A 6-7 pound bone-in turkey breast takes about 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours to cook in the oven.
My favorite part about this orange honey glazed turkey breast is that it’s very moist and juicy. I brined it with a simple citrus brine overnight and, let me tell you…I’ll never look back! It was the juiciest roast turkey breast ever. I know brining a turkey is an extra step, but it’s totally worth it. It works every single time, I promise!
So let’s get started, shall we? I’ll show you everything you need to know to make the best and juiciest orange glazed turkey ever!
Why Brine the Turkey Breast
I tested this orange honey glazed turkey breast recipe twice, the first test without a brine and the second test with a brine. The results? Night and day different!
The first turkey breast (no brine) turned out super dry and bland…boo! The second turkey breast (brined) turned out incredibly moist and flavorful.
Brines are basically water with a high concentration of salt. Some people like to add aromatics, such as herbs or citrus, to the brine for flavor. When meat is submerged in brine for a period of time, the flavored water is absorbed into the meat, enhancing natural flavors and adding moisture.
Brines are a great option for lean cuts of meat that tend to dry out during the cooking process, especially turkey and pork.
For this orange glazed turkey breast recipe, I made a simple herb, garlic, orange, and lemon brine that added subtle notes of citrus and aromatic herbs to the turkey.
How to Make Moist Roast Turkey Breast
Here are the secrets to roasting a juicy, moist, and flavorful turkey breast:
- Brine it: As mentioned above, brining allows the meat to absorb liquid, compensating the amount of liquid lost when roasting.
- Don’t overcook it: Overcooking results in dry meat, especially with turkey. At an oven temperature of 350 degrees F, cook the turkey breast for about 15 minutes per pound.
- Get a meat thermometer! This is a MUST for food safety reasons. It’s hard to judge the internal temperature of large cuts of meat, so inserting a thermometer will ensure that it’s never undercooked or overcooked. For turkey breast, the internal temperature should read 165 degrees F when fully and safely cooked.
One question I’ve been getting a lot is, does basting help keep the turkey moist? The answer is nope, not really. Basting only adds liquid on the surface and does nothing to keep it moist, so don’t even bother. In fact, basting requires that you open the oven multiple times, which results in uneven cooking from the loss of consistent heat.
Orange Honey Turkey Breast Ingredients
There are three parts to this honey roast turkey recipe: the brine, the turkey, and the orange honey glaze.
For the brine:
- Cold water and ice: You’ll need about 8 cups water and 4 cups ice. It needs to be cold so that the turkey stays cold.
- Kosher salt: About 1/2 cup…yes I know that seems like a lot!
- Brown sugar: This will help a bit with the browning of the skin later as the turkey roasts.
- Garlic: For flavor.
- Lemon and orange: Adds subtle tones of citrus flavors.
- Herbs: I used a few springs of rosemary and thyme.
For the turkey:
- A 6-7 lb bone-in turkey breast: Bone-in and skin-on.
- Unsalted butter: You’ll use it to make herbed butter and rub it all over the turkey.
- Minced garlic: For the herbed butter.
- Herbs: For the herbed butter. I used fresh rosemary and thyme.
- Salt and pepper: About 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper.
- Olive oil: You’ll drizzle some olive oil over the turkey to help it brown better.
- Chicken broth for pan: If using a roasting pan with a rack, you’ll want to add broth at the bottom so that the drippings don’t burn, refilling as necessary. If you’re not using a pan with a rack, you can skip this.
For the orange honey glaze:
- Orange marmalade: Use sweet marmalade! I love Smucker’s brand of orange marmalade because it’s sweet. I’ve tried fancy orange marmalades before and they tend to be a bit bitter, so make sure you buy SWEET marmalade.
- Unsalted butter: To give richness to the glaze.
- Orange juice: Fresh or bottled is fine.
- Orange: Small diced, flesh only.
How to Make this Orange Honey Turkey Breast
Alright, now that you have an idea about the ingredients needed for this turkey recipe, let’s talk about how to make it!
The night before or 8 hours in advance: Brine the turkey
- Make sure you have the tools you need: a large heavy pot, container, or brining bag that can fit the ~12 cups of brine and a 6-7 lb turkey breast. For roasting, you’ll need a large roasting pan, preferably with a rack.
- Make the brine: To expedite the cooling process, bring only 2 cups of water and the rest of the bring ingredients to a boil. This will be your brine “concentrate,” which you will then add to cold or iced water. Why do you need to boil it? to dissolve the salt and sugar, and release the aromatic flavors of the remaining ingredients.
- Let the brine cool down in the fridge: Make sure the bring is cold before submerging the turkey.
- Submerge the turkey overnight or for 8 hours: Be careful not to leave it for more than 18 hours. Over-brining a turkey will make it too salty.
The day of: Roast!
- Remove turkey from brine and pat dry: Moisture is the enemy of browning! Pat it dry to get that beautiful golden brown and crispy skin.
- Make the herbed butter: Butter, minced garlic, salt, pepper, and herbs.
- Rub herbed butter all over the turkey and under the skin: Yes, under the skin too!
- Make the orange honey glaze: Simply simmer all the ingredients in a saucepan for about 20 minutes until thickened.
- Roast: At 350 degrees F for about 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours for a 6-7 lb turkey breast. Cooking time should be about 15 minutes per pound, or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. During the last 30 minutes, brush the turkey with the orange honey glaze every 10 minutes.
- Let it rest for 15 minutes before carving in order to allow the juices to redistribute.
I’m so exited about the holidays, and also feel a bit more relieved that I don’t need to roast a whole turkey. Thanksgiving can be stressful, but if possible, you can really cut down the time spent in the kitchen by roasting a turkey breast instead of a whole turkey. This orange honey glazed turkey breast is a great option!
I’m in love with this recipe. I promise you will love it too!
If you’re still figuring out your Thanksgiving menu, here are some awesome ideas:
- Cranberry Orange Glazed Ham
- Stuffed Acorn Squash with Wild Rice Pilaf
- Maple Glazed Spatchcock Turkey by Plays Well With Butter
Thanksgiving side dishes:
- Butternut Squash and Brussels Sprouts Salad
- Fluffy Mashed Potatoes or Creamy Mashed Potatoes
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts Salad with Grapes
- Soft Honey Dinner Rolls
- Kale and Apple Salad
Thank you for reading, and stay tuned for more Thanksgiving recipes this week. I’ve got so many yummy recipes to share with you all!
Orange Honey Glazed Turkey Breast
- 8 cups cold water, divided
- 1/2 cup Kosher salt
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 8 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 1 lemon, sliced
- 1 orange, sliced
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- A few bunches of fresh thyme
- 4 cups ice
- 6-7 pound turkey breast, bone-in and skin-on (safely thawed, see note)
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary (1/2 teaspoon if using dried)
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 tablespoon if using dried)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Olive oil for drizzling
- 4-8 cups chicken broth for pan (only if using roasting pan with a rack)
Orange Honey Glaze
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup orange juice (fresh or bottled)
- 2/3 cup sweet orange marmalade (not the bitter kind)
- 4 teaspoons honey (plus more if desired)
- Zest of 1 orange
- 1 medium navel oranges, small diced (flesh only)
The day before, brine the turkey breast:
- Pour 6 cups of very cold water into a large pot or container large enough for the turkey breast to submerge. Set aside. You can also use a brining bag.
- To a medium saucepan, add the remaining 2 cups water, and the rest of the brine ingredients: Kosher salt, brown sugar, smashed garlic, lemon slices, orange slices, rosemary, and thyme. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 minutes until dissolved and fragrant. Add this brine "concentrate" to the pot or container with the 6 cups of cold water.
- Add the ice to cool it down faster. The brine should be cold. If not, refrigerate the brine for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Once the brine is cold, add the turkey and use something to weigh it down so it stays submerged. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight. Note: over-brining will make the turkey very salty - brine for 8 hours, max about 15 hours.
The day of, make the glaze:
- In a saucepan, bring all the orange honey glaze ingredients to a simmer. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until reduced and thickened. Set aside half of the glaze for brushing the turkey and the other half for serving.
The day of, prepare the turkey breast:
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- If needed or desired, remove the backbone (use kitchen shears or a sharp knife) and flatten the turkey breast a little bit by pressing down.
- Make the butter: in a bowl, combine 6 tablespoons softened butter, 3 cloves minced garlic, 1 teaspoon rosemary, 1 tablespoon thyme, 1 teaspoon Kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Set aside.
- Remove turkey breast from brine and rinse it, being careful not to splash water everywhere. Thoroughly pat the turkey dry with paper towel. Note: pat it dry twice if needed to remove excess moisture. Excess moisture will make it harder for the turkey breast to brown in the oven.
- Rub turkey all over with the prepared butter, including the under the skin. To rub the butter under the skin, simply lift the skin and move your hands inwards, carefully detaching some of the skin from the flesh, and rubbing the butter in.
- Transfer turkey to a roasting pan with a rack. Drizzle turkey with some olive oil and gently spread over the turkey. If using a roasting pan with a rack, pour 1-2 cups chicken broth over the pan, or until it's about 1/4 inch deep. This will prevent the drippings from burning.
- Roast uncovered for 1 hour 20 minutes. It should start browning after about 1 hour or so. As it roasts, you may need to refill the pan with more broth as needed.
- After the 1 hour and 20 minutes, brush the turkey with the orange honey glaze and return to oven to continue roasting for 10 minutes. Repeat this process 2-3 more times, or until internal temperature registers 165 F. Cooking time depends on the size of the turkey breast, and should take about 15 minutes per pound. My 7.11 lb turkey breast took 1 hour and 55 minutes. Tent with foil if it is getting too brown.
- Let it rest for about 15 minutes before carving in order to let the juices redistribute. Serve along with the remaining glaze. Enjoy!
- Special equipment: a large pot/container or a brining bag, brush, kitchen shears, roasting pan (preferably with a rack).
- Thawing turkey safely: Thaw in the refrigerator on pan to prevent juices from spilling all over your fridge, and allow 24 hours per 5 pounds of turkey. You can also thaw in COLD water: make sure the turkey is sealed and then thaw 1 hour for every pound of turkey...you'll need to refresh the cold water every 30 minutes.
- Brining time: At least 8 hours, but no more than 15. Over-brining results in salty turkey.
- Removing the turkey backbone: Cut out the backbone with kitchen shears or a sharp knife. This will help with even cooking.
- Substitute for fresh herbs: Use herbs de provence as a substitute. You can also use the dry version of rosemary or thyme.
- Why add broth to the roasting pan: If using a roasting pan with a rack (this lifts the turkey), adding broth at the bottom prevents the drippings from burning. Refresh/refill with broth as needed. If you're not using a rack, you can skip this step.